New Guy with a New TonidoPlug – Voice of a Happy TonidoPlug Customer

The wait is over; I finally got my Tonido Plug today, courtesy of the UPS.

I plugged it in and was impressed by how easy it was to get running. I didn’t have to hunt around my network (which consists of over 16 devices already) for the Plug; I just went to the url contained in the documentation and was able to get it up on my network and all preliminary setup info set in just a few short minutes.

The biggest surprise for me was the fact that I was able to move a USB drive from my PC to the Plug by just plugging it in. It recognized the NTFS file system and all the folders/files, and served it up in no time. I have a 1TB drive on its way (due to arrive on Thursday) but I wanted to start “playing” with the Plug today. I backed up the data from the USB drive expecting the Plug to format/delete it when I connected it. Imagine my surprise when not only did it not ask to format the new drive, but it found everything on the USB drive and served it right up! I was able to set up a share from my PC to the USB drive in a few short moments, and now it’s as if the USB drive is still attached to my system.

Speed is impressive. The Plug and all of the apps on it are very responsive and fast. I am most impressed with the torrent app. It is very fast, very easy to use, and very efficient. I tested it today with a few torrents, and the results have been stellar.

I have Tonido App installed onto two PC’s in the house and have yet to attach them to the Plug via a group. I don’t know what the benefit of that would be, yet, but I am learning.

I highly recommend getting a Plug. It’s incredibly fast, easy to configure and use, and will use a lot less power than my PC did staying on 24/7 (serving up shares for the family). I will purchase a powered USB hub tomorrow to attach three more USB drives to the Plug, giving me a 1.5 TB storage capability – A Happy Customer.

Thanks Mr.Happy Customer, You made all our efforts worthwhile – Tonido Team.

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Announcing Tonido Screenshare- Share your PC’s screen via a browser

We are happy to announce the availability of a new Tonido application called Tonido Screenshare.

screenshare11

Tonido Screenshare allows you to share your computer’s desktop screen with anyone via a web browser. There is no flash, Java, ActiveX required to view the desktop. Open the link and go. It is that simple.

Screenshare offers some simple settings to customize the view that others see. You can choose to allow sharing of your primary monitor or all monitors. You can also choose to send over the full sized image (if you have enough bandwidth) or send a resized images. Finally, you can choose the refresh rate.

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Of course, as usual, we are quite sensitive about the security aspects to this application. So, first of all you cannot share your screen without setting up user credentials (Username/Password). Other users have to enter the credentials before they are given access. Next, to avoid misuse or forgetting to turn it off, Tonido Screenshare will popup an alert every minute on your screen to make it evidently clear that you are sharing your screen.

There are some caveats, Screenshare is not going to replace VNC/RDP anytime, as it is neither going to offer interactive sessions nor speed, but it is perfect for doing presentations/seminars or quickly walking through some steps with a friend or business colleague. The other caveat is that it is currently only available for Windows.

The big advantage is that anyone can see your screen from any kind of device, whether it be a iPhone, Blackberry or a full fledged computer without any additional software, like below, where I am viewing my Windows desktop from an iPhone.

screenshare3_iphone

Or editing a powerpoint presentation.

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Screenshare really shows off the power and flexibility of the underlying Tonido Development Platform which allows developers to tap into the underlying OS functions quickly without writing complicated glue code.

Try it out on Windows today by installing it from the Tonido Admin Apps->Install screen.

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SenseCam: Is it sensible?

Recently, I came across the SenseCam Research Project by Microsoft. Although it looks cool, it surely looks like another way to invade your privacy.

Microsoft defines SenseCam as a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn.

The next logical question is where to store these photographs in real time? Obviously a handful of corporations will want this piece. So a 3rd party server in a cloud will be an ideal choice. For someone who stores every single life event in Facebook or Twitter it is a cool idea. In reality, it is the ultimate way to encroach the privacy of not only the user but also the people surrounding the user without their knowledge or consent.

Microsoft has outlined some noble ideas where SenseCam can be used such as monitoring food intake, an automatic diary/journal etc.

But this does seem like a slippery slope…

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Create samba user shares in TonidoPlug (NAS)

TonidoPlug can act as NAS device.

When an external USB harddisk is connected to TonidoPlug, it automatically mounts the USB HDD and makes it available for other computers on the network.  So for example, to connect to this share from windows, open an explorer window and type \\<TonidoPlug IP>\MediaDisk and you get full access to the USB HDD.

Since TonidoPlug is not configured to provide user based access to samba shares by default here is a guide to create user based access .
By doing this setup, users can access their home directories by authenticating themselves with their login and password. They cannot view or access other user shares without knowing their login credentials.

By default when an user is created in the Linux OS, it is not available as a samba user automatically. This usually is done as a separate step. In our setup we also try to automate this process.

Setup

1. Install libpam-smbpass package. This package provides necessary tools to synchronize linux OS user/passwords with samba repository.

# apt-get install libpam-smbpass

2. Open /etc/samba/smb.conf with a text editor and make the following changes.

3. By default TonidoPlug allows full access to everybody. Disable this default behavior. Look for the following lines and comment them.

# What naming service and in what order should we use to resolve host names
# to IP addresses

;   name resolve order = lmhosts host wins bcast
;   force user = root
;   force group = root

;   guest ok = yes
;   browseable = yes
;   public = yes
;   writable = yes

The above lines shows the commented configuration lines.

4. By default TonidoPlug allows share level access. Change this to user level access.
Look for line “security = share” and change it as follows

# “security = user” is always a good idea. This will require a Unix account
# in this server for every user accessing the server. See
# /usr/share/doc/samba-doc/htmldocs/Samba3-HOWTO/ServerType.html
# in the samba-doc package for details.

security = user

5. Enable automatic synchronization of user and password information from linux OS to samba.

# This boolean parameter controls whether Samba attempts to sync the Unix
# password with the SMB password when the encrypted SMB password in the
# passdb is changed.
unix password sync = yes

6. We need to users to access their home directories when they login with userid and password. Samba configuration should be enabled to expose user home directories.

# Un-comment the following (and tweak the other settings below to suit)
# to enable the default home directory shares.  This will share each
# user’s home directory as \server\username
[homes]
comment = Home Directories
browseable = yes

# By default, the home directories are exported read-only. Change the
# next parameter to ‘no’ if you want to be able to write to them.
read only = no

# File creation mask is set to 0700 for security reasons. If you want to
# create files with group=rw permissions, set next parameter to 0775.
;   create mask = 0700

# Directory creation mask is set to 0700 for security reasons. If you want to
# create dirs. with group=rw permissions, set next parameter to 0775.
;   directory mask = 0700

# By default, \server\username shares can be connected to by anyone
# with access to the samba server.  Un-comment the following parameter
# to make sure that only “username” can connect to \server\username
# This might need tweaking when using external authentication schemes
valid users = %S

7. Save the smb.conf file and restart samba daemon.

# /etc/init.d/samba restart


Share Test

For testing, we will create a user on the TonidoPlug and try to access the user’s home directory as a samba share.

1. Create a user on TonidoPlug. You can do this by doing SSH to TonidoPlug as root user.

# useradd -m -k /etc/skel demouser

2. Set a password for the demouser.

# passwd demouser

3. Important: Open another SSH session to TonidoPlug and login as the new user. This is only trigger I could find to synchronize the OS user details with samba.
You can close the SSH session as soon as login is successful.

4. For the other SSH session (as root user) verify if the new linux user is synchronized with samba.

# pdbedit -w -L
nobody:65534:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX:[U          ]:LCT-00000000:
root:0:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX:0708DD6BC4B608A64FC970497CC6F7AD:[U          ]:LCT-4A09E411:
demouser:1001:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX:A827E65ED0E8EA4B14721624A19DE519:[U          ]:LCT-4A9E8E33:

You should see ‘demouser’ as an entry in the output.

5. Now from the windows machine, open an explorer window and type the \\<Tonido_Plug_IP>\demouser. It should prompt for username and password. Enter ‘demouser’ and its password. Once you click ‘Ok’ it should show the demouser’s home directory with full access only to his home directory.

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Announcing Tonido OpenID – Truly Decentralized Identity Management

openid_logo

We at CodeLathe are big proponents of empowering people and following that principle, we are happy to announce Tonido OpenID.

Tonido OpenID is a new Tonido application that allows you use your Tonido URL as an OpenID. If you don’t know it already, OpenID allows you to use an existing identity to sign in to multiple websites, without needing to create new passwords.

OpenID is rapidly gaining adoption on the web, with over one billion OpenID enabled user accounts and over 50,000 websites accepting OpenID for logins.  And several large organizations either issue or accept OpenIDs, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, MySpace, Sears, Universal Music Group, France Telecom, Novell, Sun, Telecom Italia, and many more (Source: OpenID.net).  Now joining those ranks is Tonido’s OpenID implementation.

Among existing OpenID providers out there, Tonido OpenID is unique in the sense that it is a truly a decentralized and private OpenID provider. What it means is that Tonido OpenID does not use any third party server to manage your identity.

You provide your own identity.

Now you can use your ID without any central authority knowing which websites you frequent or which blogs you comment upon etc. This can only be a GOOD THING.

Tonido OpenID allows you to:

Gain Greater Control Over Your Online Identity

OpenID is a portable identity that can be used everywhere without having to reveal personal details like your email address. This allows privacy and greater freedom without giving websites the ability to track and monitor your activities.

Accelerate Sign Up Process at Your Favorite Websites

Cut down on the laborious sign up process to use a website or service. Sign up quickly and painlessly using your OpenID.

Reduce Frustration Associated with Maintaining Multiple Usernames and Passwords

Using too many IDs on too many websites leads to problems remembering all those user names or passwords.  Tonido OpenID requires to remember only your URL and your Tonido Profile login password.

Minimize Password Security Risks

With too many passwords, it is likely that users will reuse the same password on multiple sites. If there is a security compromise on one, it can lead to vulnerabilities on other sites where the same password was used. Mitigate that by using a single strong password which cannot be compromised because of a security issue in one website.

Here are a few screens of Tonido OpenID in action:

openid_main

openid_approve

Tonido OpenID is available now on Tonido Desktop (Windows, Linux, Mac) via the Apps->Install Tab. You might need to upgrade to the latest Tonido version.

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TonidoPlug now on sale

tonido_plug_hw1

We are proud to announce the immediate availability of TonidoPlug for ordering from our on-line store at https://store.tonido.com. Currently, TonidoPlug is available for ordering for US based customers for $99 + Shipping and Handling. We will start shipping to other countries shortly.

TonidoPlug Press Release:

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) August 12, 2009 –CodeLathe today announced TonidoPlug, a device based on the SheevaPlug™, powered by Marvell® Sheeva™ CPU technology. TonidoPlug is a tiny, low power, low cost home server that allows people to access their applications, files, photos, music, and media from anywhere. The TonidoPlug comes pre-installed with powerful Tonido applications — Torrent, Jukebox, Webshare, Workspace, Thots, Explorer, Photos, and Search. Additionally, the TonidoPlug can be extended by installing new applications from the Tonido application store, available at www.tonidoplug.com.

“Keeping true to Tonido’s mission — to empower customers in a connected world, TonidoPlug offers universal access to users’ favorite applications, files, music, photos, and media from anywhere without sacrificing privacy and ownership of their data,” said Madhan Kanagavel, Codelathe Chief Executive Officer. “As a result of our collaboration with Marvell, we are pleased to offer the TonidoPlug, which is a compelling alternative to cloud storage services and distributes inexpensive computing power to every home.”

The Marvell SheevaPlug is designed to enable high-performance, always on, always connected, and environmentally friendly computing that is readily available for developers and end-users. A Plug Computer is designed to draw so little power that it can be left on all of the time. Unlike other embedded devices in the home, it contains a gigahertz class processor designed to offer PC class performance. Plug Computing has been quickly expanding, bringing users new devices, services, and value-added applications, as well as delivering advanced avenues for network connectivity.

“We are delighted to work with CodeLathe to develop the TonidoPlug,” said Dr. Simon Milner, Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Business Unit, Consumer and Communications Business Group at Marvell Semiconductor. “The SheevaPlug is intended to offer a compelling solution to easily and rapidly implement software services targeted to consumers. In an era when people are more mobile than ever before, Plug Computing delivers a new level of connectivity that their lifestyle demands.”

For more information about the TonidoPlug, please visit the official Tonido Web Site: www.tonidoplug.com. The TonidoPlug will be available online for purchase in the U.S. and Canada in August 2009.

About CodeLathe

CodeLathe is a privately-held software startup based out of Dallas, Texas. The Company was founded in February, 2008 by a team of experienced software developers with expertise in cross-platform development, distributed systems, network security, massive-multiplayer game server development and more. CodeLathe strongly believes in open source and open platforms with a number of contributions and products released under such terms.

CodeLathe products and services include: Money Manager Ex – open source, cross platform personal finance manager available in 25 languages which has been downloaded more than a million times and Tonido — a peer-to-peer, personal web platform (available under open source and commercial license), custom software development based on open source technologies.

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WebsharePro – A Quick Look

websharepro_header

WebsharePro comes with more new features but remains true to Webshare’s core theme of simplicity.

Upload Files Support

websharepro_unlimited

Many of you had requested an enhancement that will allow your users to upload files into your shared folder. With WebsharePro, you can select users who will have upload access and these users will see an upload box in their page.

Users can upload any number of files into your shared folder. You can also set size limit for the shared folder so that you can limit how much users can upload.

Download As Zip Support

WebsharePro Download as Zip

“Download As Zip” is a new feature which will let your users to download the entire shared folder as a zip file. To avoid any performance bottlenecks, maximum size limit for the zipfile is currently set to 10MB.

View Active Downloads

With WebsharePro, you can view all currently active downloads. “Active Downloads” will list of users who are currently downloading and details of the files that they are downloading.

PhotoGallery Options

Photo Gallery gets more new options such as thumbnail size and view size. You can select the size of thumbnails for your gallery. You have three options (small/medium/large) to choose from. You can also set size of the picture that users will see when they click on a thumbnail. WebsharePro gives you two options regular size 800×600 and a larger version 1024×768.

websharepro_gallery_options2

Finally, error pages in WebsharePro got a facelift and we have improved error page UI so that error messages are clearer. WebsharePro is currently available in TonidoPlug. Hope you enjoy the new features.

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TonidoPlug: Software Applications in Initial Release

So TonidoPlug is almost here, and what is new?

Here’s the full list of applications shipping with TonidoPlug.

tonidoplug_appsMany of these apps should be familiar already to Tonido users, (Jukebox, Photos, Search, Thots, Workspace).

But there are some new ones that are being released the first time. They include WebsharePro, Torrent, Explorer and Plug Admin.

Here’s a quick summary of these applications. More detailed information on these new apps will be coming soon.

  1. WebsharePro: All the power of Tonido Webshare, plus the ability to upload, setting upload quotas for users, zip downloads, viewing currently downloading lists, change thumbnail and photo slide show image size
  2. Torrent: Download Torrent files to your plug and control torrents via your web browser from anywhere
  3. Explorer: Web based File manager and browser that allows common file operations like rename, delete, copy files and folders and even uploads
  4. Plug Admin: Manage your TonidoPlug hardware, recover Tonido Profile passwords, Manage attached USB drives, Share USB drives over the network for access, Monitor CPU loads etc

We believe that these applications round out Tonido’s existing application set and make it even more flexible and powerful especially on the Plug computer. And of course, we aim to release brand new applications over time, so this is just a tiny fraction of the functionality possible with your Plug. With Tonido’s one-click application installation and update procedures, keeping your TonidoPlug up to date with the latest Tonido releases should be a breeze.

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TonidoPlug ready to roll…

You might have been wondering why we had been so quiet these last few months, and the big reason if you hadn’t heard by now is the TonidoPlug. We had been working night and day to get everything ship shape and polished (till it shone and we could see our faces in it).

And finally, we are proud to say that the TonidoPlug is ready to go. We will be taking orders starting next week and the plugs will be shipping either the same day or next day of your order.

So folks, thanks for all the support and feedback and the patience! We know a lot of you are looking forward to getting it, so just a few more days.

Meanwhile here’s a sneak peek of what you can find in the box.

TonidoPlug: What is in the Box

TonidoPlug: What is in the Box

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Is computing at inflection point similar to weapons technology and cars?

Summary: At an inflection point, need for efficiency will overtake need for power. In the past, industries eg. weapons and auto have reached such an inflection point. Computing is approaching such an inflection point. Once we hit such an inflection point, light devices such net books, cell phones and light devices will be more popular than heavy weight desktops. Increase in user data, popularity of light devices and increase in bandwidth will lead to a central data repository. Current trend is to go to cloud services to host such a repository. Tonido and Tonidplug offer better alternative than cloud.

When arms race began in early part of 20th century, countries where building weapons that could pack as many TNT as possible in a missile/bomb. All through the world war, only thing that mattered was “how much TNT of power can be packed per cubic inch or per gram”. However, after years of building weapons, countries had nuclear bombs and other weapons that can pack tons of TNT. Power wasn’t constraint anymore.

Post world war-II, weapon builders shifted their focus from power to precision. What mattered now was precision, how accurate a weapon can hit a target and how precise can be the damage. Another such example is car industry. Automakers were on an arms race to build higher HP cars. Focus was on “how much horse power you can pack in a car”. However, when energy crisis began, focus shifted to efficiency. Everyone knows that the supply of oil is not unlimited, hence future of cars will be on efficiency not horsepower.

In computing, as defined by Moore’s law, power of the processor increased and size decreased, our appetite for bigger and more powerful machine grew. We use 64 bit processors in desktops. Question is will arms race to pack more power will continue or will it turn towards efficient and low maintenance devices?

Already enterprise servers are moving towards efficiency as cooling and energy costs become big part of data center costs. Soon, efficiency will be the key in running desktop and personal devices since users want their system run for long time for streaming media, or downloading TV programming, torrents, files, videos and music.

Constraint in with these light weight devices will be size and weight. By design, these devices should have limited (<100GB?) storage if not, these devices aren’t designed optimally taking advantage of bandwidth. With the current rate of growth in user data and growth in bandwidth, central remote data repositories are viable.

Such remote repositories can be hosted by cloud service vendors (Dropbox, Google etc) or you can use personal devices (TonidoPlug, PogoPlug) to host and maintain your repository. At CodeLathe, we believe your remote repository should be in a personal device which guarantees absolute privacy and prevents from any vendor lock-ins.

CodeLathe’s TonidoPlug is a small energy efficient device that would help you host files, data and applications at fraction of the cost that you have to pay for cloud services. Free cloud service today doesn’t always mean free forever, soon cloud companies will have to charge fee to be sustainable.

TonidoPlug can offer more than just remote drive or repository. You can access music, video/photos and manage calendars, contacts, Tonido applications. TonidoPlug will relieve you from running you power consuming desktop from running 24×7 to download torrents or running your home server to stream music or video in your home.

TonidoPlug will save you money in initial cost as well as in operating costs. Learn more at www.tonidoplug.com.

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