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Linux Wall Warts Small On Size, Big On Possibilities

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the yes-have-some dept.

Linux 316

davidmwilliams writes "Every geek and technology lover will undoubtedly have stumbled across online adverts for tiny headless Linux-powered devices that are barely larger than the power point they plug into. What can you actually do with them? Plenty, it seems!"

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oh man (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33280006)

Firewalls, Torrent Slaves, Front end for a "remote desktop" style connection, small traveling computer for a hotel that has a flat screen, etc.

Re:oh man (2, Interesting)

Kepesk (1093871) | about 4 years ago | (#33280512)

I'd like to see one with MythTV [] built into it. Plug it into the wall, give it a coax cable in, HDMI and USB out for monitor and keyboard, and off you go. Take your DVR anywhere.

Sure, the technology isn't quite there to do that cheaply, but it certainly wouldn't be expensive currently to build one that just connects to a wireless network and outputs Hulu.

Re:oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280948)

I've actually done this with VDR instead of mythtv, my mother can now watch tv on her laptop via wifi, I had to wait 23 years, but she loves me now!

Re:oh man (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33281030)

Plug it into the wall, give it a coax cable in

And get only local channels. Everything else needs a CableCARD.

Re:oh man (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 years ago | (#33280522)

Torrent Slaves

I wonder ... if somebody made an image with a self-registering Tor relay* that looked at the TCP congestion control state and throttled dynamically ... and then people started dropping $100 on these and plugging them in to random office buildings where a free data jack and power outlet were available - how many of them would still be operating after a couple years?

* I know you said 'torrent slave', but it gave me the idea

Re:oh man (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280782)

And I wonder, if you went into random office buildings and plugged some of these in, programmed to connect out to your master server (through their NAT, etc) sniff traffic, scour the local intranet and file shares and generally do some spying and acting as a jump point for your hacking, how many of them would still be operating after a couple years?

* I know you said 'tor relay', but it gave me the idea

Re:oh man (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33280818)

>>>Torrent Slaves

Ooops read my mind! It would save a lot of money to have a 5 watt Torrent-downloading plug to download my favorite TV shows,* versus leaving my ~150 watt computer running all the time. Some quick math: 0.140 kilowatt * 24 * 365 * 12 cents per KWh == about 140 dollars saved.

Okay maybe not a lot of money. In fact: Never mind. I'll just use my laptop to save electricity. ;-)

* Trivia - 5 watt is the US-enforced maximum wattage allowed on Digital TV converter boxes.

Two Words (2, Interesting)

0racle (667029) | about 4 years ago | (#33280026)

Hidden Cameras.

Two (other) Words (1)

sarysa (1089739) | about 4 years ago | (#33280212)

Security System.

One (Other) Word: ( +1, Helpful ) (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280268)

Botnets bitchez.

Yours In Astrakhan,
Kilgore Trout

P.S.: Bush-Gingrich 2012 !

Re:Two (other) Words (4, Interesting)

mmcuh (1088773) | about 4 years ago | (#33280322)

With infinite programming capabilities for encryption of recordings, offsite backups, and other sexy things you can think of. Hook it up to a small sensor that triggers the recording whenever a door opens and it can get really interesting. Computer, webcam, sensor, all fitting in your jacket pocket to install at home when you go on vacation, in the hotel room when you leave for a day trip, at the office when you leave for the weekend etc.

Re:Two Words (1)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33280730)

If they can run via Power Over Ethernet, I'd be a happy camper. Just hang them off a POE switch and you're online.


3 pages? (5, Informative)

RevRagnarok (583910) | about 4 years ago | (#33280032)

Did it really need 3 pages? Nope. []

Did it really need 1 page? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280360)

I actually RTFA because I'm interested in these things... And found it a total waste of time. Let me summarize everything in it:

The small and cheap, low-power computer that you plug directly into the wall is actually a small and cheap, low-power computer. It has USB 2.0 (as can be clearly seen in all pictures of the device). You can install linux on it and do stuff that such a linux computer could obviously be used at: File storage, run FTP server, run apache, use it as SSH gateway... That's about the list of ideas mentioned in TFA.

Did anyone here actually find new information (okay, 3rd page has a bit of technical specs. Nothing unexpected, nothing that would have taken more than 2 minutes to google) or ideas in the article? If so, what were they? If I missed something essential, my bad... But this seems to contain zero information. Especially to someone who already has interest to such devices (obviously, if you've never heard of these "wall warts" ((Okay, I hadn't heard that name being used for these devices before)) before, everything there was new. Though I still believe that running ftp server or ssh gateway would have been about the first things you would have thought of yourself, too).

Re:Did it really need 1 page? (1)

RevRagnarok (583910) | about 4 years ago | (#33280390)


Re:Did it really need 1 page? (3, Interesting)

skids (119237) | about 4 years ago | (#33280456)

Not to mention half the applications for something of this size are equally well filled by a reflashed OpenWRT wifi access point you can fish out of a dumpster for free. You don't need 512M of flash/ram to run an ssh gateway.

Re:Did it really need 1 page? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280816)

Yep. I spend a lot of time dumpster diving for old routers. No wait, I don't actually do that at all....

Re:Did it really need 1 page? (1)

sorak (246725) | about 4 years ago | (#33280864)

For someone who does not have an interest in such devices, it has little information either.

Yes, it can do any Linux server task, in a way that is slightly more green than repurposing an old pc, and, yes, it is smaller as well.

There's your article. Tack some technical specs on the end.

Wall warts? (2, Informative)

joeflies (529536) | about 4 years ago | (#33280046)

Not a particularly attractive name overall, but I decided to search the web to see if it's in common usage. Turns out that it's only used in reference to AC adapters, not as all-in-one computers. In fact, the first reference to the term as it relates to a mini computer is this very article. So it looks like they're making up their own lingo.

Re:Wall warts? (1)

Maarx (1794262) | about 4 years ago | (#33280088)

Everything is wrong about this article. I love /. and Linux as much as the next guy, but this article starts out defining it's own terminology, then reads like an advertisement for SheevaPlug, and then wraps up with... not much.

I hate to be this guy, but I don't understand why this is on /.

Re:Wall warts? (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 4 years ago | (#33280138)

For those of us who haven't heard of wall warts? Or to use more professional and socially accepted terminology, fuggin tiny computers. :P

Re:Wall warts? (4, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 4 years ago | (#33280152)

these devices are the same size and shape as many of the transformers used to power such things as laptops and video games. If you didn't know they were a complete computer, you'd be looking for the device that it was powering. The only difference you can see is that instead of a power cable going to some device, you have a network cable going into a router.

Since they look like a "wall wart", it isn't that surprising that they get called by the same name. These things are SMALL.

Re:Wall warts? (2, Interesting)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 4 years ago | (#33280186)

Wall warts are just any unattractive thing that takes up space on you power outlets (ala warts). Big AC adapters are the usual, but I think these will fit the bill if they hang off the wall.

Re:Wall warts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280202)

Generally I've see people use "wall-wart" to refer to anything that plugs into an outlet and is large enough to cover multiple outlets. So that includes AC adapters, large ethernet-over-home-power adapters, plug computers, etc.

Re:Wall warts? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 4 years ago | (#33280326)

Not a particularly attractive name overall, but I decided to search the web to see if it's in common usage

The wall wart conjures up something that is hot, bulky, won't fit on my UPS or power strip - or takes up a socket I need for something else.

Re:Wall warts? (2, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 4 years ago | (#33280364)

Musicians(well, electric instrumentalists) know the term from the AC adapters [] used to power their effects pedals.

No wireless? (3, Insightful)

slaxative (1867220) | about 4 years ago | (#33280056)

After reading the article I am rather surprised there is no wireless interface. They could have saved one more cable.

Re:No wireless? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 4 years ago | (#33280756)

It does have WiFi, but some people want to use it as a wireless gateway/AP/provide more throughput than WiFi can provide.

Re:No wireless? (1)

slaxative (1867220) | about 4 years ago | (#33280800)

No, it does not. Check out the spec sheet. []

Re:No wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280838)

The Ionics plug does not, but the Guruplug does, both as an AP and as an endpoint. Bluetooth, as well.

What, SheevaPlugs again? (3, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | about 4 years ago | (#33280098)

Isn't this like the billionth Slashvertizement for SheevaPlugs? They're neat and all, but I think at this point everyone here knows about those things. I'll probably get one if I can ever think of a use for it.

Re:What, SheevaPlugs again? (1)

mbakunin (258573) | about 4 years ago | (#33280178)

I'm waiting for the price to hit $50. $70 isn't bad, though. Maybe I should bite the proverbial bullet.

Re:What, SheevaPlugs again? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280558)

In an alternate universe where SheevaPlugs are 50$, bizarro-mbakunin posts on bizarro-slashdot...

mbakunin (258573)
I'm waiting for the price to hit $35. $50 isn't bad, though.

Re:What, SheevaPlugs again? (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 4 years ago | (#33280766)

Prior commenters on an earlier discussion suggested that a sheevaplug is best used as a room heater as they have a surprising capacity for overheating. Who'd have thought that putting a modern PC architecture into something the size of a power adapter might cause issues.....

Erm...Ok (1)

al3k (1638719) | about 4 years ago | (#33280102)

Not that SheevaPlugs aren't cool but....slow news day?

Re:Erm...Ok (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#33280688)

I love Apple products, but I also love Linux.

Occasionally I'd like to see more Linux and less Apple "Slow News Day" twaddle.

SheevaPlug (4, Funny)

codepunk (167897) | about 4 years ago | (#33280110)

SheevaPlug, I don't know about the rest of you but that name brings visions to my mind that has nothing to do with computers.

Re:SheevaPlug (3, Funny)

Maarx (1794262) | about 4 years ago | (#33280164)

SheevaPlug, I don't know about the rest of you but that name brings visions to my mind that has nothing to do with computers.

Thanks for ruining my lunch.

Re:SheevaPlug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280924)

SheevaPlug, I don't know about the rest of you but that name brings visions to my mind that has nothing to do with computers.

With dimensions of 4.3 X 2 inches, you might be right on the money!

Who paid for this advertisement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280120)

Who paid for this advertisement?

Re:Who paid for this advertisement? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#33280232)

Meh. Slashdot's always had a certain amount of time for cool gadgets and gizmos. Not interested? Or think it's a really crappy product? You have a platform to make your case.

HomePlug / Power line ethernet (2, Interesting)

Maddog Batty (112434) | about 4 years ago | (#33280142)

Does anybody know of a similar device that includes Homeplug so you can do away with the ethernet connection as well?

Re:HomePlug / Power line ethernet (1)

marc_the_kiwi (1680284) | about 4 years ago | (#33280490)

Someone must've though about it.. surely. Maybe the cost/size would be prohibitive?

Licencing perhaps (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 4 years ago | (#33280798)

I don't think the patent regime for HomePlug is that friendly, judging by the few suppliers and high price/performance ratio

Re:HomePlug / Power line ethernet (2, Informative)

Anon E. Muss (808473) | about 4 years ago | (#33280938)

Does anybody know of a similar device that includes Homeplug?

No, unfortunately. There also aren't any plug computers that can run off POE (Power Over Ethernet).

Being small and cheap is a key part of plug computers appeal. There are many technologies that would go well with a plug (e.g. WiFi, Homeplug, POE, USB, ESATA, RS232, RS422, I2C, etc.), but including them all would be size/cost prohibitive. The manufacturers have to make a judgment call about where the "sweet spot" lies. The result is often a "one size fits nobody" situation, where the plug is 90% right for your application, but the missing 10% is a deal killer. Building a custom plug is impractical at low volumes.

P.S. I bought a Shevaplug last year. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but it sounded cool. Honestly, I still don't know what to do with it. Luckily I can afford to blow ~$100.

Needs a new name (2, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33280150)

First, I misread this as "linux walmart" and thought it was some sort of "app store" deal. Closer inspection reveals the truth is far more disturbing. They should probably pick a new name... or dress them up like 'Shrek' and market them towards kids or something.

Re:Needs a new name (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | about 4 years ago | (#33280954)

Not only for the lulz, but I seriously just spent about 20 minutes googling around and using amazon/froogle, and because "Wall Wart" and "Plug Computer" are both common phrases for things like - you know - ac adapters, these things are insanely hard to nail down an actual vendor or two in order to purchase one or two or five.

Need a new name like "wall computer" or "power pc".

Maybe not so much that last one.

Ug. Linux. No thanks. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280194)

I'll wait for Apple to release the iPlug.

Re:Ug. Linux. No thanks. (2, Informative)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 years ago | (#33280304)

I'll wait for Apple to release the iPlug.

I swear I saw one of those at a sex shop once.

Re:Ug. Linux. No thanks. (2, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | about 4 years ago | (#33280400)

You're probably thinking of the OhMiBod. Really. OhMiBod. I swear you can't make this stuff up. (And thanks to Engadget for informing me of this particular device's existence, before you ask how I know about it).

Re:Ug. Linux. No thanks. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 years ago | (#33280496)

Already done [] .

Cheap NAS boxes are better (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280200)

Plug computers are widely overrated. For the same price you can get a cheap home oriented NAS box like [] with 1TB of storage that can be reflashed [] to do whatever you want.

Or a cheap router . . . (5, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 years ago | (#33280452)

Plug computers are widely overrated. For the same price you can get a cheap home oriented NAS box like [] with 1TB of storage that can be reflashed [] to do whatever you want.

If you don't need the storage as much as you need the always-on/low power processing, you can get a WRT54-based router that can be relfashed with Tomato [] or DD-WRT, then you can install optware [] . The Asus WL-500G has enough guts to run Asterisk while still doing its primary purpose. Or maybe a cvs, svn or other repository. All for maybe half the price of the Sheevaplug. And much more available. Of course, it doesn't have the wall wart form factor, for good or bad. And it's not quite as discreet, if that's a requirement.

Re:Cheap NAS boxes are better (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 4 years ago | (#33280588)

Not really.

The biggest advantage these have over cheap NAS boxes is bang for the buck in terms of horsepower. The Lacie NAS appliances you mention come with 400 Mhz processors at 16 MB of RAM.

The SheevaPlug and GuruPlug each come with a 512 MB of RAM and 1.2Ghz processor. Also, GuruPlug has 802.11g WiFi capability in addition to the wired Ethernet connectivity.

And I say this as an owner of a reflashed Linksys NAS 200, which not only serves files, but also serves as a print server for my network [] , a capability that Cisco/Linksys doesn't include in the box.

Re:Cheap NAS boxes are better (3, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | about 4 years ago | (#33280952)

Stay away from Guruplug. They're sold with two gigabit NICs, but if you use them both at gig speeds, the Guruplugs overheat. Heck, mine exhibits the same syptoms (gets very hot and reboots) using one NIC at gig speeds while also maxing out the eSATA connection.

Originally, Globalscale had this to say: []

Now, they say that the plugs aren't designed for this kind of use, and that they will sell "Professional Upgrade Kits" to let you use the devices in this way. Worse, to me, they're essentially rewriting history here. The forum post accurately quotes the original announcement dated 7/17/2010. The page now only shows an announcement 7/5/2010 mentioning what they are "designed" for and about the sale of the upgrade kits.

Frankly, I'm shocked that the units were sold with 2x1Gb NICs, but weren't tested using them and that they're considered "not designed to be used together." It's asinine that they would pull this crap.

FreeAgent DockStar - $40 (0, Offtopic)

Rick Richardson (87058) | about 4 years ago | (#33280206)

Used to be $30 from amazon or tiger direct last week.

Re:FreeAgent DockStar - $40 (1)

redelm (54142) | about 4 years ago | (#33280858)

I got two of these, $25/ea last month from . One was bricked on boot (cloudengines has an obvious init coding flaw) and replaced on warrentee. Both now work fine (uptime >3 wks) with original distros (supplemented by ubuntu binaries & libs).

3W power draw (with 1 USB flashdrive). USB is the big advantage over openWRT devices along with lower powerdraw (no superfluous wifi).

Slightly bigger ARM based machine anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280222)

All I find on the web is just a bit too small for my needs. I want to exchange my work station to a enery-saving, silent and yet powerful ARM-based machine. There are plenty of offers for x86 based ones... Any idea?


Re:Slightly bigger ARM based machine anyone? (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | about 4 years ago | (#33280470)

Beagleboards [] . They are filled with awesome.

Re:Slightly bigger ARM based machine anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280698)

Yes, I heard of it and I know there is a new board in the line. Are they suitable for the desktop?


Be careful buying Guruplugs from Globalscale (2, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#33280254)

They're still working out the bugs and they take months to ship(bill your credit card right away though). They said 2-3 months to go for a hardware fix for the Guruplug+'s overheating problem when using GigE, other than "use them at 10/100".

Sheevaplugs have gotten better though, the capacitors don't pop anymore, but both of them benefit from removing the 5v power and putting it in it's own box. Which doesn't entirely defeat the point, but it is a little aggravating. Still, unless you like paying now for flaky hardware from a company that has zero customer support and enjoy resoldering your power supply, buy one of the more commercial ones.

PS, I rather like mine, I'm just lowering your expectations so you might like what you get, if you still buy from Globalscale.

Re:Be careful buying Guruplugs from Globalscale (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#33280320)

Oh, and if you plan to install a different distribution, you NEED the jtag adapter to get a console. It doesn't come with the Guruplug, but one is built in to the Sheevaplug.


jddj (1085169) | about 4 years ago | (#33280968)

Yeah, I'm still waiting on my "Early June" delivery of a GuruPlug+ from an order in May. It's spec'ed great. Too bad you can only use the Gigabit Ethernet at 10/100.

They think they're going to sell me a "professional upgrade kit" to make it meet the spec they advertized when they billed my card. Bullshit.

So let's say you want to do something you need to rely on: home music server, 24/7 monitoring applications, security. If you haven't laid in a spare, are you going to wait over 3 months for a replacement when it breaks. N.B.:WHEN it breaks.

Run far and fast from GlobalScale!

Why expend so much effort to piss a customer off at your company? Couldn't they have just put up an order page that said "Fsck You, Customer!"?

Re:Be careful buying Guruplugs from Globalscale (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 4 years ago | (#33281026)

I ordered several Guruplug+, received them, and have had no end of problems with them. I second your opinion, but I'll go a bit further--I'll never order from Globalscale again. To sell a device with two gigabit NICs, but without the capability to use both is simply false advertising.

Roland Piquipaille rides again ! (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 years ago | (#33280260)

How is this article not an old-news, dupe, blatant Slashvertisement?

Re:Roland Piquipaille rides again ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280592)

Roland Piquipaille ... is dead, you insensitive clod!

Don't forget Puppy (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33280264)

From the article:

Linux does the job admirably, with even the most full-featured distro like Debian being able to slot into the flash memory provided you're economical with what you install (scrap Gnome and KDE for starters!). Or Damn Small Linux and other distros of its ilk will do the job just fine too.

They always forget Puppy, which is a heck of a lot easier to use than DSL. Puppy can fit in as little as 32 megabytes with a full desktop even a kid could use.

.....and 512Mb DDR2 RAM.

Woah. I feel like I stepped into the Nintendo and Sega wars. 512 megabits == 64 megabytes in normal human parlance. i.e Twice as much as I have in my old Windows98 laptop and equal to what was in my OS 9 mac.

Re:Don't forget Puppy (2, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | about 4 years ago | (#33280480)

I don't think there is an ARM port for puppy. So you'd be setting yourself up for a fair bit of work.

A file server? Really? (1, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about 4 years ago | (#33280266)

The gigabit Ethernet and on-board USB 2.0 means the device could be a media server, a file server or print server for your network.

Print server I can see; that'd actually be pretty spiffy. But a media server? File server? With 512 MB of flash?

Sure you could add an external drive, but at that point why not just get a laptop or something?

Re:A file server? Really? (0, Troll)

slaxative (1867220) | about 4 years ago | (#33280594)

Easy. Mount an nfs share from another box. Bam, more storage space.

A small business owner's viewpoint (2, Interesting)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | about 4 years ago | (#33280280)

I'm in the design phase of opening a consulting business (non-IT related) to run out of my home. Marvell's plugs look very attractive to me as a right-sized server for my modest needs. Email, web, file storage (especially with a RAID NAS or via DropBox) -- the wall wart looks just right for that kind of workload. I've worked in IT with big, fancy servers, and I just don't need them.

The alternative is to lease something like a Linode. I like the way Linode does business, but five months of their low-power service would buy a SheevaPlug. All I'm missing then is a static IP and the always-up cloudiness that Linode provides. The choices are tempting.

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280368)

You're in the design phase of being a flaming homosexual.

Slashdot isn't a platform where you can solicit pats on the back for starting your own business in your home. You already have a business in your home: getting mouth fucked by fat white prison guards. On weekends and weeknights after you get back from your McDonald's job.

Anyway, congratulations on being in the design phase of a consulting business to run out of your home, faggot!

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280582)

Of course he's a fag. He 'services' the owners of Apple products.

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 years ago | (#33280586)


Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 4 years ago | (#33280486)

Sheeva plug as a server? Is this a joke? No raid or redundancy and these things are infamous for blowing caps, overheating, and other hardware issues tells me you need to start doing testing before publicly proclaiming your business plan.

Oh and those "big ol fancy servers" no one needs? You're paying for raid, hardware warranty, same/next day parts, dual power supplies, support, proper engineering, etc. If your company came to me with one of those toys as a "solution" you'd be walking out of my office with that sheeva plug shoved in your own "plug."

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (2, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 4 years ago | (#33280694)

Totally agree..

Not saying a small business (especially if not IT based) needs an "enterprise" level server.. but running web and email off one of these things sounds very dubious.

Probably better off with a hosted solution.. most ISPs won't let you run a server on a standard plan .. and though you tend to get away with it.. I wouldn't have "hope my ISP ignores this" in my business plan. As soon as you start paying for a business ISP account you may as well pay the excess and get all the redundancy and proper data center perks.

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 years ago | (#33280714)

You should be able to do everything on that NAS alone. I run a Gentoo server on a Buffalo Linkstation Live, with the only difference that its Marvell ARM CPU is a little slower and there is a little less RAM, compared to the Sheevaplug.

For my purposes, the Sheevaplug has the problem that any sizeable storage needs its own power supply. Thus it negates all of the size and power consumption arguments. Linkstations and similar devices come with a hard drive or two on the same power supply. If you actually need the CPU at 1.2 GHz and a little more RAM, get a newer Linkstation Pro.

Re:A small business owner's viewpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280884)

Take a look at PogoPlug and then open it up with PlugApps.
PogoPlug by itself gives you your own personal Cloud (as in accessible anywhere from the net).
PlugApps opens the rest up for your own server hosting, etc.

PlugApps also works with other wall plug systems like this. -- PogoPlug home --PlugApps home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280284)

Come on over to - we offer a flash image writable to an SD card, you can stick in a SheevaPlug and turn it into a full blown Asterisk PBX.

On our forums several guys are working on adapting this on the DockStar, a lower cost platform as well. Both devices run around 3+ watts of power idle, its very cool stuff!

these are fun (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | about 4 years ago | (#33280298)

If you plugged one of these into a serio [] you couldn't get any closer to analog input/output for your crappy bash scripts :)

Wuh oh! (2, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 4 years ago | (#33280308)

You got wall warts from using a SheevaPlug, you better get some cream for that right away...

Gah, I grossed myself out... pleh!

What indeed? (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | about 4 years ago | (#33280406)

"What can you actually do with them? Plenty, it seems!"

Not really. The article spent 3 pages to say that you could use it as a file server with an external hard drive or... a web server. That's it?

This reads more like a slashvertisement for a product with no real purpose. Yes, it's great that it's cheap and runs linux, but if you need an external hard drive to get any real use out of it, what's the point in making it so small? Just make it the size of a caddy.

Re:What indeed? (2, Interesting)

Gnaget (1043408) | about 4 years ago | (#33280902)

They really are full fledged computers, with big possibilities. I have spent the last couple of days in the planning stage of a home automation / personal assistant project, and plan to use several guruplug computers to pull it off. Connect a mic and webcam to it, and I should be able to pull off voice and facial recognition in a system that can always be on. I'm glad the guruplug was eventually mentioned, it is the same price as the sheevaplug, but has 2 USB ports instead of 1, an eSATA port, and wifi builtin. The SheevaPlug is grossly underpowered in comparison, but it was the first.

What a waste of time (1)

PingXao (153057) | about 4 years ago | (#33280428)

TFA is a 3-page waste of electrons. Linux runs well on very small, low-power single-board computers, often no bigger than your cellphone charger! The End

They call those ideas? (4, Insightful)

proxima (165692) | about 4 years ago | (#33280446)

The article mentions internet router, file storage, and print server. Really? That's the best you can do?

A decent dd-wrt compatible router is pretty inexpensive, and will give you a few port switch and a decent set of wireless antennas. Most people aren't so constrained on space that they can't tuck one away somewhere. They often include the capability of handling USB hard drives as well for file or print sharing. Many printers these days have built in ethernet or wireless to handle their own print serving capability.

Devices of this size do have possibilities, but the article doesn't mention anything really interesting. Apple has had its airport express base station for a while, and while it's mostly an ordinary wireless N router, it does provide music sharing via airtunes which works well if you happen to use the Apple/iTunes ecosystem for music.

So what do you do with a tiny Linux box? mpd or a squeezebox client would provide music sharing (though you can get Logitech's own radio for $100-$150, and it comes complete with a screen and controls). It would either need a good quality sound chip on it (unlikely) or a decent USB sound card (added expense, though).

What would be really neat is if they had an HDMI port for a thin client. Maybe an install of Android and its browser to turn a smaller LCD monitor into a little internet browsing box in otherwise cramped spaces (e.g. kitchen). Or have something powered off 12V and use it as the basis for a car computer.

Even with the current offerings, I'm sure there are much more interesting ideas that people could come up with (probably involving more significant hacking) than a file or print server.

Re:They call those ideas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280734)

That was my first thought when I read this article, "My router already does this."

My router also only cost me $20 at a computer show.

Short on possibilities, For now. (1)

marc_the_kiwi (1680284) | about 4 years ago | (#33280466)

Seriously, Sheevaplug/similar plug again? Yes, you can do some things with these. File server, Asterix stuff. Brilliant. Come back to me when there are more than just content serving applications. Seriously, someone plug something interesting into this. Is it just me or are these dying for use in home automation?

Can we count? (1, Troll)

qoncept (599709) | about 4 years ago | (#33280478)

Can we count the reasons this article sucks?

Of course, you can even run your own web site using Apache on a plug computer.

Great. Now my website is dependent on my internet connection and power. Geeks that want this so bad that they'll do it even though its completely pointless have a PC already running that could do this job much better.

or run a site to monitor other sites!

Yeah. More often than not, if your site is reported as "down," it's probably your wall wart. Nevermind the fact that, again, this might as well be running on your already-running PC.

could be a media server, a file server or print server for your network.

Fair enough, but there already a number of cheaper dedicated options for these, that most likely use less power and work better.

DropBox ... set up a wall wart and USB hard drive as your own private FTP server, accessible from any location.

Really?! It's idiots like this that think they get it, but never create anything even slightly user friendly and useful like DropBox. To compare the two is to completely miss the point of DropBox.

They're great at parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280524)

Yup, these things are great at parties. I usually carry one in my pocket and if I detect an open wireless network then I plug it into an obscure electrical outlet. You can do some VERY interesting things long after the party's over... :-)

USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33280542)

Couldn't you easily expand the storage by attaching a usb micro sd card reader with a 8gb+ size card? Can it boot from USB?

Less useful than initially expected. (5, Informative)

bored (40072) | about 4 years ago | (#33280574)

I own a few of these devices. My first one has a eSATA port that I connected to a 5 bay sata port expander. That has been my network DHCP/DDNS/fileserver/printspooler/VPN endpoint/etc for a while now. The problem is that its hard to justify when compared with the recent firewall/wireless devices that have USB ports for exactly this reason. Sure I can get ~60MB/sec, absolutely outrunning anything attached via USB, but it cost about 3x as much to get there compared with just purchasing a $70 netgear and plugging in a dual drive USB raid array.

Plus, these things _REQUIRE_ hacking to get them to do a lot of stuff. I wasted days of my life trying to figure out why the JTAG interfaces didn't work as documented, or trying to boot kernels that didn't come with the devices. Or even consistently boot off USB instead of internal flash. This would be fine, except they are hardly open devices. Much of the time wasted turns out to be endless reverse engineering closed portions of the device. Marvell publishes a fair amount of the documentation for them, but I quickly found, time and time again, that the information I needed wasn't available.

So, In the end, for low level stuff things. The AVR butterfly an similar devices are far better hacking platforms, and on the higher end its hard to ignore the atom nettops or dozens of very nice single board computers that are far more powerful for not much more money.

small or big (1)

kaoshin (110328) | about 4 years ago | (#33280644)

I think we need to stop making small things and make everything really big. Then when aliens come to destroy us they will be like.. omg everything is gigantic, lets get outta here!

Here's an idea (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 years ago | (#33280662)

Buy a couple dozen of them. Hook them up to the cheapest router that will handle that many. Set them up with Yafray or similar. Instant, low-power render farm. Might not be high-performance, but I bet the frames per watt are better than most.

Or set one of them up as a Quake server. Old-school FTW.

Re:Here's an idea (2, Interesting)

hufman (1670590) | about 4 years ago | (#33280898)

I have a Sheevaplug, and the problem I've encountered is the lack of hardware FPU. The article even recommends using them as an SSH server, and from my experience, it makes a poor fit in that role. You can SSH into it decently fast, but the lack of a hardware math unit adds around 5-10 seconds of delay when sshing from it to another computer. Your renderfarm idea would fail miserably, since 3D rendering is all about math, especially with angles and other floating-point usages. Maaaybe I could see a Quake server. Depending on how much math the server has to do.

Cool, but can they keep up with HD & USB 2.0? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 years ago | (#33280732)

I'd love to replace my old server with one of these, but I wonder if they can keep up. I've seen ones with USB for use as file servers, but I haven't read good things about the first gen hardware...

Switch off some lights! (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 4 years ago | (#33280868)

If there's some simple GPIO/parallel/etc. interface (could always rig up something USB based...), it'd be great for controlling lights and other appliances [] via SMS, IRC, etc.

UL approval (pending) - bleah (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 years ago | (#33280970)

Something like that has industrial embedded applications, but they need to get past "UL approval - pending" and a peak external operating temp of 104F. You don't want something that's marginal on temp specs in an application where it's controlling something. They talk about putting them side by side on an outlet strip, but that's going to make the cooling problem tougher. Fanless devices should not push the temperature ratings of the components. That never ends well.

Solidly reliable little compute bricks have their uses, but many of the low-end ones tend to be flaky. The industrial ones that really work are expensive, because they're produced in low quantity.

Too expensive (1)

frist (1441971) | about 4 years ago | (#33280988)

$99 + $35 S&H seems high for what it is.

availablility of some models, specs of others abse (1)

drwho (4190) | about 4 years ago | (#33281036)

nt. Guruplug and sheevaplug have availability problems. Pogoplug seems to be barely existant, with no technical data on their web page and nothing that indicates it is linux-friendly or hacker-friendly. This 'plug-computer' industry needs to mature in order to replace the mini-servers I am using.

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