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Realm Systems BlackDog

Michael Larabel

Published on 15 January 2006
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - Comment On This Article

Flash media storage for general usage, or also referred to as thumb drives, pen drives, and USB flash drives have exploded with popularity in recent years. With these drive capacities now exceeding 4GB, and transfer rates increasing ever so rapidly, users have turned to these devices in order to prepare miniature file back-ups, file transfers, and sharing data - among other things. However, when it comes to the subject of mobile storage and computing, only time will tell what the next generation devices will look like. The engineers at Realm Systems have designed a new product that is roughly the size of two thumb drives yet rather than simply offering data storage capabilities they have designed an entire Linux server. In fact, the server is the world's smallest being able to fit in the palm of your hand. For operation, the device is dependent upon an existing computer system running Microsoft Windows XP or Linux. The Realm Systems server, dubbed the BlackDog, is designed to be a new mobile open-source platform for mobilizing software applications. Although the BlackDog does require a USB port on a client computer for operation, it is fully extendable to meet any needs thrown its way with thorough SDK software and immediate detection when plugging into either Windows or Linux. Behind the scenes, the 400MHz PowerPC processor is running Debian Linux with the 2.6.10 kernel and 64MB of RAM. Other features for the Realm Systems BlackDog include a biometric scanner and MMC expansion slot. Will this 1.6-ounce computer be able to emerge itself into a new class of mobile computing? Today we are taking the Realm Systems BlackDog for a walk as we see the viability of this very product.

Features:

· Plug and Play Power. BlackDog is completely powered by the USB port while connected and requires no external power adapter.
· Network Access. BlackDog can access any network available to the host computer that it is plugged into.
· Universal PC Access. With BlackDog, developers can access all applications and data on the device from any compatible PC.
· Designed for Mobility. The design of BlackDog makes the device durable and easy to carry.
· Robust Linux OS. BlackDog runs a Debian-based Linux operating system and comes with a variety of useful applications and utilities.
· Complete SDK. Includes environments that run on both Linux and Microsoft Windows systems.
· Multi-Factor Authentication. BlackDog uses two strong authentication factors – “what you have” - the BlackDog device, and “who you are” - your biometric signature.
· Platform Independent Graphical Applications. X11 applications running on BlackDog will look the same on Windows and Linux hosts.
· Automatic Application Deployment. BlackDog can be configured to launch applications on the host PC when it is plugged in.
· Broad Application Support. A wide assortment of applications can be ported to run native on BlackDog.
· Leaves No Trace. BlackDog leaves no trace of your application or data on the host computer.
· Fast Boot Time. Boots fast at under 2 seconds, complete with high bandwidth file system.
· You Can Take It with You. With BlackDog, you can port and access your applications and data from many flavors of Linux (depending on user configuration), and Windows XP.
· Lock Down Your Applications and Data. With BlackDog’s built-in biometric scanner, you can secure your stuff from prying eyes.

Contents:

Realm Systems have named this server project BlackDog, and as the name implies, there are several canine characteristics found in the product even down to the container in which it and the accessories are housed. The product packaging comes in the form of dog biscuit bag with various information cleverly displayed around the packaging from sample bytes of juicy code to an innovative ingredients area. Listed in the ingredients area is 99.9% organic open-source technology, 400MHz PowerPC processor, 64MB of RAM, 256/512MB of flash memory, USB 2.0, serial peripheral interface, biometric scanner, MMC expansion slot, SDK, sample code, and collar accessory. There is also a warning on the packaging that reads "STORE IN A DRY PLACE. DO NOT LEAVE SMALL CHILDREN WITH BLACKDOG UNATTENDED. MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS DUE TO EXCESSIVE PROGRAMMING. IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY INGEST BLACKDOG, CONSULT A PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY". Moving beyond the creative packaging designers, inside we found the actual BlackDog with collar accessory, SDK BlackDog Chow, USB adapter, USB cable, and BlackDog reviewer’s guide. Of course, in the traditional retail environment the reviewer's guide will not be included. The accessory collar is included purely for decorative purposes and can easily be removed.

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