Announcing SSL support for Tonido and TonidoPlug Users


Security is a big priority for us here at CodeLathe and we take it seriously. One of the top requests we have been getting from our TonidoPlug (and Tonido) users is using Tonido without worrying about data in transit.

Tonido will now support fully secure HTTP connections via SSL. If you don’t know or are not aware, the main idea of HTTPS is to create a secure channel over an insecure network. This ensures reasonable protection from eavesdroppers and man-in-the-middle attacks. Therefore the content you view over a Tonido web server HTTP connection cannot be seen by any thirdparties that are relaying the traffic.

Tonido has always supported AES encrypted P2P communications between two Tonido peers, but now encryption comes to the HTTP interface as well.

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New Tonido Release Highlights

We just released a new Tonido release for all 4 platforms. Windows, Mac, Linux and TonidoPlug. This is primarily bug fix release with one major functional update, which we will mention in a subsequent post.

Here are some of the highlights of this release:

Tonido Admin

  • Restricted Group Members can now be removed by Group Owners. Previously this option was disabled.

Tonido Photos

  • Tonido Photos UI has been simplified to make it less cluttered and easier to navigate.
  • Tonido Photos now allows starting manual photos sync whenever you want instead of only when changes are detected.

Tonido WebsharePro

  • DownloadAsZip has been re-written to be less CPU intensive and runs in its own thread. Download File limit is now expanded from 10 MB to about 500 MB.
  • Allow public access to shares without passwords. Now you can share a specific file or photo by simply sending that webshare link to anyone via IM, email etc.  You can also setup a static website for users to visit without needing to enter passwords.  Allow Public  Access is now an option in the User Access dialog box.


Miscellaneous Changes

  • Fix Tonido on Mac OSX update issue
  • Add OpenID for Mac OSX and TonidoPlug
  • Allow explicitly choosing the Network Interface that Tonido binds to via a configuration setting
  • Application Display names will have proper casing (OpenID vs Openid)
  • Numerous minor/major bug fixes in Thots, Workspace, Plug Admin, Torrent apps and much much more

Update to the newest release by clicking on “Check for Updates” button in the Tonido Admin -> Settings tab.

Have fun!

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Save hundreds of dollars in electricity costs – TonidoPlug ROI

Yes. TonidoPlug can help you to save hundreds of dollars in electricity costs. In fact, it pays for itself in approximately 9 months.



TonidoPlug is based on Marvell’s 1.2 Ghz Sheeva processor (ARM Architecture) which consumes typically 1/20 of your average desktop power consumption. TonidoPlug consumes power anywhere between 3.1 watts (Min) to 7 watts (Peak) of power. Check out Martin’s blog for more numbers. On average, one can say TonidoPlug will consume 5 watts of power per hour.

Lets us do a little math here. Assume, you are running the TonidoPlug 24/7, 365 days and 1 KW power costs 0.15 cents in your area, then

Total Cost of Running TonidoPlug = (5 * 24 * 365/1000 watts) * .15 cents = $6.57/year.

Now, let us compare TonidoPlug with typical desktop PC’s. Typically desktop PC’s consume 60 watts to 250 watts of power depends on the computer state and CPU type. Check out the power management statistics from Northwestern University for detailed power consumption numbers.

If we assume on average your desktop consumes 120 watts of power ( It can be more if it is a gaming or multimedia system) and runs 24-7, 365 days

Total Cost of Running desktop PC = (120 * 24 * 365/1000 watts) * .15 cents = $157.68/year.

Now you can compare both numbers and see the difference,

TonidoPlug power cost – $6.57/year vs Desktop PC power cost – $157.68/year

If you are php, ruby developer or drupal, joomla web designer and you need a test linux server that runs 24/7 for development needs , now you have a low power, low cost alternative. You can buy TonidoPlug instead of a PC. TonidoPlug comes with standard ubuntu jaunty distribution with ssh access. You can use your favorite package management system to install whatever software you want into TonidoPlug.

Also, if you are a student or a consultant and you need access to files and media 24/7 from anywhere, then TonidoPlug is an ideal option compared to your power hungry PC. TonidoPlug comes with a list of fun and productive web apps that will help you to access your files and media from anywhere.

In summary, TonidoPlug not only offers an array of powerful web applications but also pays for itself by saving electricity costs.

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Dude, where is my TonidoPlug?

Due to popular demand we ran out of stock and we are taking back orders for our TonidoPlug.

The back orders will be processed on a first-come-first-serve basis and will be shipped in 2 weeks.

Please note that your credit card will not be charged until your order is shipped. In addition, you will be able to cancel your order during those 2 weeks before your order is shipped.

To order, please go to our Tonido Store.

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The Future of Social Networking: Fixing low SNR

overloadOne of the things I ponder about is how the world of social networking is going to evolve and change in the future. It is clear that current modes of communication and interaction are going to change to something else. That will be the next Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Flickr/Ning.

Obviously, it is hard to imagine what those modes of communication will be, but it is somewhat easier to look at the problems with the current social networks and see if the future will fix those shortcomings.

One such problem is the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). In non-tech speak, it is the amount of useful stuff found in the useless stuff. Applied to social networks, it is the amount of relevant useful information you can use when there is a ton of useless information you don’t care about. Currently the problem is that SNR is real low in many social networks. In Twitter for example, following several people will drown you in a sea of tweets.

The same issue in Facebook.

A poster on Joel on Software forums said it best, which I quote below:

I’m on Facebook, linked up to a few hundred “friends,” most of whom I barely know.  With few exceptions, the most prolific posters/updaters are also the least interesting.  One of the entertaining few is a guy who mostly posts silly cartoons and pictures of dogs.

The signal-to-noise ratio in “social media” is incredibly low.  Jerry Seinfeld, of all people, stated the problem back in the ’90s when cell phones and pagers were becoming commonplace:
“[W]e all have absolutely nothing to say, and we’ve got to talk to someone about it right now.”

The difference is that now, with something like Twitter, we can talk to hundreds (or thousands) of people about it all at once, and without ever having to deal with immediate feedback.

How true.

Is it really humanly possible to keep up with following a few hundred people in Twitter or the dumb “Which kind of vegetable are you?” updates in Facebook? You tell me.

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TonidoPlug, A NAS Adapter: How to convert your USB harddisk to NAS

“TonidoPlug is a tiny, low-power, low-cost home server powered by Tonido software that allows you to access your apps, files, music and media from anywhere. “

That is the definition you will see when you goto What is not explained clearly is that it is actually a tiny linux server running Ubuntu 9.0.4 in it and it can function as a NAS adapter out of the box.

USB Hard drives: USB hard drives are very handy to extend the storage of your desktop, to archive documents, photos and other media files. The problem with an USB hard drive is that it can be connected to only one desktop at a time. If you have multiple desktops then it will be difficult to share the drive among them. NAS adapters can help to fix this issue.

NAS Adapter: When you connect an USB drive to a NAS adapter, it makes the drive available on your local network. So multiple desktops can see the drive on the network and read/write files from/to it.

TonidoPlug as a basic NAS adapter: Like any NAS adapter you can connect your USB drive to TonidoPlug and it immediately makes it available on the local network. It understands all the common disk formats such as: FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3. It supports hard drives of capacity upto 2TB. Price tag $99.

How it works:

  1. Power on TonidoPlug and connect a network cable to it.
  2. Now connect your USB hard drive on the USB slot of TonidoPlug.
  3. Access it from any local network. ie., you can access your USB drive at \\<TonidoPlug IP Address>\MediaDisk\

TonidoPlug as an advanced NAS adapter: If you want to setup multiple user accounts by providing private space for each user on the USB hard drive then it is as easy as changing few parameters in the configuration file. Look here for a quick how-to. Also if you are linux user who is familiar with SAMBA then the possibilities are endless.

If you are in the market for looking for NAS storage or NAS adapter then TonidoPlug might be the right choice for all your needs and much more like their definition claims “A tiny, low-power, low-cost home server powered by Tonido software that allows you to access your apps, files, music and media from anywhere. “

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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.


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.


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.


Or editing a powerpoint presentation.


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.


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
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
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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