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[News] Creative Uses of GNU/Linux Demnstrated

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How Linux Helped Chickens, Environmentalists, and a Pirate!

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| I’ve worked with a Japanese company called Plat’Home, maker of small, tough, 
| eco-friendly servers, for the past nine months or so. They ran a contest this 
| summer about ideas. They called it the “Will Linux Work? Contest.” They 
| collected ideas from Linux lovers on how they would use Linux in interesting 
| and sometimes challenging ways.    



What CAN’T Linux do?

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| 1. The story mentioned above. A man installs Linux on sixteen Playstation 3s 
| (with zero hardware modifications), clusters them together, and creates a 
| system to simulate black holes.  
| 2. Installing Linux on a Mac. I was just reading the most recent Wired 
| magazine that has a good story on how Apple has created a very closed system 
| where only Apple software plays on Apple hardware. Hello Yellow Dog Linux! I 
| have run Linux on an iBook - it was sweet.   
| 3. Routers. We all know that Linux works well on routers. OpenWRT installs 
| well on many Linksys routers. 
| [...]
| 11. Airplane black boxes. Montavista uses a Carrier Grade Linux to power 
| in-flight recorders. 
| 12. Brain surgery. Yep. This Linux-powered robot helps in brain surgery.


The hidden world of Linux

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| There are many great FOSS projects that utilise old PC hardware and give it a 
| new lease of life. The best is desktop computing with various Linux 
| distribution flavours like Mint, PCLinux, Ubuntu and countless others. In 
| fact it is my considered belief that the best hardware to run Linux on is 
| infact (almost) any machine that is at least 12 months old. It is possible, 
| of course, to select components based on the degree (and maturity) of the 
| specific support under Linux but this has two major drawbacks.      
| [...]
| Not only do such projects look to modify embedded Linux devices, but some 
| great projects have sprung up to utilise old PCs every household seems to  
| accumulate in order to fulfil a number of key uses. For example, 
| comprehensive firewall distributions like IPCop or Smoothwall or NAS 
| distributions like FreeNAS (although this is based on BSD.) These are not 
| dirty hacked operating systems either but very mature, streamlined, low 
| memory footprint distributions which run headlessly. Being totally 
| administered through a web browser makes these distributions feel extremely 
| professional and polished (even if the archaic hardware they are running on 
| doesn’t) this being coupled by the extraordinary amount of options present 
| really makes these projects an extraordinary example of the flexibility of 
| Linux/BSD.          


Linux everywhere

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| Take yesterday as a case in point.  I checked the order status of my Elonex 
| One, and sent an email to see if my order for the One can be upgraded to the 
| One+ (bluetooth, and bigger internal memory).  I then caught the train to the 
| Queen Elizabeth hospital, watching the in-train tv which is powered by some 
| Linux flavour (given the error message I saw a few weeks back).  Visiting my 
| friend Simon at the QE, he’s spotted that the tv/phone/internet screens that 
| each patient has are powered by Linux.  This is of course when he’s not 
| tapping away on his Asus EEE, and hopefully writing the next Da Vinci Code 
| (only better).        


Linux is truly everywhere

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| I spent a long time smiling about the Linux bootup screen that I had just 
| seen. To begin with, it reminded me that Linux, and other open-source 
| products, are now everywhere. Linux is no longer for the uber-geeks. It's not 
| just for system administrators and programmers, either. Linux is now at the 
| core of mainstream appliances, there even when you don't think that a 
| computer or operating system might be involved.     
| [...]
| Finally, Moore's Law and the general trend toward cheaper and faster hardware 
| means that Linux now fits into even more places than it did before. We 
| normally think of Linux as an operating system for servers, or even for 
| desktop computers. But we can expect Linux to be at the heart of a growing 
| number of appliances, from video-on-demand devices to digital video recorders 
| (e.g., TiVo), to cellphones (e.g., Android and OpenMoko). The Linux-powered 
| refrigerator, with a built-in bar-code scanner that can tell you how long ago 
| you bought milk, isn't far behind.       

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