News and Happenings from the Japanese Linux Pioneer

Monday, August 25, 2008

Two weeks to go!

Pretty interesting! We're gotten quite a few different ideas, stretching what we had in mind people wanted to use Linux for. Home automation, solar power infrastructure, on-board ship monitoring and control, even gaming... and lots more.

Two more weeks left! Please don't be shy. Remember, it doesn't need to be extreme. Our Linux servers are tough, but they're mostly used in homes and offices. Tough is good for normal use, too!

Send in your ideas, and may the best proposal win!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

IEDA: Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Steve said...

Place the server on a recently re-tarred roof in Phoenix using its Wireless Access Point function. Think the heat would kill it?

Well... a hot tar roof in Phoenix probably would grill it, if not kill it.
But then, it's a tough job and one machine has to do it... we'd probably have to negotiate for some sun cover. Or white paint.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IDEA: The Attack of the Attic, Part II

jperlow said...

I would do Ultracold/Ultrahot testing doing the following

1a) South Carolina or New Orleans attic during the summer. humid
and hot. Attach wireless bridge and run open router software, run
Rsync to run "time machine" backups of critical data on home PCs.

1b) Do the same with a house in northern canada as close to the
arctic circle

2) Power the unit using solar panels with lithium ion backup
storage, to see if the unit can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
completely off the grid.

3) Put on roof of a truck that does the ice road trucking route,
powered by a combination of 12v power inverter and solar panel with
lithium-ion backup batteries.
Connnect to GPS tracking unit and satellite uplink with integrated
real time monitoring / telemetry.

These sound like serious test environments.

Jason just did a general review of our OpenBlockS server, so maybe he got interested in doing more extensive testing. Really kind of curious about #2, running it 100% off the grid, and #3 as a tracking unit for an ice road trucking route. Isn't there a show about racing ice trucks on the Discovery Channel?

The ice route idea is really something to be hooked on. We've had some researchers take our OpenMicrServer to the skies with airships, and this adds another level of challenge. Plus it's possible to create a nice Google Maps app for "Where in the world is our MicroServer?"

IDEA: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof... or Under It, Anyway

Tom said...
Put the server in the attic of a North Carolina house during the summer.

It seems like there are some very hot attics in the South.

It would be interesting to hear what the server's job will be in the attic. Even if the saying goes "what happens in the attic stays in the attic."

Monday, August 11, 2008

IDEA: As a Home Automation Server, Controlling and Monitoring A Complex Solar Array

Scott said...

My house as an unconditioned mechanical closet with 170 deg. F. boiler and two 3KW solar inverters -- it gets HOT in the summer! I would use your devices as a home automation server, monitoring the inverters, boiler, heating zones, etc.

This would be a neat challenge. It sounds like the heat is pretty intense and sustained. But using Linux to monitor a home automation system is a great idea. And having a server that itself was judicial in electricity usage would make sense. There's no way to lower the temperature in the mechanical closet or just have the sensors report across a network to the main server?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

IDEA: Born To Be Wild

tz said...

I have a motorcycle that I've been running various things to link to the internet (Nokia N810 + Cradlepoint PHS + gps and obd) and log data from the engine and GPS. Vibration, thermal shock, humidity...

Sounds like a really interesting setup. We have friends who keep a close log of miles, mileage, gas prices, oil changes. What's the motivation for monitoring your motorcycle so closely? Just curious.

Actually, this conjures the mental image of a certain Eighties TV crime fighter with a teched up Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. (humming title melody)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

IDEA: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

the professional amateur (New Zealand) said...

Two words: Salt Water.

I live aboard a trimaran in New Zealand. I need a small, low power
device which can record positional data from GPS and various
electronic components including control of solar panels and battery
charge states, wind instruments, windvane, monitor the engine, fuel
reserves and rate of consumption. The device must be able to process
all of this input data as well as control outputs like the autohelm,
autotrimmer, and rate of battery discharge. Of course don't forget it
needs to act as a file server for media and documents when in port!
Most importantly, it needs to do this in one of the most corrosive
environments on Earth: the ocean. Besides facing constant motion and
vibration as well as sweeping variety of temperature conditions (from
a running engine room running on hot summery days to winter sailing by
night), there runs risk of electrolysis from lack of proper grounding
and despite no direct exposure to salt water itself, it is inevitably
present in the air. I know that Linux "Will Work" but the question is
will the OpenMicroServer?

Two words: Oh, no! To be honest, this sounds probably too tough. The electrolysis problem sounds bad. Our OpenServers do not have any special waterproofing for power, so this is probably one fatal weak point. Direct exposure to salt water is bad, too. How wet would the server itself get? What do you use currently?

Friday, August 8, 2008

2 IDEAS: As a Hub for Wireless NAS, and as a Web Server for the Black Sea-located Companies 1A SCS and Murfatlar Winery

aygun said...

What about an wireless router with hard drive ? The hard drive from your server must be an SSD and you can link to the NAS via wireless link and put the files there. Something like an regular linux distribution but with /home directory on the wireless NAS.In this way you're server can be at 200 meters from the storage point.

Also you can make an alternate storage for your server, Flash Pen based, using an usb hub and link all the usb Flash Pen's via LVM. But the only limitation is the read / write cycles. So to limit these knd of problems you should make an symlink to an external storage device (like I said - an wireless NAS) and define in it the / home folders and some folders from /var


aygunabibula said...

What abou in some tough condition on the way of Black Sea? Salt, dust, rain, heat, fog all in one at the seashore of Black Sea.

In the summer the temperature can reach at 60 degrees on the sun. In the winter -14 or -20 degrees and cold wind, snow and something like it. I can test it for you in this conditions on the network of my company 1A SCS. The website is

Also I can test it on some other hard condition on the dust, sun, rain ,snow , winter wind, snow, snow storm, sun or what you want on the Murfatlar Winery. We have there an wireless network with some windows servers and I want too change them. Also on the winery we have a lot of grapevines and 20 farms with grapes / grapevines. The website of the winery is

This brings up fond memories of a past vacation at the Black Sea...

I don't remember the weather to be worse than what our units suffer here in Tokyo (hot and humid), but I didn't go in the winter, and we definitely don't have snowstorms here.

Let me check whether our contest rules prohibit us from taking a few bottles of wine... (For pure assessment purposes and without any influence on the result of this contest. Of course.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

IDEA: Amateur Radio Repeater, Running Asterisk, Unheated Container at 4200 ft

Ken Koster (n7ipb) from Mount Vernon, WA, said...

How about as a controller for Amateur radio repeaters in an unheated container on a 4200' hilltop. Using Asterisk and modified usb audio dongles to interface to the radios. In January 2008 the site looked like this: During the summer:

This one combines some really interesting ideas. Amateur radio is a fascinating hobby that's been around longer than the internet. We actually already have a How-To Guide on using Asterisk with our MicroServers. It might also be great in combination with some of the solar power supply ideas of some of the other ideas...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

IDEA: As a PS3 Swap Box

Eddie said...

I would love to try experimenting with making one (or more) of these things a "swap box" for a PS3 running linux. One of the main problems with the PS3 is that it only has 256 MB of RAM.

Hard drives takes on the order of a 10ms to seek. However pinging something on an ethernet network takes 1ms or less.

Therefore there is a possibility of getting a significant performance improvement with applications with large data sets.

Unfortunately since anything that touches the hardware has to go through the PS3 Hypervisor, there is a good chance that the overhead will make the whole effort moot.

I'd like to try out two things:

1) Have the MicroServer export a RAM disk as a NFS share
2) Export the Compact Flash drive as an NFS share, and try to modify the kernel so that it uses as much RAM as possible for a cache, only writing the least recently used data to the disk when it's out of RAM.

This is an interesting hacking project. Success depends on how much data you need to swap in and out. What I'm missing here is the actual hardware strain, as the OpenMicroServer has well shown that it can handle continuous RAM and CPU operation over hundreds of days. My only concern is rather the CF card write limit.

Now, if you would mount that PS3 into a helicopter or a Formula 1 car... ;-)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

IDEA: Linux Down Below the Earth's Crust

Takmadeus said...

Some time ago I had to do a health brigade in a far away town where they had several emerald mines, we got the chance to get to the deepest mine which lied 350 or more meters down below, and the temperature was like 55° celsius down there. Plus the humidity inside that mine shaft was so high it actually7 had a permanent storm produced by the humid air and several underground water sources several meters up from where we were. Not to mention that the soil in the mine was oleous and the earth had the properties of oily stuff, hard to get rid of, and tended to impregnate everything it touched. I remember we had to leave out cameras and cellphones in the surface given that they could be easily damaged in the mine.

If your servers can sustain 48 hours of continuous work (the normal work shift for the miners), then it can work anywhere anytime, I am sure of it.

My guess is that this is way outside of the spec and too tough on our servers. What do you use currently? Is there any kind of encasement possible?

Still curiosity gets the better of me. It would be interesting to see exactly how many hours the OMS can survive down there before turning into a smoking heap. This must be the hell that all small electronic devices fear.

The thing that I am most amazed about is that humans can survive down there, especially considering a 48 hours work shift. Most people wouldn't survive that in a cozy 22°C office cubicle.

IDEA: The Perfect Storm

James said...

I need a server to work during a hurricane. I need it to produce very little heat and consume very little energy. It also needs to be water resistant. It must be able to run from generator power and provide weather and safety information to users over a wireless access point. Living in south Florida, we get hurricanes all the time. We also have a huge risk of flooding from those hurricanes. Being able to deploy quick and reliable servers is key to storm recovery.

How much direct water contact occurs?

It appears that we need to talk to our engineers about true waterproof casing for the unit. It can handle humidity quite fine, but not actual submersion in water.

This one definitely raises the bar pretty high. I'm just glad you didn't include surviving to be hurled up and blown away a few miles in your requirements...