First I bought a SheevaPlug (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SheevaPlug) but that fried itself before long.
Next I bought an Efika MX Smarttop (https://www.genesi-usa.com/store/details/11), which works ok, but doesn't always boot reliably (I boot it headless most of the time, so can never get to the bottom of why).
I wish I could jailbreak my Apple TV 3, because it's cheap and the form factor is perfect for this. But it's looking like it will be more difficult to jailbreak than previous generations.
I just want something I can run Debian or Ubuntu on and know that when I restart it it's going to come back up. Any suggestions?
For me, a build bot has to be ultra powerful. The thing I'm usually building has 40k+ files and the linker dies unless I have more than 4gig of ram. This VIA or a Raspberry PI just isn't going to cut it as a build bot.
Of course there are tons of other uses.
My library upb (https://github.com/haberman/upb/wiki). It is ~5k LoC and builds in 10 seconds on x86. 4gig of RAM is entirely unnecessary. It pays to be small. :)
There's the pandaboard too, which is more powerful with hdmi output
I've got it hosted in a collocation rack now, so it had better stay reliable :-)
I've written a short blog post about it
(Still do wish I could jailbreak my AppleTV though. That is one sexy piece of hardware.)
(Apologies if you said this in blog post already, it's currently unavailable.)
So, now it’s time to take it to the next level – I’ve paid for the beaglebone to go into a colocation rack in Telehouse North, with a friendly colocation company called Jump Networks who were happy to help out with the experiment, and who only charge for £50 + VAT for installation and a very low monthly cost for hosting the equipment, as little as £5 per month – perfect for an ARM server.
The colo I picked only charges for electricity and excess bandwidth, which is why I picked them.
It cost £50 to install, and £12 a year in hosting costs for electricity and bandwidth, but the host I'm using says they'll have to introduce a minimum charge of about £5 per month if lots of people start doing it with these micro servers.
I haven't run one 24/7 for more than a week or two though, so I don't really know how good it would be as a server.
It will be a magnitude order more costly though, both in acquisition price and electricity.
Its mips based though, not arm. Runs openwrt nice. I use mine as a file/print server.
Put it in a box I can hide behind a standard monitor, let me reuse the old mouse and keyboard and I can finally throw away the Windows XP PC my in-laws are using for Chrome and Freecell. And use 1/10th of the power.
But I do think ChromeOS devices should be somewhere in the $200 price range (or free with contract if you want LTE and plan on using it on the go).
Web browsers aren't simple. Every web page is a complicated nest of sizing constraints and it seems like hardly a CSS property is added without making that worse. And then IE4 had to come along and make all of these sizing constraints dynamically changeable. And then we wanted fancier font rendering, so glyphs weren't free or even cheap anymore.
And I'm just talking text & tags here, not even remotely about anything like OpenGL or video, just core browser stuff.
You can render web pages on mere dribbles of power with Links/Lynx, but it's not some sort of mere coincidence that the result is a much degraded experience, it's actually fundamental to what a web browser is nowadays. I mean, look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTnIxIA5KGw And that's a simple webpage.
No. This is simply not true, at least at the extreme you are suggesting.
What I have open on my quad-core 8GB RAM desktop right now:
two Eclipse sessions; One emacs server, with about 20 client windows; Firefox, with 30+ tabs; 20 or so console sessions; five PDFs of documentation; an IRC client; an image viewer and a Jabber client. All of this is spread over two big monitors, with antialiased fonts, fast scrolling, lots of undo history and all sorts of good things.
The truth is that expectations have changed. Say all you want about having 1000 users on a single core, but users today are getting a much richer environment, and capabilities that we only could have dreamed of twenty years ago. This isn't waste or inefficiency, it's using what we have.
Web browsers are also far from simple. High resolution graphics, interactive sites, multiple format support, dynamic content loading, antialiased fonts and all these other things do add up. Compare that to what a user was doing on a tiny slice of a machine 20 years ago. I'd call it progress.
Heck, just a unicode font that includes every character in the basic plane takes 22Meg! Did that guys 1989 unix box display Chinese, Japanese and Korean?
It's essentially a niche operating system, and isn't going to do 1/10th of the stuff that one written with "bloatware" is going to be capable of. I mean, look at what it has for a browser: http://www.menuetos.net/098b3.png
The whole multimedia thing, you know.
Also, this Android box costs and weighs a fraction of that wonderful machine you used to serve 1000 of users.
So I'd still call it a progress worth 25 years of technology evolution.
But, iRobot, why should we care about efficiencies? Energy grows on trees.
I predict we are going to see many, many more ARM devices. And Apple is going to lead the way.
This is going to bother some people who like to write bloated, inefficient code. Their focus is on multi-core and concurrency. But to do simple things (retrieving text, images, audio, or video via http, sending/receiving email, etc), one does not need that much power.
The rise of ARM will create opportunity for a different set of programmers who are more efficiency-conscious.
Sadly VIA have a history of not quite getting this whole "open" thing: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=via_o...
Although most end vendors of devices using the WM8xxx line of chips are GPL violators (direct-from-China business models where noone cares), Wondermedia themselves have been supplying GPL source via Harald Welte of Gpl-Violations (formerly also employed by VIA):
100% blob-free to my knowledge. Unfortunately they haven't released anything for the WM87xx series (apc.io) yet, but these devices are brand new so here's hoping.
If you're interested you can dig up some more details, and the follow from-scratch open kernel development efforts, at
(What I -really- hope they release is publicly available datasheets.)
What would be interesting is if one of these boards would be designed such that, by pure coincidence, it could fit into an Apple form factor (cheap/old/maybe used). I've read that in, e.g., Vietnam, people with soldering irons do all sorts of hackish things to iPhones.
Or maybe a market for curved edge form factor casings develops. Maybe it already exists. But I never saw any Apple-like form factors in the mini-ITX offerings.
Whenever you see something with a cool form factor, it seems it's always a proprietary package, hermetically sealed, not easy to tinker with.
So irrespective of your video intentions, you are still at the mercy of a blob.
In reality being able to run whatever user programs you want in whatever combination you want without artificial is what FOSS is all about.
If for example the Pi blob is such that Linux kernel 3.7 can't run then you are SOL. Or if on a device like this their blob only works with Android 2.3 then you can't run a different version. Or maybe you can't run one of the BSDs.
The video/GPU is especially relevant in the Pi case because it controls what the CPU can do.
For comparison's sake:
Mass-market paperback - 19.8cm x 13cm
Neo-ITX - 17cm x 8.5cm
IPhone 4 - 11.5 cm x 5.86 cm
2.5inch SSD - 10 cm x 6.99 cm
Raspberry Pi - 8.6cm x 5.4cm
Not very far down the road, we will be looking at a complete, very functional computer (harddrive, wireless internet, etc.) in a package about the size of a small book. All for 15 watts.
And what I love best: it will be so cheap and versatile. Because it will use modular, already popular hardware.
Remember the good old days of the desktop:
Swap out the HDD for a bigger one. Replace it easily if it fails. Swap out the whole motherboard if that fails. Keep using the same damn case and power adaptor for ten years.
And best: put in random, new PCI express cards that expand the capabilities of the computer, using it in ways the original designers hadn't foreseen. As happened in the past with:
Exploding GPU power
It matches the real-life cost of the Rpi, probably will have general availability around the same time, and has double the memory and a little onboard NAND.
It may not be perfect, but remember this sector is very much in its infancy, and a little more competition has to be a good thing for improvements in future devices all round.
If you don't mind waiting a bit, see Freescale iMX6:
no power management? my standard voltage laptop with a spinning disk, screen and low backlighting idles at 6-7.
And can you really get away with no HS/F at 13 watts under load?
The original email I sent was:
I'm really excited to see the $49 Android PC; it looks like a perfect
platform for a number of projects I've been thinking of.
However I'm worried - most manufacturers offering low-price Android
devices fail to comply with the terms of the GPL.
Will you be releasing the source code to any GPL'd components used by
your system? And will you allow customers to install their own OSs on
the device or will it be restricted to your own build of Android?
Thanks for your time; I look forwards to your reply.
Same price bracket, faster Cortex A8 based processor, and (most importantly) marketed as "hackable" with available source & tech docs, and a community working on porting other OSes to it.
Even if you don't want to hack on it yourself, this means you're more likely to find interesting uses and software updates for it down the line.
IMHO these are the aspects VIA should be aiming to compete on as well, so it's not stuck with a crummy vendorware version of Android.
Other than that, its an interesting box too although it looks like it is harder to get one's hands on it.
The Melee boards are available to ship now from Aliexpress vendors, so you'd have it in your hands sooner than the apc.io (July predicted ship date) or the Pi (still filling backorders.)
sigh. ICS has been out for 6 months now. It's tragic that companies are shipping an ancient 2-year-old OS with their computers.
This is where the ARM ecosystem tends to fall down. The PC World is built on compatibility. No one can ship a board if it doesn't run Windows (or even DOS, frankly). Graphics cards have VESA and VGA fallback modes so that you can bootstrap a driver installation. And as a result the Linux community can leverage this to provide pretty great support for new hardware, even if it starts out as a fallback or partial implementation for a few versions. None of that exists in the SoC world.
So if VIA or NVIDIA or Samsung or Qualcomm want ICS to run on their chips, they need to do the work. So far they have not. Nor have their customers been willing or able to.
Also, the WM8750 is an ARM11 not a Cortex A8 or better, so it's a good bit slower than most phones running ICS. I don't think its GPU credentials are cutting edge either.
So in terms of raw hardware specs it'll come in alongside the flagship phones released with Android 1.6 and 2.1. ICS may not be a good candidate even if/when the development is done.
(Which is insane given that it's still objectively powerful hardware, but even more powerful hardware breeds equivalently consuming software.)
You'll sell a million just the first couple of months.
Force people to use HDMI and most of them will have to buy a new monitor.
It has a nice photo of Allen and Gates.
Now, what I'm wondering is how easy it is to replace Android with your own OS. I want to know about the bootloader.
The raspberry pi on the other hand looks cool. Strange.
She's used to Ubuntu and she couldn't care less about the ISA the machine is running. Moving to Android could prove an interesting experience, but I suspect machines like this will have outstanding support for other Linuxes as well and I'd assume Via has a lot to gain by cooperating.
By now, most likely, someone from Microsoft will have called to offer some incentive if Via favors Win8 over Android on the platform. We'll see what happens.
Put them in a little box, bolt them to the back of a nice monitor and they're great for most people.
I wonder how difficult it could be to install an ARM version of Linux on it. I'm not that interested in the Android aspect of it, besides maybe using it as a cheap tablet replacement (they'd need to upgrade the Android version though.)
I'm looking forward to it.
Internally, it's called "chrisk's Crapper Computer" (my name is Chris last name starts with K)
Everyone has different levels for what "expensive" means. You can get new HDMI monitors for well under $150, and new DVI monitors for well under $100, and DVI<->HDMI adaptors are under $10.
~$100 for a monitor (which can also be used with other computers) isn't expensive when we are talking about a $50 board.
Those would be two good additions.
Node works well on arm because of all the effort google make for v8 to run well in Android
Windows is an awful choice since it requires a huge pricey box with fans, since it shows its dialog messages over the interface, catches viruses and yet they stick to it.
It makes me sad thinking about how much money do they waste on it and how MS is able by get their cut while making everyone lives and products worse by using their BS power.
Looks like a motherboard to me,
One will still need to add a powersupply and case at a minimum. (And then you can plug in your power, keyboard/mouse/monitor, etc.)
Edit: it looks like it comes with a power adapter, so it's effectively a fully functional computer out of the box (just as much as any system without kb/monitor).