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[Freedombox-discuss] Russ Nelson: Admin-free Chumby; inet scripts; supply chains

In one way of looking at it, there are four layers
that are related, but worth thinking about as layers
rather than as a big ball of mud:

1) What hardware do we use?
2) What s/w stack provides low-level OS support?
3) What s/w stack provides user-facing applications?
4) What kind of organizations or social practices deploy the things?

Each layer in that stack interfaces must directly to 
the layers immediately adjacent.

The details of layer (1) is somewhat out of control for *this*
list.   We are at the mercy of what the market offers, although
we can try to give the market hints about what we'd like.

The details of layer (2) are perhaps where the greatest
Debian community strengths can be found.   I'm grateful
to have a sense that there is plenty of talent and expertise
around to solve level (2) problems.

Layers (3) and (4) are where we are in the most state
of flux, I think.


On Fri, 2011-03-11 at 15:30 -0800, John Gilmore wrote:
> [Forwarded with permission.]
> From: Russ Nelson <nelson at crynwr.com>
> Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2011 02:08:31 -0500
> To: gnu at toad.com
> Subject: Freedom box
> Simon Phipps pointed me to your Freedom Box Sysadmin missive. Two
> things:
> Have you looked at the Chumby? It's designed to be a bullet-proof
> Linux box that needs no sysadmin. It's a freaking clock radio! Who
> wants to sysadmin their clock radio!?!? So it just works.
> I've been working with the Technologics TS-7400 (embedded ARM) for
> water quality sensors. Very similar problem, except that it reads
> "Must ABSOLUTELY boot every time no matter how you got shut down last
> time, and must ABSOLUTELY connect to the Internet every time for
> remote sysadmin work and uploading data."
> So, to that end, I have a shell script which looks for Ethernet, WiFi,
> or Cell Data interfaces, and uses whatever one works. Sends periodic
> pings to our upload server. If it fails, it goes back to trying
> different interfaces. If that fails, it reboots.
> Been working on it for a year. It's pretty robust.
> The problem with the damned plug computers is that the manufacturers
> are idiots. They don't know how to do supply chain management so that
> they can keep the boxes in stock. They're forever backordered, which
> is another way of saying that they are building AFTER they get the
> order.
> Something like the Chumby is more better. If you want one, you just go
> buy one. For $100. Has internal wifi on a usb stick and one external
> USB (which of course can use a hub). It will happily mount a $100
> terabyte USB driver. Plus a USB keyboard into it, and up pops a shell
> window on the screen.
> You should go buy a Chumby if you haven't already. Besides helping to
> stir your creative juices, it's a great clock radio. :)
> --my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com
> Crynwr supports open source software
> 521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315-600-8815
> Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  |     Sheepdog       
> [My response re Internet scripts:
> Detecting "when the Internet is there" is a bit harder problem than
> detecting when one upload server is accessible.  And deciding when to
> *gateway* two working interfaces to provide backup service to people
> on one of them is another decision that so far nobody is making in
> shipping mass market code.  The purpose of your box is to report back
> to a particular site on the net, so if it can't see the net, it
> apparently has nothing better to do than to reboot.  If a Freedom Box
> can't see the net, it should probably not reboot, even once an hour or
> once a day; it should go quiescent and await interface status changes.
> (And should keep serving local clients to whom it is PROVIDING service,
> e.g. serving up Wifi and DHCP and letting you read your stored mail
> or post twitter-like status updates.)  But I get your point; it isn't
> rocket science, and an early implementation that does 95% of what
> you want will get us a long way down the road.    --gnu]
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