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Linux Wall Warts Small On Size, Big On Possibilities 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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Linux Wall Warts Small On Size, Big On Possibilities

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  • Two Words (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @03:52PM (#33280026)
    Hidden Cameras.
  • by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @03:59PM (#33280142) Homepage

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

  • Re:Wall warts? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkey-Man2000 ( 603495 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:02PM (#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.
  • by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:07PM (#33280280) Homepage

    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:Two (other) Words (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mmcuh ( 1088773 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:10PM (#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.
  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:20PM (#33280456) Homepage

    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:oh man (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kepesk ( 1093871 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:25PM (#33280512) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:26PM (#33280522) Homepage Journal

    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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:46PM (#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:Here's an idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hufman ( 1670590 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:55PM (#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.
  • Re:What indeed? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Gnaget ( 1043408 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:55PM (#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.
  • Re:oh man (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alamais ( 4180 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @05:27PM (#33281340)
    Not for long. As predicted, the Cablecos have already started nixing analog 'expanded basic'. As soon as the OTA digital switch was over (and thus their opportunity to claim that "you won't need to switch anything with cable!!!!!!"), they start dropping analog asap. My mom just switched to satellite, since now the only thing she could pick up from Comcast on her (old, non-HD) tv was local channels, and the cost to upgrade to digital made satellite a much better deal.
  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @05:39PM (#33281512) Journal

    My best ideas are to pair them with some old LCD screens and do something like this: []

  • by Roobles ( 1880882 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @06:35PM (#33282196)
    I would be really interested in a plug computer with decent audio output. All it would need is a minimal Linux OS with Pulseaudio installed and an open network sink configured. It would allow me to define it as an output in my central mpd server and toggle attached speakers on and off with a mpd client. I've already done this with desktops, but I would love to have speakers and a tiny computer in every major room, so I can just decide what room(s) I want to be playing music in at any given moment.

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