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Emacs in the Cloud

From: Paul Michael Reilly
Subject: Emacs in the Cloud
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 02:44:35 -0400

I recently tried out a ChromeBook for a month or so.  The attraction was primarily the simplicity of the system.  I love the idea of not having to deal directly with an underlying OS, not having to configure devices or drivers, not having to do backups, not worrying about losing files, or dealing with security, or having the hardware go belly up.  While the experience was a mixed success (I returned the box since it was underpowered and led to very poor Chrome behavior: slow and lots of crashed tabs and extensions).  But most of all, life without Emacs, even for just short periods, just plain sucks.

But a sufficiently powerful machine could provide a ChromeBook experience and undoubtedly will as ChromeOS matures.  But it will not be in Google's interest to provide a native Emacs experience which leads to the likelihood of a ChromeOS derivative, if only to have a clean Emacs integration, (possible but unlikely) or a Cloud based Emacs experience being developed.

Before I go on, I think I basically understand Richard's (and others) strong anti-cloud stance: it is crazy to put sensitive data totally in the hands of giant corporations. But there is usefulness in having cloud based organizations provide infrastructure support (data preservation, replication for accessibility, simple security) for information that is not highly sensitive, like a music collection.  And there is usefulness in providing access to sensitive data that is provided by Cloud based infrastructure that is under one's own control (a personal server for example) or with third party organizations that one does trust (FSF, FreeCDDB, etc.)

So if you buy the premise that there are circumstances where a Cloud based machine makes sense, but you want to have an Emacs experience in that environment, where does that Emacs experience come from?  A true Emacs extension/plugin for Chrome?  An Emacs built with an embedded web server?  A limited Emacs exposed by ChromeOS that supports the existing Emacs extensions? An Emacs protocol supported by an Apache module?

My preference leans towards the embedded server and/or the Emacs protocol approaches.  I have not been tracking this list for a few years so I don't know if any of this has been discussed already (a browse of the archives did not reveal anything "cloud" related.)  And I figured that if there is any work going on of a related nature, this list would be aware of it and provide pointers/references.



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