Intel, eat your heart out (now, OS X runs in a browser)

Intel, eat your heart out (now, OS X runs in a browser)

Summary: My fellow ZDNet blogger Jason O'Grady just wrote how thin is in with the new iMac.  I'm not sure what this is, but it probably wasn't his idea of thin when he wrote that.

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TOPICS: Apple
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My fellow ZDNet blogger Jason O'Grady just wrote how thin is in with the new iMac.  I'm not sure what this is, but it probably wasn't his idea of thin when he wrote that. It looks like the Mac OS X equivalent of Citrix (Windows Terminal). It feels a bit like the sevice GoToMyPC.com.  And at first guess, I thought it required Flash.  But according to its authors, it's all based on JavaScript.  If it is and XML is involved (meaning you might be able to use the term AJAX to describe it), it's probably the best demonstration of AJAX's capabilities I've seen since looking at how Scalix used AJAX to build an almost perfect knock-off of Microsoft's Outlook.  Asked Steve Rubel of the demo:  "How long until Apple shuts this down?"  Anyway, if anyone had any doubts that the Sun-Google deal can't produce some sort of dirt cheap thin client that can replace the need for a fat PC, I think this little demo pretty much shatters that FUD.
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Topic: Apple

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11 comments
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  • I'm impressed

    Although I'm not a Mac user, it certainly [i]looks[/i] impressive.

    Maybe I should've spent more time trying to find an Xterm ...
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • How much CPU does that much Javascript eat?

    So much for thin.
    Erik1234
    • Not much

      My CPU load barely budged, and that was with the CPU throttled back to 10/17 clock speed. The clockspeed daemon didn't even roll over in its sleep.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Takes up to 100% CPU

      If you move one of the windows around, it eats up 100% CPU. Do the same thing in a terminal services client and it eats up around 10% CPU.
      george_ou
  • Thin client, thin air, hot air

    It's nothing close to a thin client OS or app. It's simply a very cool website with a lot of js used to sell the OS X desktop theme for XP. I don't know what you were drinking for lunch but I think it was either beer or thin client kool-aid.
    IT Scion
  • ummm....Ever heard of VNC?

    e.g. http://yourhost:5800

    Been around for how many years and it's free. Not sure what the big fuss is.
    BassPlay3r
    • Dave B <heart>AJAX to the end...

      You have to remember that Mr. Berlind is blinded by anything Java or AJAX. If it's Java or AJAX, he really could not care less about technical merits or actual useability. It's his whole thin client computing kick. He's obviously never tried to actually write any AJAX code, if you look at the stuff it's a total mess. He seems to beleive that running an interpreted language inside a browser process (amazing how a web browser is often my most CPU and RAM intensive process, isn't it?), or firing up a Leviathan of a Java VM is far superior than popping open a VNC or a Remote Desktop window.

      My father, who's been programming for about 30 years, once gave me an amazingly piece of useful advice. When the consultants are coding at $200 - $300 per hour, optimizing code to eek out performance from existing hardware suddenly doesn't seem so cheap. Or as he quotes to his customers, "is it worth $10,000 to you for me to try to rewrite that system to take 9 seconds instead of 10 to run?"

      This is the fundamental flaw with thin computing. A new desktop for an employee is $300 from Dell now. What's the price of thin computing? Writing AJAX applications is NOT a trivial task. Not only does the server do all of the same things on its side that a fat client would be doing, but then you have to write a bazillion lines of AJAX code to handle every mouse click, drag, drop, blah blah blah. Compare writing a VB application that lets you drag a line of text from one table to another and update a DB table as a result, to an AJAX application that does the same. The VB program will take less CPU/RAM to run than a browser + AJAX. It will be much faster due to lower latency.

      If you want a thin client approach, using VNC or Citrix or Terminal Services is cheaper than AJAX, unless you have so many users that the cost of writing & troubleshooting AJAX code is less than hardware upgrades to handle sloppy client-side code. VNC/Citrix/Terminal Services are optimized to send only the needed data, when needed, over a protocol optimized for that type of transaction. AJAX relies on a stateless, asyncronous protocol (HTTP) which was never, ever, EVER meant to be continually shuttling data back and forth bectween the client & the server.

      AJAX also suffers from network latency. Just about everything you do results in an HTTP session being built up, processing, and torn down again. Compare that to a rich/fat client system, where it is rare to have to leave the local system. Furthermore, HTTP is an incredibly wasteful protocol. It's totally text based, as opposed to binary, lots of wasted space in there. Don't even get me started (yet again) on what a loser of a format XML is.

      J.Ja
      Justin James
      • Excellent points

        I spent plenty of time on this issue.
        http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=97

        I tried this browser based Mac and it ate 30 MBs of RAM and it takes 50 to 100 MBs of RAM as soon as any animation takes place or you try to drag a window around. Terminal Services or Citrix takes almost no CPU and very little RAM, perfect for a low power thin client with minimal RAM and CPU power.

        But even with an efficient technology like Citrix, the problem with thin clients is that you're 100% dependent on the network and server infrastructure. There is absolutely nothing you can do locally. I personally value the ability to work offline or online.
        george_ou
      • AJAX is expensive to develop

        "When the consultants are coding at $200 - $300 per hour"

        It would seem to me that a platform should be chosen that minimizes development time. Web/AJAX based programming is very time intensive compared to something like .NET.
        george_ou
    • 5800

      B.I.N.G.O.

      I use vnc to support some 5,000 users all the
      time.

      With VNC one can use a browser (with java plugin
      support) to access any host running the vnc
      server by appending the port 5800, as per your
      example usage.

      This causes the vnc java applet to be pushed down
      and run in the browser.

      This allows me to get to any pc running vnc from
      any pc that has a browser.

      Be aware though that vnc over ssh should be used
      to be fully secure.

      VNC is the ticket.
      D T Schmitz
  • You're all a bunch of saps!

    It's just a web page that looks like a Mac screen, with a little fancy Javascript to make it interactive.

    It's just a toy to advertise their product that skins XP to look like a Mac.

    I guessing you all fell for it the first time you saw that fake BSOD screen saver too. Sheesh!
    johnay