Topic: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

Hi everyone
I've been browsing the chumby wiki, googling around and reading this forum, but I still have a few questions.

What I see in the BB8 is a potential central point in my home : news, music, facebook, recipes, etc...

I'm moving to a new appartment (and a new country) in a few weeks, and I will certainly rework a lot of my setup which is kind of a mess right now, so I was wondering if I could move some of the functionnalities I currently have on the laptop to the chumby. I thought about buying a new WiFi DSL modem router, but it's hard to find one which can run openWRT without losing wifi and having some kind of memory. My next thought was for a sheevaplug or seagate dockstar, but now that the infocast is out with it's big 8" screen, I'm more inclined in making it a wall mounted device in the kitchen.

I saw that lighttpd can be running on the chumby/BB8, and bunnie talked about gcc and make easily installed on the BB8, so can I also make it run/compile other apps, like subversion ? What I'd need would be subversion (server), a web server (apache or lighttpd are ok, I don't really need PHP), a mailserver and maybe pgsql/mysql but with some small databases. Ideal would be to have all the data stored on the compact flash or USB drive for easy backup.

Sorry for asking such a dumb question, but I don't really want to spend 169$ in a device that may finally just become a photoframe that I don't really need...

Thanks for reading smile

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

I have installed the native arm gcc toolchain on both the Chumby One and InfoCast.  On the Infocast you just type gcc at a shell prompt and your asked it you would like to automatically download and install such.  I did so and then compiled a quick HelloWorld.c program to make sure that it worked.  It did, and I was happy...

I plan to build OpenCV sometime this weekend, although I will probably use the cross compile toolchain.

- Jim

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

jronald : well, I guess I just have to check that the apps I want can be compiled for the arm-linux target (with the cross-compile toolchain) and head to best buy, then smile
If anyone have more infos to provide, I'd be glad to hear it.

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

i wouldnt recommend it. the lack of memory and X is a real killer.  you can get a picoitx which will do what you want and have a full x86 with 2GB RAM and a fast flash drive for boot with sata connectivity to a 2TB WDC caviar black and gigabit ethernet in a smaller form factor.

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

By X, do you mean the X Window System (for the GUI) ? I was hopping to have everything run in the background therefore I have no need to run X (unless the chumby/BB8 already runs it), I'm not sure it would need that much processing power. As for the RAM problem, maybe some swap on the CF/SD card could help.

Lastly, I'm not sure I'll need that much (2TB) disk space, maybe mailbox could become huge, but even now, my oldest email account (7 years) is around 2Gb and my local SVN around 20Mb, I'm kind of a clean freak...

...but I'm surely wrong on all those points smile

Biggest problems I see with a picoitx (even if the platform seems really attractive from the formfactor vs processing power point of view) is the price : the one you linked to doesn't have WiFi onboard, no screen, etc... All that would add up rather quickly. The biggest selling point (for me) for a chumby device is the LCD touchscreen + the fact that there already are a lot of nice little widgets to hide the 'server stuff' behind a nice GUI I don't need to spend months on customizing / coding.
I originally wanted to go with some kind of plug computer (tonido or sheevaplug) but if the device can show me news and display recipes, I want it smile

6 (edited by zurk 2010-09-05 08:57:50)

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

you cant wall mount it on the wall regardless because of the weird case shape but i dont think you will find it any more useful than a picture frame.
its not a server and the hardware is too crippled for a full svn/db server.
i'd go for a picoitx and get one of these to hang on the wall : … c-monitor/
also for svn i think you will find a wired connection to be far more reliable. the plug computers arent that great cuz theyre mips architecture and dont do 64 bit x86.

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

What exactly is "crippled" about the hardware that it can't be an svn server?

Subversion isn't exactly a compute-bound thing, and the Infocast is more powerful than servers were back when Subversion was created.  All it really needs to do is serve files on the network.

Re: Potential buyer, but can I make it do what I want ?

That may be a point that didn't come across right : the "server" I'd like to make out of this neat piece of hardware isn't going to be public, it's just my own private little server for my own little personnal use. I don't plan on hosting big websites (maybe just my blog, which gets maybe around a 100 view per week, max), have a public svn for hundreds of people to work on or that kind of thing.

@zurk : about the plastic casing, well, let's be honest, if I'm buying this thing, it's to get my saw and hammer busy smile jronald confirmed (in the "teardown" topic) that the base is mostly full of air, and the PCB being smaller than the screen, might be folded behind it (not 100% sure about the ribbon connector). And I don't see why having it on my local wifi is "unreliable", I've been using an old laptop as my svn/local server (with my router redirecting some ports for SSL and FTP from the outside) for months now, no problem so far.

@duane : well, that's exactly what I was thinking, plus it would just be a local SVN for my personnal use, to have a backup of my coding works, I don't want/need it to be publicly accessible. I'm pretty sure the BB8 would be enough (and that I'm gonna buy it as soon as I get enough money), but I'd just like to have confirmation from someone who maybe has done something similar.

Maybe a dumb idea, but if someone could make some kind of "benchmark" that could be compared to other platforms (old Pentium 2 computers, plug computers running linux, etc...) that would be great.

(Big) Sidenote : Here in France, we had a little piece of technology called the Minitel. It was released in 1982, and you could use it for a lot of stuff like chatting with people (obviously for s*x), ordering train tickets or searching phone numbers, all of that before the great Internet was massively available. If you need more infos on that, check
The problem with the Minitel is that it was a centralized server architecture : you had to "dial-in" a server to get or put what you want. However, at least in my conception, the main philosophy behind Internet / OpenSource (especially Linux) was the decentralized server : if you kill one server, you can still find the information elsewhere because it has been copied numerous time (or not, but in this case, it's because it wasn't interesting). As Linus Torvald said, "Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it wink ".
Unfortunately, nowadays, Internet is becoming more and more like the Minitel : if you want to see/share videos, you go to youtube ; you want to read news, go to Google News (or other), ... While I can understand (and fully agree) with the ease of use of this kind of model, I think that it's not natural for me to upload my family pictures on flickr or facebook : those servers are not mine, it's like posting those photos in the street and telling my mother "go to this adress and look on the wall to see your granddaughter". It's even more understandable with emails : why should I have my address @ yahoo or gmail (even though I currently do, but plan on changing very soon) when with the good old snail mail, it's delivered in the mailbox I built myself out of scrap wood ? It's like having your telephone bill posted at google's headquarter, letting them (or anyone else) read through it if they want and then having to go there to get it.
I'd like to change that, but I also don't want to have a full fledged server (even though an old one, or a tiny one, too much power consumption, etc...), because I'm pretty sure the simple services I use daily can run on a much smaller, cheaper and convenient platform like the Infocast or a plugcomputer running 24/7. Like Duane said, there was Internet when servers where less powerful than a Chumby smile
Sorry for the long post, but maybe you'll better understand my "philosophy" behind this project. If you understand French (spoken), you should watch the talk by Benjamin Bayart, "Minitel 2.0" … tel-2_tech