Monday, February 4, 2013

Demo of an ARM-based Laptop

This demo is of an ARM-based laptop. In the first part it shows the laptop running Ubuntu Linux and LibreOffice. A brief portion at the end examines what Android on a laptop/desktop might look like.

After viewing my own video, there are some things I wish I had added.

When I was talking about the ease of making Android apps work in a traditional GUI window, I should have discussed how Android handles different resolutions and things like your phone rotating. An Android app declares a minimum screen size that it supports in its manifest, maximum sizes can be specified, but are rare in practice. Android apps use dynamic layouts so that many screen sizes can be supported. As screen sizes get larger, more information is generally added. An Android app determines the screen size it is running on, each time it is activated as a foreground app. When you turn your phone 90 degrees, the app is suspended, then resumed and the app will then see this new orientation as a new screen size. Because of this mechanism, making one of these apps work in a window is reasonably straight-forward, the app will present itself in the current size of the window. If you resize the window, the app will be supsended, then resumed and will thus automatically adjust to the new size.

I really didn't say enough about why Windows 8's strategy is entirely wrong, I covered this a few weeks ago, but I need to say more:

  • Windows 8 (and Office) are fat. They have had feature after feature added with no house cleaning.
  • Windows 8 still runs DOS apps. It contains at least 4 legacy subsystems. (DOS, 16-bit Windows, 32-bit Windows and POSIX).
  • Microsoft's Windows 8 "strategy" was to duct-tape an extra GUI onto Windows and then put it on a tablet. It's footprint on the Surface Pro is over 32GB, more space than the average tablet comes with these days.
  • If you will stop and count the number of applications you actually use on Windows, you will find that x86 compatibility really isn't all that important anymore.
  • Further if you want to use an application on a tablet, surely you are better off with software that was actually written to work there. A cut down version of Office is no match for an office suite designed to work on lower-end devices.
Linux will work in this new world of computing because it did not get that fat to begin with. Android (which is also Linux) works even better because it is designed for lesser hardware. It is much easier to get a system designed for small to work on the more powerful, than the other way around.

I have made a list of benchmarks of the current high-end ARM and some select Intel chips.

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