$150 laptop for web 2.0 apps?

I’m always looking for a device to replace my desktop PC which makes too much noise, takes up too much space and cost too much since I only use a small fraction of the power in the box! A few weeks ago, I replaced it with a beautiful mini-ITX computer.

But what about the laptop? Craig Gunderson sent me a tip on the $150 laptop computer (wasn’t it $100 before?).

“Lite Appliances says its Lite Computer will be based on Analog Devices’ Blackfin processor and a custom-built OS that will include Web browser, media player, IM and VoIP functions and work with online services such as Google Docs. There will be no built-in hard drive, but you can attach external storage via USB.” Wired says.

These devices are made for the web! It doesn’t have all the unnecessary power you don’t need when running tools over the web! I’d get one – just for the sake of tetsing it. But I hope they make them look better than this :)

$100 laptop $100 laptop $100 laptop

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Bubba Mini Server Part 5: Advanced uses and conclusion

So we have done some basic stuff during the first parts of using the Bubba Mini Server. Maybe that is enough for you, but here we look into some more complicated uses of the Bubba Mini Server.

  • You probably want to access your files wherever you are in the world. Just make sure to do some port forwarding of HTTP/FTP to your Bubba and you can access it by just browsing to you public IP-address
  • The Bubba is a fully functional Linux computer! There are more than 15000+ Linux/Debian applications available – just install them!
  • Let Bubba stream music to your Itunes compatible music player as long as it supports DAAP.

If you have any other ideas of using the Bubba, or maybe you even got one yourself, be sure to contact us – I’d love to hear your stories!

Conclusion

Everybody needs somewhere to store their files and if you want to be able to be more flexible to access them (from your computer, your webbrowser, FTP from home, office or Internet) and you want to do it with minimal fuzz – then the Bubba is definitly for you! It offers so much more than a simple NAS – and is extremely simple, quiet and flexible.

Of course you could setup your own server and add all this functionality but then it’s out of scope of this blog – “uninstalled”.

If you’re interested in buying one, be sure to visit Excito. Thanks again for letting me borrow one!

Excito

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Bubba Mini Server Part 4: The file, ftp, web server and downloads

After going through the e-mail server, it’s time for the file/ftp/web/download server part of Bubba Mini Server.

You can either access the fileserver through your normal Windows explorer att \\BUBBA\ and there you will have the complete tree.

Bubba Mini Server File ServerIf you access it via FTP you have access to the home directory. If you want to access the directory tree over the web, this is possible throuh the web-admin interface.

If you want to create your own webpage to publish, just put your html files in the web-directory and when you browse to the root of the Bubba, you’ll get to that page!

What about Downloads then? Let’s say you have any FTP/HTTP/torrent download that will take hours to download and you don’t want your computer to be kept switched on? Just add it to the Download list in your Bubba and it will download it for you! Since it only consumes 10W and makes no noise at all – it’s perfect for that!

Just right-click any download link, add the link to Location and press Add. Simple as that! You can watch the progress in the interface and the files will be saved to your home\downloads folder.

Bubba Mini Server Downloads Bubba Mini Server Downloads 2

Continue to part 5.

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Bubba Mini Server Part 3: E-mail server

Once you configured the basics, you can start looking into the E-mail server part of Bubba Mini Server.

Even though most of us who live the uninstalled life, you might want to have Bubba Mini Server to handle the e-mails for you?

Just add a user and go to http://bubba/webmail/ and you’ll be logging in to the Bubba’s webmail which is based on IlohaMail. IlohaMail’s interface is pretty basic – if you want to try it, there’s a demo available.

IlohaMail IlohaMail IlohaMail

IlohaMail IlohaMail IlohaMail

It’s fast! It got e-mail, Contacts and Bookmarks. You can search through your folders and you have many Options, for example, you can change the appearance to fit your needs when it comes to colors and fonts. There seems to be a Calendar too but I haven’t been successful adding anything to it – probably because it needs mySQL which the Bubba doesn’t have.

The way it works is that in the Administration interface you configure your POP3/IMAP account on some server on the Internet. Then you configure this POP3/IMAP-account to an local account on the Bubba. When you login it will simply access that POP3/IMAP-account.

Continue to part 4.

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Bubba Mini Server Part 2: The administration

In part 1 I gave you an overview of the Bubba Mini Server. Now let’s get into details regarding the administration.

All administration is performed from the webinterface.

Bubba Mini Server Web Administration

  • Users offers you to add users
  • Services is where you enable the different services (FTP, DAAP streaming, Mail, Printing and Torrent downloading)
  • Mail is where you configure details regarding the mailserver
  • Printing is where you add the printer (most brands are supported)
  • Settings are network/time/backup-restore/update
  • Filemanager is the web interface to get/delete/upload your files

The administration interface is really simple and does the job fine! Continue to part 3.

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Bubba Mini Server Part 1: The overview

As you all know I want to uninstall everything to simplify my life. And as you saw in my article where I tried to store hundreds of gigabytes of data at an online service provider such as MediaMax – it simply didn’t work!

So why not get your own server at home where you store all those files? Of course, you could simply build your own server, install what-ever Windows/Linux operating system and you have yourself a server. But then we’re there again – installed and not simplified. I want it uninstalled and simple! Introducing Bubba Mini Server:

Bubba Mini Server 1

The guys over at Excito were kind enough to borrow one for me! I like that!

What is it? It’s a miniature server that offers a file server, streaming media server, web, e-mail and FTP server, print server and torrent downloader! All this in a almost-totally-silent 18x12x4cm case! And it’s good for the environment (and your electricity bill) – it only consumes 10W.

Installation is extremely simple. Just plug in the power and network cable and it will switch on. The LED will flash during bootup and it takes a minute or so. Point your browser to http://bubba/ and you’re finished!

Let’s get technical! I don’t want to focus too much no the technical side but since I know most of my users want just that – here goes! It’s available in 80/320/500 GB sizes (330/385/540 EUR). It’s a 3.5″ 7200 RPM drive, a 200 MHz ARM9 CPU, 64 MB EAM, 10/100Base-TX and USB-port.

Software-wise it’s running Linux 2.6 Debian, Apache web server, Dovecot IMAP server, Postfix SMTP server, Fetchmail and Samba.

This was the first part! Continue to part 2.

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Linutop – miniature Linux web computer

Ian sent me a suggestion to check out this little device called Linutop. It’s a Linux-based diskless computer. It offers a completely silent, low-power operation in an extremely small package.

It’s based on the AMD Geode CPU, 512 MB ROM, 256 MB RAM, some USB ports, network card, audio in/out and VGA.

It has some apps by default and of course Firefox. I think this would be perfect for what I’m trying to do. They don’t mention any price yet, but Reghardware mention $368. I’ll see if I can get my hands on one to borrow so I can test it…

Linutop

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Uninstalled vacuum cleaner – HOWTO automatic cleaning your house

I’m not only trying to uninstall software from my desktop and replacing my desktop with a uninstalled client, but also looking into uninstalling as much as possible. Why?

  • My vision is to make my life easier and more effective and spend less time on day-to-day problems and boring activities.

I enjoy life too much to spend it on those things. So it was then I got one of these ones. Not very “web 2.0″-ish – but I’m just waiting until I can schedule cleaning over a web interface ;)

PS. No, I’m not single and live in a bachelorpad. I actually live with my fiancĂ© and she actually LOVES this thing! “Truly effective! I think it produce the dust itself…” DS.

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Part 3 – Isn’t this the best looking PC case you’ve ever seen

I’m trying to uninstall ALL applications from my PC and only run tools on the web. For me, it’s more important that the machine look good, small and silent.

Mini-ITX motherboardI could buy myself a Mac mini – but I want to be more flexible than that. So the first thing I went out and bought was a miniature motherboard – the mini-ITX EN12000EG. Only 17 x 17 cm big – it’s small and since it’s fanless – it’s silent.

It’s like any other motherboard but it also has an CPU soldered to the board. You can run what-ever you want on it – Windows or Linux. I added some memory and a harddrive and I had a complete computer. I also added a Compact Flash reader so I could try booting from that one instead of the HD or USB-drive.

But then I needed a case. And it had to look good – my last requirement. So I spent a few hours looking at different boxes and decided for this beauty:

Cubit3 Black

You have them in different colors to fit your interior design:

cubit_colors.png

I would really recommend Qform in Germany if you’re planning to purchase design hardware or mini-ITX cases – they were VERY helpful!

Installing took a little bit of time but once everything was in place I was very happy with the result:

Cubit3 Inside

After this it was time to start installing (ok, I prefer uninstalled but I had to install at least ONE thing – some kind of “base”). But I’ll get back to that in later posts.

Are you interested in mini-ITX projects, make sure to visit mini-itx.com Projects Page.

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Part 2 – How my hardware setup looked like before

ChieftecSo I decided I want to live the uninstalled life. Nothing installed on my desktop PC. Let’s start with what I had before this.

First off I had a huge tower case. It had 2 x 2.4 GHz Xeon CPU’s, 2048 MB RAM and fitted 4 harddrives, graphics card, network card, a bunch of extra fans to keep it cool and the noise was awful. Something had to be done! Way too much power to do what I ultimately wanted to do.

It was running Windows Server 2003 since I used as a webserver, FTP-server, fileserver – server this and server that.

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Part 1 – Possible hardware devices to replace your PC

My plan is to uninstall all desktop applications and run everything over the Internet. So why would I need a huge PC? All I need is enough power to, more or less, run a web-browser. And since I realized in my popluar article, that I cannot keep 100s of gigs online just yet, I might need a couple of 100 GB of storage. This is the first part of when I look into alternatives of hardware devices to replace my “installed” PC.

I want it be small, silent and give good value for money. And of course look good next to m flatscreen since I have my computertable in the diningroom (!).

I really really want your opinions on this. Comment, send me suggestions and I guarantee I’ll give it a look! Heck – I might even buy a device if it’s cool enough!

In this first part, I’ll give you an overview of what alternatives I’ve found so far.

First alternative is the beautiful Mac Mini/Aopen Mini:

Mac mini Aopen mini

But they’re quite pricey, both starting at somewhere around $5-600 for a complete system. And to be honest, they’re kind of overkill for what I want. It’s like driving a Ferrari with the handbrake pulled.

VIA have some interesting moterboards called mini-ITX and nano-ITX that are extremely small, silent and low-powered. And there are several extremely small cases for this form factor:

Form Factorsminiitx1.jpg Nanode Psile

But again, it’s pricey. You need to spend $150 on the motherboard and memory. Then you have to add a power supply and case and some kind of local storage (even though a USB stick will do for booting). At the end you almost end up at $400 anyway.

But what about just buying the cheapest hardware I can get hold of? Or even used at ebay? Some mATX board would do. Well, I think the case for the mATX-computers are too big. And to be honest – don’t you think this “regular” hardware is boring? ;)

I started to look for special solutions out there and find an interesting concept called woopwoop. It got me to some cool boxes like the norhtec.com solution called Microclient Jr:

Microclient Jr

I will definitly look into this little beauty in future parts.

With the above article I realized that the solution has to be some kind of Linux device made for “thin client use”. There are some companies offering dedicated “thin clients” that also include Firefox/Mozilla. One of them are Devon IT, which in reality are clients with VIA CPUs.

Devon IT

Or maybe a small “cube” called TeaCube will work for me? This is one small computer! But I wonder if it can run Firefox or some other browser? I will check that out!

Teacube

Also, this article at linuxdevices.com cover a bunch of pre-built alternatives that might be perfect for me.

Also, don’t forget that I need to store all my files somwhere. None of these cases are big enough for 2-3 3.5″ harddrives. So I need some solution for this aswell. I will get back to you on that – please comment if you have any suggestions. And remember – I prefer uninstalled!

So stay tuned. In future parts I’ll try to go into detail how to live my uninstalled life. Who knows, maybe I don’t even have to install the operating system?!

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Boot your PC twice as fast with Samsung SSD drives. Good performance test!

Samsung are releasing their flashbased harddrive (SSD – Solid State Disk) that could replace the conventional harddrive. It’s totally silent, it’s smaller, faster and doesn’t generate much heat. This would be perfect for my uninstalled desktop. Check Toms Hardware preview out to get some more information regarding the drive and the performance which is really impressive.

Just the thing that your operating system boots up really quickly is really interesting. Today – I simply keep my computer(s) on all the time because it takes too long to start them up when I want to access them. Today, a maximum of 32 GB is available, but you don’t need much more if you have everything online. Why would you like an SSD to replace your OS harddrive?

  • Read/Write data %25 faster than conventional harddrives
  • Bottups reduced – Tests show boot-up cut from 31 seconds to 18 seconds
  • Totally noiseless
  • Consume 95% less power (could add 20-40% battery time on laptops)

Cost today is around ~$25/GB which means $400 for a 16 GB drive. I little bit pricey but it’s just a matter of time before it hits the mass market. Just since announcement in May last year, price has been dropped almost 50%. The Samsung Q1 used to have a conventional 40GB drive at $1119 but can now be purchased with a 32GB SSD for a $2799 at iCube.

Samsung Solid State Disk (SSD)

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Hardware Applicance to replace your desktop PC?

You probably have one or several PCs at your home. And I guess you also reinstall them now and then just to make them “fresh”. My thought with this site is to uninstall everything. All I want is a web browser and an Internet Connection and then keep everything online.

So, imagine this: You buy a hardware appliance for around $50. It could look like something below. All it got is output for keyboard, mouse, audio and video and it runs WLAN to connect to the Internet. It doesn’t have any moving parts, local storage nor powerful processor so it’s dead quiet. It starts up in a few seconds and all you get is some kind of desktop (Linux?) with shortcuts and a menu to all your applications which of course are kept online.

Mini PC Mini PC

Mini PC Mini PC
(Yes, they are available but I don’t want a PC – I want an $50 browser appliance)

This is what I’m looking for! Anyone of you got any ideas where I can find such appliance – let me know! In the meantime – I have my ordinary PC and run VMware to start up my Browser Appliance and run everything from there.

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