Mobility

Linux PC now fits in a thumbdrive package


One very small advantage of thirty years of microcomputing is being around long enough to:

walk to school barefoot through snowdrifts, uphill both ways^K^K^K^K^K

hand-solder chips onto my own S-100 bus memory boards ^K^K^K^K^K

Hmm. I'm not sure there is any advantage, except perhaps the joys of heavy metal poisoning (no, not Black Sabbath, the other kind of heavy metal) from all the solder fumes.

But, sometimes something creeps up on me for a 'Gee whiz, ain't that neat' moment... like realizing my (circa 2005) Nokia smartphone has 640 times the memory and a processor that is 150 times faster than that first S-100 machine -- and I can use the smartphone to order pizza and watch Baywatch reruns.

Hopefully, this latest invention, the PC-on-a-chip, will be put to nobler use. It will outperform the aforementioned smartphone, with a faster CPU, more RAM, and the ubiquitous and reliable Linux OS, plus 10/100-BaseT and dual USB 2.0 ports, all in one socketable chip, which could fit in a USB memory key package with room to spare.

It's hardware like this that enthuses the Homebrew Mobile Phone Club experimenters on the make-your-own-cellphone list I read. They're talking about marrying off-the-shelf GSM* radio modules to Gumstix and other ultra-ultralight PCs like the machine announced above, to give us the features we want in a phone.

* GSM, being an open standard, is far easier to work with than CDMA, as Qualcomm holds the rights to CDMA and demands hefty license fees to certify a CDMA mobile.

Where will this profusion of smaller-cheaper-faster take us? How will it affect you when half the users you now support have this much computing power in their pocket? For one, what are the security implications? Join the discussion.

3 comments
K7AAY
K7AAY

What are the implications for IT professionals for that much computing power in that small a package, cheap, common and therefore ubiquitious?

TG2
TG2

I've been trying to find a link to post.. but couldn't.. This year's Schmoocon, one of the presentations was on hardware hacking. The demo was to show how small things can be, and the guy had a prototype embedded server it was the size of an ethernet coupler, only a little longer. ie. the ethernet rj45 to rj45 coupler/cable extender .. just a tad longer than that, and it had an embedded web server and was able to run micro linux and be able to do wire speed hacks. ie. redirect someone to a different server, monitor traffic, etc.. the presenter said... he'd even thought about buying some of those cheap soho routers ... soldering on one of these as the "internet" port, and then giving them away to friends.. thus being able to have his own web server running off their ip's without any hosting costs to himself.. but that it was only the tip of the iceburg for what you *could* do with them.. It was capable of pass through so that you could have monitoring, and injection abilities to either port side of the thing.. it would be more impresive, I'm sure, if I could have found a link to it, but if you look around the web, you can find ALL SORTS of small gadgets like this.. that in the wrong hands, will compromise security better than jr cracker out there listening to your wireless packets..

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Well, at least close to this little. I've seen a few articles on machines about the size of a matchbox with the sides primarily to support the normal sized output ports for USB, video, keyboard, mouse and power. This machine does go the next step and draw it's power from the USB feed. I need to read more and see how independent this machine is though. Is it more like the USB keychain firewall that works symbiotically with the larger host or does this provide external keyboard, mouse and video but use the usb as a power and network feed?