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SmartAppliances offers a limited subset of the appliances built by Daily Data. In addition to the devices listed, we have experience setting up many other types of machines, including:

  • Video Monitoring Server
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • Network File Servers
  • Xen Virtualization Servers

Most of our devices use standard “Appliance Distributions,” special builds of Linux designed for the application at hand (instead of a general purpose installation such as Debian or Red Hat). IPFire is a good example of this type of installation. Only the software needed for a router is included. While IPFire does have a repository of additional things people may want, the base distribution is a router, and only that software.

Some things, however, are simply easier if you install a general purpose operating system. Xen Virtual servers and Network File servers are good examples of this. In these cases, we can install only what you need, yet have the convenience of adding other software when and if you need them.

For general purpose systems, we use Debian as much as possible. Debian’s extreme stability, active community, and huge package repositories have made it the base for a large number of other distributions available, the most well known being Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

Thankfully, GNU/Linux has given us a base of excellent Open Source software, software that is arguably more secure and more stable than most proprietary offerings. For information on why we refer to it as GNU/Linux, see this article.

Software is of no use without hardware, but a lot of  hardware is difficult to figure out. If you purchase two wireless cards with the same manufacturer and model number, you may have entirely different pieces underneath. This is similar to purchasing a car, and not being sure if you’ve purchased a diesel, gas, or electric engine.

One of our most important services is the location of hardware that is compatible with your systems. To be used, a system must maintain the same “chip set” (diesel, gas or electric) for the same model number, and preference is always given to manufacturers who publish their specifications so the device may be used in GNU/Linux.

As you read our hardware lists, look for the notes alerting you to where this becomes an issue. Many times, open specifications are synonymous with higher quality, a prime example is networking by Intel (good) vs networking by Broadcom (not so good, but inexpensive). Intel network cards work consistently, and the drivers are Open Source and maintained by a large team of dedicated programmers. They give consistently excellent results. Broadcom, on the other hand, “hides” their information, only allowing users to install the Broadcom secret drivers, and the actual chip sets user can vary amongst the same models.

This makes the hardware as critical to your final product as the software you install.