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Hardware Hacking Build Linux

$100 Linux Wall-Wart Now Available 464

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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  • Ethernet (Score:4, Interesting)

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

    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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Hard Drive Slot? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crf00 ( 1048098 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:33PM (#26973803) Homepage

    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. :)

  • I'll tell you why... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:34PM (#26973815) Journal
    Bseacue, evoneyre kwons taht you olny need to hvae the fisrt and lsat leettr rghit to be readlbae. I secsupt you see Wal-Mrat in prnit mroe oeftn tahn Wlal-Wrat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:36PM (#26973843)

    I was thinking of an 8-port Belkin powerstrip full of these.

  • 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:Ethernet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:39PM (#26973879) Homepage 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: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 canuck08 ( 1421409 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:51PM (#26974049)

    Then again, an audio-recording device that recorded keystrokes or...

    indeed, and you get the audio by shining one of those nifty 'laser-mics' on the 20th floor executive office window from across town.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • disruptive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> 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 []. 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 [] is another. Lots of super micro mini ATX form bricks (mini-itx []) out there too. Expensive though.

  • by icydog ( 923695 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:19PM (#26974435) Homepage

    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 on a router or switch somewhere, that doesn't make sense.

    Not that I disagree with your point, which is that the device would not likely be discovered visually, given it was placed well to begin with.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:27PM (#26974543)

    Yes, because I participate. A whole lot of slashdot's readers are in the income bracket that has $100 as a toy price cut off. Over $100 and something may actually have to be sacrificed. At or under $100, the budget can absorb. Eight years ago I wanted to get away from my dependency on a single computer in the house. I got tired of being totally cut off and having to drag an old system out of the closet when my desktop suffered some sort of failure. So I bought three used PIIs. For $100 each. Two of the three have suffered hard drive failures in the intervening years, but aside from that, they've kept right on working. One of them is the NAT/firewall machine for the whole house.

    Looks like I finally have a candidate for a replacement. With gigabit ethernet. And its CPU is 200 MHz faster. Gotta love progress.

    Yesterday I bought two used APC 1000XL UPSs. For $100 each. The one I had already could hold up my desktop with a 21" CRT for 27 minutes. One of those 5 watt warts should be able to run on battery for, what, a month? GOTTA love progress.

  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:31PM (#26974587) Journal

    Nope, it's that Wall-Wart is too close to our conditioned recognition of Wal-Mart. Your brain has too much crap to do to read every letter of every word, and try to puzzle things out...It uses a sort of constant shape/context interpolation. That's why misspelled words don't prevent you from understanding what the word is supposed to be.

    If they'd spelled it correctly (e.g. "wall wart") without the caps and hyphen, it wouldn't have fallen into the same framework, and everyone wouldn't have read it and gone, "Linux Wal-Mart? WTF?"

  • by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:39PM (#26974707) Homepage

    Imagine a beowolf cluster of...

    No joke. If they come out with a Gig of memory, I'll buy 20 or so and set up my own compute farm. I'd really like to get my hand on a sample and a cross-compiler to see what 1.2 GHz ARM means for my application...

  • Re:disruptive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:32PM (#26975325)

    You're not missing anything. There aren't any, any more than there are on the Gumstix. Fortunately USB 2.0 can do 480 megabits per second and USB to Ethernet adapters are both cheap and very small.

    Since the Beagleboard is open hardware, chances are fairly good that somebody will design a variant with 2 on-board gigabit ethernet ports, at some point. I thought the lack of ethernet was an unfortunate choice too.

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

    by colinnwn ( 677715 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:53PM (#26975523)
    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 switch if it only could switch power, or with external USB gear, seems like using a hammer to swat a fly.
  • Re:Ethernet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:18PM (#26975757)
    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.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:47PM (#26976073) Homepage Journal

    I think people are missing the point of this.

    If you set this up as a power-over-ethernet device, you could have it powered from a PoE capable switch with only one wire going into it, no need to plug it into the wall.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:00PM (#26976221)

    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.

  • by _ivy_ivy_ ( 1081273 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:58PM (#26976899)
    The only hard part would be is figuring out how to efficiently plug in your "beowart" cluster into power strips.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:13AM (#26978533)

    Oh no, I wasn't saying torrenting is sneaky. It isn't.

    I was suggesting other nefarious uses. Like an open proxy that doesn't keep logs. Or a server for eMule. Or an icecast server with a public uploads folder - the modern day equivalent of pirate radio, just with audience participation. Or some other such thing.

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

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson