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$100 Linux Wall-Wart Now Available 464

Posted by kdawson
from the not-to-be-confused-with-wal-mart dept.
nerdyH sends us to LinuxDevices for a description of a tiny Linux device called the Marvell SheevaPlug. "A $100 Linux wall wart could do to servers what netbooks did to notebooks. With the Marvell SheevaPlug, you get a completely open (hardware and software) Linux server resembling a typical wall-wart power adapter, but running Linux on a 1.2GHz CPU, with 512MB of RAM, and 512MB of Flash. I/O includes USB 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, while expansion is provided via an SDIO slot. The power draw is a nightlight-like 5 Watts. Marvell says it plans to give Linux developers everything they need to deliver 'disruptive' services on the device." The article links four products built on the SheevaPlug, none of them shipping quite yet. The development kit is available from Marvell.
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$100 Linux Wall-Wart Now Available

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  • by nebaz (453974) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:26PM (#26973715)

    $100 Linux Wall-Mart now available? That would be cool.

  • Ethernet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:29PM (#26973761) Homepage

    Is it possible to also have the ethernet for this device go over the power lines like so many home networking devices? Then you could literally plug it and and have it running.

    • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:39PM (#26973879) Journal

      Agreed. Either it needs BPL or it needs Wi-Fi. Most people don't put an ethernet jack wherever they have a power connection, making this somewhat less than ideal for home automation purposes. I'd also like to see it have a relay to switch on and off a power outlet, but maybe that's just me.

      Either way, it's a cool little piece of hardware. I'm just not quite sure what I could use it for. It's too underpowered for video encoding/decoding, has no power switching capabilities needed for it to control lights, doesn't have the CPU power to replace my web server (a C2D takes several seconds to render an image with dcraw; this would take several minutes), etc. Maybe coupled with some outboard piece of USB gear, it might serve some obscure purpose like controlling a motor to open and close window shades/awnings for solar heating purposes, but it would still have to be enclosed in some sort of box to safely mount it outdoors....

      I'll keep thinking. :-)

      • Re:Ethernet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bertie (87778) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:41PM (#26973905)

        Torrents!

        • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:42PM (#26974745)

          Not torrents per se, but a dinky 100 computer sitting somewhere. Doing something...naughty.

          If you get caught you're out 100 bucks. So what? Cheaper than an RIAA settlement letter, for instance.

          Not that I'd ever advocate such behavior. Oh heavens no.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dr. Spork (142693)
          I almost like this idea. The one computing device that's always on in my house is my router. It's got Linux and a great UI that I can control from anywhere in the world (Tomato). If this thing had four more Ethernet sockets and a wireless antenna, we'd be talking! Even better: Throw in a SATA2 socket so I could hook up a hard drive for the Torrents! I know that would up the power usage, but the hard drive would only spin up when in use. Most of the time it wouldn't be. I like the sound of 5W of power usage.
      • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Informative)

        by sowth (748135) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:53PM (#26974101) Journal

        Are you kidding? Not enough CPU power? 1.2 GHz is enough for me to do raytracing!

        Anyway, if you are going to do video encoding and translate your camera's pics from raw, it is not as if you need to sit and watch it. Just let the device run and do the work. 5 Watts isn't that much.

        Kids these days.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Clover_Kicker (20761)

          Back in the day, ftp.cdrom.com served ~1TB a day from 1 box, a 200-MHz P6 Pentium Pro.

          (yeah yeah, ftp.cdrom.com had industrial quality I/O, but 1.2GHz is a LOT of computer power for anything but graphics.)

      • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Informative)

        by charlesnw (843045) <charles@knownelement.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:01PM (#26974189) Homepage Journal
        I'm glad it doesn't have built in wifi. I'll simply attach an Atheros USB dongle with SMA connector and high gain antenna. Instant very high powered access point/storage system.
      • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:31PM (#26974589) Journal
        By the look of it, this is more of a polished dev kit than a shelf-ready product. Marvell, typically, sells silicon, not widgets, so that would be standard for them. Also, TFA mentions schematics being available under some sort of free licence, and a bunch of companies already building devices based on this thing.

        I suspect that products derived from this model will tend to have more in the way of peripherals; but as a dev kit that requires no special handling or equipment, and is priced within the range of virtually any student, linux hacker, or general tinkerer, this looks like a fun bit of kit. I know I'm tempted.
      • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:34PM (#26975347)

        "I'm just not quite sure what I could use it for. It's too underpowered for video encoding/decoding,"

        It could probably do a bit of that, transcoding and serving anyway.

        This sounds like an absolutely perfect replacement for my Linksys NSLU2. It's only 266MHz and has 32MB of RAM. At the moment I have one doing mail/web server duty and one running torrentflux-b4rt and mediatomb, streaming music and video to my PS3 and to my machine at work.

        That second one is straining to keep up, this little box sounds like it fits the bill perfectly. Similarly powered NAS boxes cost multiple hundreds.

      • Re:Replace my NSLU2 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by colinnwn (677715)
        I'd use it for a NAS, print server, itunes server. I could envision hooking it up to a HDHomeRun and using it as my MythTV backend. Lots of uses for this kind of thing.

        I don't have a use for a webserver. But in your case why can't you prerender your images in the scales you need, and just have this device serve whichever image needed? You could save some considerable $ in power.

        I have electricity within 3 feet of all my ethernet jacks. But the thought of using it as basically a network enabled X11 outlet
    • Re:Ethernet (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hattig (47930) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:47PM (#26973973) Journal

      The obvious real solution is Power over Ethernet.

      1 PoE capable switch.
      + 8 Wallwart Linux Devices
      = 1 (not quite enterprise level) Server Farm in a shoe-box

    • by Danathar (267989)

      You would need two. I hate to break it to you but just plugging into into the powerline all by itself does not make it a networking device....

    • Re:Ethernet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:05PM (#26974271) Homepage

      In the era of 802.11N, that is a retarded idea.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:30PM (#26973763) Homepage Journal

    This would be cool for a pocket-sized router, firewall, packet sniffer, etc.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Other ideas:

      Plane-carryable voip system
      Tiny network sniffer
      SSL based VPN gateway
      Remote roomba controller
      Mud-in-a-box

      This reminds me a bit of apple's airport extreme. Tiny, versitile, Multi-function wall wart. Apple's, of course is quite limited in what it can do. Does anyone know if airport extreme is hacked to run custom software yet?

    • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:27PM (#26974545) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. There are countless uses for something like this. 2009 will be the year of Linux in the outlet! ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      print server, dhcp server, squid server, local dns server...

      Everything you need to make the home network a usable network, rather than a collection of machines accessing the internet.

      Multiple ethernet ports would be nice, but as long as the cable modem can use USB, not as big a problem as it could be.

      "Eventually, prices are expected to drop to around $49" Wow. That is cheap enough to buy just to play around with.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:30PM (#26973767)

    From the linked page: "This device connects to the network using GbE"

    Does it strike anybody else as strange that this device wouldn't have power line networking built in?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:30PM (#26973769)

    All you need to do is wrangle yourself an "interview" with a company, plug one of these unobtrusive babies into a wall outlet, attach a short patch cord to the nearest RJ45 data jack and you're off to the highest (competitor) bidder!

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:32PM (#26973787)
      ... because wall warts with a tail plugged into the nearest network port wouldn't attract any kind of attention.
      • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:38PM (#26973873) Homepage Journal

        Actually, he's got a point. If you can infiltrate the janitorial staff and can plug a two-ethernet-port version of this in between an important computer and a switch, you can sniff/analyze/record all unencrypted traffic until you run out of RAM.

        Just be sure to remove it the next day before anyone notices.

        Then again, an audio-recording device that recorded keystrokes or a keystroke-interceptor on the USB or PS2 ports is probably smaller.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by swillden (191260)

          you can sniff/analyze/record all unencrypted traffic until you run out of RAM.

          And if you can get away with opening an encrypted network connection to some drop box, you don't have to worry about RAM.

          Just be sure to remove it the next day before anyone notices.

          I suspect that in most places it could be there for months -- maybe years -- before anyone noticed. Make sure the drop isn't traceable to you and just collect the take as long as it goes unnoticed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by 0xABADC0DA (867955)

            I suspect that in most places it could be there for months -- maybe years -- before anyone noticed. Make sure the drop isn't traceable to you and just collect the take as long as it goes unnoticed.

            You forgot some steps...

            1. Place device
            2. Collect the take 'as long as it goes unnoticed'
            3. ???
            4. Do not pass 'go'.
            5. Do not collect $200.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by couchslug (175151)

          If the target office has a networked telephone system connected between the computer and the network, you might be able to monitor that at the same time. Many desks sit undisturbed for years, and even if someone sees the device they might not remove it.

          Label it "LAN Surge Protector" or similar.

      • Network ports are often right beside power outlets.

        Sure, it'd eventually be discovered but it'd likely be there a while.
      • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:55PM (#26974121)

        ... because wall warts with a tail plugged into the nearest network port wouldn't attract any kind of attention.

        Was that intended to be sarcastic?

        How much time do YOU spend analyzing at the rat's nest of cabling located under your desk, where the Linksys wireless router and the three daisy-chained power strips live? Less than an hour per year, if you're anything like me.

        I would dare say that an espionage device that disguised itself as a wall wart would be more likely to be discovered based on network analysis ("hold up, what's this device with the unfamiliar MAC off of network port 73?") than based on a visual inspection of the site.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by icydog (923695)

          I would dare say that an espionage device that disguised itself as a wall wart would be more likely to be discovered based on network analysis ("hold up, what's this device with the unfamiliar MAC off of network port 73?") than based on a visual inspection of the site.

          Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't sound like you are a network admin (disclaimer: IANANA). Do you know the "familiar" MACs on your network(s)? And what does it mean for a device to be on a network port 73? Unless you mean a physical port

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by turing_m (1030530)

        ... because wall warts with a tail plugged into the nearest network port wouldn't attract any kind of attention.

        It really depends on Murphy's law. If you were planting the device, you would be caught red handed and receive fines and a jail term.

        If the device was planted by someone you were interviewing in your office, it would escape detection for 5 years. Your company's trade secrets (in a convenient folder labeled "top_secret_company_docs") would be stolen by a larger competitor and used to drive your

  • A NAS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tburke261 (981079) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:31PM (#26973777)

    Sounds like a nice box to use as a NAS, just hook up a fast USB 2.0 drive and you're set. With a 1.2ghz CPU and all that RAM it should fly. Meh, my 2TB professional Raid 5 NAS only has a 400mhz CPU and IIRC 32mb of RAM.

  • ...you could deploy these things as camera servers anywhere you had power. Locker rooms, hotel rooms, etc!... awesome!

    Actually I do think these things have a place, though I am not sure exactly how I would use one, except maybe as described above.

    • Plug it somewhere unobtrusive and plug it in to an out-of-the-way network jack in a corporation somewhere. Run your favorite network traffic sniffer and have it quietly sniff user IDs and passwords out and update them on a web page regularly. It's the perfect form factor and could go unnoticed for years!

      Oh yeah, that would probably be totally illegal...

      • by Yewbert (708667)

        It'd be even more unobtrusive if it had some more power outlets on its back - y'know, to look like a pass-through device, like some nightlights. It certainly doesn't need a whole outlet's capacity for itself, and if you had another device or two plugged into IT, who'd ever look twice at the wart itself?

    • by yabos (719499)
      Sweet, now we can see naked women!!
  • Hard Drive Slot? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crf00 (1048098)

    Perhaps one more slot to insert an 2.5" hard drive would make that a perfect home server.

    I don't need fast processor, but I need large hard disk space to share media files between my computers.

  • Got plenty of ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:33PM (#26973805) Homepage

    It looks pretty awesome.

    Maybe I can use one with an USB cam to implement some cheap security cameras.

    I can put a daemon on there to only start emailing images on movement. :)

  • Can anyone imagine a beowulf cluster of these? I could take over the world! Or at least a small chunk of Nantucket, RI.
  • It is just the right size and would be disruptive.
  • Heresy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:54PM (#26974109)

    It might be heresy, but I'm seriously considering using this instead of my Linux box at home... IF it can run rtorrent and hellanzb and handle the load of streaming to my Windows PC in the living room.

    Software and CPU power are the only problems I foresee. (And CPU power is probably enough.)

  • See also SlashGear's writeup [slashgear.com] or Legit Reviews [legitreviews.com] coverage at least until the /. effect allows Linux Devices some breathing room.

  • disruptive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:13PM (#26974363) Journal

    Nice, but I don't think this is as big a deal as all that. More along the lines of price pressure than anything else. I may buy one, because it is so cheap. Even if I don't, I'm glad everyone else will have to lower their prices now. I've always felt they put on too big a price premium for the small size, considering the generally low performance of the class as a whole.

    There are many similar devices already out there. There's the much beloved Linksys WRT54GL. I have a Soekris [soekris.com]. Not the most friendly plug and play device ever. I find it easier to update the CF drive by removing it and mounting it on a desktop system and editing files that way, rather than connecting via a serial port terminal. Gumstix [gumstix.com] is another. Lots of super micro mini ATX form bricks (mini-itx [mini-itx.com]) out there too. Expensive though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Beagleboard [beagleboard.org] is another. Same chip as the latest generation of Gumstix, circuit board double the size but with many more on-board connectors, for the same price as the Gumstix.
  • If the USB analog-digital converter works with this device one could build a DVR out of this thing. When my Panasonic DVR's DVD writer broke down, I went hunting for a DVR that does not involve monthly payments to TiVO. To my shock I find no such device exists and the box I bought in Nov 2006 for 410$ was selling at 1800$ in E-Bay!

    Hope some creates really disruptive product to displace TiVO.

  • HEY! (Score:4, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:33PM (#26974605)

    Does anyone know what happened to the server? It just quit responding, and when I went to check it, all I found was a cell-phone charger.

  • by Eil (82413) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:20PM (#26975205) Homepage Journal

    LinuxDevices constantly showcases new and fascinating Linux-based hardware like this. Everything from phones to tablets to embedded systems. The problem is that few of these ever seem to make it to market and the ones that do are usually only available to companies who can buy them by the thousands. The remainder that are within the reach of the average hobbyist don't stack up price-wise to more pedestrian solutions that can do the job for cheaper (e.g., a netbook, WRT54GL, or NSLU2).

  • versus NSLU2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:44PM (#26975453) Homepage

    It's interesting to compare this to the Linksys NSLU2 [wikipedia.org], which I'm using as a home music server.

    ............Marvell NSLU2
    price ($).....100 67 (amazon.com)
    memory (MB)...512 32
    flash (MB)....512 8
    ethernet......yes yes
    usb.......... yes yes, 2 ports

    So I guess with the Marvell box you get somewhat higher specs, but I'm not sure you really need the higher specs. For most applications, you're going to attach a keychain usb drive to these things, and then the internal flash becomes irrelevant. 32 MB of memory may not sound like much these days, but it's actually plenty for a file server, music server, home automation system, etc. The main advantage I could see to the Marvell is that it sounds a little more open. Linksys ships the NSLU2 in a configuration where it's not really a general-purpose linux box, and you have to go through some hassles to get a real linux on it where you can install packages, etc. Linksys does, however, officially bless the use of third-party linix distros on the NSLU2.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by david.given (6740)

      Well, I used to run my home server on an NSLU2 with 500GB of USB disk, before the power supply packed in. This was my main world-facing machine, and did routing, firewalling, HTTP serving for my website, NFS/SMB internally, SMTP and IMAP, backups, etc.

      32MB is not quite enough for this. Picking the right software helps a lot --- spamassassin no, spamprobe yes; apache no, thttpd yes. The biggest load was processing spam; adding a greylister wot I wrote myself [sf.net] helped enormously, as most spam now got rejected b

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