On the XO Laptop

On the death of the client/server computer model

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I’m on the road this week. As part of my trip I attended a conference in Dayton, and as part of that conference I observed a group of about thirty teachers and future teachers who are currently students at Wright State University use a computer.

The presentation began with all present opening up a browser and going to Google, and then doing a search on a topic of interest to them. I was sitting in the back of the room, and so could see what many of them were doing. The Wright student sitting next to me was viewing videos about Cuttlefish in the sea near Australia, and I learned he was doing a project with a group of fourth-grade students on this strange beast.

As it happens, this presentation was delivering the internet via a Linux-based solution. It took me a few hours to fully comprehend what I had witnessed, that it didn’t matter to them how the internet was delivered.

They were accessing the internet through a diskless box with 128M memory, using a stripped-down Linux kernel with X11. But a key point is that to view the internet they just needed to have the HTML text sent over the wire from the server to their barebones box so the browser could do the rendering. The “box” was an old computer, one that could in no way run Vista, yet it met all their needs.

They didn’t even know the internet was being brought to them via Linux. All that mattered was that is was on their screen.

So much for the client-server model that has been the basis of the Microsoft franchise. It is now toast, a relic of days gone by. These current users could care less. All that matters is that the browser delivers the content they wish on demand. To them, a computer is just a device for delivering the internet.


Written by daveshields

January 18, 2008 at 5:07 am

Posted in xo-laptop

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