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Network Computers and* newsgroups FAQ v1.10

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Archive-name: network-computers/faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 14 Apr 1998
Version: 1.10

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
    Network Computer and* newsgroups FAQ v1.10

  This FAQ contains information and answers to common questions about
 both Network Computers and the* usenet
 newsgroups. The latest version of this FAQ is also available on the
 web in HTML format at

Subject: 1. Contents. 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 15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic article or "spam" to one of the* newsgroups? 16. What should I do if I see "spam" in one of the computer.* newsgroups? 17. Charter for 18. Charter for 19. Charter for 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 away.
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 section 8). 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
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
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 Computers. MNCRS Mobile Network Computer Reference Specification, based on the NCP but with additions unique to mobile application, see section 9. 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: - The Open Group NC pages - NCI, Oracle's NC subsidiary - The NC reference profile - The Mobile NC reference specification - The NC news service - Acorn Group plc - NC World magazine The NC news service is also available in Russian, with additional information about Acorn's NCs, at and in German at
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 such as: DLT Solutions - NCI's distributor supplies NCI "Network in a 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 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 <> 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 topics? The following usenet newsgroups are dedicated to the subject of Network Computers: Relative merits of Network Computers. Announcements relating to Network Computers. (Moderated) 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
Subject: 15. What should I do if someone posts a wildly off topic article to one of the* 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* 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* newsgroups? "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 Also see the network abuse clearing house at
Subject: 17. Charter for The content of posts to 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 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 welcome. 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 The 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* newsgroups.
Subject: 19. Charter for The newsgroup 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 group. 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 and I will add it to the FAQ. Also please contact me with any corrections or submissions of answers for the FAQ. There is a web site for this FAQ and everything else relating to the Network Computer newsgroups at Copyright 1997, 1998, by James C N Sears <>.

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