Shrinking systems

Weighing in at 18 grams and smaller than a box of cigarettes, the Picotux 100 is being touted as the world's smallest Linux device. In principle, the Picotux offers the ultimate in remote lifestyle working. Picotux can turn any electrical product into a network-enabled device.

Users can switch on their kettle from a train. Alternatively, a Picotux-integrated switch panel at the entrance of a building allows users to control their lighting over an Ethernet network.

Only slightly larger than the RJ-45 Ethernet connector that handles it, the network-enabled unit is based on NetSilicon's Digi Connect ME embedded network server. It is being manufactured by German firm Kleinhenz Elektronik, and will start shipping in May 2005.

"The automation industry was our main focus, but now it turns out there are many other applications we never thought of," says Karlheinz Kleinhenz. For example, facility management systems, audio interfaces, access controls and measurement systems that deal with frequency, power and laboratory instruments could all benefit from being network-enabled. Inside the tiny box, there is a CPU running the uClinux operating system, 2MB of Flash memory, 8MB of RAM, Ethernet and serial ports, all for under e100.

However, Picotux should be treated with caution. According to security analysts, the device could be implanted in a network without being noticed. It is feasible to add a wireless protocol that could then leak out corporate secrets, while remaining virtually undetectable.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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