back to article I want virtualisation on my iPhone, and I want it NOW

By turning computers into software, virtualisation can increase security and free us from underlying complex hardware. Systems can be deployed in moments, and we're offered much better efficiency and flexibility. Which are all really good things, albeit things commonly associated with PCs and servers. But virtualisation would be …

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Anonymous Coward

You can already run two virtualised Androids on Nexus 10 (ARMv7)

See what the guys and gals at Samsung have done

http://events.linuxfoundation.org/sites/events/files/slides/SRUK_Xen_Presentation_2013_v7.pdf

Video of talk and demo here:

http://youtu.be/Km6gBnIqaWo

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your Android phone has Microsoft DRM in it

if this is behind the "drm protected content storage" process - I disabled that one some while ago, together with other unwanted preinstalled spyware like the "Market feedback agent", facebook, google+ et al.

Up to now I didn't see any difference. If anything the phone seems to run more stable. Probably due to the RAM that was blocked by this stuff.

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your Android phone has Microsoft DRM in it

And Ballmer had the gall to call GNU/Linux "a cancer that infects everything it touches."

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"virtualisation can increase security" it can also present it's own security issues.

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Pint

You're right @vmistery - Nothing comes for free, and a new security hole gets introduced while securing another. The big thing to me, is it keeps my work stuff separated out from my personal stuff. I already do the same thing using desktop virtualisation to keep things separated out on those occasions where I have to use a personal laptop. For the mobile device case, the IT-SEC bod can wipe the corporate VM on the device without wiping my personal data, which I consider a huge win. After having been an EARLY adopter of BYOD, I'm currently avoiding BYOD now until the virtual mobe is available in whatever org I'm in. Until then, someone can continue supply me a phone, and I'll have a batman utility belt of devices... :)

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You're holding the next virtual battleground in the palm of your hand

Yeah, but you're not holding it properly...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're holding the next virtual battleground in the palm of your hand

Rik: "Hey, wouldn't it be amazing if all this money was real?"

Vyvyan: "That is the single most predictable and BORING thing that anyone could ever say whilst playing Monopoly!"

So "holding it wrong" in an Apple comment stream is the same as this.

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The Third Man

I'm reminded of this quote:

In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

With Apple being Switzerland. Not in the original innovation, but the way in which their desire for complete control of the ecosystem is stifling further innovation...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Third Man

Wait, if it's Apple and Switzerland, wouldn't it be the Swiss Federal Railways station clock instead of the cukoo clock?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Third Man

Unfortunately for Switzerland, the cuckoo clock was a German invention.

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Linux

sailfishOS...

Hmmm, well the procedure to put SailfishOS on my N9 enables multiboot...

So install KVM enabled kernel, perhaps have "ctrl-alt FX" access to alternate phone OS's?

Having multiple sims would make this very cool!

Not sure of the battery life price..

P.

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Power...

Anyone know what the power implications are? Phoens are bad enough already, and are not going to dramatically improve, so does virtualisation have a perceptible hit?

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Linux

Re: Power...

i was wondering the same, as it is clearly possible!

But in theory, the CPU/GPU/Screen costs will be the same depending on the combined work of foreground/background.

I imagined it being a sort of "local VNC" type affair, or am I being idealistic...?

P.

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Re: Power...... An Idea of Mine Whose Time has Come...

Now, for removable batteries on iPhones, and split batteries on all mobiles for when no AC is available.

Such power-hungry virtual OSs will probably suck the mojo from most physical batteries, shortening their physical lives. This means iPhone users and users of other phones which seem to be (re)turning to non-user-removable batteries will probably quickly return to all-removable batteries.

If a phone becomes the new PC-level battleground, and is able to stand alone or as an "interconnecting unit" of other computer-powered devices, it will need either a revolutionary leap in battery re-charging and discharging tech, or the batteries will need to be removed from the "safety" and other aspects positioning of powered-on-devices. In some phones, even when AC is connected, the phone will instantly shut down if the battery is popped. As with some laptops of the past (and maybe some current ones), I have an idea: TWO batteries, akin to older laptops, where the drained one can be removed while another fresher or not-yet-near-drained one can keep the machine running during the swapout. And, if the device IS on AC, then both can be swapped of their drained ones and extended with fresher or different/newer ones that will run longer or even longer. So, a user (regular or power user) can be constantly on the move, say between work tasks or just during transportation.

A laptop for power or corporate or infrastructure users might be a brick in and of itself. A laptop for a consumer or prosumer at certain levels might be a simple, removable or non-removable guaranteed-30-seconds-to-2-minutes forever duration battery to allow swapping the main, drained/draining battery provided the user has it in-hand and can swap in less than a minute, when AC is not nearby. The sliver battery could be slide-in/slide-out, snap-on, or plug-in, or click-in.

The idea is probably not new, but in the future, I reserve the right to make these words actionable provided no existing patent has a factual timestamp prior to my writing this or prior to my posting this around a year or so ago in another forum.

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The problem with doing this on a phone is how to present it to the user

Having a separate home and work personality for your phone sounds nice in theory, but making it so the typical user understands the division and how to manage it is a different story.

It is easy to just make it work like two separate phones in the same physical package. If not with two SIMs, at least whole separate environments where you have two OS installs, two sets of apps, if you want to change your wallpaper have to change it twice, etc.

That's a terrible solution for usability, however, as you probably don't want to put your phone into "work" mode and be unable to see an iMessage (or the Android equivalent) sent to your home personality. You can argue "well, you could configure it so you could, but the more compromises like that which are made the less point there is of doing it at all because the whole point is to keep the device setup the way corporate IT wants to make it secure (or what they feel is secure) and the more you make it work like YOU want the less likely that is.

Doing this right is probably not a job for virtualization, unless you have a job with very tight security requirements (i.e. classified data, or you work with trade secrets) At least not at the OS level. Virtualization the entire OS sounds great to us techies who run a virtualized Windows on our Linux booting laptops, as we're more willing to live with the limitations that would be imposed on us. This isn't a solution for an average person without a lot of effort towards making it work seamlessly, which is why the capability exists on some Android phones but sees little use, and why you're unlikely to ever see this on the iPhone, at least not as described in the article.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem with doing this on a phone is how to present it to the user

The UI part is easy: all you need is a switch button and some visual cue in the status bar on which is what. Set up a different background on the home screen and it is even easier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km6gBnIqaWo at around 8" explains the concept and shows a demo with Xen as VM

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The problem is...

The hypervisor on such a phone would probably be closed source and/or "protected" by a closed boot loader. So from a security, and probably even practical standpoint, it's not trustworthy.

What we would really need would be an EU wide banning of closed boot loaders and undocumented hardware. If you sell hardware here you better provide all the documentation needed to install your own software on it. That way you can not only combat "planned obsolescence", but actually bring mobile security to acceptable levels.

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Re: The problem is...

That helps the 0.5% of the population who would actually want to install a new bootloader on their phone, but wouldn't matter for the actual target market of people wanting to use the same phone for personal use while letting corporate IT lock it down as far as the part of it that accesses corporate resources.

If the corporate IT departments cared about avoiding closed source they wouldn't have much to choose from - even portions of Android are closed source, such as Maps and Youtube.

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Linux

Re: The problem is...

I don't believe that is true. If the bootloaders were not locked other companies could provide for that platform, and consumers could buy from them.

For example,it would be interesting to see what the hardware of the new Lumias could do with Alternate OS...

I sort of agree that some locks on bootloader are appropriate for prudent security, but only if they are under the control of the device purchaser.

P.

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Re: The problem is...

As a techie I want that control, but making it possible for the end user to control also allows greater potential harm from a security exploit. That's why some devices where security is more sensitive have a physical switch or jumper that needs to be changed to allow certain changes to the device to be made. I suppose that could be implemented in Android phones, at least those that have a removable back cover.

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Re: The problem is...

The worst thing is that particularly in the mobile world, security is more difficult. You cannot easily enter strong keys via the keyboard every time you "unlock" it to use flash encryption.

What we would need are new attempts to it, but that's impossible by a partly closed source operating system and hardware which only differs in how the, otherwise nearly identical, components are controlled.

Maybe a future system could look like this: You have a small system storing just the amount of data you need in an encrypted form. All keys will be stored in RAM and any will be delete upon opening the device. A backup will be made on a server you trust and you can run yourself.

So far the closest thing we have to this is using your phone as a terminal. Unfortunately mobile networks will still take some years to make this both viable and affordable

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Rupert Goodwins starts his article with references to 'virtualization' on " PCs and servers. " then proceeds immediately to mention "only" X86, as if the VIA chipset products as well as Sparc and IBM Power chip line do not exist, even though the latter two are admittedly only Server based chipsets. However that is not the point. Either discuss PC only chipsets, including VIA, or cover all server chipsets if indicated as part of the article..

It is imperative that that bloggers and tech journalists on TheRegister.com retain a high level of consistency and coherence in their writings, in order for readers to fully understand their inferences and story line.

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