New Apple patent for network booting could lead to cloud-based Mac OS X

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  • Reply 21 of 49
    eideardeideard Posts: 391member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post


    You think the Chrome OS is scary? BOOTING purely off the cloud can be scarier. What would happen if you have no internet connection, you can't even boot your device. What if you made Apple angry, they could discontinue your booting licence. How would Apps work, also off the cloud (I assume this is predominately aimed at iOS, not OS X)? If so, then what if they decide to pull an App for some reason, with no local copy you could be out some money (Kindle Books anyone?).



    Pretty good.



    No collapse into total paranoia until the 4th sentence!
  • Reply 22 of 49
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by REC View Post


    I think to understand this you need to be a bit more forward thinking. Saying "what if you have no network connection?" someday will be like saying "what if the power goes out?". You don't refuse to buy a fridge because the power goes out less than once a year, or refuse to buy light bulbs because the power grid has occasional brown outs. Likewise you won't make this assumption anymore once the network is always present, always on and everywhere (minus the short and rare outages similar to today's power grid). Today the power might go out in your house, you don't refuse to buy a desktop computer because of this small chance?



    Computers are a lot more touchy though. A refrigerator can stay cold for many hours without power, a computer isn't necessarily functional for that long without power. Right now, one often doesn't notice momentary lapses of internet service, but think that would change if it's truly dependent on the internet for everything. I think it will be a long time before the internet link and "cloud" host are even as reliable as even a typical magnetic hard drive, and those are much faster than any reasonably priced internet connection I can get.



    I don't know if it makes sense to boot from the internet though, even with today's fasteset connections. On-board flash memory can easily be far faster than booting from a gigabit network. A lot of internet connections are about the speed of USB 1.1 or slower. Administration is a different matter, local storage with remote administration generally makes more sense.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post


    Provisions allowing "thin clients" to boot an operating system over a network -- using some, little, or zero local storage -- have existed at least since the 1980s. That's why most discrete PC Ethernet cards (dating all the way back to 8-bit ISA cards for IBM XT PCs) included a Boot ROM chip socket, where you could install a BIOS extension program which would automate the process of acquiring a network address and downloading the operating system from a remote fileserver.



    I never managed to figure out how to set one up though, the network card documentation didn't mention how to acquire a bootable ROM. Modern computers have network bootable ROMs built in now, though it really doesn't matter, a $50 hard drive would be much easier on the user. Even though many files should rightfully be on the network, OS and apps running over the network is just a drag.
  • Reply 23 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post


    You think the Chrome OS is scary? BOOTING purely off the cloud can be scarier. What would happen if you have no internet connection, you can't even boot your device.



    I realize that not being able to boot would be an issue, but I can't do my current job without an internet connection. I can't even print unless I walk the laptop to the network printer and plug it in (not going to happen). In a work environment... an internet connection is nearly as important as electricity.



    As you mention in your post, this must be fore iOS devices. It still seems a little premature... but many patents are.
  • Reply 24 of 49
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by REC View Post


    I think to understand this you need to be a bit more forward thinking. Saying "what if you have no network connection?" someday will be like saying "what if the power goes out?". You don't refuse to buy a fridge because the power goes out less than once a year, or refuse to buy light bulbs because the power grid has occasional brown outs.



    Typical example of a bad analogy that seems very appropriate at first. A refrigerator or light bulb is 100% useless without power, so we simply have no other option than to accept that if the power grid goes down, we're screwed. A computer, on the other hand, can stil be very useful and productive even without a network connection, especially if it holds that one important file you need straight away. In other words: a computer that takes everything from the cloud has one additional point-of-failure besides 'no power', compared to a computer that will still boot and let you get to your files.



    Personally, I don't really see the point either. Throughout computer history there have been many attempts to make home computers into dumb terminals, thin clients, cloud clients, or whatever name they will come up for them the next time. Every time it failed, partially because hardware progresses so fast that before you know it even the lowest specced, cheapest computer on the market already does everything better locally, than you'd ever be able to do 'in the cloud' at that point in time, partially because putting everything in the cloud does not really solve any problems that home computer users actually care about. I can understand the value of centralized storage and processing for all kinds of businesses, but for consumer, I don't see a lot advantages, mostly disadvantages.
  • Reply 25 of 49
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by d-range View Post


    Typical example of a bad analogy that seems very appropriate at first. A refrigerator or light bulb is 100% useless without power, so we simply have no other option than to accept that if the power grid goes down, we're screwed. A computer, on the other hand, can stil be very useful and productive even without a network connection, especially if it holds that one important file you need straight away. Ergo: a computer that takes everything from the cloud has one additional point-of-failure besides 'no power', compared to a computer that will still boot and let you get to your files.



    So listen up - when there is no internet you work offline with a copy of the home directory locally. The differences between online and offline will be synced next time you go online.
  • Reply 26 of 49
    In my experience, booting a Mac or any other computer hardware from a network connection requires Gigabit ethernet and very low latency, this notion of booting hardware from the cloud hopping from router to router is ridiculous. I have 25 Mbps with FIOS at home and there is no way I could do it, forget anyone else. Some kind of remote screen session where you just send the screen and keyboard and mouse IO is the only possibility.



    Also this article points out the Microsoft data loss with the Sidekick/Danger platform which is fundamentally untrue. MS acquired Danger less than a year before that time and it wasn't MS people or technology running it. Yes they are ultimately responsible, but to say Microsoft failed at a cloud initiative is just stupid. It was a bad support issue for a few days that affected a lot of people, but everyone's data was restored by the next week. There was no data loss.
  • Reply 27 of 49
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheAshMan View Post


    In my experience, booting a Mac or any other computer hardware from a network connection requires Gigabit ethernet and very low latency, this notion of booting hardware from the cloud hopping from router to router is ridiculous. I have 25 Mbps with FIOS at home and there is no way I could do it, forget anyone else. Some kind of remote screen session where you just send the screen and keyboard and mouse IO is the only possibility.



    Also this article points out the Microsoft data loss with the Sidekick/Danger platform which is fundamentally untrue. MS acquired Danger less than a year before that time and it wasn't MS people or technology running it. Yes they are ultimately responsible, but to say Microsoft failed at a cloud initiative is just stupid. It was a bad support issue for a few days that affected a lot of people, but everyone's data was restored by the next week. There was no data loss.



    The OS is still local. It is booted locally. It is logged in over the network. All you need to get back is the folder structure of the first thing you log in as - your desktop and home directory.
  • Reply 28 of 49
    Could be something like allowing the clients to have the OS installed locally, but it is "administered" by a network (like config of internet connections, what programs can and can not be configured or installed, installing updates and patches)...I dunno.



    Apple may be thinking about enterprises on this one.
  • Reply 29 of 49
    tnttnt Posts: 21member
    How about having your own home server and being able to boot to it via a tablet or something similar, kind of like using VPN but actually booting and not just accessing.

    Just a thought.
  • Reply 30 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post


    Provisions allowing "thin clients" to boot an operating system over a network -- using some, little, or zero local storage -- have existed at least since the 1980s. That's why most discrete PC Ethernet cards (dating all the way back to 8-bit ISA cards for IBM XT PCs) included a Boot ROM chip socket, where you could install a BIOS extension program which would automate the process of acquiring a network address and downloading the operating system from a remote fileserver.



    This patent cannot cover every possible method of net boot -- there's too much prior art out there, public knowledge for more than 20 years at this point, which would make the general method of net booting unpatentable.



    Rather, this patent, if valid, could only possibly cover particular methods of improving the process -- for example, by improving the efficiency, or making it easier to configure, or something else along those lines -- which had not previously been reduced to implementation and made public knowledge prior to the filing of this patent.



    If you want "easy", stick in a disc of Knoppix, run the net boot configuration, and then have everyone boot off the computer on the lan.



    This patent is around 10+ years too late. Even in 2006 this was old technology. But that won't stop the patent office from granting patents after the fact.
  • Reply 31 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post


    Could be something like allowing the clients to have the OS installed locally, but it is "administered" by a network (like config of internet connections, what programs can and can not be configured or installed, installing updates and patches)...I dunno.



    Apple may be thinking about enterprises on this one.



    Microsoft Windows Domains already effectively do that, since at least Windows NT 4.0, as did third party network stacks such as Novell Netware... And I'm sure Apple also already has an equivalent for the Mac.
  • Reply 32 of 49
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GTPalmer View Post


    Hey all! Long time lurker, now Ive joined up! Good to be here! Anyways...



    I read an interview with Steve Jobs in Wired Magazine back in the 90's. I was working at a CompUSA so sometime between 95 and 99 (I think right before Jobs was once again CEO of Apple?). In it Steve explained where he thought computing was headed and where he thought it should go.



    He said that he thought eventually all computer software, both OS and applications, would be stored on a "cloud" computer and would just be streamed to your home computer. He also mentioned that you wouldn't be buying software outright anymore, but that you would rent it (monthly fee, ppv, etc) from the company that ran the cloud. He thought that this was the best way to do it as everyone would be sick of having to go to a store and buy the software. They would just turn on their computer, connect to the cloud and all your OS and Applications would all be right there for you to use. He specifically mentioned programs such as Photoshop and the OS etc...



    Interesting to see that 15 years later he is basically doing exactly what he said he would do.



    Some context would, I think, give a better understanding of his comments...



    At that point, with NeXTSTEP, using NetBoot and storing your apps and documents on a central server, you could just walk up to any NeXTSTEP machine configured to work that way, turn it on, log in, and have access to all your stuff -- apps, documents, email, ... SJ had a T1 to his house, so it wasn't really a big deal for him to do this, and mobile computing wasn't really all that developed at that point (yeah, there were laptops and PDAs, but things were still pretty primitive, and the Web was pretty primitive). Apps were also a lot smaller and simpler in those days, so pulling them over the network wasn't as big a deal.



    He most certainly was not talking about Web Apps or the kind of cloud that Google owns. He was talking about a computing environment were you could access real apps, and work with documents in the same way everyone had up to that point, just accessing your stuff from wherever you happened to be working.



    So, he wasn't talking about "cloud computing" in the way we understand the term today. I also think it's unlikely that his ideas have been entirely static in the interval. So I don't think you can really make too many specific inferences about Apple's or SJ's current vision of computing based on that interview. I would also note that current Apple products aren't particularly cloudy in the current sense of the term. Web Apps aren't really a prominent aspect of the Apple ecosystem, and the one instance where they were meant to be (the original iPhone) consumers and developers didn't exactly embrace the model.
  • Reply 33 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


    Clearly they are going to do this. Here is how it would work.



    You log into the cloud. Every so often, or at logout, there is a sync back to your real home directory. Or if that is more up to date, as you may have worked offline it happens ( sync to network) online.



    Advantages:



    Get a new mac. Login to your home directory.

    Go to your firends house. Login to your home dirctory.

    Go on holiday. There is a mac. Login to your home directory. Desktop settings, display settings et al.



    ( Although some device level settings will not be set).



    Could be even more useful for an iPad. Introducing multi-user and keep the purchases online per user. PLay from any iPad. Login on any iPad. Theres your stuff.



    The trouble with this scenario is that while booting from a network has been around forever, the bandwidth to make it feasible won't actually be here for a long, long time.



    Even on Gigabit ethernet in a lab setting with the best switches on the planet and all the traffic controlled it just takes too long to download, install, and boot an OS to make it worthwhile in anything other than a few very specific scenarios.



    iOS has a smaller footprint so maybe something could happen there, but even then the kind of bandwidth needed for this to become a ubiquitous feature or something done casually by the average consumer is years and years off, possibly longer. Apple is currently arguing that wireless syncing is a non-starter because of the size of the data to be synced and the amount of time it would take. I think they would change that policy long before they would try to netboot the devices from the cloud.
  • Reply 34 of 49
    beaten to it
  • Reply 35 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eideard View Post


    Pretty good.



    No collapse into total paranoia until the 4th sentence!



    To be fair, I thought Apple was trying to do something where they could permanently brick your iDevice if they sensed it was jail broken. Something along those lines, not the "You threw rocks at our windows! We will ban you!" idea.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by d-range View Post


    Typical example of a bad analogy that seems very appropriate at first. A refrigerator or light bulb is 100% useless without power, so we simply have no other option than to accept that if the power grid goes down, we're screwed. A computer, on the other hand, can stil be very useful and productive even without a network connection, especially if it holds that one important file you need straight away. In other words: a computer that takes everything from the cloud has one additional point-of-failure besides 'no power', compared to a computer that will still boot and let you get to your files.



    Bingo.

    (Or even a computer that uses a personal cloud on your own internal network (ie: not hooked up to the internet) could even be sufficient, given your server and network hardware is running up to snuff.)
  • Reply 36 of 49
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post


    To be fair, I thought Apple was trying to do something where they could permanently brick your iDevice if they sensed it was jail broken. ...



    So, a scenario like this:



    SJ: Jony, I'm sensing that camroid27's iPhone has been jailbroken. The feeling is very strong, we'd better brick her.



    JI: No problem, Stevo, we'll put the men who stare at goats on it right away.
  • Reply 37 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


    Clearly they are going to do this. Here is how it would work.



    You log into the cloud. Every so often, or at logout, there is a sync back to your real home directory. Or if that is more up to date, as you may have worked offline it happens ( sync to network) online.



    Advantages:



    Get a new mac. Login to your home directory.

    Go to your firends house. Login to your home dirctory.

    Go on holiday. There is a mac. Login to your home directory. Desktop settings, display settings et al.



    ( Although some device level settings will not be set).



    Could be even more useful for an iPad. Introducing multi-user and keep the purchases online per user. PLay from any iPad. Login on any iPad. Theres your stuff.



    So, basically Back to My Mac and Mobile Me on steroids. I already sync all my documents to my iDisk. Pretty Convenient actually--and it provides an off site back up
  • Reply 38 of 49
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kohelet View Post


    So, basically Back to My Mac and Mobile Me on steroids. I already sync all my documents to my iDisk. Pretty Convenient actually--and it provides an off site back up



    Yeah. WEll that is my 2 C. I dont know exactly if this is the plan exactly, but it is similar to how Apple has network home directories within the company, I hear.
  • Reply 39 of 49
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


    So listen up - when there is no internet you work offline with a copy of the home directory locally. The differences between online and offline will be synced next time you go online.



    That's not really the idea of a cloud-based OS, is it? Synced home directories on a network drive have been around since Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, that's not what I think about when we're talking about a cloud based OS. I could set up a scheme like that using rsync on OS X or linux in literally 5 minutes. Also, how do you envision a synchronisation mechanism that stores everything I'm working on exactly before my internet connection fails, just in time, so I can keep working locally?



    To me, a 'cloud based OS' that 'boots from the network' means exactly that: it boots from the network, it stores your applications and settings on the network, and it stores your files on the network. No network = no computer.
  • Reply 40 of 49
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by d-range View Post


    That's not really the idea of a cloud-based OS, is it? Home directories on a network drive have been around since Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, that's what I think about when we're talking about a cloud based OS.



    To me, a 'cloud based OS' that 'boots from the network' means exactly that: it boots from the network, it stores your applications and settings on the network, and it stores your files on the network. No network = no computer.



    Fair enough. I may have mis-read the thread. And I agree that a full net boot would be too intensive. I wouldnt rule out a network home directory in the cloud with syncing, but that is not this patent.
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