I am a strong advocate for using lean devices and tapping the cloud for the processing power. Recently, I came across an article on IBM Developer Works which talked about thin linux clients as an entry point to cloud computing. They have defined some of the characteristics for such thin clients and have argued that Linux is the best fit.
- Highly customizable
- An inexpensive or even free operating system
- All necessary applications inexpensive or free
- Networking built into the operating system core
- Small enough to fit into tiny devices
- Flexible and powerful enough to run full laptops
- Miserly enough to conserve battery life to a maximum degree
Apart from the above mentioned characteristics, I always saw Linux as a natural fit to be a Cloud Computing client from the cost factor alone. The very fact that we are moving towards leaner and leaner devices implies that we cannot have bloated operating systems needing powerful devices. It just defeats the very purpose. With SaaS achieving better maturity levels, all we need is a single browser. With the extensibility of modern day browsers, the browser becomes a single powerful platform for all our computing needs. With such browsers at our disposal, Linux ensures that we can have a pretty good computing experience with less powerful devices. In short, lean Linux systems with SaaS is enough for all our computing needs.
I don’t believe in the talk that we need a rich UI to offer powerful user experience. In the Google era, this idea of richness in UI is a meaningless talk. Plus, many SaaS providers offer somewhat rich interfaces using modern day techniques like AJAX. However, even if we buy into this argument for rich interfaces, with technology like Adobe AIR, users can enjoy richer interface in a thin client running Linux. There is absolutely no need for Microsoft Windows or Apple’s OSX.
Irrespective of whether one wants a Google like simple interface or a rich interface, one can achieve a good computing experience with Linux and Cloud Computing. Gone are the days of bloated and expensive operating systems and powerful hardware. Just a lean device and the good old Linux can get the job done.