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Linux Journal: Bringing Linux Appliances to Market

Feb 16, 2000, 22:49 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Doc Searls)

[ Thanks to David Penn for this link. ]

"Early in January, Intel announced plans for new Intel-branded Internet appliances that would run on Linux. (The press release is here.) They also showed and demonstrated some of these at their booth at CES--the Consumer Electronics Show--in Las Vegas. It was there that I got to play around briefly with two devices: a computer-like thin client, sitting in an ersatz kitchen, and a TV set-top box in an ersatz living room. Both were beyond impressive. They were scary."

"The web box had a display that seemed to have more in common with an airport kiosk than a computer of any kind. Fundamentally, it was a browser. A Mozilla browser, in fact, but without the usual windowing features. It was simply a window on the Web, with a set of other handy features: e-mail, sticky notes, calendar and so forth. It was equally open and proprietary: on the one hand, it used open-source software (Linux and Mozilla); on the other, it was a closed and therefore proprietary box. It was, literally, an appliance."

"The set-top box looked like, say, a DISH or DirectTV box, but with one important difference: when you thought you were looking at just another proprietary cable company display, you were looking at a browser rendering HTML. Intel had webified The Tube by putting a browser (again, Mozilla) interface on all the potential choices a user might face. It had even moved some of the directional buttons (e.g., forward and back) from the browser window to the remote control. Again, it was that strange mix of open and closed."

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