Practical Technology

for practical people.

Chumby: Cutest Linux Computer Ever


Linux computers are everywhere. Oh, you may not think you’re using Linux, but if you have a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) recording your television shows or a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device or a Wi-Fi AP (Access Point) on your home network, chances are you’re running Linux. None of those devices are as cute or as downright odd as the leather-wrapped Chumby alarm clock.

OK, so it’s more than an alarm clock that you could throw to the floor in the morning without breaking it. The Chumby is also a Wi-Fi-enabled Internet television monitor, digital picture frame, Internet radio player, and Web information center. Oh, and it’s also a Linux computer, albeit it’s the funniest looking PC I’ve ever seen.

The Chumby uses a touch screen, ala Apple’s iPhone, for its interface. If you want to really get in there and modify the system, between the Wi-Fi connection and the two USB 2.0 ports, you have all the access you’ll need.

Even without modification, however, the Chumby can use a wide variety of applets to amuse, inform, and entertain you. There are serious ones, like a feed for the New York Times Business section; social networks applets, running feeds for your MySpace, Facebook and Tweeter friends’ activities; pure silliness like an Onion news feed; and hundreds more applets.

I can’t quite justify buying a Chumby of my own with its $179-price-tag, but oh, it is a tempting toy. For more on the Chumby, and a slideshow of this unique device, check out the PC Magazine review.