Turn a Plug Computer into a Full-fledged Server with Amahi

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Aug 11, 2010 GMT
Dmitri Popov

A plug computer sounds like such a good idea, until you realize that before you can actually put it to some practical use, you need to install and configure some software and applications -- a task that requires time and technical skills. Fortunately, the recently announced Amahi Plug Edition solution provides a better and easier way to turn a plug computer into a useful device. As you might have guessed, Amahi Plug Edition is a version of their Amahi open source server solution optimized for the Plug Computer platform. Amahi is a Linux-based home server solution which is both easy to deploy and maintain. Moreover, it allows you to choose among dozens of available applications (e.g., WordPress, DokuWiki, Joomla, Webmin, and many more coming up) and install them with a single mouse click. And the newly released solution brings the power of Amahi to plug computers.

The Amahi developers are working with hardware partners to develop a plug computer that comes with Amahi preinstalled, but if you own a plug computer you can install Amahi on it yourself. I had a spare TonidoPlug lying around, so I decided to give it a try. The good news is that Amahi runs off a USB device, it doesn't replace the software installed on your plug computer's internal storage. Better yet, the installation procedure itself is not particularly complicated and it's described in detail on the project's wiki.

To get started, download the rootfs archive and an installation script, then use the downloaded script to create a bootable USB device containing the system. Attach the created USB device to your plug computer and boot it (make sure that the plug computer is set to boot from an external USB device). Point then the browser to http://plug_computer_ip_address:2000 to start the installation. Before you can install Amahi, you describe your settings and obtain a unique installation code, by creating a so-called HDA profile (HDA stands for Home Digital Assistant, which is a term used to describe an Amahi server) with amahi.org. This connects your Amahi HDA to your Amahi.org account, which lets you monitor and manage your device via the Web. When registering, pay particular attention to the network settings, including the correct gateway and your HDA's IP addresses. You can choose any domain you want for your home network. Once the HDA profile has been created, enter the install code to the Amahi installer, press the Submit button, and wait till the installation is completed. Reboot the plug computer when prompted, and you are done.

Next, point your browser to http://HDA_ip_address and log in using the default user name and password (admin/amahi). Before you install any applications, you can optionally enable the built-in DCHP server and disable any other DCHP servers on your network. Switch then to the Apps | Available section, pick the application you like. Before you hit the Install button, though, you should check whether the selected application will run on the plug computer, as the team is working on the compatibility list. To do this, visit the SP Apps wiki page, and make sure that the application you want to install is in the Working Applications list.

I haven't yet examined Amahi more thoroughly, but I like what I saw so far. The only annoyance is that Amahi works best when its own DCHP server is enabled, but I was told by the Amahi team that they are aware of the issue and are working hard on a solution.

Further info: Amahi for the Marvell Plug Computer released

Comments

  • Great info

    Yay thanks for that info! I have looked at Amahi a while ago but it was not ready for plugcomptuers at that time. I have a website (http://www.myownhomeserver.ch) where I describe the progress with my GuruPlug Server Plus and I'm always looking for new ideas. Amahi seems great, so I might give it a try soon happy
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