Top 10 Things wrong with Linux

Top 10 Things Wrong With Linux, Today by Adam Wiggins
Chief Software Architect, TrustCommerce:

1. No ‘best’ browser.
2. Prompting for a filesystem scan.
3. Printing needs to be easier to configure.
4. Make it easy for the user to find out how to do things.
5. Cleaner redraws.
6. Die stray processes, die!
7. Easy way of sharing files.
8. Sound support.
9. No common editor which supports “soft wrapping.”
10. No easy way to configure X – especially change resolution on the fly.

TECH TALK: Techs 10X Tsunamis

If there is one constant in life and business, it is Change. Change happens with relentless regularity. It impacts us personally and at work, and it causes upheavals in business. If we look back at the last 7-8 years, in whatever industry and wherever we have been, our lives could have escaped the remorseless onslaught of Change. It is little wonder then that one of the best-selling books of recent times has been Who Moved My Cheese?. As Dr Spencer Johnson says in his book, “Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.”

But there are some changes which are more than just incremental. They disrupt the old order and create new ones. They are like tidal waves. They are the 10X Tsunamis. They dramatically alter the status quo and create new opportunities. Indias 1991 liberalisation programme unleashed by then finance Manmohan Singh was one such 10X change for business in India. The Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s, the Internet bubble on the stock market and its bursting, the recent accounting scandals in the US are all examples of these disruptive forces.

The impact of 10X change is best captured by Intels Andy Grove in his 1996 book Only the Paranoid Survive. Writes Grove:

When a change in how some element of one’s business is conducted becomes an order of magnitude larger than what that business is accustomed to, then all bets are off. There’s wind and then there’s a typhoon, there are waves and then there’s a tsunami. There are competitive forces and then there are supercompetitive forces. I’ll call such a very large change a “10X” change.

In the face of such “10X” forces, you can lose control of your destiny. Things happen to your business that didn’t before, your business no longer responds to your actions as it used to.

Grove goes on to describe, what he calls, a Strategic Inflection Point:

Mathematically, we encounter an inflection point when the rate of change of the slope of the curve (referred to as its “second derivative”) changes sign, for instance, going from negative to positive. In physical terms, it’s where a curve changes from convex to concave, or vice versa. It’s the point at which a curve stops curving one way and starts curving the other way.

So it is with strategic business matters, too. An inflection point occurs where the old strategic picture dissolves and gives way to the new, allowing the business to ascend to new heights. However, if you don’t navigate your way through an inflection point, you go through a peak and after the peak the business declines. It is around such inflection points that managers puzzle and observe, “Things are different. Something has changed.”

Put another way, a strategic inflection point is when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new. Before the strategic inflection point, the industry simply was more like the old. After it, it is more like the new. It is a point where the curve has subtly but profoundly changed, never to change back again.

In the coming columns, we will explore the 10X forces we are experiencing in the world of technology, how they are changing our lives and businesses, and what are the new opportunities that they are creating. But first, to set the foundation for the future thinking, well take a quick journey over the past two decades of computing and communications to look at some of the major 10X tsunamis.

Tomorrow: The Past

Integrating Computing and Communications in Silicon

Kevin Werbach’s article in The Feature describes how “communications is going to be free”, as it gets integrated on the same chips as computing by companies like Intel. Think of every chip with a built-in radio. Writes Werbach:

Integrating radios into chips is more than just an engineering accomplishment. It has profound consequences for the devices and services that make use of those chips. The most obvious advantage is price. When the addition of wireless communications to a device adds negligible cost to the device, there’s no reason not to do so.

Another advantage of building RF capabilities into CPUs is that wireless devices will have newfound smarts, because they will be able to take advantage of the computational power of the microprocessor. They will be able to sense and adapt to whatever wireless networks are within range.

The communications industry is also being transformed, just like the PC industry was verticalised more than a decade ago. Werbach:

The hardware elements of communications have already started to go horizontal. Handset vendors are outsourcing production to the same contract manufacturers that are prominent in the PC industry. Switching equipment increasingly uses general-purpose semiconductors. Once connectivity can be integrated into devices at marginal cost, though, the possibility of an entirely different communications industry arises.

Imagine that every laptop, every PDA, every home media server is also an agile communications device, able to connect to any available network. In such a world, paying a carrier for access to a single network, with a limited choice of services and hardware, will seem archaic. There will still be services businesses linking together these devices and, more important, the user data that flows across them. But they won’t look much like the integrated communications carriers of today.

Ipsil’s $1 server

Writes Rafe Needleman is his “Catch of the Day” column:

Startup Ipsil is addressing this with a low-cost Web server on a chip. The device takes electronic input and serves it onto the Internet; it can also take input from the Net and translate it into commands or data for equipment. CEO Velu Sinha says he’s “de-layered” the IP stack (the collection of protocols that handle the different functions involved in moving data between a computing device and the physical network cable) and built a Web server in just 5,000 logic gates, on one low-cost chip. In quantity, his server chip should cost less than a dollar. An Ethernet cable costs more than that.

Devices with powerful CPUs and general-purpose operating systems would not gain much from the Ipsil technology, which offers only stripped-down network functionality. But the Ipsil “IP UART,” as Velu characterizes it, could save engineers of lower-powered devices from having to support a lot of computing overhead simply to get their products online.

Velu sees the technology being applied first in low-cost IP telephones, webcams, and consumer electronics, devices in which a full-on operating system would be too expensive to support. Eventually he may build inexpensive serial-to-IP converters to get legacy devices, like manufacturing equipment, online as well.