Phoenix's Hyperspace: Linux-Based Instant-On For Laptops - InformationWeek

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11/7/2007
11:03 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Phoenix's Hyperspace: Linux-Based Instant-On For Laptops

Not long after I covered Splashtop, the instant-on Linux-based boot environment that runs from flash memory, it looks like other hardware makers are getting into the same game.  Meet Phoenix's Linux-based HyperSpace.

Not long after I covered Splashtop, the instant-on Linux-based boot environment that runs from flash memory, it looks like other hardware makers are getting into the same game.  Meet Phoenix's Linux-based HyperSpace.

HyperSpace is a little like Splashtop ... only, on closer inspection, not.  Instead of just being an operating environment that's invoked before a formally-installed OS boots, it can be invoked at any time.

That's what Phoenix is claiming, anyway: that while Windows is booting in the background, you can invoke a Hyperspace session and run apps there such as a Web browser or media player.  As with Splashtop, though, this isn't intended to so much replace Windows as it is to complement it -- either as a recovery environment or maybe as a quick-and-dirty way to get online.

If all this sounds like a hypervisor in hardware, you're right -- the name itself should have been a total giveaway, come to think of it.  This was probably the next logical step for the way PCs handle an operating system: instead of just booting directly from BIOS into one of several OSes on a given machine, you make the BIOS into a hypervisor and allow OSes to be loaded side-by-side into partitioned memory segments.

Hyperspace, though, is not being pitched as a total hypervisor solution -- just a way to do certain things quickly that would normally require Windows to be booted, running, and connected to the network.  Getting to that point from a cold start can typically take minutes on end in Windows, and even just coming out of sleep mode and talking to the network can be more than a bit laggy.  (It's not too bad on my machine, but it's still not an instant-on experience!)

HyperSpace's initial market is with laptop vendors.  Phoenix already has experience in this space -- they introduced FailSafe for notebooks a while ago, a technology to trace stolen notebook computers and either triangulate their location or remotely wipe them out.  Among the plans Phoenix has suggested for HyperSpace is using it as a way to drive auxiliary displays on portable devices a la Vista's SideShow -- but in a far more consistently updated fashion.

Now the bad news. Even though HyperSpace is Linux-based, it doesn't look like you'll be able to freely install your own open-source applications of choice in the environment, which I suspect that's mostly to prevent tampering.  It's also not clear if the HyperSpace code will be made public, but I'm fairly confident if they don't do it someone else will be more than happy to devise something similar that is open.

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