It occurred to me as I was walking for coffee this morning that as the price of memory that powers the iPod shuffle and nano falls it will also fall into use for Powerbook and iBooks. The system folder on my hard drive now is 1.78 Gig in size. Leaving a lot of room in a 2 gig space. As 25% the system is internationalization and printer definitions (things I can do without) it is potentially even smaller. Moving the OS to flash RAM would have two benefits besides making way on my spinning hard drive for more music.
Almost all the functions of the system are reads. Not having to spin up the hard drive to print or load some other system related function could increase battery life 30% in general use. Playing a DVD will still take the same amount of battery no matter what. This potentially makes system functions faster as well.
The user space becomes distinctly separated from the system. It is almost like this anyway. So moving it to flash RAM would make it more so. In the case of a catastrophic system failure, the one where the tech support guy is stumped recommending a reinstall as the only option to proceed, the users data is less likely to be affected.
This opens the way for new behaviors for the way users interact with files and applications. By forcing more “network” orientation, files and applications wouldn’t be stored on the users local machine. Instead of installing an app on each Mac in an office, it gets installed once on the server. Then when I user needs it can be launched from any workstation. If the app is already open and there aren’t enough licenses for it to be opened again, the user is told this with the option of opening when it becomes free. With all files on the network collaboration between users become more fluid. Instead of the way they work now which is be emailing the file between themselves.
Moving user files from the local hard drive for backed up network storage makes for easier management of a groups files. Redundancy can happen with RAID5 making backups automatic. Doing away with fear of losing everything.
What’s interesting is this could happen right now. But for some reason the feature is not here yet. Moving the Users home directory to a network volume is a SUDO command away. The same with the Applications folder. This works very well for desktop machines, but not so well for moving portable machines.