Monday, November 14, 2005

i posted about the free vmware player a while ago. it is interesting to note that you can save the state of your virtual machine with vmware. imagine using your ipod as a portable storage of your virtual machine. you can hook up to your home machine do your thing, save your vm, go to your office, plug your ipod then continue where you left off. that feature is taken a bit farther by IBM research in a project called soulpad.

SoulPad is a portable storage device containing the software stack shown below. The three-layer SoulPad software stack enables a paradigm of mobile computing where a user can suspend his computing environment on one PC and resume it on another PC that he may have never seen before. The PC boots an auto-configuring operating system from the SoulPad, starts a virtual machine monitor, and resumes a suspended virtual machine that has the user's entire personal computing environment, which includes the user's files, user's operating system, installed applications, desktop configuration as well as all running applications and open windows. Essentially, SoulPad enables a user to hibernate a PC session to a pocket form-factor device and carry the device to some another PC and resume his session on that PC. SoulPad has minimal dependencies on PCs that can be used to resume a user session. In specific, PCs are neither required to be network connected, nor have any pre-installed software. The only requirement is the support of a high speed local connection to a SoulPad device for an acceptable suspend/resume times and acceptable runtime performance. Our approach differs from Internet Suspend/Resume in several ways: we do not require a known software stack on the PC and also do not rely on network connectivity to fetch suspended virtual machines. In our first prototype, we installed the SoulPad software stack on off-the-shelf hard disks with USB 2.0 interfaces. Since USB 2.0 provides power, we do not need a separate battery to power the SoulPad. In addition, USB 2.0 is fast enough that the performance bottleneck is not the communication link between the SoulPad and the PC. Further, many PC BIOSes support the ability to boot directly from USB disks simplifying the resume operation to one of connecting the SoulPad over USB 2.0 and instructing the PC BIOS to boot from USB. Since the SoulPad device carries the entire personal computing state of a user, it is important that the storage capacity of the device be large enough to hold all of the content that the user needs. Many USB hard disks are based on the same technology as disks on laptop computers, and have similar capacities. Given the popularity of laptop computers, we believe that the capacities of USB hard disks are adequate for a majority of the user population. Since it is possible that the user may lose his SoulPad, we encrypt sensitive data on the SoulPad, namely the virtual machine state using the AES128 block cipher.

nah, just one of the excuses am coming up to justify/convince the love of my life that I need an ipod. hehehehe.

Somewhere over the rainbow...
-Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole

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