Open Source optimize

Always Innovating: A company that embraces open source on multiple levels

Always Innovating not only lives up to their name, they do so holding tight to the ways of open source. But can companies like this survive and change the world? Read to see Jack Wallen's take.

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:

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?

About

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.

8 comments
d_baron
d_baron

Yes, indeed. Want windows? This is not opensource and so far the lord-and-masters-of-proprietary-bloat will not cooperate. There is still, for better or for worse, WINE. Or simply do VirtualBox on this as host and pay for the M$. To make the SAME HW available to virtual machines is still a dream. This baby seems Zen-like. But do they run one kernel and just swap in GUI/middle-ware layers or actually switch entire distros?

pec
pec

I might not have understood the main idea after having seen the video, but could someone explain me what is it this AI OS achieves that can't be accomplished by running 4 VM guests under a host?!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But noticeably not Windows. That lack is why I voted for 'Successful only in certain countries', and I don't see the US as one of them. Of course, 'success' is a relative term. "An environment for development. An environment for entertainment." I don't see much demand for development OS amongst the general public. I don't know which of the listed OSs you thought was the one for entertainment.

matt413
matt413

this is the (an)droid I'm looking for! http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/products/smartbook.htm I would hope that the larger hardware retailers will pick up on some of these ideas, and that they will pay him a decent amount for his ideas when they do so. I do think this is the sort of all-in-one that makes sense. I'm not sure the average user will feel comfortable taking off the back of the tablet and actually seeing circuit boards (I can see some accidental static causing problems there), but I'm guessing with some more resources behind it, the tablet could be modified so that the Mini Book plugs straight into the back section of the tablet without requiring the panel to be removed.

gcomputeronet
gcomputeronet

so each system has full use of the hardware resources.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm sure Always Innovating would be happy to offer MS Windows on the same device, too -- just as soon as MS Windows helps, rather than hinders, that effort.

gcomputeronet
gcomputeronet

Just need Window 8 with ARM support, then it will be available.