Stay Away From the 4.0 Alpha Builds!!
They provide .bz2 and .deb install options, but no standard .tar.gz or .rpm, first off. So unless you're running alien, you have to shove things around yourself with RedHat. Admittedly, this is a no-brainer, but sometimes it's the little things that count.
The main thing? The 4.0 alpha builds are amazingly unstable. They're so buggy that Opera isn't even taking bug submissions because they already have their hands full with them. I realize that this isn't a final release, but Opera crashes if open for more than five minutes and will freeze up your computer for 2-3 minutes straight from time to time. (It also caused X to suddenly consume well over 100Mb of memory.)
The simple things you want in a browser are missing. Like a status bar at the bottom and an address bar that shows you where you are and lets you type in an address right there, without having to click to bring up a "What address do you want to go to?" dialog. (In the screenshot they show it, but we did not see it when we ran it.) A large back button in the upper-left corner of the screen, not buried in a slew of other buttons.
Here's hoping a 4.0 final will be actually usable. The preview releases suck to the point where it is not useful for them to be demoing them. (Especially if they're not even taking bug reports - who wins?)
Comments on Comments
I appreciate these comments. It is correct that I should call it ARPANET proper and not DARPANET (although there are many documents that indicate that that was its informal name for some time). Also, the RAND Corporation's work on the reliability of a network under nuclear attack influenced but was not the primary motivator behind ARPANET. I apologize for being misleading about this.
As for the security concerns, there are really two very separate security issues here: one is data security, or that your private data (were you to store it in a distributed fashion) could be compromised. The easy solution to this is to encrypt your data with a large key that only you have (standard symmetric crypto) and distribute the pieces to the untrusted network. If you are sufficiently clever you could build a system to store your email on a distributed network run by people you didn't know and didn't trust without fear of it being read.
The second security issue is considerably more worrisome: that with a proliferation of server-type programs running on users' PCs, that a bevy of holes could be found and vast attacks could be mounted. I think that people will need to run Open Source software by virtue of its auditability and reliability. Secure "Auto-updating" will need to be built in to allow security patches to be distributed as soon as they are available. Given that all of the nodes running the software will have significant connectivity, this should be quite feasible.
As for the person who believed that "Akamai" means "smart" and not "cool" -- it means both! =) The following is from Akamai's own page [at http://www.akamai.com/company/origins.html (http://www.akamai.com/company/origins.html)]: Akamai (pronounced AH kuh my) is a Hawaiian word for intelligent and clever. Informally, it means "cool."
Finally, while the concept of distributing services in general is certainly not new, the new model that I see emerging is the client becoming a distributed server by default. That is to say, there are no longer clients and servers on the network, only participants. Were this to happen, an underground network could very rapidly supercede Akamai and similarly "explicitly distributed" systems in favor of a "user-distributed" architecture. Local mirroring happens automatically, not at the whim of whether or not your ISP has decided to partner with Tucows...The upside is huge: if you're on the network, it'll be like you've got a giant version of Akamai working for you with automatic mirroring, balancing, cacheing, etc.
Again, I really appreciate the insightful comments that you all have left. Feel free to contact me (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to talk further about this.