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Portables (Apple) Software Linux Hardware

Booting an x86 Virtual Machine from an iPod 236

randomjohndoe writes "IBM has taken the next logical extension of booting Linux from a flash drive. Researchers were recently able to boot Knoppix from an iPod and run an x86 virtual machine in VMware, which provided an easy way to encrypt the whole operating environment. The tests were conducted on a 60GB iPod photo using Knoppix."
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Booting an x86 Virtual Machine from an iPod

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  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:13AM (#13336504) Homepage
    Yeah, neat.

    But does it run Linu...

    Oh. Nevermind.
  • by AmigaAvenger ( 210519 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:14AM (#13336510) Journal
    ok, so they used an ipod as an external usb hard drive and booted knoppix with it. we pay researchers to do stuff like this??? there is absolutely nothing amazing/revolutionary/interesting about that...

    next week, stay tuned for when they are going to install windows on a 1 gb usb keydrive!!

    • stay tuned for when they are going to install windows on a 1 gb usb keydrive!!

      Won't you have product activation problems (I'm assuming WinXP here) if you try to take that keydrive and plug it into a different machine?

      • Good thing anyone thinking of this has got themselves a copy of the corp. edition of XP Pro with a generated key.

        They just have to worry about having the i386 dir on the key so it can auto install the hardware every time they move.
      • > > stay tuned for when they are going to install windows on a 1 gb usb keydrive!!

        > Won't you have product activation problems (I'm assuming WinXP here) if you try to take that keydrive and plug it into a different machine?

        Not if you RTFA. The whole point of Soulpad is to keep a virtual PC on the portable hard-drive. So you could install XP on it, which will run in VMware under Knoppix, and move the virtual PC around to different real PCs. No re-activation needed!
    • by pokka ( 557695 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:28AM (#13336583)
      ok, so they used an ipod as an external usb hard drive and booted knoppix with it. we pay researchers to do stuff like this??? there is absolutely nothing amazing/revolutionary/interesting about that...

      Well, maybe it's not revolutionary, but it's nice that someone took the time to actually figure out all the random issues related to having a roaming workstation (not just a roaming profile) and making sure that it not only works on any x86 configuration, but that files, settings, and preferences are written back to the device, apps work properly, and everything is encrypted so that your data isn't compromised if your device is stolen..

      It's more of a complete solution, versus a bunch of ideas that "anyone could have put together" but no one did.
      • to actually figure out all the random issues

        There is nothing to "figure out": that stuff is pretty elementary system
        administration. VMware makes it particularly trivial, but it's not hard to do the same thing with user mode Linux and Xen.

        It's more of a complete solution, versus a bunch of ideas that "anyone could have put together" but no one did.

        It becomes a "solution" once it's a shipping product.
    • Well, you left out the other half of the equation; development. Research and Development.

      IBM's making a "machine in pocket" device that boots Linux. You'd think Slashdotters would love that.. But then they go on to say what uses it has; a person no longer has to have their machine in front of them, as their entire operating system is on disk and booted at the machine. Futhermore, the device creates an encrypted partition to store user data if it gets stolen/lost/etc.

      While it's not new, revolutionary,
      • Go re-read the article. The whole purpose is to have a portable device that will run windows on any x86 PC.

        IBM's making a "machine in pocket" device that boots Linux. You'd think Slashdotters would love that.
        while it boots linux it doesn't effectivly 'run' linux. It runs windows (That's the OS that is presented to the user). So no the /. crowd would probably hate it.
        It runs linux, but only so it can run VMware so you can run windows without having to worry about the hardware you're running it on. And

    • Actually they booted Windows under VMWare under Knoppix from a usb device. What they'd really like to do is just boot Windows from the usb device, but Windows sucks at automatically configuring itself for random machines. So they let linux do all the hardware autoconfig and device drivers, then let VMWare virtualize the network/display/keyboard/mouse up into Windows.
    • next week, stay tuned for when they are going to install windows on a 1 gb usb keydrive!!

      BFD. I've been running a Win98 box off of a 256meg CompactFlash for over a year. Of course I'm not a Researcher. (rolls his eyes)
    • When you say "revolutionary/interesting", do you mean one word, or is the / shorthand for "or"? Because, press releases to the contrary, few things are all that revolutionary. And interesting is in the eye of the beholder. To most people any port is boring. To the right kind of hacker, all ports are fascinating.
    • I travel a fair bit, and need to have a consistent work environment available to me wherever I am. The machine I may have access to at any given location may let me boot into anything I carry with me. On the other hand, my solution should also work reasonably well on a machine that I can't reboot. My solution was: Use a linux installation off of my portable hard drive, and have Co-Linux available on it too. I can boot off of it, or I can access it via co-Linux. My home-drive is stored as an AES encryp
    • next week, stay tuned for when they are going to install windows on a 1 gb usb keydrive!!

      Stay tuned... Next week, overpaid scientists enter programs into a computer in binary by toggling 8 switches and pressing a clock button.

  • by TildeMan ( 472701 ) <gsivek.mit@edu> on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:14AM (#13336511) Homepage
    Now that they have Knoppix running on their iPods and are running x86 virtual machines, they could run all sorts of neat software like mpg321!
  • by amper ( 33785 ) * on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:17AM (#13336525) Journal
    You know, the installation of Mac OS X on my iPods and external, bus-powered FireWire LaCie drives are all bootable on any Macintosh with built-in FireWire (minus the B&W G3's and PCI G4's).

    You can even store your iTunes folder on the iPod, and use iTunes to load the thing...

    So basically, IBM is just saying that they've discovered that hard drives are a lot smaller and cheaper than they used to be. Wow. I'm impressed!
    • Home on iPod (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @05:05AM (#13337389)
      Home on iPod [ipodhacks.com] was a feature slated for inclusion in OSX 10.3 Panther - it was the opportunity to have an encrypted home directory, containing application settings, documents and apps in a partition on an iPod's internal drive.

      When connected to a supported Mac, the OS would allow the user to log in with their usual login and password, giving a seamless M
      the feature was apparently scrapped as desktop usage was too stressful on the iPod hard drive
  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:19AM (#13336536) Homepage Journal
    But... does it play mp3's?

    Get it? Usually you ask if it runs linux, but since this Ipod does run linux, it's funnier to ask if it still can play music.

    Never mind, I should just go to bed.
  • iPod? (Score:2, Informative)

    by pmdata ( 861264 ) *
    Or even better, use a firewire flash drive (up to 4GB) like this one: http://www.kanguru.com/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryI D=39 [kanguru.com]. Why do you need 60GB to boot Knoppix, unless you are doing disaster recovery. Also, the constant spin of an iPod's platters will significantly decrease the life of the drive. The iPod is meant to move chunks of data (music files) over to flash memory to reduce HD spin and increase battery life. Not to run an OS. Target/Firewire boots have been a life-saver in the Mac world and I o
    • Wow, quite the opposite argument for the typical Slashdotter. Most of the time we are subject to hearing how terrible the iPod is in comparison to X company's product because the storage size is smaller at the same price point, and now a slashdotter links to a product who's pricepoint is almost double that at of an iPod, with a storage capacity that's 15 times less.

      Humor aside, the above really is the reason here. Flash is simply too expensive still, and it's seemed to hit a stall (along with storage dev
  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:21AM (#13336544) Journal
    Did the submitter even read the article? It's primarily about IBM's SoulPad software, not the fact that they booted linux from an iPod.
  • Sweet! :)
    • Seriously! I like the design of the iPod, but with most of my music being in OGG Vorbis format, a player that doesn't handle that is useless to me. I don't understand why Apple, with all its open-everything mentality, doesn't add Vorbis support to the iPod.

      I don't think it's difficult to do, and it would sure be a killer feature, seeing that the vast majority of players don't support Vorbis, and the vast majority of players that do support it are either not as well-designed as the iPod, or significantly mor
      • I might as well ask a question. I googled up a simple one click mp3/ogg converter that would keep the bit rates that were in the mp3's and not perform any further loss (in conversion, if any, since they compress different).

        I couldn't find one. The brilliance of google brought up hundreds of:

        "convert-mp3-download-free-tunes-imusic-
        itunes-ogg-divx-free.castadnetwork.com"

        websites, but nothing of note.

        Can I simply run a quick app to mass convert, but tell it to skip certain trees that contain mp3 program files
        • That's a very, very, very, very bad idea. Let me explain why.

          First.
          Let me get some definitions straight:
          mp3: Lossy format. Converting to mp3 means encoding your music. The best encoder is LAME (As proof, I suggest you check out hydrogenaudio [hydrogenaudio.org])

          ogg Vorbis [vorbis.com]: Lossy format. Converting to ogg means encoding your music. The best encoder is (offcourse) the original ogg Vorbis encoder.

          mpc/Musepack [musepack.net]: Yet an other lossy format. Converting to mpc means encoding your music. The best encoder is (offcourse) the original Muse
          • I would have been more informative if I didn't now have to highlight the errors.

            BTW I specialise in human perception based lossless compression techniques, such as images based, scene based or (not yet - but well known) audio based.

            postscript, erm, added up here, because I can edit anywhere after preview: If you want to see good scene based compression, check out F.E.A.R and see the multi resolution decals that nucleate around areas of interest, which is simple idea, but now it is being used more and more!
  • by two_of_six ( 907010 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:23AM (#13336560)
    But who's going to be the first to run the x86 OSX hack on it?
  • Zaurus? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:30AM (#13336590)
    Sharp has done this already with their latest Zaurus line. With a built-in 4Gb hard disk, powered by Linux, rotatable screen and keyboard, it is like a miniature laptop.

    The thing I want to know is, what CPU architecture are they playing with? Last time I checked, glibc was dropping support for ARM (which the Zaurus uses). What will IBM be using? (their own chips?)
    They're obviously not using x86 (too power hungry I think).

    • As far as I can tell, the iPod uses an ARM CPU.

      ``They're obviously not using x86 (too power hungry I think).''

      That's not really true. Sure, x86 is not the most power-efficient architecture out there, but VIA Eden does pretty well. And don't forget that moving parts (the iPods have hard drives) suck power too! Next to that, the CPU architecture may make little difference.
  • IPod design? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dhalphir ( 862198 )
    So, we're going to start buying 60gb Ipod Photos just to run an OS on them? Seriously, what's the point? An IPod hard drive was configured to access photos and songs at optimum speed, or just songs if it's not a photo model, not to deal with the massive overhead of running an OS. Can you imagine the pain of the third-degree burns if you picked up an IPod running an OS? Especially Windows...
    • Seriously, what's the point?

      The point isn't that you can now use your ipod to run an OS, the point is developers have come up with a truly portable remote envrionment. The OS, software and data files are all stored on a portable hard drive (eventually, a flash drive) that's compleatly independant from the hardware envrionment.

      So, you can take your OS as you like it configured, with all of your programs and all of your saved files, pull it out of your pocket and run it on any hardware envrionment, even some
      • Re:IPod design? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
        The point here isn't the hardware they ran it on, but rather the software they designed to make a workstation that's truly hardware (or at least processor-and-mobo) independent. You can take the box away, plug it into a different workstation somewhere, and it comes right back up as if it was your own computer.

        Think about how many employees IBM has worldwide. It's in the hundreds of thousands. Think of how much it costs to equip them all with Thinkpads (even if they are made by Lenovo now). Now think about t
  • This, or something like it, could be the future of portable computing -- a home directory you carry with you. With the modest expectation of your favorite (modern, month-or-so old) shell, window manager, desktop environment, and a grab bag of popular packages on a host pc, why not?! I suppose package resolution may become an issue. Perhaps if they standardize on Knoppix (or whatever), there can be a way to use packages from your portable drive (copied to temp space, of course!) so you can run gimp-alpha
    • Why not? I'll tell you why not.

      Screen size and interface. What the hell can I do with an iPod other than play music and scroll through pictures?

      Run GIMP? OK...so it 'runs'. Not do anything remotely useful with it.

      Home directory you can carry with you? Ok....a USB drive works for that.

      The future of 'portable computing' is already here. Kids are already bypassing laptops, and just using phones. Contacts, calendar, games, IM, voice, web access....tell me a phone isn't a better interface than an iPod for all t

    • so, what are the security implications of this thing? Can you trust the host machine not to record things that you might want to keep private? Or is the task of modifying VMware just too daunting?
    • I think rich web apps provide an even nicer opportunity here. All your stuff stored on a publicly accessible server (you can run one yourself, of course). Access your programs and data from anywhere, and the only thing you need to carry with you is your login info!

      I was working on this a number of years ago (in the times of Internet Explorer 4), but eventually gave up on the idea, because 1) web interfaces were just not rich enough and 2) rich interfaces were impractical (Java being closest, but it still re
  • That's nothing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:41AM (#13336633)
    I'm still waiting to install Linux on my microwave so it cooks the popcorn automatically without setting it on fire and triggering the fire alarm.
    • It's not going to happen until microwave vandors release the technical specs of their units, so Linux drivers for the various microwave perhephals (like, for example, the clock) can be written.

      Once we know the specific details of how the different parts of the microwave oven talk to each other, I'm sure we'll see linux ported to the device.

      Just remember, until they get the bugs worked out there's always a chance of a problem. I won't install it on my microwave until Ovenix goes gold, because if something f
  • I was running a seed of Panther before it went gold off my second generation iPod in 2003.

    It is not very healthy for the iPod to run an OS for very long on an iPod though.

  • Who didn't RTFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CyberVenom ( 697959 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:45AM (#13336649)
    For all you who didn't RTFA, they are booting from a USB mass storage device (which just happens to be an iPod) running Knoppix, and virtualizing the hardware to allow a less flexible OS (*cough* windows *cough*) to run on virtually any x86 hardware. The benefit being that you can take your Windows desktop's "Soul" with you on your iPod and just plug it in and go wherever you have a computer handy. Nothing revolutionary here except that IBM is starting to push this tword a dedicated device and software that should make setting this sort of thing up easier for the layperson. Pretty soon grandma will be toting her windows install, complete with Word, Explorer, and her favorite games downloaded from Yahoo, all on her trendy iPod which she can also use to listen to cool tunes when she's on the plane and doesn't have her grandson's computer to borrow.
    Personally I think this trend could be a very good thing, what with the horrible attempts at separation of user data in current operating systems where the majority of the data is actually shared.
    • you can take your Windows desktop's "Soul" with you

      I thought my windows machine had sold its soul to the devil.


    • The logical extension of where this is going to end up is on the mobile phone. Not with todays technology, but with more advances in portable storage and very high speed mobile networks for remote storage. Desktops could eventually just be a generic (dumb) screen with a build in cpu, memory, keyboard & mouse; and a slot in the stand where you drop your phone into. The OS and apps would be on the phones local storage, and your personal files would be served remotely and securely over the mobile networ
  • Wasn't that what John Shaft [imdb.com] called his apartment?
  • RTFA for God's sake! (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @12:58AM (#13336701)
    What is ironic is they are using Linux to boot Windows (or any x86 OS) You can use ANY adequetly configured pc to boot from. They chose Knoppix for it's excellent hardware detection. The data is encrypted and within 2 minutes you can have your entire desktop restored from a suspended state. If you actually go to the project web site http://www.research.ibm.com/WearableComputing/Soul Pad/soulpad.html [ibm.com] there is some really cool potential to this. Booting from a USB device is a no brainer but the stuff they are doing will make taking it with you much easier and cost effective.
  • by SUJovian ( 662632 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @01:12AM (#13336749) Homepage
    For those who didn't RTFA, IBM is developing a way for you to take the portable HD you installed an OS onto from your computer and use it to boot another computer somewhere else, a function very familiar to Mac users who've been doing it pretty much since the FireWire port was invented, but is as yet not possible on WinTel/x86 machines. All I can say, It's About F***ing Time.
  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by interstellar_donkey ( 200782 ) <pathighgate@NOSPAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @01:17AM (#13336766) Homepage Journal
    After going over the comments, it seems that most of the people miss the point. It's easily understandable why, because the Slashdot headline is somewhat misleading.

    This is not a "gee wiz, somebody got Knoppix to run on an iPod and encrypt the files on the drive". That would be kind of pointless. What makes this newsworthy is that they have developed a way to put an OS, applications, and datafiles all together on one portable device. This way, you can take everything in your computer (including the OS and its configuration), or as they put it the "soul" of your machine, and run it on another machine independent of whatever OS is installed on it.

    While currently you can store your own data files on a flash drive and access them on another PC (so as long as that PC has the software needed to read those files), you're still limited to the OS and configuration of that temporary host. With this, the temporary host doesn't even have to have an OS installed on it; it's all run from the portable device.

    • What makes this newsworthy is that they have developed a way to put an OS, applications, and datafiles all together on one portable device.

      Yeah amazing! One day though they will come out with portable "optical discs" with holes in the middle that you can store all your data and applications on. Word has it the going term in research circles is "versatile discs". Further down the road are magnetic hard drives so small you can take them with you in your briefcase.

      Once these developments become commercial
  • Can anyone suggest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Council ( 514577 ) <rmunroe@gmaREDHATil.com minus distro> on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @01:21AM (#13336779) Homepage
    Linux booted on device X, which, depending on the value of X, can either be crazy weird (a watch) or pretty boring (iPod drive).

    Can anyone suggest an article in the format

    "Booting Linux on a _______"

    that would not be vaguely believable?
    • Can anyone suggest an article in the format

      "Booting Linux on a _______"

      that would not be vaguely believable?


      "I booted Linux on my Atari 2600"
      "I booted Linux on a battery powered home pregnancy kit"
      "I finally got linux to boot on my Electronic Battleship game"
      "My Sony clock radio now has duel boot for BSD and Linux"
      "I booted linux on my Speak-n-Spell, but I can't seem to get it to reconize the voice producing hardware"
      "I got Linux to run on my Lite-Brite, though the refresh rates under X are really, really s
  • Awesome.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by litclicker ( 301954 )
    I've spent the past weekend attempting to run linux under windows or the other way around with vmware, and here IBM makes it work on a damn iPod!
    Well congrats, bastards.
  • ... no, wait, if I had a bunch of those, I'd sell them on eBay - as regular iPods, which I am sure they are most suited for being.

    [Ed. "most suited for being"? Is that English - let's take a poll...]

  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @01:59AM (#13336886) Homepage
    The main interest of this article is the IBM SoulPad research project, here: http://www.research.ibm.com/WearableComputing/Soul Pad/soulpad.html [ibm.com].

    There's a neat video of how it works too.
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @02:24AM (#13336978) Homepage
    Can it perform cunnilingus on a hardwood floor?
  • If only... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @03:25AM (#13337172) Homepage

    ...you could do it without an iPod or Flashdrive! Imagine if you could just point a web browser at your box at home and you could use it as if you were there!

    ..oh... yeah. SSH, X11, VNC. Surely these are better solutions than having to takeover someones whole computer just because you can't stand to loose your session data or use WinXP? I guess its neat that someone has put a LiveCD on RAM, but it seems to make life harder than it really needs to be - still each to there own.

  • Shuffle (Score:5, Funny)

    by cuteseal ( 794590 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2005 @06:22AM (#13337580) Homepage
    Hey if you had an iPod shuffle, you could surprise yourself by booting up a random OS each time! :D
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
    Last i heard the iPod was a external USB HD ( with a couple of extra features )..

    So why does anyone really care?
  • For those looking for a similar approach, but to take their *Linux* environment with them anywhere, and run it on a Windows platform, I highly recommend coLinux [colinux.org].

    Since Windows always has, and always will (well, for the forseeable future) have better and more timely hardware support, having the core OS be Windows tends to have advantages. Also, I can test on IE, and Windows versions of Firefox and Opera, all on the same box.

    But my core work, developing on Linux, doesn't need all of that fancy hardware suppor

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