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HP Linux

How HP Could Turn a Novelty Into a Revolution 353

Posted by kdawson
from the just-the-right-touch dept.
RobotsDinner writes "HP's TouchSmart desktop is cool, but a blogger suggests it could be the beginning of a revolution if HP were to finally make the move of ditching Windows and building a Linux distro around the TouchSmart UI. 'Hello, HP. The UI of your latest TouchSmart computer says something about you. You may not have recognized your own weaving-in of meaning, but it comes across quite clearly if one reads just right: You want out. You want to escape the world of Windows to which Microsoft has sequestered you for the better part of two decades. Ah, but you can. No longer does Bill Gates stand guard outside your cell ... It's time to ditch Windows and build a Linux distro around the TouchSmart UI ... Your captivity of innovation under Microsoft is over. You're free. Free to invent, as you might put it.'"
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How HP Could Turn a Novelty Into a Revolution

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  • Gimmick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vinividivici (919782) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:45PM (#24838077) Homepage
    From personally using/selling this computer for about a month, I can say it is nothing more than a gimmick. It's nothing more than a glorified tablet with a glossy screen. If HP were serious about trying to revolutionize an industry, chances are, they'd have to partner with Apple to use their patents. As it is now, the screen is uncomfortable, buggy, and horrifically unprecise. Plus, the computer itself is nothing special, being built on the same platform as their DV5 series of laptops. The processor is just a Core2 Duo T5750 which barely clocks at 2.0ghz. They try to make up for the mediocre processor with 4gb of 333mhz DDR2, and fail. The screen has no multi-touch capability, so using an on-screen keyboard is a pain because response time shows as much latency as someone trying to play WoW on a 28.8kbps dial-up connection. HP will never turn novelty into a revolution. These companies do nothing more than market the norm with a little more glitz, and unfortunately, the age of the keyboard and mouse is not yet over. Give me a capacitive multi-touch screen with haptic feedback that runs linux with Enlightenment or one of the other eyecandy desktop environments on a low profile desktop form factor, then we'll see if touch screens are the way of the future.
  • by g0dsp33d (849253) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:46PM (#24838089)
    I'm a huge fan of Linux like a lot of the other people here, but I don't see this happening. Linux has made huge strides to make media work out of the box, but the average user is still either too stupid or lazy to want to install proprietary codecs (for the distros that don't automatically) or not be able to use certain media (CNN streaming videos are Windows only, AFIAK, I'm sure there are plenty of other good examples).

    Most of the issues are now with third parties not releasing specs for drivers or with proprietary codecs, but the end user doesn't care about that. They want to click play and see something shiny, not go to an error page and try to manually install something. Granted a big company like HP can choose hardware carefully or write their own drivers, but they can't fix all the bells and whistles that users want.

    Until there is enough momentum to force Linux compatibility with third party software, HP won't be jumping to Linux only. That's a fanboy pipedream. The best we can hope for is that they continue to make Linux boxes. Hopefully they'll be profitable and that will increase the market share. If HP goes Linux only it won't be to stick it to Microsoft. It will be to make the most money they can. Microsoft did a good job of standardizing software and adding Linux boxes will mean a lot of secondary support overhead. I hope they rapidly continue down that path, But expecting to get there overnight is simply ludicrous.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy DOT Lakeman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:53PM (#24838139)
    Not to mention that a touch screen interface either gives you RSI or neck / back ache depending on the position of the screen.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:54PM (#24838143)

    A pure Linux fanboy wrote that blog post that made its way to Slashdot's homepage. He just wants HP to put Linux on the hot new product, when really this is a Windows Tablet with a few new cool apps writen for it.

    You're right. But he does have a point, although that may not have been intentional. If Linux were to power a nifty device that caught the attention of the masses, that'd certainly be a good first step towards gaining mass acceptance.

    But... well really there's nothing insightful about what I just said. Nothing new, anyway. It's easy for me to say "put Linux on a neat product!", but picking the right product, making it work, and convincing somebody to do it ... well if I could provide a step by step of how to realistically pull that off, I'd deserve more than a +5.

  • by east coast (590680) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:59PM (#24838175)
    You know, there are plenty of really good blogs out there but if we're going to continue to see more and more blog posts represented as legitimate news articles can we please flag them in some way so I can just chose to ignore them?
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:08AM (#24838231)

    If Linux were to power a nifty device that caught the attention of the masses, that'd certainly be a good first step towards gaining mass acceptance.

    You mean like the Asus Eee?

  • Re:Gimmick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:13AM (#24838269)
    I remember when Hewlett Packard was a trusted name in printing. Their HP 9871A was an industry revolution and every printer they made was build to last. Then some time in the late '90s I bought an HP printer and IT WAS A DOG. The damn thing couldn't print on a straight line, was made of thin, thin plastic, had cartridges that cost more than the damn printer... and all my years of loyalty to the HP name went whooooooooshhhhh. That was about the time they started making computers.
  • by absent_speaker (905145) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:14AM (#24838277)
    Speaking of places touchscreen would be useful, I'd love to have a touchscreen in my kitchen, maybe fold up under the cabinet and pop down when I want it. I could hook it up into my home network, maybe even have a wireless keyboard option. Or perhaps even have a keyboard built into the counter - looks like ordinary counter when the keyboard is off. Press a button to activate and a back light underneath the ceramic of the counter pops on and you can see the keyboard.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:26AM (#24838363)

    Yeah, I bet Tivo are really glad they picked Linux given the reaction to them from the Linux community.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:28AM (#24838387)

    One one hand, some people are mad at them.
    On the other hand, they saved millions in development costs.
    I don't see them being unhappy unless it is an existential angst.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by exley (221867) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:29AM (#24838397) Homepage

    Yawnable? I disagree. Useful? Not so sure. I have a convertible tablet laptop (no touch screen; just the stylus) and I think it is fantastic, but I'm not sure if I could see myself using the touch feature of a 22" size box on a regular basis.

    Still might be cool product once you get your hands on it, though, and this post could end up an unwitting Slashvertisement for some of us, much to the chagrin of those responsible for the latest non-news story to hit the front page.

  • Re:Gimmick (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wingman 5 (551897) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:36AM (#24838461)
    You mean something like this? http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus-tactus/ [artlebedev.com]
  • Re:Gimmick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mad Merlin (837387) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:11AM (#24838675) Homepage

    And of course this will be doomed to fail, like so many other Apple products, because the slashdot crowd are genetically opposed to any keyboard functionality that doesn't have the same feel and *click* of an IBM Model 101 keyboard. :-p

    Actually, taking the opposite of the Slashdot reaction is generally a good indicator for how something will do with the general public. Just look at what we thought of the iPod [slashdot.org] (rightfully so, but apparently that's not important).

    ...and you can have my IBM Model M over my dead body!

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:11AM (#24838681) Homepage
    I think it is this video: http://www.archive.org/details/AlanKeyD1987 [archive.org]

    In which Douglas Englebart discovered that it was very tiring to use a touch screen display in the 60s. Half a century later, we'll be relearning that.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:39AM (#24838813) Homepage
    The comment is by Alan Kay at 7:10. And of course, I misspelled "Engelbart". Anyway here's the quote (Sketchpad is from 1962):

    "By the way, Sketchpad was the first system in which it was definitely discovered that the light pen is a very bad input device because the blood runs out of your hand in about 20 seconds and leaves it numb. In spite of that it's been reinvented at least 90 times in the last 25 years." Alan Kay, 1987.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:45AM (#24838859)

    As someone somehow related with the HP MFP development process, I will say that HP is putting more devices on Windows, from setups that were previously HP-UX based. As seen in the Edgeline series of MFPs (really, starting there), HP includes a copy of Windows CE with the firmware. The interface is larger than on other MFPs, but it was designed to mimic the HP-UX setup, which was still perfectly functional, and could have been expanded to the larger screen. HP has ceased development on several products because they aren't using Windows CE now.

    All this is to say, I don't think HP is trying to get away from Microsoft. Microsoft is a large partner and client for HP, and while HP will work on Linux systems as a means of being fairly diverse (but I fear some of managements short sighted ness is stifling/removing some diversity), they do still really like Microsoft, and are using .net C# extensively on the Imaging side of the Business.

    Posted Anonymously because of some NDA papers that I don't think fully apply, but it can't hurt to be safe.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:49AM (#24838871) Homepage Journal

    The main problems with touch screens for more than casual use are:

    1: You obscure what you touch. Until we get transparent hands, people will obscure the screen while using it.
    2: Smudges and scratches. If you don't think this is a real problem, look at the pay terminal at the grocery store. And that's casual use.
    3: Gorilla Arm syndrome. This has been the downfall of touch screens for frequent input each and every time they have been re-launched as the next big thing.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:09AM (#24838981)

    If Linux is supposed to be free as in both speech and beer, then why should we be pushing it on people? That's not freedom.

    An interesting point. Did the US become free as a result of the revolution, or was it non-free because the people loyal to the English monarchy had that freedom forced on them?

    Perhaps there are just a certain amount of people who only take what is forced on them. Some people accepted monarchies because they were forced on them. Some people had democracy forced on them. Is the right to representative government less of a freedom because some people didn't want it?

    My parents, for example, will never experience freedom in relation to software: they take what the salesman tells them to take. If the salesman tells them to take Linux someday, they will, but will not be more free as a result, IMO.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:17AM (#24839037)

    Tivo's supplier is the kernel team and they have done nothing of the sort.

    No, Tivo's supplier is "Linux", not just kernel. Some of the user level stuff they rely on will change license terms. In fact most GPL code is licensed under "version 2 or later", so if they use that their users can just treat it as if it were GPLv3 licensed. or GPLv4 when it comes out, which might have additional anti Tivo clauses.

    Anyway, if they are unhappy with the licensing terms they can always write their own code.

    Like I said, I'm sure they're really happy they chose Linux under one set of license terms only to find the terms changed without them agreeing and specifically to put them out of the business. The worst thing is they don't know yet what the impact will be yet - if some crucial user mode piece of code changes to GPLv3 they might need to rewrite it. If they complain they get told to "write their own code".

    Uncertainty like this makes businesses anxious. That's why they mentioned it in their SEC filing. And why I suspect they're better off migrating away from Linux to reduce the risk of people adding clauses to the GPL designed to destroy them.

    Face it the FSF and most of the community don't want them to use Linux in the way they do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:18AM (#24839043)

    "I'm sure you've noticed how there's nothing new coming out of Hollywood? Just the same old stories, over and over again. They've even resorted to crappy old TV shows, trying to find a new angle. There are only so many ideas out there to build on, and in about 100 years, they've gone through them all at least once.

    Same thing with video games: I used to repair arcade games, so I saw every game imaginable for 15 years. They too started repeating after a while, didn't they?

    The same goes for Operating Systems. There's only so many ways you can engineer a user interface," - by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Tuesday September 02, @12:23AM (#24838333)

    NOW, here is a guy I am quoting above me, that has his SHIT WIRED TIGHT/TOGETHER, & is observant + insightful! Heh, If I did not post as "A/C" here (I do so, to be less trackable only really)? I would "mod you up" as insightful... but, I can't so...

    Duncan, same age here, roughly same background though (coder + network admin/engineer (security focused on both)), but, slightly more 'current' w/ the coding stuff (you're right on the bike analogy though), but roughly same background here (nice to see you call the 'crowd' here whippersnappers, because many ARE 'young whippersnappers' (though, there are also quite a few oldsters hanging about here too (even SHARP ones to boot)).

    ANYHOW - I, for one @ least, DO see your point!

    Plus, I also unfortunately am largely FORCED to agree with it even on MANY accounts (by all means):

    From your descriptions + examples?

    My man, you've successfully described what I've heard summed up in a SINGLE sentence before, & it's called this -> "THE DECLINE OF A CIVILIZATION"...

    (Which I've heard when others call it (such as poets & even sociologists (the 'psychology of societies', more-or-less)) also started pointing out that ONCE/WHEN imitation, rather than outright original innovation, starts becoming "the norm/trend" in remakes (of remakes, etc. et al & in MANY areas (I am actually GLAD you did so many examples thereof in fact, they only serve to serve YOUR point & the one I did a bolded quote of above)??

    That's what we're looking @, basically. The downturn of a particular culture. Imagination/Creativity/Originality = EXHAUSTED, apparently.

    AND, yes... it SPOOKS me!

    Why?

    Well, because the REAL "innovators" out there, lately, seem to be the CRIMINAL element (such as those practicing all kinds of attacks out there, especially rootkits (& those using Plug-N-Play BIOS flashing attacks, & yes, this IS just as possible as flashing your BIOS from Windows, & that is clearly doable, ask ASUS & GigaByte for example), & the latest attacks on the DNS system, plus the viruses/spywares/rootkits/trojans that will soon be targetting CPU "errata" as well (trust me, THOSE are coming too))

    AND, then there is the "political/military industrial complex" crowd, & their ENRON-type cronies too - it seems CRIMINALITY is also a "last frontier" of innovation the past decade now as well...

    Damn sad is what it is... no wonder they're (society @ large) trying to preach MATH & PHYSICS to youngsters now... the/us "oldsters" are APPARENTLY, running out of ideas.

    APK

    P.S.=> WORST PART IS? Heh, while I was watching "Glenn Beck" (editorial newscast, I am not a "huge fan" of his, & sometimes I think he's messed up, others not) & they took a poll of youngsters, & asked them WHY they are NOT INTO THE SCIENCES... the answer & overwhelming GIST of replies from today's youth in said surveys?

    "Why should I work hard @ school, when I can LIE, STEAL, & CHEAT MY WAY TO RICHES - it's what successful folks do nowadays anyhow!"

    Some example this past generation in control has set, eh? apk

  • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:40AM (#24839145) Homepage Journal
    Don't know what you mean by "gorilla arm syndrome" but using a stylus handles the first two concerns just fine.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ExternalDingus (951990) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:44AM (#24839171)
    The reason.. most people who use PC's don't type all that much either. I don't. Yet I still have a keyboard and I do type from time to time. Being able to touch and draw directly on the screen is as important ot me as typing if not more important. But I am an artist so maybe I'm not the best person to ask.
  • by hatchet (528688) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:44AM (#24839173) Homepage
    I have pretty much same experience. I actually used linux for desktop few years back. And windows now just blows linux away in pretty much every aspect - even performance and stability. Yes, my X crashed way more times than winXP did - and even those crashes were due to overcloking and overheating. X just hanged and the only thing i could do was ctrl-alt-backspace.

    My latest experience with linux at my job... fedora core. We run few vmware clients on that computer and i was trying to reconfigure network card. I could navigate through menus and select configuration, but nothing happened. Tried to open console to see what's going on... nothing happened. After few minutes of scratching my head, all the windows opened. I got absolutelly no indication that system was so clogged up. At least in windows you get little 'wait' icon and taskmanager opens always. I got so annoyed i actually suggested using win2k8 with hyper-v in future.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @03:00AM (#24839265)

    "Maybe just program it the best you can and stop relying on dishonest gimmicks? ... People have ported Linux to far more interesting devices before and it really hasn't changed a thing."

    I didn't say anything about dishonest gimmicks. I said put it on a product people like and it'll get the Linux name out there. Like I said, the masses don't care. Linux is invisible to them. Raise that visibility. Look at FireFox. It's starting to gain some mainstream momentum. Why? Because it's good? No, because it's better than Internet Explorer. Not just better, but better in ways that are meaningful to lots of people. Gecko rendering core? PFtbtb. Tabs? Ooo! That's what Linux needs, that is if the goal is to get it on millions of desktops.

    "People have ported Linux to far more interesting devices before and it really hasn't changed a thing."

    That's because they're following the parade instead of leading it. Again, see FireFox.

  • by flewp (458359) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @03:47AM (#24839545)
    I don't know exactly why, but whenever I use my Wacom, my hand tends to cramp up a lot quicker than if I'm using an actual pen or pencil. I think it has to do with either the fact that I leave my tablet on the desk at all times, which limits the angles and position I'll be holding the stylus at - as opposed to a sketchbook that I may move around as I work. The other thing is maybe the constant light hovering over the tablet with the stylus.
  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @03:58AM (#24839609)

    I've always wondered if it's worth having a Microwriter like mouse. From what I've read the Microwriter was a very natural input device. Then again it never took off, so maybe it was only natural to a small number of zealots.

  • by shmlco (594907) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:37AM (#24840757) Homepage

    The iPhone UI was designed from the ground up as a touch interface, maximizing the use of space and screen real estate in a portable device. All of the applications it uses were redesigned to take advantage of that interface. With that in mind, just what, exactly, is a Linux-based touch-screen desktop computer going to do? What is it going to do differently? More importantly, just how is it going to do it BETTER?

    The disadvantage to the HP is that they've come up with a half-hearted interface with a few applets that lets you manipulate a few things via touch, then drops you back into Windows for everything else. And Windows, for the most part, has no clue the touch screen system exists. Yes, you can still "click" the screen, but all of the teensy-tiny widgets in Windows are designed for skinny, precise mouse pointers and not for fat, dull fingers.

    So again, what would Linux do differently? And who's going to rewrite all of those applications to take advantage of the hardware?

    Speaking of which, from what I gather the screen uses a "smart" border and not capacitance, so it only recognizes single finger presses and not multi-touch gestures. No pinches, no two finger Jeff Han rotations and zooms. Touch-wise, it's speaking at a kindergarten level. With all of that in mind, and given the limitations of the hardware, I fail to see just how revolutionary the device could be, even if you managed to convince the Linux developer community to to support it.

    And without groundbreaking applications to pique a user's imagination, the concept that this computer could "promote" Linux is..., well... totally out of touch with reality.

  • Re:Wishful thinking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shmlco (594907) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:44AM (#24840799) Homepage

    It doesn't "replace" the Windows desktop. There are a few applets that let you play with music, photos, and a few other things. When done playing, you close the pretty application and return to Windows and the "real" world.

    Think of the "Front Row" multi-media application on a Mac... and then what happens when you quit back to desktop.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:21PM (#24851431) Journal

    Actually, it is that Linux is not ready for most people.

    Linux on the desktop is good for exactly 3 types of users:

    1. People who want to do nothing but surf and send email. Users for whom the basic install is perfect.
    2. Some, not all, UNIX/Linux admins and developers
    3. Linux fanboys

    For everyone else, people who want to use off-the-shelf software such as MS Office, Photoshop, Quicken, and the latest games, Linux is the wrong choice.

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