Take a look at this video. Make sure to watch it to completion. Don't worry, I'll wait.
For those who don't want to take the time to watch the video, here's what you're missing. Always Innovating, an open source company, sells hardware:
- Smartbook (laptop with a removable tablet)
- Touchbook (multi-touch open tablet)
- Minibook (very small tablet)
- Dual Screen (turn your tablet into a dual screen device)
Impressed? I know I was. What does this mean? Well, first and foremost it demonstrates the enormous flexibility of open source software. To get something of this nature with proprietary software would be a legal and logistical nightmare! But since the company, Always Innovating, is working with open source software, this is completely possible.
AI also has their own open source operating system, Always Innovating OS. It is this operating system that should bring the most attention to the company. Because with this operating system, a single machine can quad-boot between Android, Chrome, AI OS, and Ubuntu. Oh, but the fun doesn't end there - the AI OS allows for the simultaneous running (or Hot OS Swapping) of operating systems. Why is this important? I have found each operating system has its strengths and weaknesses. Finding that perfect combination OS has, so far, eluded me (though some, such as Elive) have come close. Having the ability to hot-swap between OSs would be incredible. Imagine having:
- An environment for development.
- An environment for entertainment.
- An environment for productivity.
- An environment for social networking.
All wrapped up in a single machine. Yes, you can get this with the likes of VirtualBox, but having three guests running on top of a host really consumes resources. With Hot Swapping OS, you won't experience such a drain on your system. That is remarkable.
I understand this has been seen before. ASUS brought us a similar technology that never really took off (I tested it, it was quite impressive). But ASUS's take on this was only two operating systems and wasn't nearly as smooth as what Always Innovating has created.
But for me, even if this technology doesn't take off the ground, it still should be seen as a significant "win" for open source. Why? Innovation. I have this argument quite often with open source nay-sayers that proprietary systems and companies are the leaders in innovation. I believe companies and solutions like this easily prove them wrong.
The very nature of open source lends itself to innovation and companies like Always Innovating have fully embraced this. Not only does Always Innovating fully embrace open source software, they take this one step further with open hardware. From the website:
Always Innovating is also innovating on the business model front. We believe in open hardware, which is similar to open source but for hardware. We release most of our work under the GPL agreement and we sell first-class support and customized hardware development for businesses interested in developing their own device. For instance, many projects in the healthcare or restaurant industry need a custom tablet. We have a dedicated team to work for such projects. Additionally, we are offering our entire design, allowing businesses to extend their product offering with outstanding innovation.
Obviously Always Innovating takes the open model and extends it not only to hardware development, but to business development. That is true innovation -- companies helping companies to help themselves and, in turn, help the greater good. Does it get any more open than that?
Sometimes we in the tech industry tend to forget that "open" doesn't end at software. Open source is a way of creating that can be applied to nearly every aspect of business -- and even life (if you really dig deep.)
I don't do this enough, but I want to applaud the efforts of the Always Innovating company. Any company that builds their very foundation on the tenets of open source deserves high praise, especially when they are venturing out in a world that tends to be unkind to their ilk. I like to think that, in the end, open source will win out thanks to companies like Always Innovating. And it will do so with incredible products like their AI OS that allow for such cool features as Hot Swapping OSs.
What do you think? Can a company survive in our economic and often dog-eat-dog landscape when they base their model on open source? And can a tool like their Hot Swapping OS really make a splash?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.