Phoenix Technologies’ HyperSpace is also built on Linux and various other FOSS applications plus some proprietary code, but it is significantly different from Splashtop. It is installed to your hard drive, and it operates in two modes: hypervisor or standalone. Hypervisor mode, called “HyperSpace Hybrid”, lets you run it side-by-side with Windows, and switch back and forth without rebooting. Hybrid mode requires an IntelVT CPU. “Dual Mode” is for systems without CPU support for virtualization, so to switch between HyperSpace and Windows you need to reboot.
Unlike Splashtop, you can purchase HyperSpace separately and install it on your PC. Hardware support is still limited, so check the specs first. HyperSpace comes with a Web browser, full multimedia support, wireless Ethernet and 3G support.
I had an informative conversation with Dr. Gaurav Banga, Senior VP of Engineering and
CTO and Shauli Chaudhuri, VP of Marketing for Phoenix Technologies. One thing that caught my attention is how HyperSpace is being positioned as a secure, stable Windows alternative. If you’re doing some online shopping in Windows, HyperSpace will sense the activity and
prompt you to enter the payment info via HyperSpace. I was rather amused by their Security page:
“How many times has your notebook crashed, making it useless? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could still use your notebook even if Windows isn’t working?…Continue safely surfing the Web, checking e-mail or watching that YouTube video even if a rogue application attacks and disables Windows. ”
I would have said “when Windows isn’t working” and “when a rogue application attacks.” Still, it’s a pretty big step to say anything like this in an industry that is chained so tightly to Redmond.
Phoenix estimates that most users can do 80% or more of their work in HyperSpace and don’t need all the bells and whistles of Windows for the jobs they do the most often. Their goal is to make HyperSpace as reliable as a telephone: turn it on, everything works with no backtalk, turn it off or put it to sleep.
They claim up to 25% longer battery life with Windows in sleep mode (hybrid mode), and I suppose that in dual mode, with no Windows running, it should be equivalent to that or better.
Not Quite Instant-On
The nice folks at Phoenix sent me a Lenovo S10 IdeaPad with HyperSpace and Windows XP to test. The IdeaPad is one sleek, attractive little computer, and I’ll be publishing a detailed review next week.
The first thing I noticed was that HyperSpace takes about 30 seconds to come up from a cold boot, so it’s not quite instant-on. However, sleep and wakeup worked flawlessly and instantly– just close and open the lid. I did this for several days without shutting the power all the way off and it worked every time.
“The move enables the shifting of a greater percentage
of the average mobile user’s computing activities from Windows into
Not Quite Open Source
While HyperSpace uses a Linux kernel and other FOSS code, it also includes a lot of proprietary code, and it is not all that open. You have to submit a request via email to get the source code, and they don’t have any kind of community involvement. In fact they keep a tight grip on it in the name of security:
“Security — HyperSpace is a personal computing environment that is far more
difficult to infect with viruses, rootkits and spyware than operating
systems like Windows. Applications are digitally signed and stored in a
secure memory store that is locked after execution. Updates and additions
to HyperSpace will only be made via a site approved and owned or audited by
Dr. Banga said they intend to make it extensible, and right now their primary goal is to make it as bulletproof as possible.
To me the obvious question is “This should be on a cool little $100 device– any plans to do that?” I shall ask the nice Phoenix people.
This article was first published on Linux Planet.