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Easing over to open software platforms

I’m migrating over to a Thinkpad T61, having last moved to a T41 in March 2005. Since research is core to my personal development, I’ve been diligent about preserving my digital files. My laptop stores documents created on a personal computer as early as 1994, with an archive of documents converted from mainframe files back to 1991. Thus, to move over to a new computer, it’s taken three days (and nights) to transfer:

  • 12.5 GB of work-related e-mail and databases (i.e. Lotus Notes e-mail plus local document-sharing replicas);
  • 8.6 GB as 19,000 work-related flat files (i.e. documents and presentations, mostly created in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat);
  • 346 MB as 4900 work-related modeling files (i.e. created in Rational Software Modeler or Websphere Business Modeler, with a lot of XML);
  • 1.2 GB of personal productivity files (i.e. browser profiles and plugins for Firefox and Flock, personal e-mail in Thunderbird, personal diary in Sunbird, and blog feeds in FeedDemon);
  • 9.6 GB of streaming media (i.e. temporary storage for MP3 audio that I’ve recorded and haven’t published to a web site yet, and lectures/interviews to be downloaded for listening to my MP3 player);
  • 756 MB of digital photographs archived on other servers, but yet to be blogged (or not); and
  • 2.4 GB of working files to maintain my multiple web sites (to speed up recovery if an irreversible crash ever happens).

There must be thousands of IBM employees annually who upgrade from one computer to a replacement. The company provides excellent utilities for migration that undoubtedly take less than three days. Most people would probably follow the path of least resistance: to move from an existing Windows XP platform to a new hardware with the same XP operating system.

I have a concern on the longer term, though: Microsoft stopped selling XP in June 2008, and support for XP Service Pack 3 ends in April 2010. Microsoft’s flagship product is clearly Vista. I expect to be on this laptop for another three years before becoming entitled to a replacement.

IBM as a company has been running a beta on the Technology Adoption Program for a new “IBM Standard Desktop – Vista” since April 2007. In parallel, however, there’s also been a beta on Open Client for Linux with version 1.0 released in November 2005 and version 2.0 released in June 2006. We’re now at version 2.2. This is an complete software package configured and tested on the standard models of laptops that IBM issues employees. Internal technical support specialists do the work of keeping up with newest software releases (e.g. Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony 1.1 ). Their work reduces my effort to maintain my PC, after I’ve moved my content over. In the case of a complete breakdown of my computer, I should be able to get an emergency replacement and be back up and running in less than 24 hours.

Around the office, people have been each choosing one of three paths.

I’m migrating over to a Thinkpad T61, having last moved to a T41 in March 2005. Since research is core to my personal development, I’ve been diligent about preserving my digital files. My laptop stores documents created on a personal computer as early as 1994, with an archive of documents converted from mainframe files back to 1991. Thus, to move over to a new computer, it’s taken three days (and nights) to transfer:

  • 12.5 GB of work-related e-mail and databases (i.e. Lotus Notes e-mail plus local document-sharing replicas);
  • 8.6 GB as 19,000 work-related flat files (i.e. documents and presentations, mostly created in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat);
  • 346 MB as 4900 work-related modeling files (i.e. created in Rational Software Modeler or Websphere Business Modeler, with a lot of XML);
  • 1.2 GB of personal productivity files (i.e. browser profiles and plugins for Firefox and Flock, personal e-mail in Thunderbird, personal diary in Sunbird, and blog feeds in FeedDemon);
  • 9.6 GB of streaming media (i.e. temporary storage for MP3 audio that I’ve recorded and haven’t published to a web site yet, and lectures/interviews to be downloaded for listening to my MP3 player);
  • 756 MB of digital photographs archived on other servers, but yet to be blogged (or not); and
  • 2.4 GB of working files to maintain my multiple web sites (to speed up recovery if an irreversible crash ever happens).

There must be thousands of IBM employees annually who upgrade from one computer to a replacement. The company provides excellent utilities for migration that undoubtedly take less than three days. Most people would probably follow the path of least resistance: to move from an existing Windows XP platform to a new hardware with the same XP operating system.

I have a concern on the longer term, though: Microsoft stopped selling XP in June 2008, and support for XP Service Pack 3 ends in April 2010. Microsoft’s flagship product is clearly Vista. I expect to be on this laptop for another three years before becoming entitled to a replacement.

IBM as a company has been running a beta on the Technology Adoption Program for a new “IBM Standard Desktop – Vista” since April 2007. In parallel, however, there’s also been a beta on Open Client for Linux with version 1.0 released in November 2005 and version 2.0 released in June 2006. We’re now at version 2.2. This is an complete software package configured and tested on the standard models of laptops that IBM issues employees. Internal technical support specialists do the work of keeping up with newest software releases (e.g. Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony 1.1 ). Their work reduces my effort to maintain my PC, after I’ve moved my content over. In the case of a complete breakdown of my computer, I should be able to get an emergency replacement and be back up and running in less than 24 hours.

Around the office, people have been each choosing one of three paths.

Work-and-playstations, networked in your home

I’ve verbally relayed high points from presentations that I heard in the IBM Technology Leadership Exchange last March, about the Cell processor. This is an 8-way processor that has the computing power of a mid-range IBM server. It’s also the key component in Sony PlayStation 3, which is famous for its short supply this past Christmas.

I was reminded of this when I was in the basement, and my son Noah asked what the WEP key on our wireless router is. He was lent a PlayStation Portable by his friend, and it supports wireless Internet access.

20061220_PSP_NPI.jpg

I’ve verbally relayed high points from presentations that I heard in the IBM Technology Leadership Exchange last March, about the Cell processor. This is an 8-way processor that has the computing power of a mid-range IBM server. It’s also the key component in Sony PlayStation 3, which is famous for its short supply this past Christmas.

I was reminded of this when I was in the basement, and my son Noah asked what the WEP key on our wireless router is. He was lent a PlayStation Portable by his friend, and it supports wireless Internet access.

20061220_PSP_NPI.jpg

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