After serving faithfully for over three years, and a year-and-a-half after getting a hard drive upgrade, my Kurobox Lulu died this past week. I suspect a power surge caused a stroke.
You see, I went to turn on the printer, and it started cursing at me with long beeps and flashing lights. Google told me that I should try unplugging it, holding down some keys, and then plugging it back in. Unfortunately, because I didn’t have the plugs labeled, I accidentally unplugged Lulu. She wouldn’t start up when I turned her back on.
Connecting the net console to the bootloader, I discovered that it would hang shortly after decompressing the kernel. Worse, it failed the exact same way when trying to boot into EM mode. I could poke around on the hard drive, thanks to U-Boot’s features, so I was left to conclude that the motherboard had been fried - probably the memory. The coincidence with the printer’s death leads me to believe it was a power surge.
So now I had to decide with what to replace the venerable Lulu. Despite her minuscule memory and pathetic processor, she had served admirably in several roles, including a Galleon TiVo server, a Samba file server, a print server, a scan server, running a TwitterBot in IRC, and regularly syncing data to Amazon S3. Though three years had passed, the Kurobox was still selling new for $150, or more if you got their fancy ARM version. Skeptical that they were still worth that much, I started shopping around.
So, what can you buy today for the $150 you could spend on a Kurobox? How about a 1.6 GHz Atom 230 CPU/motherboard combo ($64.99), 2GB of Kingston memory ($35.49), and a Mini ITX Computer Case with 200w Power Supply ($39.99) in which to house it all. So for the exact same price as the Kuro, you can get a modern, mainstream CPU and a generous quantity of memory. I was prepared to spend more - not having to deal with the headaches of U-Boot and a PPC Gentoo build would have been worth an extra hundred easy - but at the same price it was just a no-brainer.
So I ordered it all, and it should all be arriving this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to get new Lulu on her feet quickly; Hedda and I are both really missing her.