Re: Fw: Meet the $499 Mac.

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Fri Aug 26 2005 - 12:55:26 CDT

I agree with alan on the computers for schools argument.

Mac's make a lot of sense for this. The trend these days is for schools, govt labs, and bussinesses to go with fleet agreements with vendors. Run an all dell or mac shop. The cost of system administration can far out weigh getting a super deal on cousin vinny's home built mini ITX. standardization saves more and prevents unexpected incompatibilities. Oddly, It's much better for planning to simply know a computer wont do something with certainty than to have a mixture of them some of which run a mission critical software and some that you discover down the line don't. Fleet agreements are a way of taking advantage of this to get deeper discounts.

Mac Mini's actually cost less to govt and schools by the way. But one thing that Apple wont do for you normally is to sell you a deconfigured mac. I once approached them about selling me a cluster of macs with certain parts left off. They said it would cost extra to have the parts removed!

Mac's run yellowdog linux which is open source. So you only have left to worry about boot-roms, and video chips.

It's possible, likely I guess, that when macs go to Intel they will also go to trusted platform computing. While that's a controversial topic for some people, I think it's something the voting community should embrace as one more layer of security that begins to address the one topic we have left uncovered. How do you know the binary you are running is the one you think you are running. And how do you establish a secure connection to the video screen that can't have a man in the middle? Trusted platform computing along with the new HD video screens address these issue. Not neccessarily perfectly, but with a very solid layer we lack right now.

Also I'd like to point out that there is a LINUX BIOS avaliable. Developed I believe at Los Alamos National Lab. Use that instead of the regular bios and you can scrap the boot loader. It's open source.

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Dechert <dechert@gmail.com>
Sent: Aug 26, 2005 10:50 AM
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list <ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net>
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Fw: Meet the $499 Mac.

Nathan,

> Apple is one of the most proprietary platforms on the market. While
> OS X is built off of the F/OSS Darwin, OS X itself is hard-core
> proprietary stuff (the BSD license at work).
>
I think it's written in stone that any voting system specific software
will need to be open source in order to qualify as "OVC compliant."
Maybe at some point in the future (likely quite a few years from now)
we'll have systems that are completely open source -- firmware, cpu
microcode, drivers ... everything. Clearly, for the first versions of
OVC compliant voting systems we will need to incorporate non open source
COTS software components such as firmware and drivers. The trick will
be to ensure that COTS components are authentic and unmodified.

BTW, of the four applications we demoed on APR 1, 2004, two ran on Linux
(one Fedora the other SUSE), one was on a Mac, and the other was, um,
Windows 98.

> If you just want something small,
> simple, and cheap go with VIA's Mini-ITX line:
>
> http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/spearhead/mini-itx/
>
> The mini-ITX line is completely x86 compatible, so Linux has no
> problems
> running on top of it. The older, less featured mobo's (Keep It Simple,
> Sir) are dropping in price, and if a OVC manufacturer were to buy
> large
> quanitities I'm sure VIA would cut a deal.
>
> Afterwords the machines could be used in school, re-sold as
> Internet/Multimedia desktops, etc.
>
When you say, "used in school," that could turn out to be a reason to
consider the Mac. They are widely used in schools. There may be
business reasons for doing it that way in some circumstances. I vote at
a school. The same school has a computer room with a bunch of Macs.
If, say, a half dozen of those school computers were in secure
enclosures, I don't see any reason they couldn't simply be reconfigured
for Election Day (disable harddrive and network, boot from CD/DVD). If
Apple and the schools were on board with it, then it could be quite
cheap -- no more than a couple hundred dollars per year.

Alan D.

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Received on Wed Aug 31 23:17:31 2005

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