…and IBM is about to show you The Future!
A couple of things strike me about this set of presentation slides someone has found and scanned.
The first is that they clearly predate presentation software such as Powerpoint, and as such are mercifully free of the horrible stylistic habits such software has produced. Note how the slides are obviously designed to augment the vocal part of the presentation, rather than being an alternate version of it. Talking about a computer? Don’t put up text from your talk, just show a picture of the computer and actually talk about it. If you must use text, make it a few words which summarize the point you are trying to get across.
The second thing that strikes me is how closely the slide sequence showing the computer system reminds me of the opening sequence of Space: 1999. Replace "September 13th 1999" with "Commodity increase / World monetary crisis deepens" and you’re almost there. The IBM 370 wouldn’t look out of place in Moonbase Alpha’s main mission, either.
I have a home server I built a few years ago. It uses a VIA EPIA motherboard, an M10000 with a C3 CPU. The storage is provided by two Seagate hard drives. A full-size CD-RW drive provides CD ripping facilities; I picked the drive based on its ability (according to reviews) to ignore all common CD copy protection methods. The whole thing fits in a box about the size of a shoebox, and needs a single small fan to cool it. I had to replace the CPU fan a while back, but other than that it has been totally reliable. The server handles file serving, media serving, IMAP, a home wiki, IRC client, and occasional development and test tasks.
I chose VIA based not only on their low power CPU offerings, but because every piece of hardware on the motherboard had full open source drivers. VIA had done what other manufacturers seemed unwilling to do, and contributed driver code to be incorporated into the core Linux kernel.
Now they’re going further. They have released open specifications for their crypto subsystem and integrated graphics processors. These seem to be at least some of the specification documents that X.org Unichrome driver developers had complained were not included with the earlier source releases.
More tellingly, VIA have hired the founder of gpl-violations.org to act as their open source liason. Other than hiring RMS, I can’t think what more they could do to convincingly argue that their previous mistakes were just that–mistakes.
No doubt this enthusiasm for openness partly stems from the recent success of low powered notebook computers running Linux, such as the Eee PC. It’s a market niche that VIA can compete well in, if they get rock-solid Linux support for their hardware. They’re even beating Intel on performance.
I’ve been tempted to replace my little server with one built on an EN12000, a fanless 1.2GHz EDEN-based motherboard that uses 6W of power. The main problem is finding a suitable fanless case that will take full-size drives and doesn’t cost a limb or two.