About Bubba

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This page contains information about the Bubba server.

5 Quick Facts about Bubba Server

  • Bubba is easy to deploy. Adding a server to your network is often a daunting proposition. That's why we went to great lengths to make Bubba supremely easy to deploy and configure. Plug Bubba to mains, connect it to your computer using the supplied cable, zoom through a simple three-step configuration wizard, and the server is good to go.
  • Bubba is easy to use. The carefully crafted Web-based interface gives you quick and easy access to all Bubba's features, and you don't need a manual to figure how to use them. Not sure how to use a specific feature? No problem: the interface sports an online context-sensitive help which you can access at any time with a single mouse click.
  • Bubba is built to last. There is no fan and no moving parts (expect the hard disk) in the Bubba server. This makes the server not only whisper-quiet but also significantly reduces the risk of hardware failure. Bubba's case is made of thick aluminum, and it provides excellent protection for the server's innards and can withstand harsh treatment.
  • Bubba comes with a comprehensive software bundle. No matter what you want to use your Bubba for, chances are Bubba can do that right out of the box. File sharing, media streaming, photo sharing, downloading torrent files, fetching email -- these are just a few of Bubba's talents.
  • It's a Linux server. Bubba is based on the popular Debian GNU/Linux distribution and it uses only open source software, including a wireless driver for the WiFi model. So if you are a proficient Linux user, you can treat Bubba as a regular Linux server and access thousands of packages available in Debian's software repositories.

B3 vs Plug Computers

Plug computers are quickly becoming a popular alternative to full-fledged servers. Their diminutive size, low power consumption, and low price make them an attractive solution for building Linux-based personal servers. But does this mean you should opt for a plug computer instead of the B3 server? Not necessarily. While at first glance, a plug computer seems like better value, there are other important factors to consider. Let's take a closer look at them, shall we?

Features

When it comes to features you should keep in mind that a plug computer is not a turn-key solution, but a bare-bones device for creating custom solutions. This means that you have to install and configure all the desired components yourself, which requires both technical skills and time. The B3 server, in turn, comes with a wide range of useful tools and applications, so you can put it to a multitude of uses right out of the box. More importantly, all B3's bundled applications and features can be managed from a user-friendly Web-based interface. It literally takes only a few minutes to set up the B3 server. But just because the B3 server hides all the complexity behind a polished interface doesn't mean you can't tinker with it. Thanks to the preinstalled OpenSSH server, you can easily establish an SSH connection to B3 and tweak the server to your heart's content.

Hardware and Expandability

A typical plug computer features a 1.2GHz ARM processor with 512MB DDR2 RAM, 512MB internal NAND storage, a single USB port, a wired network interface, and an SD card slot. While the B3 server sports the same processor and amount of RAM, it offers better connectivity options. There are two wired network interfaces, an optional wireless interface, two USB ports, and a single eSATA connector. But the best part is B3's storage capabilities. The server ships with hard disk capacities up to 2TB, and you can also order B3 with an SSD. True, you can connect an external USB storage device to a plug computer, but having an exposed external hard disk is neither an elegant nor fail safe solution. Moreover, a USB connection offers lower transfer rates compared to eSATA.

Besides offering rather limited storage, the built-in flash storage of a typical plug computer has another drawback: a limited number of read/write cycles. The approximate lifespan of a flash disk depends on a number of factors, but once the internal storage has failed, you have no way to replace it, which renders your plug computer useless. Of course, B3's hard disk can fail, too. But you can easily swap the dead hard disk with a new one, and thanks to a clever design, the operation takes only a few minutes.

Build Quality

Now let's talk about the overall build quality. A typical plug computer uses a plastic housing which is not designed for heavy-duty operation. Basically, a plug computer is built as a cheap, disposable device. Plug computers are touted as environmentally friendly devices, but are they really? A plug computer may have low power consumption, but it doesn't really matter if the device itself has a limited lifespan due to non-upgradable internal storage and unimpressive build quality. The B3 server, in turn, is built to last. Its aluminum case can withstand harsh treatment, and high-quality components ensure that the server will run for years. A lot of effort went into making B3's design both appealing and robust.

Software and Features

To give you an idea of the B3 server's capabilities, here is a brief list of things the server can do right out of the box:

  • Router and firewall B3 sports two Ethernet ports and can act as a router on the local network. The WiFi version of B3 can also perform the duties of a wireless router on the local network.
  • File and print server B3 comes with Samba and print servers that are enabled by default, so it can be deployed as a file or print server right out of the box.
  • Streaming server B3 can stream music to DAAP, UPnP and Squeezebox compatible players such as iTunes and Rhythmbox.
  • Backup server The built-in backup feature provides an easy way to configure a backup profile for saving important files on an external storage device or a remote server.
  • Photo sharing B3 comes with its own photo sharing feature which allows the user to turn a folder with photos on the server into a Web-based photo album.
  • Download manager The Web-based interface sports a download manager that can handle torrent files as well as regular HTTP and FTP downloads.
  • Thanks to the supplied software, B3 can act as an email and collaboration server that meet demands of workgroups and small businesses.

You can use a plug computer for these tasks, too, but you have to install and configure all the components yourself, which is no mean feat even for proficient users.

Final Word

This comparison is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a few points you should consider when deciding which solution works best for you. So before you rush and order a plug computer, do yourself a favor and consider all the pros and cons carefully -- chances are you might find the B3 server a better solution for your needs which also offers better value in the long run.