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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Average desktop user, disk space consumption and OS design


Unix and Unix-like operating systems became very popular in servers but now the tide is very rapidly changing towards desktop. An average desktop user is not a systems administrator but who is soon becoming the largest disk space consumer.

Although monitoring disk space consumption is important, efficient disk space consumption is far more important.

Multimedia, gaming and digital imaging are few of the essential uses of desktop users and those are the most disk space consuming uses.

It's desirable if the design of the operating system could support following:
1.Central data storage facility for things that are common among desktop users

2.Central program storage facility without compromising security

1. Central data storage facility for things that are common among desktop users

A desktop user may convert an audio album to an audio format of his/her choice (eg. Ogg, FLAC, etc). The FLAC is a lossless audio compression format suitable to listen to high definition audio or to exactly what is there in the CD without loosing any audio fidelity. But FLAC consumes nearly 600MB per CD album. That is, if you convert 100 CD albums, you need 60GB.

When you convert audio, where do these files are stored? Its stored in your home directory. No user can listen or read files inside another user's home directory in Unix-like operating systems. Therefore, all users interested to listen to those music albums have to duplicate music in their home directories wasting Giga bytes of storage.

Case is worse if you purchase and download upcoming DVD or HD-DVD movies via Internet. Because once you download, it goes to your home directory.

Tomahawk Desktop offers a solution to avoid data duplication. Its Tomahawk's /home/common directory. You can copy files into /home/common or subdirectories under /home/common, every user can access or read these files but nobody other than the original user who copied these files can delete or modify.

2. Central program storage facility without compromising security

If you install software packages under your user id (ie. as you), normally you can only install them under your home directory. As in the case above, then others cannot access such programs, therefore, they have to duplicate those packages under their home directories wasting Giga bytes of storage.

Therefore, its obvious one should install software packages in one central place such as /usr partition. But normally you are not allowed to install software packages under /usr partition as a normal user, you are required to install them as root, the super user. If you install a software package, especially a closed source package, worse yet an alpha or a beta version, you compromise the system security.

So, what a predicament! If you install software packages as a normal user, you don't compromise system security, but you waste disk space. If you install as root, you don't waste disk space, but you compromise system security.

Tomahawk Desktop offers a solution to this predicament. Its Tomahawk's package user based package management system. Tomahawk Desktop is designed from the ground up, to install a software package as a package user. That is, not as a normal user nor as the root user, thereby avoiding issues associated with a normal user and the root user.

Tomahawk's package user based package management system supports a central program storage facility without compromising security.

Conclusion

The point that we want to bring across is the design of the operating system should support efficient disk space usage without compromising security of the system, so that, an average desktop user can consume the disk space efficiently without even aware of it.

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