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HP Linux

How HP Could Turn a Novelty Into a Revolution 353

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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  • Slow News Day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:36PM (#24837999)

    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.

  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Merlin42 ( 148225 ) * on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:40PM (#24838043)

    Not sure how this qualifies as Slashdot frontpage worthy. Sure its a neat UI that hides much of the visable portions of windows, but its still windows, with all the good (app. compatibility) and bad (M$) that it brings with it. "Just" switch it to Linux is a hell of a lot harder than this rambling blogger makes it sound.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:42PM (#24838057)

    ...If HP were to finally make the move of ditching Windows...

    It's hard enough to kick a nasty crack habit, especially when you have to worry about your dealer coming after you for a beat down.

    HP (or any OEM) may not be able to piss off Microsoft, since a significant number of HP's customers demand MS. MS is known to get threatening with the licensing for companies the stray too far from the Microsoft ideal of exclusivity in the consumer market.

  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:52PM (#24838127)
    Not completely sure about this, but i think the biggest problem with the windows is actually the own windows users.

    They re not exactly OS experts, but they kinda command microsoft with their money, and so far they didnt quite guided it well.

    I imagine what will happen when this userbase starts to commmand linux too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:57PM (#24838169)

    That's why it's all screwy. I work in an industry that depends on another industry to provide me with supplies. They give me parts, I make something, and I sell it to a customer. I expect my suppliers to bend over backwards, because I can take my business to their competitors without upsetting my customers.

    HP doesn't have that luxury.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:09AM (#24838233) Homepage Journal

    Is it my imagination, or has everyone gone crazy with flash, and now ever web page has to have some element of it that causes your speakers to make embarassing sounds at work? Why can't websites like HP's, which you figure people will look at AT WORK, friggin' WARN people that it's going to start playing music, or give your opportunity to MUTE *before* the msuic starts playing?

    If this keeps up, I'm either going to stop surfing the web entirely, or, pull my speakers out. Unfortunately, these days some machines come with internal speakers (like the iMac), so if you disconnect the external speakers you activate the internal. Guess the volume controls are there onthe computer for a reason but still, when I'm on the web I'm there to read.

    If I want to watch "TV", I'll turn on the goddamned TV, thank you.

    Even Slashdot's front page has started having ads appear that make noise. Can't you just wait until something that's loaded with ads, like say '' starts having multiple ads playing sound simultaneously? Yeah, that'll be pleasant.

    Never mind Web 2.0 -- I'm starting to look fondly on Web 0.2 -- text on a grey background.

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

    by Gewalt ( 1200451 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:16AM (#24838293)
    No, more like Tivo
  • Wow... just wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:19AM (#24838315)
    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...

    What in the world makes you think that HP so desperately wants to break from MS? This is an enormous assumption. This is the assumption that just about every "year of Linux" article on Slashdot depends on and the blaring truth is that most people don't want to see MS fail. Most people don't see Gates as the evil borg. Most people don't give a damn about the bullshit OS wars. There are an extremely small number of people who have this anti-Microsoft hard on and even fewer who would be willing to buy a product just because Linux is stamped on it. HP knows this. There's a good reason they're making billions as we sit, blog and bicker about technology.

    And I have a hard time taking someone seriously who acts like Bill Gates is the reason that companies offered up Windows or stayed loyal to MS. What kind of oddball reasoning could make someone make that jump in logic?
  • Re:Gimmick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kyle ( 4392 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:20AM (#24838321)

    Yeah, thought that the moment I saw it. I think nearly everyone has figured out that holding your arms up to touch the screen for more than a couple of minutes is a no go.

    It's going to be a multi-touch screen that replaces your traditional keyboard that makes multi-touch on a PC work.

    We're already working with the cognitive disassociation of mouse/tablet operation, so on a laptop, just replace the whole keyboard and trackpad with a touchscreen that changes depending on requirements. Standard display would look just like a keyboard and trackpad, with dead areas where your wrists would normally rest, and would give you standard functionality.

    Touch a button located between the trackpad and the keyboard, and all of a sudden the whole area is one big multi-touch track pad.

    Problems with this are cost, if the whole are has to be glass, also weight, heat possibly from the lightsource beneath the display, and additional bulk.

    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

  • by Duncan Blackthorne ( 1095849 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:23AM (#24838333)
    I'm 43 years old. I've been futzing around with computers since before the IBM model 5150 was released -- and I had the audacity to scoff at it when it did. Furthermore I shunned Windows for quite a long time, and for the most part still do -- in the form of being ultra-conservative when it comes to Windows releases (my main desktop is still running Win2K SP4). I have programming skills (out-of-date from disuse, but it's like riding a bicycle) and I work electronics for a living for my entire adult life.

    Now that I've established my street cred for you young whippersnappers, let me tell you how it is:

    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, because Humans are as finite as everything else in this godforsaken Universe we live in -- and what's worse, we're just slightly smarter animals than the rest of the meat on this planet. That's one of the main reasons that Windows has been so succesful (aside from marketing skills): It caters to some of the lowest common denominators of humanity, and it does it well.

    I will assign MacOS as being the second place OS, and all flavors of *NIX as third place. But there is a common thread between all of them, now isn't there? It's just like Hollywood, or video games, or novels for that matter: There are only so many ways you can do a specific thing, and after a while the themes just repeat. At their most basic, all GUIs are basically the same, aren't they? There are specific details that are different, and I'm not taking technical issues like stability into account (because the average end-user doesn't give a damn about that until something goes wrong). In the final analysis, you have icons, you have a desktop, and you have a pointing device and you click on things with it. The rest is all window-dressing (excuse the poor, unintentional pun).

    So: Don't be bringin' your "revolutionary OS" talk around here, laddy-buck. Now be a good boy, and get off my lawn, K?

  • by exley ( 221867 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:25AM (#24838359) Homepage

    Apparently any random Linux wet dream is good enough for the front page these days. Random asshole blogger wants Windows-based product to use Linux... Film at 11.

  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:39AM (#24838473)

    My work laptop has been set to mute since the day I got it. The first thing I do when I sit down to a new computer is set the "sounds set" to "none"

    There's enough noise in an open plan office without having my computer squaking at me too.

    Now I just need to find a reasonable compromise for my home machine where I do want sound for some things. :(

  • by StreetStealth ( 980200 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:44AM (#24838497) Journal

    From the way he mentions it offhand, the blogger has probably never done any dev work on Linux. However, I think what he's getting at is that since HP has (ostensibly, I've never used one) built its own UI paradigm that replaces the Windows desktop and windowing system, they should just cut their ties and invest in expanding it into something bigger and more robust.

    I think TFA's real shortcoming is that it doesn't begin to consider what would actually be needed beyond a word processor. Making a new, fully-functional desktop UI (on Linux or anything else for that matter) is a much taller order than just porting the existing photo sharing gimmicks or whatever it is they have.

    Of course, it *is* HP we're talking about; they *could* afford to try this if they really wanted. It just wouldn't be a quick or cheap process.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:44AM (#24838509)

    If only it were possible to replace the dull windows like desktop: []

    And just imagine if GTK and QT worked on Windows! Or if somebody wrote and maintained a POSIX compatibility layer.

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

    by Zorque ( 894011 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:51AM (#24838555)

    Why do people have to treat devices like this as being nothing more than a stepping stone for the all-powerful Linux? Propagandizing like that is just the thing that keeps people from taking people like you seriously.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:58AM (#24838603)

    1. What the hell does linux have to do with this? For eff sake, we need editors who filter out garbage like this. Jumping to "make it run linux" every time new hardware emerges is getting reeeeally old. No offense, but I don't think linux has "the right stuff" for a system like this.

    2. Everybody knows arms get tired after pushing against a touchscreen held in the typical stand-up monitor position for more than a couple minutes. Touchscreen is awesome (assuming extremely light touch sensitivity, not pound-against-the-screen-and-hope-it-registers), but it only works well and feels natural if you're looking down on it and/or holding it in your hand. Think of it like a clipboard - you'd never stand a clipboard on its "legs" and write on it - you hold it or lay it flat on the desk.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:06AM (#24838651)

    MS is known to get threatening with the licensing for companies the stray too far from the Microsoft ideal of exclusivity in the consumer market.

    Indeed. I recall them threatening their OEM licensees when Be started looking for a box maker who was willing to set up a daul boot option. Microsoft loves abusing its monopoly to keep competitors out of the market.

  • Re:Gimmick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iamhigh ( 1252742 ) * on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:18AM (#24838715)
    agreed. I currently am in charge of about 60 printers. Mostly HP. Ranging from LaserJet 1xxx up to 4350. We still have several 2100's running strong at almost 200,000 pages.

    But about the worst printer ever was a few HP multifunctions. I also hate HP computers, drivers, software, and their website. If it were not for quality printers I wouldn't ever buy an HP anything. I also feel their quality has gone down, but for the price I can't find a better product.

    I just now realized that my second para pretty much makes me sure I don't want HP trying to take the lead for linux adoption.
  • by ArtistFrmrlyKnwnAsAC ( 1288796 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:18AM (#24838719)

    I'm not trolling at all when I say this anonymous blogger has absolutely no idea what's involved with software development. Anyone familiar with the underlying technologies (.NET, WPF, and the Tablet API) knows that the TouchSmart UI code makes up 1% of the GIGANTIC software stack required to make it possible. Running away from windows? I'd say they're doing exactly the opposite.

    This brings me to my second point: this person also has no sense of history--Windows OEMs have been doing shell replacement since DOS. Remember Geoworks? I'll bet the Compaq half of HP remembers Tabworks. They used it as their Windows shell from 3.1 all the way through their first year of Windows 95 (I supported in 1995 as a Compaq employee). TouchSmart is way more capable than any previous shell replacement, but what this blogger doesn't understand is that he has endless Windows APIs to thank for that.

  • HP? Software? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:32AM (#24838773) Homepage

    This fanboy wants HP to attempt to write *more* software?

    He obviously hasn't ever used an HP interface for scanners, printers, fax machines, or just any other 250 MB download just to send something to a printer.

    Besides, most of the magic on this device is Vista running in Tablet mode, with a few little skins that HP threw together in their typical half-ass fashion. If I got one of these devices, I'd likely format it and just let Vista Ultimate do its thing, running in Media Center mode with a few nifty add-in gadgets.

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

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:36AM (#24838791)

    because Microsoft didn't treat the PC that way and Apple's not treating the iPhone that way.... Right.

  • by edivad ( 1186799 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:52AM (#24838889)
    I am certainly not a Windows fan, but the failure of Linux as a desktop OS is pretty much evident. After 15 years, the adoption as far as desktop OS goes is in the neighbor of 2%. So no, I don't see Linux in a desktop happening anymore, although I had hoped back then.
  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:00AM (#24838933)

    Your sarcasm just demonstrates your ignorance: none of the hacks you mention even come close, either in functionality or design, to the modularity of Linux.

    (Mentioning the "POSIX compatibility layer" in Windows is particularly ironic, given that it works like shit.)

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ExternalDingus ( 951990 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:12AM (#24839003)
    They had electric cars at beginning of the 20th century too.. A mouse doesn't work to type but we still use a mouse and a keyboard. Why not a mouse, a keyboard, and a touch screen?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:18AM (#24839041)

    Imagine if someone invented a device where you could interact with the screen without having to touch it and get messy fingerprints and smudges all over.. oh yeah, it's called a mouse, and it's far superior to this mess.

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

    by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:21AM (#24839051) Homepage Journal

    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.

    That has happened already to some extent. The Asus EEE PC flew off the shelves and now several companies (including HP) are coming out with similar machines, many of which at least have a Linux option.

    Linux cut Windows off at many top end server spheres and has now started being very competitive at that lowest end for people who primarily use a computer as a web browser and little else. It will probably be a long time before Linux eats into those machines in the mid-range, but on the other hand Google is giving MS fits in other ways independent of which OS people are running.

    The question remains: how will MS adapt to a world in which they no longer call the shots for everyone else but instead have to "play nicely with some of the competition"? Personally I don't think they are going to adjust well to much thinner profit margins that they will experience in advertising, and that consulting work they keep saying they are going after. But we shall see.

  • by RustinHWright ( 1304191 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:38AM (#24839139) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, that was true with the kind of bulky, heavy tech they had then, mounted with the screen straight up and down. I hear no such complaints from users of Wacoms, including the Cintiqs that are also screens. The key issues are that the pen needs to be very light and the screen should be mounted at the angle a drafting table would be, about thirty degrees from horizontal.
    Also, frankly, most a y'all were never taught how to hold a pen properly. Those of us who took drafting classes back in the pen and ink days were taught to hold a pen in the ways that make it practical to work hour after hour, decade after decade, just as draftsmen, illustrators, and engineers had for generations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:59AM (#24839257)

    we all have our examples, I have been using computers since 1984, dos, win3, 95 etc etc.
    In 2000 I jumped to Linux and initially it was difficult, but I enjoyed it and it was a great learning experience.

    For the last few years I find Linux totally usable and have no issues at all, stability and performance is second to none.

    I am not spouting here, just noting we all have different experiences and expectations, why do we attract so many fanboys here (from all different camps)

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

    by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @03:40AM (#24839499)
    That's not actually true. You can distribute code licensed as v2 or later under either the terms of version 2 or the terms of version 3.

    You can't lose the terms of version 2 unless a new version of the software has a different license and even that doesn't change the license on the code you already have.

    Of course if the new code under the new license has major improvements you can't use that code and would have to independently modify your own, which would be somewhat expensive.

    That said, I think what is bothering Tivo is more the fact that clauses in the GPLv3 have been specifically crafted as an attack on them and their business model. A shift to the GPLv3, particularly in the kernel space would involve a political shift towards an atmosphere where they, along with Novell would be decidedly unwelcome.

    Adoption of the GPLv3 into major the kernel or any other critical system will kill Linux in the enterprise. Not because the GPLv3 makes enterprise Linux impossible(though you're pretty much stuck with Redhat if you want support), but because it will mean that the enterprise is no longer welcome in the linux world.

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

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:16AM (#24840613) Homepage

    Are you kidding? There's massess of masses of Solaris, HPUX, etc. out there and companies aren't moving.

    In the commercial world people don't change unless there's a good reason to. That's why we still ship Solaris 8 versions of our stuff, and have to build in compatibility with Oracle 8 because upgrading just doesn't happen that fast. HPUX 11.11 is ancient but still powers entire data centres and there's no inclination to move.. because it's solid, works and has uptime measured in years.

  • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:32AM (#24841167) Journal

    all GUIs are basically the same, aren't they?

    In the final analysis, you have icons, you have a desktop, and you have a pointing device and you click on things with it.

    No [] and no. []

    It's just that we have stuck with the same GUI for 30 years. But that doesn't mean there aren't other possibilities out there.

  • Re:Slow News Day (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:44AM (#24841275)

    Linux will always welcome enterprise. What it won't welcome is a back-stabbing brought forth from nit-picking details in the wording of its licenses.

    What TiVo did was not welcome. What Novell did was not welcome. You can't exactly cry foul when someone closes a loop-hole to a rule you managed to side-step.

    On that note, has TiVo ever contributed back to the community? That's not meant as snarky rheteric -- I honestly don't know and would like to know the answer.

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

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @09:36AM (#24841901)

    People need to be reminded, or taught, that the OS is just another piece of software that can be replaced just like any other.

    Why? Apple has the right idea. The vast majority of people wish to use a computer as they do anything else -- as a single, integrated unit. They do not want to care about operating systems, nor should they.

    I am posting this from Debian, using Iceape (mozilla), but I regularly use Windows for both work and at home. I do not find Windows limiting in most aspects. Frankly, if Windows had real virtual desktops, I wouldn't run Linux on my workstation at all.

    But, of course, you are a zealot, so there's no chance of reason making a dent in your opinion.

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

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @09:45AM (#24842049) Homepage

    Actually, you've got it wrong.

    If you don't distribute, you don't have to "give back" as you've put it.

    If you distribute, you're explicitly required to "give back" as part of the terms of the licensing. The "giving back" is the royalty payment that is supposed to be given in consideration for being licensed to publish copies of the protected work and to make substantively derivative works of the protected work. If you don't pay those royalties, you're in breach of the ONLY agreement you have to do these things in the first place.

    If you don't like those terms and you're unwilling to abide by them, do not distribute binaries of the protected works or make substantive derivative works from them.

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

    by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:05AM (#24843525)

    Handwriting recognition, I think, is the most important thing for a tablet PC. And that doesn't work, as far as I can figure out. (Meaning: if it does work, it's too hard to get installed/working.)

  • by tog000 ( 992148 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:07AM (#24843563)
    In *your* experience windows blows Linux away, in mine, its all the opposite. The OS is there to make your life easier, not to 'compete', Linux solves more problems for me than any other OS could, and that's a fact. I believe that most unsuccessful experiences with *NIX are because people are not willing to adopt a different workflow. Everyone expects Linux to act as 'whatever they used before' and that's the problem right there: If you're not willing to change by a slightly bit your method to do things, why are you changing your OS in the first place? Resistance to change is a studied phenomena that plays a major role in UI design, new features in OS's etc.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."