Friday, October 12, 2007

Virtual Computer Talk

Someone was calling this website "Hikaru's blog", and "it is" and "it isn't". It was never meant to have one fixed topic. So maybe I should change the topic to "computers"...

One common question that I receive is, "What kind of computer do I use?" By "computer", people often refer to the operating system software (OS) environment (usually Windows or Macintosh). The answer for me is Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Many people don't realize it, but a shift in personal computer thinking has happened over the past few years. In the old days, you might be running Windows only on a "PC" (Intel machine) or the Macintosh operating system only on a "Mac" (PowerPC machine). There were reasons for computer companies to stick with a certain OS for their hardware.

But these days, the operating system is beginning to detach from the personal computer hardware. In 2005, the first Intel-based Macs emerged which made it possible to run Windows XP as well as Mac OS X. The computer I currently use at home is a Mac mini where I can run Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Linux simultaneously (yes, all at the same time) using a product called VMware Fusion.

For a "computer guy" this is really nice. I don't need a closet full of old junk computers (which I have) to test out different PC setups. And when I'm done with it, I can just "delete" the virtual computer. I can have a Linux server running on the same machine where I'm editing Hikaru's video (which I also do). The Linux server is serving web pages from my home ADSL connection.

But where this approach makes more sense is in the area of energy conservation. Computers can use a lot of electrical power. A typical PC doing nothing (no applications running) can consume close to 180 watts. So you can imagine how much power a typical data center server room can consume running 24/7. But what if you can consolidate all the different servers into one (hardware) machine? That's a lot of energy savings.

So I can run virtual Linux, Windows, and Macintosh servers on my Mac mini that uses only 20 watts of power, instead of using 500 watts. But why would I want to? I don't know -- that's more of a "computer geek" issue. And that's technology...



At Saturday, October 27, 2007, Blogger Shiho said...

Hi Wataru,

Thank you for the birthday wish! As you probably know, Mac OS X Leopard was released on my birthday. I'll take a look to see if I want to buy it for my parents' iMac since it supposedly have a built-in Japanese-English dictionary. Hope you're doing well,



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