I’ve been on a baby anatomy agency (SFF) accretion bang lately, anytime aback I saw a adventure on Slashdot about the Martian NetDrive. The NetDrive, based on VIA’s mini-ITX anatomy factor, is about the admeasurement of a book and runs a stripped-down adaptation of Linux on a VIA-made x86-compatible CPU. The way the artefact is designed, it’s about a networked (Ethernet and/or 802.11b), encrypted adamantine drive amidst by aloof abundant computer to run Samba and a web server for configuring the device. In short, it’s the home adaptation of arrangement absorbed accumulator (NAS).
Now, I’m a berserk Qube 3 Pro fan (kind of like Caesar is with his TiVo), so I’m big on the accomplished Linux-based, SFF, web-configurable, always-on arrangement apparatus thing. (Yes, I apperceive that the Qube is abundant altered from the NetDrive, but there are similarities. Oh, I should additionally booty this moment to agenda that the Qube 3 Pro is the greatest accretion accessory aback the hand-held calculator, and if my Qube died tomorrow I would advertise a branch on eBay for money to alter it. That is all.) Anyway, afterwards account some added about the NetDrive, I accursed off an email to Martian and asked them about accepting a analysis unit. To my affable surprise, the admiral of the aggregation is an Ars appointment affiliate and a subscriber! So attending for a analysis at some point.
Incidentally, the NetDrive has angry out to be decidedly adorable to Mac users, for a array of affidavit (i.e. abutment for Zeroconf aka Rendezvous, 802.11b support, all-embracing beatnik factor, etc.), and if you google for it you’ll acquisition it affiliated up on absolutely a few Mac sites.
The capital affair that the Martian NetDrive has activity adjoin it appropriate now is that you could buy all the accouterments for it, including the case, from Mini-ITX.com. (But of advance again you wouldn’t get the zero-configuration custom Linux distro that comes with the NetDrive.) The best contempo mini-ITX-based PC that I’ve run across, the Mini-Box M100, doesn’t accept this bang adjoin it. The mini-Box’s case, which happens to attending eerily like a synth module, sports a nice LCD on the front. As my longtime accompany can testify, I’m a accoutrement for annihilation with a large, aglow LCD. (My Qube has an LCD on the back, but it doesn’t glow. It still rules, though.) However, comparing the Mini-Box m100 to the NetDrive isn’t absolutely apples-to-apples, because the absolute appearance and advised uses of the two boxes are absolutely altered alike admitting the prices are comparable. I won’t say any added about the Mini-box, though, because this column is accepting too long. Aloof go analysis out their website to see what I’m talking about.
Finally, the Tech Report has been active reviews of SFF motherboards, systems, etc. for some time now. Aloof today they acquaint a analysis of a micro-ATX motherboard based on the nForce2 chipset, so go analysis it out if you’re into the SFF affair but the name VIA scares you.
Ultimately, what I absolutely like about the new trend in SFF accretion is that it’s all abundant added hackable and DIY affable than the Espresso or the Cappuccino. All of the systems mentioned aloft are based on off-the-shelf parts, instead of custom motherboard designs like the two SaintSong systems. It’s these kinds of absorbing new “post-PC” products, forth with the networked media being like BroadQ’s QCast, that accomplish it credible to me that home networking is the Next Big Affair in the customer space.
You apperceive what. It aloof occurred to me that Martian should acquisition a way to cycle the Linux anchorage of QCast Station into their custom distro… Mmmm…
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