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Author Topic: Questions about the SheevaPlug  (Read 22318 times)


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Questions about the SheevaPlug
« on: 29 September 2009, 06:11:55 pm »

What is the SheevaPlug?

The SheevaPlug is a new kind of computer - a "plug computer". At first glance, it looks like a Power Supply "brick" - the box that sits half-way along the cable between the mains power supply and your laptop, for instance. But the entire computer is contained within the "plug", as well as a Gigabit ethernet socket, SDHC socket and USB socket.

Why "Development Kit"?

It is anticipated that there will be "black box" end uses for the SheevaPlug. A manufacturer may wish to experiment with a SheevaPlug Development kit, devise an application, and then bring their own product to market with their own branding and software. The "Development Kit" comprised a board within the SheevaPlug and USB mini-A type port on the outside. You can connect your Windows, linux or Mac computer to the SheevaPlug via this port (the cable is supplied) using terminal software - puTTY, for instance - and interact with the SheevaPlug within this terminal session. Out-of-the-box, there is also an ssh server and DHCP client within the operating system, so you can connect to the plug within minutes of receiving your kit, using a terminal client or an ssh client.

We don't offer any version of the SheevaPlug other than the Development Kit. But you don't have to be a manufacturer to use it; if you wanted to block off the USB mini-socket, or pretend it's not there, you are welcome to do so. You would then have to interact with the plug via ssh. But if you have problems booting the plug, because the operating system is damaged or misconfigured, you can rescue it using the mini-socket, by interrupting the boot process and making any necessary changes. So the "Development Kit" element is a good thing, and doesn't require you to be a manufacturer in order to make good use of it.

What kind of things can I do with a SheevaPlug?

The SheevaPlug doesn't have a socket for video output. The key way of interacting with the plug is over a network, using the built-in ethernet socket. So think about the kinds of software that run remotely, over a network: a File server, a web server, maybe a device for monitoring (network) cameras.

What kind of software is provided on the SheevaPlug?

It is supplied with Ubuntu 9.04. The processor is an ARM Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281, which means that neither Intel nor AMD application packages are suitable. Software packages must be compiled for the processor, unless they use interpreted / compiled languages such as Perl, Python and PHP. You can use apt-get to download and install packages (in fact, one of the the first things we recommend is that you use apt-get to download and install upgrades to the operating system).

I just received the SheevaPlug that I bought from you, what now?

There are a couple of tweaks that we recommend for all plugs, see our forum posting "Getting started" and the PlugComputer wiki entry Fixing the existing Ubuntu install for details. Once you have updated and customised your Plug, you need to decide what software you want to install, and how to configure it. There are lots of bright ideas floating around on the 'net; the most commonly expressed suggestions are to configure it as a file server (with an external, USB-connected hard drive, or USB stick or SD card), or a web server, or for video / camera monitoring.

Can I use the SheevaPlug that I bought from you outside the UK?

Most likely, yes. The product we are supplying has a built in, but removable European power socket connector. We also provide an adapter that converts this connector so that it may be plugged into a standard UK 13 amp socket. Alternatively, the European connector can be removed from the Plug to reveal a figure of 8 IEC7 connection. We provide a lead that connects from this socket to a standard (UK) 13 Amp plug. If you want to use the SheevaPlug in a territory where the 13 amp plug is unsuitable, you can either use the built in European plug, OR an adapter from that plug to the appropriate local socket, OR a lead that connects from a local mains socket to the figure-of-8 socket. The power supply within the plug will accommodate common mains voltages (i.e. UK, European, U.S.A.).

This text is also available here

(Updated 2009-10-10 to correct a couple of typos and add some links)
« Last Edit: 10 October 2009, 12:20:32 pm by NewIT_Marcus »


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Re: Questions about the SheevaPlug
« Reply #1 on: 11 March 2010, 10:08:34 pm »

One of our customers has reminded us that this statement needs qualification:

The SheevaPlug doesn't have a socket for video output.

Perhaps we should have said that the Sheevaplug doesn't have a video output such as is used in mainstream computer monitors. But it does have a USB socket that many have successfully used to drive a DisplayLink output device. Technically speaking that means "doesn't have a video output" is incorrect. We meant it as a simplification, since it describes an unusual case.
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