Home > Plug Computer > Plug Computers – it’s a thought

Plug Computers – it’s a thought

As I mentioned in my last post, Plug Computers have caught my attention. The computational power of a mobile phone when you consider the form factor size, reliabilty, power consumption, etc is astounding. They are quite capable of being used for a range of functions that wouldn’t normally be associated with mobile telephony. But there lies the problem. Mobile phone are best at being mobiles phones and take a lot of persuasion and a lot of compromise to be anything else. So a mobile phone as a home server is probably not the most elegant of solutions. This is where Plug Computers come in. In theory, devices with a similar form factor but without the the constraints of mobile phone functionality could fullfil the brief. This was my line of thinking at least. Alas, it isn’t that simple. Researching this a bit seems to indicate that plug computers are far from being a mature product. This is a bit suprising since if you take the Sheevaplug as an example, the concept has been around since 2009. There are a number of derivatives of the Sheevaplug but these can’t really be considered to be mature consumer products. They remain in the specialist or even experimental domain. This aspect suprises me as you would have thought there was a demand for an easy to configure minutirised homeserver. But what do I know. So if I am to embark on this journey, I am going to face some unpleasants truths.

Firstly, I am going to have to get my hands dirty. If you have read any of my other posts then you will know that I really rather not venture outside of a GUI. However there is precious little out there that is pre configured or even installed on these devices. Where it has been done, you are confined to the selction of the reseller/distributor and the user base is so small and specialised it is difficult to determin if they are any good. An example would be AMAHI. So essentially I am going to have to build my on system and do that through terminal sessions. Grim

Secondly, the hardware itself doesn’t seem that reliable. According to some, the GuruPlug had a tendency to overheat. A subsequent model had a fan fitted but that apparently sounded like a hairdryer. So you might get 24/7 availability but it might not be for a long time.

Finally, the level of support out there is minimal. From what I have seen there is an assumption (or a need) to have a level of skill or experience that I simply don’t have before you can get into a meaningful dialogue with those who might be able to help you.

The upshot of all this is that it seems pretty clear that Plug Computers are in their infancy in every repsect and as a server they are not a place to keep or operate on essential information. But the price is compelling and as an experiment I am tempted. What could possibly go wrong?

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