Today I did something I thought wouldn't work - but it did! I'm running out of space on my FreeBSD partition (the machine dual-boots WinXP), so I thought of a clever way to solve this problem: I booted the FreeBSD partition in vmware in WinXP, created a big empty file, shared the directory the file was in via Network neigbourhood, mounted it in FreeBSD virtual machine (smbfs), and then mounted that big file as a UFS partition! And it worked! Since I'm running unstable (-CURRENT) FreeBSD system, I really though something would crash or misbehave, but no - it went through flawlessly. I just LOVE modern technology! (yes, I can use that image-file when I boot FreeBSD natively, mounting the (msdosfs) partition and proceeding like before, only without the networking part) - And did I mention I was doing all this from a X11 desktop which I'm accessing through a VNC client? :)

Speaking of all this, I often stand in awe about things like that I'm doing like it's perfectly normal and understandable... but look what is involved in such a deceptively simple task:

  • Operating systems with more power and flexibility at a command of ordinary users than ever in history
  • VM emulation technology, running on machines that are VERY unsuitable for such things (x86)
  • Sufficiently powerful hardware, that allows me to run several virtual OS images on my desktop (and my machine is actually quite slow by today's standards...)
  • Network interchange protocols, that allow me to connect completely disparate systems and work on all of them at the same time, without their differences slowing me down
  • User interface systems and protocols (meaning command-line as well as GUI), which make all this seamingly easy (several years ago, I'd probably needed to hack kernel to do something like this)

This probably isn't very exciting to a majority of users, but I find it fascinating, even without the virtual machine emulation part.

Also, together with the Mono project, this is really a great example of technology converging to a common point, usability-wise. It may not happen in the next 10 or even 20 years, but in 50... sure.