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Apple's missing "Home on iPod" feature resurfaces in filing

post #1 of 48
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Apple Computer has been granted a patent for a pretermitted feature of Mac OS X that would have allowed users to sync their home directories to an iPod and then use the data stored on the player to securely log into any supported Mac.

Dubbed "Home on iPod," the technology was once destined for Apple's Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, before it was abruptly yanked from pre-release builds of the operating system back in Oct. of 2003.

"Ever thought you could carry your home in the palm of your hands or in your pocket? You can. Panther's Home on iPod feature lets you store your home directory - files, folders, apps - on your iPod (or any FireWire hard drive) and take it with you wherever you go," Apple had written in a blurb on its Panther preview website that was eventually removed.

"When you find yourself near a Panther-equipped Mac, just plug in the iPod, log in, and you're 'home,' no matter where you happen to be," the description continued. "And when you return to your home computer, you can synchronize any changes you've made to your files by using File Sync, which automatically updates offline changes to your home directory."

Apple never offered an explanation for the feature retraction and popular speculation was that it would eventually resurface in a later iteration of the Mac OS X operating system. It never did.

Unfortunately, the patent filing granted to Apple this week offers no new clues about the fate of "Home on iPod," as it was filed Nov. 25, 2002, nearly a full year before the feature was pulled from pre-release Panther builds.

"A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, and thus the user account becomes portable," reads the description of the feature in the filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. "The multi-user computer system, through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system."



It continues: "Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of different multi-user computers."

The "Home on iPod" concept is credited to Apple employees Robert Bowers of Cupertino, Calif. and Steve Ko of San Franscisco, Calif.
post #2 of 48
I'd love to see this as a feature in the next release. I'd use it extensively.
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post #3 of 48
I have an old spare that I'd use for this purpose, it would keep me from selling it. It would make the video iPod more tempting for me, especially the 80GB model. I do perform backups on a more bi-monthly basis but if it can do a daily backup, then I'm all over it. That said, Time Machine is going to perform a similar function.
post #4 of 48
I was hoping this feature would turn up again.
post #5 of 48
post #6 of 48
This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.

Incidentally pretermitted means:

Quote:
pretermit |ˈpriːtəˌmɪt|
verb ( -mitted , -mitting ) [ trans. ] archaic
1 omit to do or mention : some points of conduct we advisedly pretermit.
2 abandon (a custom or continuous action) for a time : the pleasant musical evenings were now entirely pretermitted.
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCrazy

This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.

Incidentally pretermitted means:

Unfortunately my single source of dictionary terms doesn't include pretermit either.

As for needing FW I was pissed when they got rid of it. Granted the reason probably was to bring cost down.
post #8 of 48
I wonder if the patent will stop MojoPac... it looked kinda cool and I was wondering if it would work with Parallels...
post #9 of 48
Soon everything we're going to have will be patents, patents, patents... When will the beef be served at Apple?
post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCrazy

This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.

The article doesn't even mention booting, just syncing user data. I doubt they ever planned to include booting.

And the usb limitation went away with intel macs, they can boot off of USB.

I suspect part of the reason for dropping this was that they knew intel might be on the way and anticipated potential compatibility issues. I hope they add the feature to Leopard, it would be very cool.
post #11 of 48
could 'mobile me' be another name for this ??
(i think 'mobile me' was a ptent that came up a while ago anyway!

stu
post #12 of 48
This feature would be MUCH more useful if there were more "panther-equipped" (leopard, now, if anything) Macs lying around. Macintosh presence is spotty, even at the library and college campus and even if they are present, are rarely running the most up-to-date operating system. IT departments that run both PCs and Macs take a look at Jaguar, say, "still no virii!" and put off updating macs for another year.

The only widespread (if you even want to call it that) use for this technology is if you are lucky enough to have a Mac at work. So, not very widespread at all.

It's cool though. I'd use it... if I had a use for it, that is.

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post #13 of 48
Is it not fairly apparent that this feature was pulled because iPods went to USB, not Firewire? Unless they bring the pod back to firewire, I don't predict we'll see this feature anytime soon.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay

Is it not fairly apparent that this feature was pulled because iPods went to USB, not Firewire? Unless they bring the pod back to firewire, I don't predict we'll see this feature anytime soon.

I do remember this quite well. It was talked about for some time.

But, I don't see why the lack of Firewire would have stopped it. There was a short time when USB was used with the PPC machines, and as others have mentioned, you wouldn't have to boot from it to make it useful.
post #15 of 48
I agree that it is a word.

Other meanings are:

To leave undone. neglect, suspend, and break off.

My Merriam -Webster's unabridged has quite a bit more.

The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition doesn't list it as archaic either.
post #16 of 48
I think the problem might be the iPod hard drives. They're not designed for heavy use.
post #17 of 48
Yes, it has been stated here that the iPod harddrives really only have a life span of continuous use that is measured in tens of minutes, though that doesn't entirely make sense since if you had to erase and refill the thing once or twice, that would hit that limit quickly?!
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post #18 of 48
How many people really need to carry their Home directory on an iPod?

The bigger market (and much more profitable for Apple) is to allow users to easily sync their laptops with their workstations at home or office.

Right now Email is a pain to sync between machines (don't even bother to raise IMAP) and allowing two machine syncing will cause Apple to sell a lot more laptops with desktops.

That's why this is Firewire only:
Connect the front port of Mac Pro to the side port on MacBook Pro and you're done.
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post #19 of 48
One of the features of Leopard is a "guest" user.
Guests log into a "virtual" account and the account is reset when they log out.
Perfect for when someone wants to use your computer to check their email or whatever.

Instead of an iPod, I would like to see this be done with a USB stick.
If you wanted to do this with an iPod, you would always need to carry the dock cable.

It would be nice to be able to plug in a USB stick at the login window and have the option to login to my mobile account.
Now when I launch Safari it has all my bookmarks and personal settings.

What would be even better is if it could be done through .Mac no USB stick required.


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post #20 of 48
This sounds like a cool interesting feature, but I just don't know if it's that useful anymore with time machine on the way and ipods can already sync address books and calenders.
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post #21 of 48
I would hope that they wouldn't limit it to iPods - but allow any external drive to be used. I personally would use a big drive (and fast) for that purpose. Apple doesn't need to do the "home on ipod" thing to sell more iPods - they don't have any problem doing that at all.

I like Frank777's comment about laptops/desktops - I personally want a laptop for portability but have "settled" for an iMac 24 since I need the big screen/drive space more than I need portability. However, if Apple (or 3rd party) would come up with a way to do transparent syncing or "Home on MacBook", then I (and no-doubt countless others) would justify getting a second Mac (laptop if they had desktop and visa-versa)
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCrazy

This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.

The whole point of this is so you DON'T have to reboot. Actually, that isn't the whole point but part of it. The point is... you put your home directory on the iPod. Connect the iPod, login and BAM... all of your settings, preferences, mail accounts are there! All of hte files that have to do with YOU as a user are there on any computer you go to. This isn't a new os we are talking about here... it's a portable user. This is awesome. This is how it used to be back in the old days with terminals. There was a central server with all the users and people would go to a terminal and login with that user that is on the server. Now you don't need the server... the iPod will act as the server. Very cool. Very handy. Now you don't need a specific computer at a job. You can use ANY mac that supports this. An OS should be centric to users, not the other way around.

Score 1 for apple on this one guys.

 

 

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post #23 of 48
that's a 12GB home folder for me... better get a new iPod!
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGregor

Yes, it has been stated here that the iPod harddrives really only have a life span of continuous use that is measured in tens of minutes, though that doesn't entirely make sense since if you had to erase and refill the thing once or twice, that would hit that limit quickly?!

That's not the problem. The hd's have tens of thousands of hours of MTBF. The problem is that using the hd for more than a few minutes at a time drains the battery too much. That's why video use has such a short battery life compared to using music files which are much smaller and are stored in the machines RAM after a burst of reading from the hd. Classical music has the same problem, long lengths drains the battery as the hd is used much more. The device simply wasn't designed,from a battery life aspect to be used as a portable hd.
post #25 of 48
Unless you wanted to share your system and application preferences between computers, I don't understand why anyone would need this. FTP works just as well if you are intent on sharing files from your home folder between computers.
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post #26 of 48
Oh that makes sense I suppose - when I originally heard about Home On iPod (pre-Panther) it was about booting.

Another reason this may have been dropped is the low speed of the iPod harddrives. This would reduce your Mac to below 4200RPM. It is a nice idea though.
post #27 of 48
I don't suppose they have solved the problem of having extensions that you need in /Library, or the bigger problem of applications that you need. They would need to somehow kludge up a place to store these things in addition to the contents of your Home folder. And if you do have extensions or Preference Panes that you need, then you need a reboot too. For example, I need USB Overdrive or the mouse tracking speed is so slow it drives me insane. If I had my Home folder on the iPod, and plugged it into some random machine, I wouldn't have USB Overdrive. Or Script Debugger.

So it seems this is mainly for transporting data that use only the standard Apple apps.
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post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lundy

I don't suppose they have solved the problem of having extensions that you need in /Library, or the bigger problem of applications that you need. They would need to somehow kludge up a place to store these things in addition to the contents of your Home folder. And if you do have extensions or Preference Panes that you need, then you need a reboot too. For example, I need USB Overdrive or the mouse tracking speed is so slow it drives me insane. If I had my Home folder on the iPod, and plugged it into some random machine, I wouldn't have USB Overdrive. Or Script Debugger.

I suppose it would be pretty hard to do fix-ups such that it would work the way you'd like. I do agree on the USB Overdrive. Without it, it messes me up because it would make me think that my hand is numb and unresponsive. I don't even know how Apple can expect anyone use their HD displays with mouse acceleration choices seemingly designed for VGA resolutions.
post #29 of 48
My Home folder is over 60 GB. I agree with some people on this thread. Another OS X feature I probably won't use.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K.

My Home folder is over 60 GB. I agree with some people on this thread. Another OS X feature I probably won't use.

So is mine. That is why I have a 100 GB FireLite drive to back it up onto and to sync between my home and office computers. This feature would make my life a lot easier. It is the first feature that has me looking forward to Leopard.
post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBL

So is mine. That is why I have a 100 GB FireLite drive to back it up onto and to sync between my home and office computers. This feature would make my life a lot easier. It is the first feature that has me looking forward to Leopard.

Keep in mind that it hasn't been confirmed. This patent too four years to come to light. It may just be an abandoned idea. And now, unfortunately, Apple owns it, so no one else can implement it without paying them. I'm not sure if this is a legitimately patentable idea, but you can say that about many patents these days.
post #32 of 48
This is part of Leopard, but it requires that the Mac is bound to the same Open Directory that the user account exists in.

It's Portable Home Directory Extreme

Unfortunately it's useless to most Mac users.
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post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM

I suppose it would be pretty hard to do fix-ups such that it would work the way you'd like. I do agree on the USB Overdrive. Without it, it messes me up because it would make me think that my hand is numb and unresponsive. I don't even know how Apple can expect anyone use their HD displays with mouse acceleration choices seemingly designed for VGA resolutions.


Wouldn't it be a hoot if it turned out that a survey of shoppers to the Apple Stores revealed that the #1 reason non-buyers gave for not purchasing a Mac was that the mouse cursor didn't move fast enough? LOL

Ever since OS X DP3 I have been amazed at how Apple hasn't increased the maximum mouse tracking setting. How anyone can use it the way it comes out of the box is beyond me.
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post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lundy

Wouldn't it be a hoot if it turned out that a survey of shoppers to the Apple Stores revealed that the #1 reason non-buyers gave for not purchasing a Mac was that the mouse cursor didn't move fast enough? LOL

Ever since OS X DP3 I have been amazed at how Apple hasn't increased the maximum mouse tracking setting. How anyone can use it the way it comes out of the box is beyond me.


Good point. I can't tell you how many new-to-Mac users at the University where I supply tech support have complained about that, not having any clue that it can be adjusted.

Then there's the whole right-click disabled thing... The last thing the "enterprise" wants is to spend needless cycles turning on features that are expected by the mass of users out there (and let's face it, the mass is entirely populated by new and potential converts).
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post #35 of 48
This is a great feature and should be reenabled.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

That's not the problem. The hd's have tens of thousands of hours of MTBF. The problem is that using the hd for more than a few minutes at a time drains the battery too much. That's why video use has such a short battery life compared to using music files which are much smaller and are stored in the machines RAM after a burst of reading from the hd. Classical music has the same problem, long lengths drains the battery as the hd is used much more. The device simply wasn't designed,from a battery life aspect to be used as a portable hd.

Good! I was concerned that there was some physical limitations to the hd itself.

As for this added functionality, I really want the ability to carry a few files, one or two apps (like Keynote) and the appropriate Library files and prefs. If melgross it correct then, as long as the iPod is getting power, there is no problem with using it as an external hd, so power consumption shouldn't be an issue most of the time. THAT is where FW means fewer cords and I hope Apple reconsiders this.
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post #37 of 48
This seems like it could be useful. Especially without a .Mac account. But doesn't the home folder host most people's Music Library? So moving the home folder to your iPod would essentially be carrying around your music, twice. I suppose you could have iTunes access your music library from a different location, which would surely decrease the size of large Home folders. And taking my mail settings to work is great, if work doesn't have a firewall preventing me from accessing a different mail server.

I'm sure there's some benefit to this feature and will help some folks. I think it would require some reconfiguring on my own settings but could prove useful.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by godrifle

Good point. I can't tell you how many new-to-Mac users at the University where I supply tech support have complained about that, not having any clue that it can be adjusted.

Then there's the whole right-click disabled thing... The last thing the "enterprise" wants is to spend needless cycles turning on features that are expected by the mass of users out there (and let's face it, the mass is entirely populated by new and potential converts).

Right-click is disabled? I wouldn't know since I install USB O immediately. When did this happen?
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post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lundy

Right-click is disabled? I wouldn't know since I install USB O immediately. When did this happen?

I think it's disabled by default on the Mighty Mouse, not on standard mice. I think it's supposed to be that way so a dimwit can still use it as a single button mouse without having to change settings, but more advanced users can just change the setting.
post #40 of 48
YOU CAN ALWAYS BOOT OFF USB in Mac OS X on Intel or otherwise. I've done it for every single freaking OS.

Stop stating incorrect facts. USB is just as viable as firewire, and more compatible with other computers, i can boot leopard, os 10.4, windows xp, and windows vista all from ONE usb drive...
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