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Author Topic: Sheeva Plug is a lousy product  (Read 12018 times)
statue
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« on: August 16, 2009, 07:55:35 AM »

I am sorry after attempting to get this device to work and seeing the countless blogs on attempts to patch this sucker I have to say for the most part this product is highly unstable and easy to break.  Not a good product for a flag ship for a new way to implement modern server. Cry
Out of the box it is nothing less then a complete overhaul just to get the basic hardware to work.  Its interesting that the community here has such dedication to something so ill contrived.  Even the documentation is sub par the developers of this item never bother to make documentation describing the development process in an clear or simple to follow manor.  The sequence jumps around a lot.  The rest of this community can taut this piece of junk as much as they want.  I think I might e-bay the dam thing.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2009, 08:04:03 AM by statue » Logged

dattaway
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2009, 08:05:06 AM »

This may not be the consumer device you need.  At all.  For someone like me who has experience working with ARM based embedded devices, this is an excellent product.
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statue
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2009, 09:57:15 AM »

I would like to add that by following the direction that are packaged with the device, you will brick your Sheeva Plug most effectively.  What a piece of junk.  As long as people expect nothing for customer service from this vendor they will get nothing as well.  I really wish this product came with a disclaimer that indicated that it will in no way be support, be expected to work or be friendly in anyway possible. 
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mgillespie
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2009, 10:02:32 AM »

The bit where it said you were ordering A DEVELOPMENT KIT should have warned you that it's a product for developers, not idiots.

If you know how to use ebay, I suggest you try and sell it on there.
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docbee
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2009, 12:00:24 PM »

I don't think that SheevaPlug is a lousy product, but I undestand the frustration and I think Marvell is missing a chance here.

The Marvel product philosophy is based on "we launch a development kit for the tech savvy and then we wait for companies to order specialized Sheevaplug-similar retail products in orders of tens of thousands". This is how the world worked 50 years ago, but sorry that is not taking the chances of world-wide distributed smaller communities that will not have their special HW designed because they don't reach that scale for their own.

What I did critize in the "SheevaPlug not ready for prime time" thread was that Marvel makes that unwise separation between a "development kit" and a "end user product". Give the SheevaPlug a way to install a dedicated software that can be downloaded from an app-store (like apple provides for their mobile products) and it is a fine end-user equipment. This does not need to be extremely smart with connection to a portal in the internet where it just needs a klick on a button. It would be completely fine, if one can download an installer image, put this on USB stick, put the stick into the plug, power-on and this installs onto the plug. From a technical point of view I don't mean any apt-get mimic to install an add-on package on top of a running linux. This is far too limited.  By installation I mean to put a complete disk image including uboot, uboot environment, kernel, initrd, rootfs, etc onto the SheevaPlug. After that, pull off the USB stick and restart the SheevaPlug and it has become a new dedicated device.

Or take an example: You have written an apllication that changes a SheevaPlug into an network inspection tool and you assume that there will be about 1000 potential customers for that at a world-wide level. How can you bring that solution based on SheevaPlug to your customers? When SheevaPlug would have an easy software installation feature you could sell your Application online and put a 5 step installation instruction to it. Customers will order a stock SheevaPlug from a dealer they like and will be able to install your application easily. At he moment this distribution model will not work, as SheevaPlug is not aimed to provide that way of easy software installation. As an alternative you can order bunches of SheevaPlugs yourself, do the installation and ship that around the world. Cost adders will be enourmous. Or you have specialized SheevaPlug alikes build, which will not make sense for 1000 pieces. As you see, you can't use SheevaPlug for this, which means Marvell is out of this business because of ignoring customer demands.

So my request to Marvel is: Bring a SheevaPlug2 that has an easy to use software installation feature (i.e. as described above) and find some capable world-wide distributors for this single type of unit. The rest will be done by the developers out here.
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dattaway
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2009, 01:15:22 PM »

If you "broke" or "bricked" yours through software configuration, sell it on ebay.  Supply and demand: should at least get your purchase price back.  Through the magic of JTAG, these things are very easy to bring back to life for an old school developer.
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blindpigsaloon
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2009, 04:54:47 AM »

I wouldn't give up just yet.  I agree, Marvell did a sloppy job of putting together a first-time user's guide.  However, I've found the Wiki very useful.  Something else, I have very little experience with Linux, but a friend at work has years of experience.  He's helped field a lot of questions. 

Don't let the fanboys and prancing ponies get you down with "...an 'expert' like me could fix this."  Well DUH! 

Perhaps you've already seen this...
http://www.openplug.org/plugwiki/index.php/SheevaPlug_Installer

Hang in there.   I have found embedded development very challenging but very rewarding.  Just try different things, you'll get it.
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diarmuidw
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2009, 04:22:03 AM »

It is a devkit and as such needs to be treated with a bit of care. I digested the wiki over a few days and eventually was confident that I had a plan to get what I needed going. Eventually it was a 10 minute job to totally reflash the unit with a new kernel with additional modules and maybe another hour for my software to work (using apt-get, wget and build-essential).

I am  no linux genius and ARM has long been a no go area for ma as I mainly work with boards from PC engines and biffer board. However, as this board runs debian, software install and development is no more awkward than on an x86 board. I have tried boards from atheros (meraki, fon and open mesh) and found the resource constrains to much for my python  based system. Ditto using the NSLU2. This is the first ARM product that I feel has the power to be a proper network server.

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nickg
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2010, 11:31:28 AM »

This is an old thread, but since I randomly found it while searching for other information, others may as well, and I'd like to add a bit of useful information.  As has been stated above the SheevaPlug is a development platform.  For those who may be looking for a ready-to-use consumer device, the TonidoPlug is a product that's been built on the SheevaPlug platform, and includes an app store, etc.  I haven't used it myself, but it may fit the requirements some of you are looking for.

EDIT: http://www.tonidoplug.com/
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jwright201040
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2010, 08:34:11 PM »

Maybe this product is not what you really need. Did you even check the specifications and what's the uses / functions of this product? Smiley
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tinker
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 10:48:49 PM »

I would like to add that by following the direction that are packaged with the device, you will brick your SheevaPlug most effectively.  What a piece of junk.  As long as people expect nothing for customer service from this vendor they will get nothing as well.  I really wish this product came with a disclaimer that indicated that it will in no way be support, be expected to work or be friendly in anyway possible. 

I for one have followed the instructions that come with the Sheevaplug and they have worked correctly for me.
It is impossible to brick the SheevaPlug via flashing it.  It is always possible to reflash it if you make a mistake.
Hence:
A:)  You are either a troll.
or
B). You need to take basic reading comprehension and literacy classes before attempting to read instructions more complicated than how to tie shoe laces.

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markc
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2010, 02:12:43 PM »

My power supplied died and then a week later the board itself is completely dead. I will not buy another one although the Gurus are tempting and maybe the 2nd generation are sturdier... but at the moment I agree with the subject of this thread.
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phampson
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2010, 06:36:39 AM »

I found the plug a whole lot easier to use when I used the Esia installer. A post for which is stuck to the top of this forum
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feffer
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2010, 02:08:16 PM »

As others have said, it is a development kit, not a consumer product. You must be willing to tinker with it -- follow directions here and maybe do some mods (because of heat issues). I'm running debian testing on mine for about 2 months, but I've been using linux for some years, and ran an NSLU2 before this. Still several people here are new to linux and seem to be managing well.

That said, Marvell, the chip-maker has not handled the product well. The US distributor, Globalscale is a disaster. I guess they manufacture in China and import, but QC over these products was poor. Heat issues require mods and make longevity questionable. Globalscale is non-responsive in the extreme. Forget about email. If you do get an answer, which seems to be rare, it probably won't be helpful (my experience). They don't have an 800 number, but if you're willing to pay for the call, a human will talk to you. Getting useful information is another thing altogether. After a few questions, you will get put on hold or assured someone will call you back -- that will never happen. Globalscale seems to be in circling the wagons mode. They assume you are not a customer, but a trouble-maker. I say this all from experience... and after having been very patient with them. This reflects very poorly on Marvell.

Personally, I was very hopeful about the Plug concept, but after my experience with Globalscale, and experiencing the heat issues, I'm looking for longer term alternatives.

Regards,
feffer
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Mike Levin
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« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 08:50:43 AM »

I'm quite new to the PlugComputer.org community, and am struggling through all the trials and tribulations, of which there are admittedly many. Even just unbricking is quite a challenge if you're not already an embedded systems person. x86 know-how with install disks and BIOS settings doesn't translate well.

But I'm using it as an opportunity to actually BECOME one of those old-school developers. I find that with the way things are turning, development platforms are convenience built on dependency built on dependency built on dependency. I sense deep competitive advantage in generally knowing how to work with embedded systems like this. It's got to be the future, just as much as virtualization and cloud computing.

I'm documenting my trials and tribulations, trying to forge a path for others like me. Here's my unbricking experience, but there's tons more thinks I encountered buried in this site http://shankserver.org/2010/09/unbrick-sheevaplug/
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