Last-modified: 14 Apr 1998
Network Computer and comp.sys.net-computer.* newsgroups FAQ v1.10
This FAQ contains information and answers to common questions about
both Network Computers and the comp.sys.net-computer.* usenet
newsgroups. The latest version of this FAQ is also available on the
web in HTML format at http://www.wilts.net/nc/faq.html
Subject: 1. Contents.
2. What is a Network Computer?
3. Will Network Computers replace traditional PCs?
4. What different types of Network Computer are there?
5. What are thin clients?
6. What are dumb terminals?
7. What are set top boxes?
8. What is the Network Computer Profile?
9. What is the Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification?
10. What do common abbreviations and acronyms like NCI mean?
11. Where can I find out more about Network Computers?
12. Where can I buy a Network Computer?
13. What newsgroups are available for Network Computer related topics?
14. How do I post an announcement to comp.sys.net-computer.announce?
15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic article or
"spam" to one of the comp.sys.net-computer.* newsgroups?
16. What should I do if I see "spam" in one of the comp.sys.net-
17. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.announce.
18. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.advocacy.
19. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.misc.
20. Contact details and credits.
Subject: 2. What is a Network Computer?
Network Computers (NCs) are a new type of affordable computing device
which cost much less that traditional PCs to buy and maintain, they
are also strongly standards based to ensure that numerous different
hardware and software implementations will interoperate properly.
Subject: 3. Will Network Computers replace traditional PCs?
No. NCs will be used mainly by the millions of people who currently
do not own a traditional computer because of the high purchase and
maintenance costs, and in numerous new applications such as digital
TV set top boxes where there currently are no computers. There will
always be more technically minded people, people running servers, and
people who want ultimate flexibility who will use a PC type device,
but they are now, and will continue to be, in the minority.
With appropriate software some old PCs could be given a new lease of
life and transformed into a NC like device, rather than being thrown
Subject: 4. What different types of Network Computer are there?
Many different companies will be producing Network Computers for
numerous different applications and markets, and there will be many
different hardware and software implementations, which is why it is
essential for NCs to conform to the Network Computer Profile (see
Some of the general areas which the areas of Network Computers can
be divided into are:
* home NCs, typically with lower bandwidth, intermittent, network
access and with a TV as a display device.
* corporate NCs, typically higher bandwidth (eg Ethernet) network
access, with better display devices, more like a traditional PC.
* set top box NC, used to access digital or cable TV, normally with
high speed network access.
* dumb terminals, not really NCs as they just display the output of
programs run on servers, however some NCs also support this method
of operation for backwards compatibility.
* PC NCs, normal computers which are running software which conforms
to the same open standards as Network Computers.
* Mobile NCs, devices such as palmtops, laptops, and PDAs, which
which can be used as NCs when connected to a network but will also
function independently (see section 9).
Subject: 5. What are thin clients?
Thin clients are simpler computers or programs which are designed to
work with a server, so that the client requires less complexity, local
storage, processing, or maintenance. Network Computers are an example
of thin clients.
Subject: 6. What are dumb terminals?
Dumb terminals are display and input devices which don't process data
and input locally, instead transmitting input to a computer to which it
is connected and displaying the resulting output.
Many people, especially the press, seem to confuse the idea of Network
Computers with that of dumb terminals, referring to NCs as "dumbed
down" computers. This is not true, unlike dumb terminals which simply
display the output of a program running on a server elsewhere on the
network, Network Computers actually do local processing and are much
closer to PCs than to dumb terminals.
Some Network Computers however do support protocols, such as X Window
and ICA, which allow them to be used as dumb terminals to display the
output of a program running on a server in additional to programs
running locally, so that they are backwards compatible.
Subject: 7. What are set top boxes?
Set top boxes are computing devices used in conjunction with the TV.
Applications include decoding cable, digital terrestrial, or satellite
transmissions, allowing access to video on demand, and providing access
to the Internet.
Some set top boxes (STBs) are also Network Computers and provide
access to the Internet as well as their usual functions, other STBs
are not Network Computers.
Subject: 8. What is the Network Computer Profile?
The Network Computer Profile is the current standard to which all real
Network Computers must comply. Maintained by the Open Group the profile
outlines what minimum facilities a device must provide to be called
a Network Computer, and what standards must be used to provide those
facilities, eg SMTP for sending mail and HTTP for fetching web pages.
Details can be found at http://www.opennc.org/
Subject: 9. What is the Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification?
The Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification (MNCRS) is an
extension to the Network Computer Profile (section 8), with special
attention given to the unique requirements of mobile applications.
Additions include requirements for working with little or no network
connectivity, power usage monitoring, minimal bandwidth use, and so on.
Details can be found at http://www.mncrs.org/
Subject: 10. What do common abbreviations and acronyms like NCI mean?
Here are some of the common abbreviations and acronyms and their
meanings which you are likely to come across in the world of Network
MNCRS Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification, based on the
NCP but with additions unique to mobile application, see
NC Network Computer.
NCI Network Computer, Inc. - Oracle's NC subsidiary.
NCOS Network Computer Operating System, NCOS1 is based on Acorn's
RISC OS, NCOS2 is based on NetBSD.
NCP Network Computer Profile, maintained by the Open Group it is
the successor to the NCRP, see section 8.
NCRP Network Computer Reference Profile, developed by Oracle etc for
the original NC, now the NCP maintained by the Open group.
PDA Personal Digital Assistant.
STB Set Top Box, a device which sits on or under a TV and is used
to decode signals, access a network or services, etc.
Subject: 11. Where can I find out more about Network Computers?
There are several places to find information about NCs on the web:
http://www.opennc.com/ - The Open Group NC pages
http://www.nc.com/ - NCI, Oracle's NC subsidiary
http://www.nc.ihost.com/ - The NC reference profile
http://www.mncrs.org/ - The Mobile NC reference specification
http://www.ncns.com/ - The NC news service
http://www.acorn.co.uk/ - Acorn Group plc
http://www.ncworldmag.com/ - NC World magazine
The NC news service is also available in Russian, with additional
information about Acorn's NCs, at http://www.ncns.com/ru/ and in
German at http://www.ncns.com/de/
Subject: 12. Where can I buy a Network Computer?
If their regular dealer can not supply Network Computers on request
companies, schools, and other organisations should contact a supplier
DLT Solutions - NCI's distributor supplies NCI "Network in a
http://www.dlt.com/ Box" 2, 10, or 20 unit packages and other NCI
1.888.345.4NCI hardware and software.
Oregan Networks - UK based company supplies ARM powered Proton
http://www.oregan.net/ Electric manufactured Network Computers, as
44.1530.563311 well as their own server software.
Individual users should be able to find a Network Computer in a local
high street store, for example NetChannel <http://www.netchannel.net>
claim their NCs are available nationally from the following companies:
* In the US: Circuit City, Best Buy, Tops Appliance, The Good Guys,
PC Richards, and other leading RCA dealers.
* In the UK: Dixons, Currys, Index, Tempo, Scottish Power Sound &
Vision, Alders, Harrods, and via mail order catalogues such as
Innovations and Littlewoods.
Subject: 13. What newsgroups are available for Network Computer related
The following usenet newsgroups are dedicated to the subject of
comp.sys.net-computer.advocacy Relative merits of Network Computers.
comp.sys.net-computer.announce Announcements relating to Network
comp.sys.net-computer.misc Network Computers and related topics.
The announcements group is moderated, see section 14 for details.
Subject: 14. How do I post an announcement to
To ensure that only valid Network Computer related announcements are
posted in the newsgroup it is moderated. This means that all articles
have to be approved by the moderator before they appear in the
newsgroup. There is a submission guidelines page available on the web
to help with any questions you may have about submitting articles, it
can be found at:
Information about new Network Computers, standards, exhibitions,
content rich Network Computer related web sites, and so on are all
candidates for announcements in comp.sys.net-computer.announce.
Subject: 15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic
article to one of the comp.sys.net-computer.* newsgroups?
Unfortunately there will always be users who don't know what the
newsgroup is actually for, and who don't bother to read this FAQ or
the charters or even the newsgroups line before posting.
If you see an article in a comp.sys.net-computer.* newsgroup which
has absolutely nothing to do with Network Computers you should under
no circumstances reply, quote, or discuss it in the Network Computer
newsgroups. Several articles saying why an article is off topic are
just as annoying and off topic as the original article.
Instead you may like to e-mail a polite note to the person who posted
the original article including this FAQ, explaining what the newsgroup
they posted to is for. Someone who gets several copies of the FAQ is
unlikely to post another totally irrelevant article.
You should not be rude or abusive when someone makes a simple mistake
about where to post, however stupid that mistake may have been. Also
don't attack people who are slightly off topic, this section only
applies to "wildly off topic articles". "Spam" is also different
matter, see section 16.
Subject: 16. What should I do if I see "spam" in one of the
"Spam" is defined as multiple posts of identical articles to many
newsgroups. If you see the same totally off topic message in all the
Network Computer newsgroups and in other newsgroups you read the
chances are it is spam.
Unlike people who post wildly off topic articles because they don't
know what the group is for sending the FAQ to a spammer won't do any
good, and the From: header is likely to be forged in spam anyway.
Instead you should send a copy of the entire article which you think
is spam, including /all/ headers, to the administrators of the site
which the spam was posted from. As with off topic posts never quote,
reply to, or discuss spam in the Network Computer newsgroups.
For more information about usenet spam and junk e-mail and how to
report it see the "Help! I've been Spammed! What do I do?" FAQ which
is available at http://www.tezcat.com/~gbyshenk/ive.been.spammed.html
Also see the network abuse clearing house at http://www.abuse.net/
Subject: 17. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.announce.
The content of posts to comp.sys.net-computer.announce should be
current, textual, information, and must relate to the Network Computer
(NC). This includes press releases and news items, as well as any other
topical announcements relating to Network Computers. The group will
also be used to distribute information relating to the comp.sys.net-
computer.* newsgroups, for example a FAQ.
Although this group is intended primarily for announcements relating
to Network Computers which comply with Network Computer Inc's
standards, other posts which are closely related to the topic of NCs
will also be accepted if the moderators believe they are relevant and
will be of interest to readers.
Advertising is not permitted, unless the document contains information
of interest to the intended audience of the newsgroup. For example an
advert for a Network Computer exhibition or conference would be
Repeat postings are not not acceptable unless there has been a major
change to the information contained, or the posting is an accepted
regular posting like a FAQ.
This newsgroup will be moderated. Moderation policies:
The moderators will accept any post which is in keeping with the above
charter, and will NOT give more importance to announcements from any
one company. Submissions which are clearly inappropriate will be
rejected without a reason, any other marginal post will be returned to
the sender with a note from the moderator explaining their decision.
Subject: 18. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.advocacy.
The comp.sys.net-computer.advocacy newsgroup should be used for all
discussions about the relative merits of the Network Computer compared
to PCs or NetPCs, or one NC compared to another NC.
Such discussions should be contained in this newsgroup, and should not
take place in any other comp.sys.net-computer.* newsgroups.
Subject: 19. Charter for comp.sys.net-computer.misc.
The newsgroup comp.sys.net-computer.misc is a general discussion area
for any topic relating directly to Network Computers which comply with
Network Computer Inc's specifications.
Topics relating to the relative merits of Network Computers when
compared to each other, or more likely to standard PCs or NetPCs
should NOT be discussed in this group, but should be confined to the
Advertising and announcements of any kind are not allowed in this
newsgroup. If there is an advert or announcement relating to Network
Computers then such a post should be directed to the moderated group
Binaries are not permitted. This group will be unmoderated.
Subject: 20. Contact details and credits.
This FAQ is at a relatively early stage, there is more information
which will be added in due course, if you have a specific question
please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it to the FAQ. Also
please contact me with any corrections or submissions of answers for
There is a web site for this FAQ and everything else relating to the
Network Computer newsgroups at http://www.wilts.net/nc/
Copyright 1997, 1998, by James C N Sears <email@example.com>.