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Hardware

Plug-n-Play Server And Network 171

shyster writes: "The IMASS is a server for the technophobes. Built on a Linux OS, it autodetects network segments in less than 5 minutes, and sets up DHCP, DNS, FTP, Email, file sharing, firewall, NAT, internet access, dial-up, etc. almost automagically. Pluses include a solid state drive for the OS, so the hard drive is only used for file storage and backup (seperate 120GB hard drive for backups.) seems to be just what some of my clients need to finally convince them that Linux CAN be easier to use than Windows, and they can, for the most part, manage the network themselves! Check out a review from PCMagazine."
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Plug-n-Play Server And Network

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  • Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:23AM (#2881261) Homepage
    How's the security on such a device that automagically sets up everything and then some?

    (Remember, it was the automatic detection of network services (UPNP) that compromised WinXP..)
    • by blane.bramble ( 133160 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:27AM (#2881269) Homepage

      You have a choice of automagically created passwords to enhance security. These are "password", "secret", "fred", "fido", "1234", and the ever-popular "******". So far, no senior manager has been able to hack in (to their own account).

      • the ever-popular "******"

        Like the Dilbert [dilbert.com] strip where Dilbert advises his boss to change the password to "******" to avoid having to explain why his keyboard puts the wrong characters on the screen when he types his password? And more importantly, what do you tell the same boss when he's upgraded to Windows XP and gets those natty blobs for his password "typo"? Typing "ALT+0183" (on the numeric keypad!) six times just doesn't seem like it's going to cut the mustard.

    • Re:Security? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ymgve ( 457563 )
      Ok, to correct myself: it was a buffer overflow in the UPNP implementation that compromised WinXP. And the review says there is SOME configuration (five minutes or so) before it can be put to use. So it's probably not that insecure at all.
      • Assume its the most insecure thing on the planet, until proven otherwise.

        -- Tao of my sleep-deprived brain
      • If your physical security is so weak that anybody can just go up to your server and plug a card in, *or take one out* does it matter much about the IT security aspect?
        • If your physical security is so weak that anybody can just go up to your server and plug a card in, *or take one out* does it matter much about the IT security aspect?

          Actually, yes!

          Most people will not plug a card in. But it is not that unusual for people to probe random ip-addresses and infect you with trojans, or other forms of remote attacks. If you want to keep the server running, you'd better have some security there.

          Remember that most servers aren't completely unsecured physically, they generally are inside some room in some building where most people don't just happen to walk by (and most of those passing by will be employees or people associated with the company in other ways, so they can for the most part be trusted to some degree). On the internet, the server is available to every person on the planet! So even if it isn't really secured physically, there is at least less chance of a physical than remote attack.

          Compare a house in the city with a house on the countryside. Now, anyone can still get to the house on the country, but there will not be so many random bypassers, so the security is higher, even though it doesn't have better locks or alarm-systems.

    • Though security could easily be a nightmare, with auto-config and default settings providing excellent opportunities for things to go wrong, it isn't the only potential hole.

      Almost all QOS issues are going to be a problem here - resilience for example (two NICs and a modem are nice, but I can't see "redundant power supply" written anywhere; or how about hardware support for RAID, even just mirroring). Also customisation/optimisation - nice that it does this automatically, but how easy is it to overide the automatic configuration (not an issue for many of the people who are buying these, but it will really limit there usefullness in big low-tech companies where you need to tie in with your corp-wan.

      More detailed specs would be reassuring, the current descriptions are far too minimalist.
      • Almost all QOS issues are going to be a problem here - resilience for example (two NICs and a modem are nice, but I can't see "redundant power supply" written anywhere; or how about hardware support for RAID, even just mirroring). Also customisation/optimisation - nice that it does this automatically, but how easy is it to overide the automatic configuration (not an issue for many of the people who are buying these, but it will really limit there usefullness in big low-tech companies where you need to tie in with your corp-wan.

        Redundant P/S would be nice. The data drive is an IDE backed up to another IDE, so IDE-RAID aside, true RAID isn't an option. But, being backed up to a hard drive (and the OS on solid state) does make for easy recovery's.

        I'd assume, though it's not a given, that most settings are user-configurable.

    • Exactly.

      My thoughts on all those services, too, were along the lines of "Whoa, Nelly!"

      Just because it is possible for Linux to simultaneously make available all these different standard services reliably and inexpensively doesn't mean it is a good idea to do it by default.

      Such a Ginsu knife device would be great as long as it started out with low services by default (https), with some intuitive feedback to help the novices notice dangerous combinations of configurations.

      Also, it wouldn't hurt to put it in tandem with a honeypot machine to help in the detection arena. Certainly if my house had that many different open doors I'd be very anxious.

    • How's the security on such a device that automagically sets up everything and then some?


      Well, i'd say it leaves room for quite some exploits. That's when the Plug'n'Play mode turns into Plug'n'Punish...
    • Dunnow about what IMASS did, but the equivalent WireX server appliance [wirex.com] protects itself with the suite of Immunix [immunix.org] security tools.

      Crispin
      ----
      Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
      Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc. [wirex.com]
      Immunix: [immunix.org] Security Hardened Linux Distribution
      Available for purchase [wirex.com]

    • There are standardised ways of doing this well - have a look at http://www.zeroconf.org [zeroconf.org]
  • Blurb ahoy (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainAlbert ( 162776 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:24AM (#2881263) Homepage
    Apparently, it runs a...

    > Hardened & ruggedized Linux based UNIX kernel

    ?

    Could someone from marketing please tell me what that means?
    • Actually, I should prefer an explaination from someone who is not in marketing.
    • Somebody in marketing already told you what it means. It means "hardened & ruggedized Linux based UNIX kernel".

      Damn marketing department...we need a babelfish translator for the marketing drones.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @08:28AM (#2881400)
        I tried to translate it back into English, but all I got was "The synergistic turnkey solution is an ideal e-business solution for tommorows iTransactions. The .NET based XML Java regidised engine transaction services compoenent technology provides a lower TCO and higher turnaround of your base assests. QED."

        I think I may have accidentely translated it from Marketing to Management though.
      • by more ( 452266 )
        hardened & ruggedized Linux based UNIX kernel.

        It means that during the last 10 years the Linux kernel has been improved by volunteers. The company in question has participated by writing the glossy paged marketing material.

    • In the work I do (government simulation), "hardened" and "ruggedized" refer to hardware. "Hardened" means the hardware has been modified to withstand an attack, and "ruggedized" means the hardware has been modified to withstand the rtough use a soldier in the field might provide.

      It seems kinda silly to apply the terms to software, but that's the way it goes.
    • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:21AM (#2881578) Journal
      Remember making things in high school shop class?

      It was hardened by flaming it up to extremely high temperatures and then immediately thrown into cold water.

      "Tempered UNIX Kernal" was too short of a phrase for marketing to use. It also sounds less aggressive

      -------------

    • Re:Blurb ahoy (Score:5, Informative)

      by iMASS ( 552951 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:33AM (#2882011) Homepage
      • Apparently it runs a "Hardened & ruggedized Linux based UNIX kernel"

      That is indeed marketese. What we tried to tell them was we stripped the Linux OS (not the kernel) down to a system that fits (kernel Apache, perl, php, qmail, and all) in 12 megs on a flash disk, and so it's much more reliable and will keep doing basic tasks (like routing) even if the disk dies.

      Naturally, they thought an OS was the same as a kernel, and liked the word "ruggedized", and the rest is history...

      • What's with the 2.2x series kernel? Shouldn't it be running iptables on 2.4.x instead? It is a firewall after all...
        • 2.4.x, for a stable kernel really hasn't been. It's not something you want to put onto a server whos major selling point is "throw it in a corner and forget about it". 2.2.x is quite a bit more appropriate for this use.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      Could someone from marketing please tell me what that means?

      It's a holistic-approach solution, which empowers you to proactively leverage your synergy, by thinking outside the box.

  • Amazing... (Score:1, Funny)

    by joonasl ( 527630 )
    Does it also make coffee and take the garbage out?
  • by dago ( 25724 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:25AM (#2881265)
    ... of the page presenting this system :

    Systemax PC's use genuine Microsoft® Windows®

    www.microsoft.com/piracy/howtotell

    • But the iMass software page says:

      * Hardened & ruggedized Linux based UNIX kernel
      * SMB & AppleShare IP compatible file services
      * SMTP, POP3, & IMAP4 mail protocols supported
      * WebMail support
      [blah blah blah]

      So either the general statement doesn't apply in this instance, or the servers also include a copy of NT's kernel for no particular reason.

      By the way, how does one "harden and ruggedize" a Linux-based kernel? Expose it to gamma radiation? Take it to see really violent movies? Make it do push-ups?

      More interestingly, how does one do this, and then sell it with a computer, without releasing the source? I'm having trouble telling whether this is a "real" computer or an embedded device.
  • Almost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:28AM (#2881273) Homepage Journal
    "sets up DHCP, DNS, FTP, Email, file sharing, firewall, NAT, internet access, dial-up, etc. almost automagically"

    As we all know - that can be more annoying than not doing anything at all. Do what microsoft etc do - just miss out the almost.

    It's not Plug and (mostly) Play is it?
    • Re:Almost (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @08:39AM (#2881433) Homepage
      It's not Plug and (mostly) Play is it?

      I suspect it's more like this:

      Try DHCP - if OK great, configure eth0 accordingly, if not, not a problem for now

      Put eth0 into promiscuous mode

      Capture some traffic

      Look for where connections are being opened for port 53 (DNS), port 20/21 (FTP), 25 (SMTP)...

      Look at the source IPs for local IP's / subnet

      Look for where traffic off-net is being sent for the default gateway(s)

      etc.

      Fill in some blanks with the above

      Present harvested info to the user and ask them to fill in any required unknowns, make corrections and confirm the final settings This kind of thing isn't new, and there are lots of other tricks to farm data, like sending forged packets to illicit a response with useful data. Where you tend to come unstuck in what you can achieve though is when you plug the thing into a switch. It's a bit more difficult to find what you want when you can't see it...

    • Good point. The same people who hate most of the automagic "wizards" in Microsoft products (myself included) are probably going to hate this design. Personally, I'd rather spend the extra 20 minutes setting it up manually -- and correctly -- than having to drill through all the menus wondering what it missed.

      Additionally, I wonder what happens if you have identical devices on the network, like another DHCP server. Does this unit turn off its DHCP server? Attempt to "take over" DHCP responsibilities (had this happen with a wireless access point once -- nasty results)?

      • Good point. The same people who hate most of the automagic "wizards" in Microsoft products (myself included) are probably going to hate this design. Personally, I'd rather spend the extra 20 minutes setting it up manually -- and correctly -- than having to drill through all the menus wondering what it missed. Additionally, I wonder what happens if you have identical devices on the network, like another DHCP server. Does this unit turn off its DHCP server? Attempt to "take over" DHCP responsibilities (had this happen with a wireless access point once -- nasty results)?

        Of course, me and you (and most other /.ers) could build a similar system, using Linux, without too much difficulty. But the 20 person law firm I just set up with a Windows 2000 server could not. The reason they wanted Win2k? Because they felt that they could, if needed, administer it. Of course, I know that's bunk, and that the only administering they're going to be doing is changing tapes...or breaking something.

        This IMASS would be great for small businesses that just need basic file and print sharing (what we used to use Netware for). As a bonus, it can do DNS, DHCP, dial-up, etc. Sure, a Pentium-133 with a FreeSCO disk will do similar, but a PHB can't set it up.

        Good question on the DHCP server, though. I would think that the machine is configurable, both in the services it provides as well as in the options for those services. If you're using in a WAN/Remote type environment, then someone should know what they're doing and be able to configure it. If it's your only server in a small business environment, then it shouldn't need too much fussing, and you can cross your fingers and away we go.

        Of course, on the downside, if this thing was ever heavily marketed, I could find myself un(der)employed. =)

        • I agree to a point. Windows 2000 Server actually leaves a great deal of that "Wizard" crap out (except for the opening login dialog, which you can quickly turn off for good). When push comes to shove, I find it easier to administer a Windows 2000 machine than a Linux one. That doesn't make it better, worse or indifferent - it's when the program second-guesses the operator, without letting the operator make the decision first, that bad things really happen.
          • I agree to a point. Windows 2000 Server actually leaves a great deal of that "Wizard" crap out (except for the opening login dialog, which you can quickly turn off for good). When push comes to shove, I find it easier to administer a Windows 2000 machine than a Linux one. That doesn't make it better, worse or indifferent - it's when the program second-guesses the operator, without letting the operator make the decision first, that bad things really happen.

            I see your point, but you're wrong. (We have some lovely parting gifts for you, however.)

            It's when the admin/operator doesn't know what the program is assuming or using for defaults that problems occur. You have to know the OS you administer, whether that be Linux, Windows, or BeOS. That means knowing what the defaults are (there's almost always a way to change it if you need to) and how to change them.

            Windows is, source code modifications aside, almost as configurable as Linux. You just have to know how. Linux, for the most part, makes sure you know everything up front. Windows assumes that you don't know or don't care, but gives you ways to change it if you do. If you don't look for those ways, then it's your fault...not Windows'.

    • Sorry, I know I'm not supposed to respond to trolls, but there seem to have been a number of credulous responses to this.

      What Microsoft network products are these that configure themselves automagically? A DNS server that needs no configuration? An email server that simply needs to be installed? A dial-up client that never needs to have the username, password or ISP's telephone number set?

      While a lot of these things can be done out of the box with Windows it's a bit of a stretch to say it's not done almost automagically.

    • As we all know - that can be more annoying than not doing anything at all. Do what microsoft etc do - just miss out the almost.

      Well, I'm pretty sure you're going to have to provide some information. Such as ISP dial-up number, username/password combos for dial-in and POP accounts. Perhaps even shared drive structures, DNS zone info, DNS forwarders (if used), etc. There are some things I can't imagine that this thing could pick up by sniffing the network....Though, if it could, it would truly be wonderous....I could just use it as a replacment for sticky notes and my failing memory. =)

  • .. but tha goddamn thing stopped booting after 20 hours of (reckless, I admit) testing.. I can imagine the poor thing screaming for a root password to perform manual fsck'ing....
  • imagine.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sluggie ( 85265 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:31AM (#2881277)
    a beowulf cluster of those!

    no, don't mod me down now! I really mean it!

    So, what do you think could happen if you put more than one of those in a network.

    do they recognize each other?
    are they able to do some basic kind of load balancing (one does mail/ftp/NAT, the other one user homes/printer/etc)?
    what if business grows bigger, so that you need more than one server?

    I like such pseudo turnkey systems, but where is the scalability?
    • <funny>

      They won't only recognize other fellow boxes, they'll start talking to each other over the network with a lot of incomprehensible, strange-sounding noises to make you think they're intelligent and have emotions.

      Kinda like these toys. [furby.com]

      </funny>
      • So, just in case if they get sued by apple for the name "iMass" they can just convert to "Furby-server". (And then get sued by tiger elctronics, but this sure is another story ;))
        • They're more likely to get sued by the Catholic Church or the Metric Standards Board than Apple.

          Don't you think that something this useful could be put in a better looking case than that $35 generic one it is in now? Think Cobalt (oops, Sun) Cube!

          --Mike
    • Re:imagine.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by danamania ( 540950 )
      My worries would be upgrades etc. if someone hasn't the ability to set up a regular server, they probably don't have the full nous to keep everything up-to-date and secure. Scalability may never be a problem to most of their market - there would be tens of thousands of small businesses with say, less than ten staff. The security as it comes with standard may equal anything already in place, but that's always a temporary situation...
  • by Whafro ( 193881 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:34AM (#2881282) Homepage
    It's nice to see that they have under the traditional listing a server with every possible expensive option, while the opposite is true for the iMass.

    Honestly, if you're going to have an IDE disk in the iMass, then clearly the "traditional" server you're comparing it to should also have an IDE disk. And what network of 2-150 users needs 25 mail servers? Clearly having a tape backup and a hard drive backup are vastly different in scope as well. They don't seem to be providing a way to keep the last year of daily backups on a shelf; or even the last week of backups plus the monthly.

    They're just looking for the idiots who don't know what a CAL is or maybe once have seen the IBM linux commercials and look solely at the provided bottom-line.
    • Just be happy that they didn't list something like:

      SysAdmin - 80k

      IMass doesn't need one. It just works.
    • "25 servers"? Apparently you got confused by the numbers of the comparison chart.

      The "25" that appears there is the number of _client_ licenses for Exchange that you have to buy to get a 30-users mailserver.
      • damn mornings... you're right... nonetheless, the windows2k CAL's aren't necessary for the server, and I doubt that everyone in this small business will be running linux on their desktops. Not to mention that the prices they use aren't even competitive.
    • They're just looking for the idiots who don't know what a CAL is...
      Okay, I'll bite. What's a CAL? Nothing on Acronym Finder or Everything2 yields a clear answer...
      • What's a CAL?

        Client Access License.

        Most commercial (application) servers are priced per so-many clients. These are measured in client access licenses. The most commonly encountered ones would be things like MS Exchange servers, but non-MS server software can use this model too.

        Cheers,
        Ian

      • Client Access License. Read more about them over at the Redmond site [microsoft.com].
      • Client Access License. It one of those things that us poor users & maintainers of the BEast have to worry about.

        Jaysyn
      • GOOGLE (Score:4, Informative)

        by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @08:24AM (#2881375) Homepage
        Google [google.com] search on CAL network Server you get the answer "Client Access License" on the third link. First two links are clearly Cal-State.

        Google is great. It's like a swiss army knife. Not only can you search for web pages, definitions, etc etc etc, you can even use it to correct your spelling :)

        -
    • >>It's nice to see that they have under the traditional listing a server with every possible expensive option, while the opposite is true for the iMass.

      I don't know that it's "traditional" to use Microsoft products, but it's certainly not unheard of.

    • I think you misunderstood CAL, but you are on the right track. This comparison of a ML350 to a low end Athlon desktop is ridiculous.

      For $1200 I can buy a Compaq D500 Evo minitower with two 40 Gig IDE drives, 128Megs RAM and a 1.5Ghz P4. That's more than equivalent to the iMass hardware.

      Now as far as software. The iMass comparison goes off showing full price of Win2k and Exchange. Great, but Microsoft's solution to the very problem iMass solves is Small Business Server.

      If you go here:
      http://www.microsoft.com/sbserver/howtobuy/defau lt .asp

      SBS 2000 comes with 5 CALs, purchase another 25 for around $1300. So we're at $2800 for that, plus $1200 for the desktop puts us at $4000 compared to $2700 for the iMass.

      Even so I'd still go with an ML320 at least, and a tape backup solution. Yes, it's going to be more expensive, but I've been there done that, and I think it's worth it.
      • However, Exchange also gives you a lot more than just e-mail - shared calendaring, workflow routing etc. If that's important to you then there isn't a OSS solution to the same problem AFAIK...

        I wouldn't fancy running 2K and Exchange on a PC with 128M RAM though. Win2K by itself is not much fun with 128M, let alone the rather porky Exchange server.

        By comparison, a 128M system running QMail for 25 users is barely going to break a sweat.
        • This is true. I'm not ordering any new computers today with any less than 512Megs of RAM. I've found even our older PIII-550 machines are much much much more useful when fully loaded with RAM. There's no reason not to load a machine out with RAM.

          I don't understand this fascination with 128M, that's like so 1999! :)
  • The manufacturer compares tape drives with IMASSes build in backup hd.
    PriceCompare [dartek.com]
    How does this work out. No tape to put in the safe?
    HP DDS- 4 tape backup $1200
    Integrated hard drive backup (idb) Included
    • No tape, but you'll get to put your HD in there instead. Their 'IDB' system is nothing more than an hard drive tray that can be removed while the system's running. (Which actually is quite a feat if this system runs plain IDE)
      • So that means my backup media cost in excess of $200 per unit, should not be dropped, has a relatively (to tape) short shelf life, and could be easily stolen.
        • Are you suggesting it's easier to steal a 3.5" IDE HDD than a tape? I don't follow you...

          It may be easier to get the data off of the HDD than a tape, but as far as how easy either is to steal, I'd say it's about even.

          I always like backup to HDD then to tape. Intermediate backups to HDD provide a faster backup of the original data, allowing pretty much a full day to backup the backup HDD to tape before the next intermediate backup fires off.

          Plus, you have greater redundancy, etc. It would be nice if this thing had the backup HDD and a tape drive.
    • Offsite (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GedLandsEnd ( 537573 )
      No tape to put in the safe?
      Not having offsite backups available is definitely a bad idea in terms of emergencies. (The building goes up in flames, taking the nifty 'integrated drive backup' with it.)

      You get what you pay for, of course. But I've worked with the intended technophobe market - they wouldn't know what they were missing until it was too late.
  • by FileNotFound ( 85933 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:35AM (#2881286) Homepage Journal
    No network administration skills are needed to deploy or maintain the iMass server. Simply, plug it into a power source, attach a second cable to an Internet feed and then turn the machine on. The iMass unit will automatically setup all network configuration parameters including firewall, file, print, Web, FTP, email services, DNS entries and DHCP.


    Right. So they're all set up the same? Plug it in and let everyone in?

    Sounds rather scary. I can understand Snap file servers etc..

    But firewalls etc?

    Chances are that to avoid things 'not working' everything is on, every port is open and everything works.
  • Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @07:45AM (#2881310)
    [S]eems to be just what some of my clients need to finally convince them that Linux CAN be easier to use than Windows

    Sorry, but this product does not demonstrate any such thing. Using any OS in this kind of device makes it an embedded OS and therefore invisible to the end user. If it's invisible then by definition it has no usability, good or otherwise.

    I'm sure Linux was a good choice for the OS in this product, as it's cheap and infinitely configurable. But the OS's inherent ease of use to the customer is not on the list.

    • Re:Uh, no (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pjc50 ( 161200 )
      Invisible things that do what you want _are_ good useability. An OS that needs no configuration or maintenance is much more useable than one that needs constant baby-sitting...
    • Sorry, but this product does not demonstrate any such thing. Using any OS in this kind of device makes it an embedded OS and therefore invisible to the end user. If it's invisible then by definition it has no usability, good or otherwise. I'm sure Linux was a good choice for the OS in this product, as it's cheap and infinitely configurable. But the OS's inherent ease of use to the customer is not on the list.

      While you could make an argument that it's an embedded OS [tech-gen.net], it'd be a stretch, since it runs the full Linux [tech-gen.net] kernel.

      And, I don't see how invisible translates to no usability. It's configurable by Webmin (or similar), and most non network admins would like a low or no maintenance server.

      Oh, and BTW, among Linux's many fine traits, I have never found an "inherent ease of use" among them.

  • Well, sound really great! and even it migh have some drawbacks, but hey, everything must have, especially in the first stage! It will get better, and sound well enough now! Means there is no need for an 'dedicated' admin! hehe, great! :-A
  • Anyone have more details on the specifics on the software? Sounds like a modified distro already set up to go with webmin to me.
    • Re:More details. (Score:2, Informative)

      by iMASS ( 552951 )
      Anyone have more details on the specifics on the software? Sounds like a modified distro already set up to go with webmin to me.
      We built our own distro from scratch. That's why it fits into 12 megs on a flash disk :)

  • Does anyone know wheneather it is possible for the user (probably the not-yet-obsolete network administrator) to install/upgrade the software in the iMASS, and generally tweat it to the network`s special attributes/needs ?

    Do I have to wait for a vendor-supplied software update to upgrade to apache2 ? or what about PHP ?
  • I cannot find where the linux part of this is.
    The link on the article takes you to an Investor Realtion page, Of which the company that is distributing it is listed, no info there, anyone have any FTP info ?

    Guess its time to pull the GPL clause to get my software via mail. BUT WHO THE HELL DO I SEND MY WRITTEN OFFER TO ?????
    • In my reading of the GPL, it has a few options for source redistribution. If they redistribute the source with the compiled binaries (e.g., on the imass itself), they do not need to redistribute the source otherwise. If they do not distribute the source on the same media, they must make the source available to all comers (and can charge a nominal fee)--even those who didn't buy it directly. I think there is a third option, where if they received a redistribution offer from another firm and they changed nothing, they don't need to do anything. (e.g., they can say "Its stock Red Hat--pick it up at redhat.com). So don't get in a huff if you say "gimme source" and they say "stickit".
  • by dustpuppy ( 5260 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @08:08AM (#2881343)
    it autodetects network segments in less than 5 minutes, and sets up DHCP, DNS, FTP, Email, file sharing, firewall, NAT, internet access, dial-up, etc. almost automagically

    This is the sort of system they would have used in Independence Day 4 to autoconnect to the alien network and upload that virus. None of that stupid Apple crap ...
  • Kernel 2.2.19 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @08:09AM (#2881346) Homepage
    Kernel version of this wonderbar unit is
    2.2.19

    And 128 meg ram ???
    • Well I guess they went for a more stable kernel, personally I haven't had any problem with 2.4 but others have as discussed in the kernal of pain [slashdot.org] last week.

      128MB is a bit low, I'm a bit surprised by this given the price these days.
  • Just what the world needs more of.
    Contract "IT consultants" setting these things up in small offices everywhere. When the boxen hiccup, nobody bothers to call the "IT" assh*le that set them up. Instead, call your ISP and piggyback their support policy to avoid a $40/hr support charge from your "consultant".

    "Mrs./Mr. [RealEstate Agent|Travel Agent|Secretary|Accountant|Legal Assitant|Temp] your mail server is not working. I'm sorry, it is not our problem. Please call your contractor."

    Repeat for 45 mins. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • It'd make a good linux b0x3n for the cheap.

  • by atubbs ( 72643 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:20AM (#2881570)
    The biggest problem with this sort of system is going to be the lazy factor. WinNT/2000 with IIS is great in some regards, because it allows the average peon with a year of experience using 98 to set up an Internet server, without much thought. However, that same peon hasn't a clue how to maintain it, so his box is one of the first infected by Code Red, and one of the last cleaned.

    Now, make it even easier, by making something an even lesser peon (one with virtually no computer experience) can just plug in and let run without ANY suggestions of maintenance of the beast, and it starts to form a pretty massive DDoS system, if you ask me.
    • so his box is one of the first infected by Code Red, and one of the last cleaned.

      Absolutely - I notice the absence of a virus-scanner of any sort being installed.

      Not expensive to do these days, in fact LinuxJournal ran an article on a DIY SMTP virus scanner a few months back IIRC, and I'm sure that could be applied to HTTP etc etc...
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 )
    IDE for the hard drive?

    An additional hard drive for doing backups?

    Geez... What if the "backup" drive fails with the last six months of critical accounting data on it? Data-recovery services are -not- cheap, and the cost of having to employ one would likely exceed the cost of a good DLT or DAT tape system AND a disaster-recovery plan many times over.

    IDE is bad enough (though I will freely admit to being a SCSI bigot). Using a drive with non-removable (and safely stashable) media for backup, on what will likely be a primary server, is darn near worse than no backup plan at all!
    • by iMASS ( 552951 )
      What if the "backup" drive fails with the last six months of critical accounting data on it? Data-recovery services are -not- cheap, and the cost of having to employ one would likely exceed the cost of a good DLT or DAT tape system AND a disaster-recovery plan many times over.
      First of all, if your backup disk dies, you still have the primary, so your data isn't really lost.

      You can swap idb drives using the front drive tray, so you can replace the backup disk, push the backup button on the front panel, and you're set.

      You can also swap the backup disk whenever you want. idb does incremental backups, so you can, say, have a backup done three times a day for a week, then swap the disk and put it in safe storage, then do another week on another disk, then swap them back. The incremental backups are smart, so week 3's backups will automatically be incremental versus week 1, even if week 2's backups were on disk 2. (In this case, week 2's first backup was not incremental, since week 1 isn't on the same disk.)

      idb is _very_ cool stuff, trust me.

      That said, tapes seem a bit more resilient. But you can't beat the speed or capacity (or nowadays, even price) of a disk.

  • Check the date at the bottom of the page: September, 2001. So now 4-month old PC Magazine blurbs are news? Stand back, I've got some posting to do!

    newsqueak [newsqueak.com] - squeak squeak
  • Instant marketing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Samrobb ( 12731 )

    Anyone else notice this banner ad [dartek.com] at the bottom of the IMASS page the article links to?

    Either someone at the company submitted the story, or they have one of the most responsive marketing teams I've ever seen...

  • I've been using e-smith server for over a year. Based on RH e-smith does the same things as the iMASS - with one notable exception - it's a free ISO download which can work on almost any Intel box (mine is a P90 w 32MB RAM :)). It works great as an firewall*(if you think proxy/NAT is a firewall)/email/web/print/storage server, it even comes with pppoe, dynamic dhcp client and IMP (webmail). Not that I'm shiling for e-smith, but damn if it ain't easy and frankly - good!
  • Why does yet another server appliance rate a slashdot story? There are many companies selling this kind of SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) server appliance, starting with the venerable Cobalt Qube.

    WireX [wirex.com] (my company) has been selling this kind of product [wirex.com] for a long time now. The WireX web-based management interface (as provisioned on Dell PowerApp servers) even won an "Emperor Class" award from Linux Magazine. And the WireX servers have the additional benefit of being protected with [linux-mag.com] Immunix [immunix.org] security, something which is especially needed by the kinds of users who choose "easy to use" server appliances.

    Crispin
    ----
    Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
    Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc. [wirex.com]
    Immunix: [immunix.org] Security Hardened Linux Distribution
    Available for purchase [wirex.com]

A company is known by the men it keeps.

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