Pocket serverFri, Dec 2, 2005
Ok, picture this; a 400MHz PowerPC, 64MB RAM, fingerprint scanner, SD/MMC slot, and either 256MB or 512MB storage, powered by host USB 2.0 interface, the size and weight (a 3.5” x 1.75”, 1.6 ounce) of a pack of playing cards, yes smaller than an iPod Nano! Yes, it’s the world’s smallest Linux server, BlackDog, and it can be had for ~$200. It runs a flash-based Debian Linux distribution with a 2.6.10 kernel, and comes with Firefox (web browser), Abiword (word processing), an email client, and a toolchain and development libraries. In researching it, I came across this blog that presented the question, “Is there a technical need for BlackDog that I’m missing or is it just a cool geek tchochky?”, and he hit the nail on the head for me; would it really be useful after the novelty wore off? Sure, coming to work, plugging it into my XP (blah) laptop and being able to pull up top would be fly, surfing/emailing/chatting only from that would be more secure than leaving traces of incriminating logs on my work box would be cool, but long term…would I keep using it? So, I’m not sure I would be able to justify teh purchase. I’ll have to think a bit more about what it’s actually good for. For now it feels like a cool answer in search of a problem. “The BlackDog team is apparently looking for ideas as well. They’re starting a developer contest in September when the product is shipped, with a $50,000 prize. A lot of money for a product that appears to be in the “interesting-linux-hacker-widget” category. Turns out they’re part of Realm Systems, which received $8.5 million in funding last January, which is why they can afford a huge booth that doesn’t tell anyone what they’re doing, and offer $50K for a developer contest.” So since they have money to burn it seems like they’ll be around for awhile, and maybe a really cool use would be thought of. I could transfer documents to and fro via a Wiki running on the webserver of the Blackdog, but I could also just post things on a password protected/encrypted section of my main webserver. So you see my problem here, I’d love to have one of these, but would I use it? Hmm…let me sleep on it, stay tuned.