Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Linux.SYS-CON.com Feature - Silicon Embers: Making Old Technology New Again

Silicon Embers: Making Old Technology New Again

There is a concept in computers called the "Digital Rainbow," an idea that describes how all digital projects eventually end at a pot of programming gold.

Riding the Digital Rainbow is akin to riding the light waves of a silicon world, from everything in computers and GPS systems to Apple's iPod. It doesn't matter where the rainbow begins nor where it ends. What matters is that the rainbow is there in the first place, and that we are steadfast in using it to reach our computing dreams.

Eventually, as computer technology moves quickly ahead at the blinding speed of light, we must come to a full-stop at the present moment and reflect on the digital world where it existed only moments before anew. For in the cosmic universe of the 0s and 1s of the electronic world there is nothing but rapid, constant change swirling around us at all times.

During the early 1990s, when my grandfather was upgrading his computer system from a Kaypro II to an NEC-built x386 system, he was kind enough to offer the old Kaypro to me for free. The Kaypro had served him well for many years and was still serviceable as a main computer for his grandson. At that time, I was still using a Commodore 128, which came with CP/M 3.0 as a third built-in operating system (bootable from a floppy disk). I knew that the Kaypro II wouldn't be of much use, but the included software would certainly run in CP/M mode on my 8-bit Commodore 128. So I delightfully accepted his generous offer.

But certain circumstances beyond our control prevented me from acquiring my grandfather's Kaypro system. Alas, a sudden death in the family put off the offering for good. The Kaypro - like most systems - eventually turned into "Silicon Embers," the dying flame of a useful but aged silicon beast.

Making old technology new again means finding new uses for seemingly outdated and obsolete systems. With regards to Linux, newer versions of the Linux kernel function very well on older machines that might otherwise serve no useful purpose (or even end up in the trash).

The average life cycle of a generic computer system is 18-36 months. Moore's Law states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits will double roughly every 18 months (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law). This forces computer manufacturers to constantly and consistently develop new computing hardware for a wide spectrum of the consumer market, from consumers to schools, big business, and government.

Linux makes this cycle redundant, a biproduct of the minicomputer age. No longer are we racing to compete with IBM's System/360 (which landed in virtually every corner of the globe, including NASA and even the Space Shuttle's advanced avionics and control systems, via Pi).

By placing Linux on aging systems, we are breaking Moore's Law wide open and establishing a new computing codex: that all computers invariably have some life left in them, regardless of age, applied technology, or original station of intended use.

The silicon embers of dying machines no longer hauntingly lurk beyond every computer graveyard, nor do we relegate our once beloved machines into the digital dust that has become so prominent in our computing culture. This "Race to Innovate" is important, even vital, to our computing futures. Yet, by keeping older machines humming long into the night, we are burning the midnight oil upon a whole new world of innovative and constructive computer usage.

More Stories By Paul Panks

Paul Panks is the author of "HLA Adventure," an adventure game written in Randall Hyde's HLA (High Level Assembly) language. His ultimate intention was for others to eventually contribute to this project, so in May 2003 he released it into public domain, including the source
code, so others could add to the game over time. Paul is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, an avid fan of pro football and creative writing, and became
interested in Linux programming through Red Hat Linux and Fedora Core.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
LinuxWorld News Desk 10/19/05 11:16:40 AM EDT

LinuxWorld Feature - Silicon Embers: Making Old Technology New Again. There is a concept in computers called the 'Digital Rainbow,' an idea that describes how all digital projects eventually end at a pot of programming gold. Riding the Digital Rainbow is akin to riding the light waves of a silicon world, from everything in computers and GPS systems to Apple's iPod.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...