Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread



  • If UBports allowed me to use my phone as a desktop (with normal Linux desktop apps e.g. Emacs working as expected) I'd absolutely do it! Sadly my current device is a OnePlus One which doesn't support external display connectivity... it'd probably also be more useful with newer, more powerful hardware as well. The OPO is a 5 year old phone now, phone hardware has come a long way since then!

    My personal use case is as a sysadmin; I carry a laptop with me to and from work, and if I want to work on a personal machine I have to bring a second laptop with me. My phone could replace the second laptop if I left a dock at the office. Thanks to Emacs's TRAMP functionality, I can connect to a remote system to work on things that require more computational power than the phone by itself can provide.



  • I think the idea of us being down to a single device is pretty shot... SBCs seem to get into everything, and perhaps we want some things to be separate: personal Clouds, maybe even personal servers... But that doesn't negate the beauty and purity of a single, morphing OS - especially a capable, yet light-weight one. Nor does it lessen the compelling notion of a personal computer being ultra-mobile.


  • Marketing

    @3arn0wl

    Echo what you said. The concept of convergence transcends device consolidation.

    Now, stepping out of pre-conceived "convergence" scenarios...

    What does a better computing experience or situation look like?
    i.e. How can we make technology serve us better, and not the other way around? You shouldn't have to change your life in a less convenient way to make the technology work in your life.

    Factors to consider:

    • Productivity
    • Mobility
    • Privacy, Security, loss/theft
    • Cost
    • Space
    • Power
    • Other

    Keep in mind that there just may be different solutions for different factors.


  • Marketing

    Good. I can argue with @joe here, too! yay!

    It's like this: if you could do this, why would you not:

    1. walk up to your screen, keyboard, mouse
    2. dock your 'phone'
    3. start working / computing

    Joe's argument is from our Audiocast "what if I needed to make a phonecall, do something else with my phone while working here?"

    My thought is as long as the following items worked well, it's no problem:

    1. smoothly make voice and video calls and even - phone calls!

    2. have all your stuff backed up easily and regularly to prevent what @kugiigi said about losing all (obviously important)

    If you had a 'docking station' at every location you went, this is all super convenient and way easier than packing a laptop... No?



  • One thing that I find a bit surprising is that "convergence conversations" are usually of a either/or mindset. I want convergence, but I do not necessarily want it instead of another device/setup that I have now, I want it in addition.

    Sometimes I want to use my phone like a traditional smartphone. Sometimes I want to use my laptop, my smart tv, my cloud computer, my tablet, my car infotainment system, my smart watch or my office desktop. I want them to sync and work smoothly together. But, yes, sometimes I want one of these devices to converge into something else. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna get rid of my laptop.

    It reminds me a bit of misunderstandings that I had with people when I was rooting for touch displays. They responded with: "I really can't imagine working without a mouse." Uhh, yeah, sure, neither can I! Of course I use a mouse. I also use a touchpad, and keyboard shortcuts. But, yes, I do also use the touchscreen. It doesn't replace any of the other use cases. It is there in addition.


  • Marketing

    You have a good point.
    But I still want to fight with Joe, so please hide your post until later so we can have some more emotions and drama 😉



  • @3arn0wl said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    And we need to be able to run SNAPS too.

    Not really. Why do you think we need that? None of them are converged. It's a closed system. It won't improve UT or convergence in any way to support them.

    @3arn0wl said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    1 I read an article recently (was it on OMG! Ubuntu?) suggesting that Ubuntu works better on the Windows ARM tablets than Windows does.

    Hardly. It barely works on those tablets. When there are no drivers to use the hardware to its full capabilities, and so some of it is stuck in lower power mode or not powered on at all, one may get the false impression that it's better at power management, when it's not.

    @3arn0wl said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    2 Perhaps it's down to hardware manufacturers to ensure that bluetooth works well between bits of kit...?

    Manufacturers can't do anything about software bugs which are in UT though.



  • @wayneoutthere said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    It's like this: if you could do this, why would you not:

    Because even with all the things I can theoretically do on my phone, it's still a phone, and will always be far behind a real PC in terms of raw power. There aren't 5GHz CPUs in phones, they don't have 32 cores, 128 GB of RAM, and multiple terabytes of storage capacity.

    It's something I want to replace a personal laptop with when traveling, but it's not something that can replace all my computing needs.

    Why do you even need an external display? I can pop my phone into a folding stand, pull out a folding bluetooth keyboard, and start coding, anywhere. And with the sizes of phones lately, you're practically carrying around a monitor anyway.



  • Hi @dobey -

    I suggested snaps because we'll need desktop apps, and snaps are an easy way to load them. As much as I'd like to see it, I can't imagine we'll get app builders writing apps for everything we need... Maybe some apps will just be for desktop mode.

    And regarding bluetooth: one of the things we struggle with is pairing with sound systems... I was just thinking that if an OEM built something, it could ensure that it works from a physical perspective.



  • To be fair though, @dobey, your computing needs are bigger than a lot of people's if you need 128GB of RAM.


  • Marketing

    @3arn0wl right. Dobey is not the 90% of the population, but absolutely valid. In the Audiocast I mention 'anyone who is not gaming or doing 3D rendering or compiling code'. Those people. Those people can live on a pocket computer in my opinion.

    I agree with @dobey about the 'big screens' though. I don't like them. I liked my HTC wildfire and convergence running on a super small screen would be awesome because it would allow me to have a 'phone sized phone' again instead of these 62" movie theatre phones! we used to mock those big screens and now that's all you can buy 😞



  • Really just depends on what you consider convergence. I'd love to see programs via appimage, flatpak, or even snap that could just be installed on one platform or another. The problem is all these platforms are different and the software developed on them are different as well with different goals. The closest I've found to a convergence system that works is Chrome OS and Android.

    Essentially you would want software that is scale-able regardless the platform. Have a program that you can install on the phone, then turn around and be able to install on the desktop and it scale up. The closest I've seen to something like this is the maui framework under Nitrux.

    This way the program being used is the same regardless the platform and makes everything feel seamless. I've also seen Chrome OS essentially do this with Android applications being run on their desktop OS. The only real difference in running an application on Android and Chrome OS (aside from the underbelly making things work on desktop) is you have a minimize, maximize and close slapped onto the application. It would be amazing for eample to see the open store ported to desktop and all applications just work.

    Hardware to me is kinda the beauty of Linux. 2 or more gigs of ram minimum and for most people you are set. Usage for a wide majority of people anymore consists of paying bills online, word processing, and surfing the web or multimedia.

    As for OS itself the closest I've seen to convergence is Android x86. Unity8 I could see doing the same as long as it's essentially scale-able. As of current it's not really like that. The phone OS and Desktop OS for nearly every major system out there is difference in appearance.

    For me either make it all function and/or look as close to the same on all platforms and slap on a minimize, maximize, and close for the desktop and I'm set. 😄



  • @doniks said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    One thing that I find a bit surprising is that "convergence conversations" are usually of a either/or mindset. I want convergence, but I do not necessarily want it instead of another device/setup that I have now, I want it in addition.

    This!

    People thought a slab of glass would replace laptops. We still have laptops and we have a ton of tablets. People thought laptops would replace desktops. We have both. Folks thought cars would replace trucks. We have trucks. We have cars still. Both co-exist.

    I think it is important to observe history when it comes to how mainstream society adopts and adapts to technology and how we interface it...and get our design/product insights from that (not saying let it drive the entire ship, that would be silly) but at least let those things inform our opinions rather than hyper-personalizing how we use devices and trying to infuse that with an entire demographic of users who are not like us.

    When this happens, I think we have a better shot at moving the conversation forward.Thanks @wayneoutthere for posting the article. This is a great discussion.



  • @3arn0wl said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    I suggested snaps because we'll need desktop apps, and snaps are an easy way to load them. As much as I'd like to see it, I can't imagine we'll get app builders writing apps for everything we need... Maybe some apps will just be for desktop mode.

    Agreed. Some snaps would not be built with convergence in mind...but some will. This is the hardest part - to get developers to think convergent. I think we will get there. IBM is still pushing out marketing about the benefits of "coding once, run everywhere".

    https://twitter.com/IBM/status/1101629012407922693

    This framework will greatly expedite convergent development because programmers are "lazy" and there is a cost benefit from doing so (more reach, more eyeballs, more eyeballs means more attention and potential for ad revenue). https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/01/08/developers-are-lazy-and-thats-usually-a-good-thing/#5ddc228a1391

    But I think Canonical had a good idea when they had the standard window size of their "staging" window when using split screen. It wasn't free form. Here is demo of what they came up with before they dropped it.

    https://youtu.be/fiEkCaA_P7c?t=155

    Lo and behold, those dimensions are oddly close to mobile phone dimensions. Was this on accident. No. You can create an app view as well as a multi-task pane for tablet use - perhaps without changing much code.

    P.s. Apple also has this framework for managing an "app" view while in multi-tasking/split window mode and standardizes that as well...this makes it easier for devs to come along and code for that standard. Here is a link to that. https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/ios/visual-design/adaptivity-and-layout/

    PurismOS goes into this and does a nice job at explaining that this can, and technically has, already been pulled off.
    They describe it on the second half of the article.

    https://puri.sm/posts/converging-on-convergence-pureos-is-convergent-welcome-to-the-future/

    Being linux users in general, our crowd has been the one that championed innovation and forward thinking...after all, even people doubted GUI interfaces wholesale at one point believe it or not. Let's not get too close to that kind of thinking.

    they got gui wrong too

    alt text



  • Just to add, I think if "phone-to-desktop" becomes a thing, we won't have problems finding dock stations anywhere. I'm pretty sure facilities will cope up and we might see docking stations in public places like airport. A big concern with that though is security. We'll need USB condoms 😛


  • Marketing

    @kugiigi Good point about the USB condom thing. The public hardware security issue was lightly touched in a previous episode.
    It's very possible (https://www.geek.com/tech/this-malicious-usb-cable-can-remotely-accept-hacker-commands-1774220/), but the victim base isn't big enough yet. Having public docks could lead to that eventually.



  • @wayneoutthere There are lots of other things for which a phone cannot suffice. And most people do most of those things. This is why I will never see "convergence" as a means for replacing most peoples' hardware with a single device.

    Yes, for plenty of people that may be possible. However, the best part of "convergence" has nothing to do with replacing hardware. It's really about the apps. Being able to use the same apps on any device.

    This is my problem with the whole focus on "convergence" as "plug your device into an external screen." That is not what convergence is about, but it's what so many seem to try and focus on.



  • @kugiigi That won't work if you want more than charging though. You need the video and USB data connections for a dock. So you'll have to trust that your screen and keys aren't being logged.

    So basically, I hope we don't see that happening. 🙂



  • @dobey said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    This is my problem with the whole focus on "convergence" as "plug your device into an external screen." That is not what convergence is about, but it's what so many seem to try and focus on.

    I see what you mean. But I think for you that isn't what its all about. For many it is. Canonical did showcase this aspect as a major feature and there is a company who is literally shipping a product that people are buying for this very purpose. But we can agree to disagree.

    Steve Jobs refused to release a bigger iPhone. He claimed it would cannibalize iPad sales. But now looking back we see bigger iphones and bigger iPad's. Both are selling. Nothing was replaced and I don't think anyone claimed converged devices would literally replace all our devices.

    I agree with your point though about keylogging on public docks. That would be a threat to seriously consider.



  • I think @dobey's right about convergence being all about the software, @Profetik777, and the idea of one code for everything is compelling. However it's a conversation about hardware, because it's hardware that sells.


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