OpenBSD on plugcomputers

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OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Paolo Aglialoro
Hi all,

there's much hype around about these plugcomputers which are going to spread
in the market.
Here are some interesting models:

http://www.ionicsplug.com/cirrus.html
http://www.tonidoplug.com/
http://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/p-41-dreamplug-devkit.aspx
http://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/p-32-guruplug-server-plus.aspx

Has anyone had experiences about installing OpenBSD on similar devices?
With which results?
Thanks

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

roberth-5
On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 21:04:33 +0100
Paolo Aglialoro <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Has anyone had experiences about installing OpenBSD on similar
> devices? With which results?

No.
Why?
The hardware is crap.
The idea itself is ok, but the execution is not up to expectations.
Overheating, breaking the hw, mostly related to the powersupply, ...
No point to consider them as a platform. Just read the user complaints.

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Amit Kulkarni-5
Know a person who brought a guru or sheeva plug, i forgot which one.
He had power supply issues...

On Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 3:19 PM, roberth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 21:04:33 +0100
> Paolo Aglialoro <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Has anyone had experiences about installing OpenBSD on similar
>> devices? With which results?
>
> No.
> Why?
> The hardware is crap.
> The idea itself is ok, but the execution is not up to expectations.
> Overheating, breaking the hw, mostly related to the powersupply, ...
> No point to consider them as a platform. Just read the user complaints.

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Joshua Smith-10
In reply to this post by roberth-5
On Sunday, February 13, 2011, roberth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 21:04:33 +0100
> Paolo Aglialoro <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Has anyone had experiences about installing OpenBSD on similar
>> devices? With which results?
>
> No.
> Why?
> The hardware is crap.
> The idea itself is ok, but the execution is not up to expectations.
> Overheating, breaking the hw, mostly related to the powersupply, ...
> No point to consider them as a platform. Just read the user complaints.
>
>

I've had ok luck with my guruplug running debian, while I wouldn't
trust it to anything mission critical it's not been a horrible
platform to play around with and use for some minor home automation
tasks.

--
Josh Smith
KD8HRX
email/jabber:  [hidden email]
phone:  304.237.9369(c)

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Nick Holland
In reply to this post by Paolo Aglialoro
On 02/13/11 15:04, Paolo Aglialoro wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> there's much hype around about these plugcomputers which are going to spread
> in the market.

I've heard that.  many years ago, actually.
(heh.  Wikipedia says "plug computers" are only a couple years old.
That's not my memory.  Not worth me looking closer at this)
These will probably beat the flying car and controlled Fusion power
sources to serious market penetration, but...

> Here are some interesting models:
...

Before getting excited about these, go look at what has happened to
other stuff like this.

Usual process goes somewhere along the line of:

Developer spends a lot of time getting the OpenBSD toolchain ready for a
new platform, and fighting with the vendor of these "Open-source
friendly" (which should be read as "Linux...and only THEIR
implementation") systems to get full (and accurate) documentation on the
hardware.

About the time the system is ready to be introduced as a mainstream
platform, several of the following happens:

* Manufacturer turns out to be a fraud.
* Manufacturer fails to make a profit and "goes away".
* Manufacturer won't release documentation in a NDA-free, BSD compatible
way.
* Product is discontinued.
* Product is replaced by a new product which has almost the same model
number and same color case but none of the same guts, and thus is a
whole new product requiring a new porting effort.
* Availability proves to be a problem for people interested in buying.
* Cost is higher than superior hardware that already Just Works.
* Boot ROMs are buggier than the pile of dog droppings at a summer picnic.
* each new boot ROM revision breaks compatibility with existing code
(tested only on theirs!).
* Manufacturer discovers people are using the product in unintended ways
and revises the boot ROM to make booting an alternative OS more
difficult/impossible and incompatible with past porting effort.
* People discover the performance is that of a ten year old computer,
and they remember why they quit using ten year old computers.
* Manufacturer is found to have spent more time developing the website
and the hype machine than actually doing development of the product, and
success was defined as getting to a command prompt long enough to take
pictures.  I'll even go as far as to predict "power supply problems",
just because that's usually what we see.

I suspect the people that coded for these things can add to this list.

Please feel free to build a box and not fulfill any of my above
predictions.  I look forward to being made to look like a fool, but I'm
not betting on it.

(I'm also having difficulty figuring out what to do with a wall-wart
format computer.  uh... I HATE wall warts!  Do we REALLY want to run
more wires to the wall wart?  I actually kinda like the "NAS box" format
systems -- a lot more practical for my uses, but which all suffered the
above problems, too)

Nick.

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Paolo Aglialoro
Thank you all for the answers!

I also had doubts about the overheating stuff (did also some reading through
complaints) but the failing power supply also looks like a major
show-stopper. Actually I was thinking about such boxes just as a comfortable
5W NAS/torrent server (activities which do not tax the cpu till the point of
overheating, even if it looks like that overheating came from NICs...).

About the porting side, well... the pile-o-dung bugginess is unfortunately
true about such devices... but still, if they run run some kinda linux,
there might be hope... it looks like a matter on the pure terms of
"luck"....

Maybe it's just about waiting or.... modding the plug with some aluminium to
dissipate heat... even if some metal radiator near 220V circuits (who btw
might also lack grounding) doesn't sound much "sexy"... :((((

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Nick Holland
In reply to this post by Nick Holland
On 02/13/2011 10:30 PM, Nick Holland wrote:
[bla bla bla, Nick doesn't think plug computers are going anywhere]

I should probably make it clear: those were MY opinions, not any kind of
official OpenBSD policy statement.  All it takes is a developer (or
someone else) to say, "I want this device supported", and do a lot of
work and ta-da, a plug computer is supported.

Nick.

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Bryan Brake
In reply to this post by Paolo Aglialoro
On Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 14:04, Paolo Aglialoro <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> there's much hype around about these plugcomputers which are going to spread
> in the market.
<snipped...>


I am glad you asked this question...  I had seen these coming out as
well, with ARM architectures, and was wondering about running our
favorite OS on these.  After hearing about the power supply issues,
I'll probably stick with ALIX or Soerkis boards... low power, silent,
and hard working (I currently use an ALIX board as a low-traffic https
server, and another as a DHCP client.)

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[OT] OpenBSD on plugcomputers

ropers
This is pretty OT, but I saw that OpenBSD does support some USB
graphics adapters -- cf. udl(4)
<http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/man.cgi?query=udl>.

So IFF any of these plug computers got to run OpenBSD, then one could
jack a USB hub into that plug computer, connect a USB keyboard and
mouse, and connect an OpenBSD-compatible USB graphics adapter and
display.
This would yield a very small and low power (in every sense) OpenBSD
desktop computer and/or secondary computing terminal, several of which
could be very easily installed in various places around the house
and/or workplace.
If you combined this with a PLC/HomePlug (cf.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerline_communication>,
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HomePlug>), you'd only need a triple
mains outlet for a net-connected terminal (plug PC+HomePlug+monitor),
and if the plug computer has Wifi, you'd only need a double outlet
(plug PC+monitor).

Of course all of this won't make much sense if there indeed still are
serious reliability problems as others have suggested in this thread.

--ropers

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Re: [OT] OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Ron McDowell
ropers wrote:

> This is pretty OT, but I saw that OpenBSD does support some USB
> graphics adapters -- cf. udl(4)
> <http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/man.cgi?query=udl>.
>
> So IFF any of these plug computers got to run OpenBSD, then one could
> jack a USB hub into that plug computer, connect a USB keyboard and
> mouse, and connect an OpenBSD-compatible USB graphics adapter and
> display.
> This would yield a very small and low power (in every sense) OpenBSD
> desktop computer and/or secondary computing terminal, several of which
> could be very easily installed in various places around the house
> and/or workplace.
> If you combined this with a PLC/HomePlug (cf.
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerline_communication>,
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HomePlug>), you'd only need a triple
> mains outlet for a net-connected terminal (plug PC+HomePlug+monitor),
> and if the plug computer has Wifi, you'd only need a double outlet
> (plug PC+monitor).
>
> Of course all of this won't make much sense if there indeed still are
> serious reliability problems as others have suggested in this thread.
>
> --ropers
>  

Or just get an Alix board http://www.pcengines.ch/alix3d3.htm [available
stateside from netgate.com] for projects like this.  AMD Geode CPU,
common VGA/USB keyboard input, i386 versions of most OSes work, I have
4.7 i386 running on one with a couple 500gb USB drives as a backup server.

--
Ron McDowell
San Antonio TX

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Re: [OT] OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Sean Kamath
On Feb 14, 2011, at 3:32 PM, Ron McDowell wrote:
> Or just get an Alix board http://www.pcengines.ch/alix3d3.htm [available
stateside from netgate.com] for projects like this.  AMD Geode CPU, common
VGA/USB keyboard input, i386 versions of most OSes work, I have 4.7 i386
running on one with a couple 500gb USB drives as a backup server.

I'll second that -- makes a great personal firewall.  Also, I bought mine
directly from pcengines.ch -- got it in like 3 days.  I was amazed.  Had to
get the P/S from netgate (though it will take anything from 5v-18v).  I loved
'em so much with OpenBSD on 'em I ended up buying a bunch for OOB connection
to servers. . .

Sean

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Comète-2
In reply to this post by Paolo Aglialoro
Hello,

i have a Sheevaplug (first generation) since more than one year now. I
use it as web server, ssh, torrent web client and XMPP server without
overheating any problem. It works nicely with a SD card for the system
(debian...) and an usbdisk for the data. I also would like to use
OpenBSD on it.
I know that some work has been tried here
http://www.tmplab.org/wiki/index.php/Trail_Sheevaplug_OpenBSD but i
don't know the status...

i've heard that Guruplugs had overheating problems but this should be
fixed now but no problem with Sheevaplug.

Le 14/02/2011 11:03, Paolo Aglialoro a C)crit :

> Thank you all for the answers!
>
> I also had doubts about the overheating stuff (did also some reading through
> complaints) but the failing power supply also looks like a major
> show-stopper. Actually I was thinking about such boxes just as a comfortable
> 5W NAS/torrent server (activities which do not tax the cpu till the point of
> overheating, even if it looks like that overheating came from NICs...).
>
> About the porting side, well... the pile-o-dung bugginess is unfortunately
> true about such devices... but still, if they run run some kinda linux,
> there might be hope... it looks like a matter on the pure terms of
> "luck"....
>
> Maybe it's just about waiting or.... modding the plug with some aluminium to
> dissipate heat... even if some metal radiator near 220V circuits (who btw
> might also lack grounding) doesn't sound much "sexy"... :((((

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Paolo Aglialoro
Yep, indeed... they advised to use gigabit ports as only 10/100.... really a
master fix :D
http://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/news.aspx?showarticle=4

Fun to know that 1st gen product is better than the following (unfortunately
often happens for several other junk...)


On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:03 AM, Comete <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello,
>
> i have a Sheevaplug (first generation) since more than one year now. I use
> it as web server, ssh, torrent web client and XMPP server without
> overheating any problem. It works nicely with a SD card for the system
> (debian...) and an usbdisk for the data. I also would like to use OpenBSD
on

> it.
> I know that some work has been tried here
> http://www.tmplab.org/wiki/index.php/Trail_Sheevaplug_OpenBSD but i don't
> know the status...
>
> i've heard that Guruplugs had overheating problems but this should be fixed
> now but no problem with Sheevaplug.
>
> Le 14/02/2011 11:03, Paolo Aglialoro a C)crit :
>
>  Thank you all for the answers!
>>
>> I also had doubts about the overheating stuff (did also some reading
>> through
>> complaints) but the failing power supply also looks like a major
>> show-stopper. Actually I was thinking about such boxes just as a
>> comfortable
>> 5W NAS/torrent server (activities which do not tax the cpu till the point
>> of
>> overheating, even if it looks like that overheating came from NICs...).
>>
>> About the porting side, well... the pile-o-dung bugginess is unfortunately
>> true about such devices... but still, if they run run some kinda linux,
>> there might be hope... it looks like a matter on the pure terms of
>> "luck"....
>>
>> Maybe it's just about waiting or.... modding the plug with some aluminium
>> to
>> dissipate heat... even if some metal radiator near 220V circuits (who btw
>> might also lack grounding) doesn't sound much "sexy"... :((((

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Benny Lofgren
In reply to this post by Nick Holland
On 2011-02-14 04.30, Nick Holland wrote:

>> there's much hype around about these plugcomputers which are going to spread
>> in the market.
> I've heard that.  many years ago, actually.
> (heh.  Wikipedia says "plug computers" are only a couple years old.
> That's not my memory.  Not worth me looking closer at this)
> These will probably beat the flying car and controlled Fusion power
> sources to serious market penetration, but...
>> Here are some interesting models:
> ...
> Before getting excited about these, go look at what has happened to
> other stuff like this.
> Usual process goes somewhere along the line of:
> Developer spends a lot of time getting the OpenBSD toolchain ready for a
> new platform, and fighting with the vendor of these "Open-source
> friendly" (which should be read as "Linux...and only THEIR
> implementation") systems to get full (and accurate) documentation on the
> hardware.
> About the time the system is ready to be introduced as a mainstream
> platform, several of the following happens:

[Lots of good reasons to be wary snipped.]

+1 on that depressing but far too accurate description.
+1 from my dog, too.

> (I'm also having difficulty figuring out what to do with a wall-wart
> format computer.  uh... I HATE wall warts!  Do we REALLY want to run
> more wires to the wall wart?  I actually kinda like the "NAS box" format
> systems -- a lot more practical for my uses, but which all suffered the
> above problems, too)

Speaking of... I've been searching a while for an OEM supplier for
something like the Alix boards, that can provide 4+ LAN ports but,
unlike the Alixes, also comes with at least two SATA ports for local
storage. (And of course, that runs OpenBSD.)

Unfortunately I've come up short so far, does anyone at misc@ know of a
supplier that might carry what I'm seeking? (And sorry for the thread
hijack!)


Thanks,

/Benny

--
internetlabbet.se     / work:   +46 8 551 124 80      / "Words must
Benny Lvfgren        /  mobile: +46 70 718 11 90     /   be weighed,
                    /   fax:    +46 8 551 124 89    /    not counted."
                   /    email:  benny -at- internetlabbet.se

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Glen Anderson
On 15 February 2011 13:12, Benny Lofgren <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Speaking of... I've been searching a while for an OEM supplier for
> something like the Alix boards, that can provide 4+ LAN ports but,
> unlike the Alixes, also comes with at least two SATA ports for local
> storage. (And of course, that runs OpenBSD.)
>
> Unfortunately I've come up short so far, does anyone at misc@ know of a
> supplier that might carry what I'm seeking? (And sorry for the thread
> hijack!)

First thing that springs to mind: http://www.soekris.com/net6501.htm

Not sure when it'll be available though.

http://www.soekris.com/net5501.htm has a single SATA port

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Re: [OT] OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Victor Camacho
In reply to this post by Sean Kamath
On 2/15/2011 12:31 AM, Sean Kamath wrote:

> On Feb 14, 2011, at 3:32 PM, Ron McDowell wrote:
>> Or just get an Alix board http://www.pcengines.ch/alix3d3.htm [available
> stateside from netgate.com] for projects like this.  AMD Geode CPU, common
> VGA/USB keyboard input, i386 versions of most OSes work, I have 4.7 i386
> running on one with a couple 500gb USB drives as a backup server.
>
> I'll second that -- makes a great personal firewall.  Also, I bought mine
> directly from pcengines.ch -- got it in like 3 days.  I was amazed.  Had to
> get the P/S from netgate (though it will take anything from 5v-18v).  I loved
> 'em so much with OpenBSD on 'em I ended up buying a bunch for OOB connection
> to servers. . .
>
> Sean
>
>
>
I also have started to use these for my main point for OOB
connections to boxes. For low power backup boxes with more
expansion options, I have been surprised by The Atom boards.
And I am looking forward to the new AMD low power options.

Victor

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Re: OpenBSD on plugcomputers

Sevan / Venture37-2
In reply to this post by Benny Lofgren
On 15 Feb 2011, at 04:42 PM, Benny Lofgren <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Speaking of... I've been searching a while for an OEM supplier for
> something like the Alix boards, that can provide 4+ LAN ports but,
> unlike the Alixes, also comes with at least two SATA ports for local
> storage. (And of course, that runs OpenBSD.)
>
> Unfortunately I've come up short so far, does anyone at misc@ know of a
> supplier that might carry what I'm seeking?

Contact pc engines, they also do tailored boards as well, very very helpful
guys.

Sevan / venture37