Being a relative newcomer to the wonderful world of extreme computing there are a number of developments/historical 'facts' that have not been made aware of. I should probably read up a bit more on RMS (That's Richard Stallman for those who are uninitiated) and Gnu, as well as learning a bit more about the old programming. This new career path is certainly going to be far from boring!
One of the nicer surprises I had was when I recently went round to one of my colleague's offices in Manchester. His office is a rather dynamic sort of place - in that nothing appears organised to the stranger, but once you've been there a while there is certainly a method to the madness (I think the same is true of many open source projects, and the logic of the documentation team). One of the things I noticed were a bunch of these boxes sitting around that looked like UPSs (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) but were in fact small 'shuttle-like' servers. Not only that, but they were bundled linux servers. I decided to ask to borrow one, and one should be on its way to me within the next few days.
It's things like this that were children of their time that people really need to look upon and be made aware of. In the Open Source world, very few companies can sell a 'brand'. I can't create a product and brand it to sell it - it's just too expensive. Some companies can (such as Zimbra), but for the majority of FLOSS geeks, we spend our time creating mash-ups of other peoples stuff, or provide 'enabling processes' which 'add value' rather than cost lots of money. The Qube, as I am told it's called, is a bit of both.
There are some really neat ubuntu projects going on which are aimed at easy to manage servers. Oly is running USM https://launchpad.net/usm which I'm literally just checking out now to take a look at. I know there's webmin - but in my opinion it does lots of things to a mediocre level - and there's not much room for creativity in terms of the interface. It'd be nice to have some really clean interface for the user management - however, it can only go so clean before the complexities need to be taken into account. I'll be looking at USM with interest over the next few days. Especially as it's written in python, and I'm told contains a stripped out plugin so I can attempt writing my own :)
It's no longer a case of building a brand and selling it in a box with the ubuntu system, that's not really environmentally friendly - and where can be done - older computers can be retired to a nice life of being a home server. Make a couple of adjustments to the Power Supply Unit (such as getting a low power one) and the costs can be minimal.
They're an interesting pair of approaches - I'm really interesting in seeing just how good this Qube is - and whether it was a child of its time or a bad egg.