March 28, 2007 --
My wife dryly prefaces nostalgic comments with "back in the McKinley administration" (at the turn of the previous century).
In the McKinley administration, telegraphs were normal distance
In 1927, the baud
became a measure of transmission speed.
In the 1990s, Andy Grove and others at Intel spoke of
"free bauds" in anticipating Internet hyper-growth.
Joe and I repeated (paraphrased?) the Intel-speak as "free
meet free bauds" in our
Barriers Breaking Down
Though Intel did and does charge for processors, their prices in the
mid-1990s were likely a few (U.S.) dollars per MIP and today are likely
below a penny per MIP.
At a free WiFi hotspot, megabits of Internet access are literally free.
The smallest allocation unit of most disk drives is a 512 byte sector.
500GB disk drives are readily available for under $200 and have roughly a
billion sectors, so the marginal cost of a disk sector is under
In the last week or so, I've become
with virtual machines
and am using them to gobble up tens of millions of sectors with free
I have a reasonably well-configured Windows machine that mostly exists for
historical reasons. It had been doing next to nothing.
It seems a very natural host for the free VMware
Though things haven't been as smooth as I might have hoped, the
supported VMware capabilities are broader than I might have expected.
Sun had sent a free Solaris 10 DVD.
In my experience, Solaris doesn't play well with
multi-booting other operating systems, and is particularly unfriendly
regarding Linux partitions.
But in a virtual machine, it can appear to Solaris that it has
dedicated disks -- avoiding conflicts with Linux or Windows.
So far, my Solaris installation seems to be working as Sun intends.
(That is not to say it seems natural to me. Neither the CDE nor the Java
desktop options make a lot of sense to me in comparison to all of the
systems I know.)
VMware officially supports numerous flavors of Linux, but not Fedora.
My first attempt to install Fedora 6 failed because the Fedora installer
could not find the virtual disk.
Though disquieting, this wasn't a problem since I have so many
(at least, four) other physical machines running Fedora 6. I found
the pre-built Fedora 6 virtual machine from thoughtpolice.
That seemed to work, so I promptly removed it!
Being able to simply create a virtual machine, "kick the
tires", and then delete the virtual machine seems powerful.
For example, I was curious about AsteriskNOW as a way
to get more immersed with Asterisk without
having to understand all of the arcane aspects of dialplans and more.
AsteriskNOW insists on installing its own flavor of Linux, so
putting AsteriskNOW on raw hardware would be inconvenient, and maybe
Installing AsteriskNOW in a virtual machine was painless using the free CD
However, AsteriskNOW also seems obtuse, so pursuing raw Asterisk
on Fedora appeals more.
Learning that in a fairly painless way was quite valuable to me.
Back to Fedora, Fedora 7 is in the final stages leading to release.
Installing the "Test 2" DVD image was painless.
Right now, the virtual machine is "powered off".
Maybe I will customize that image the way I normally customize Fedora
or maybe I will simply delete it.
Right now, the only cost of delay and indecision is the allocation
of about ten million sectors, a few cents worth of disk space.
VMware supports most flavors of Windows, back to Windows 3.1.
So it is tempting to install a representative sample of those flavors.
If/when I want Windows 3.1 running on something faster than a
50MHz 486, I know where to go.
VMware isn't the only option. Of course, Microsoft has their own
are vying for attention in Linux foundations.
However, only Parallels
seems, right now, to be a compelling
competitor to VMware.
There, the primary motivation is quite different,
i.e., integrating Windows into OS X, but Parallels list of
supported "guests" seems comparable to that of VMware.