Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

Foresight Linux: Music, Video, And System Update Software

Banshee is the default music player included on the system. It played the MP3 files that we tried throwing at it with no problem, but unfortunately not any music from i-Tunes; Apple has not created i-Tunes for Linux, though Banshee will play AAC if you download and install Realnetworks Helix media framework. Music playback was clear and smooth on the system.

Video playback is supported by Totem movie player. This is the official movie player of the Gnome desktop, and is based on xine-lib or Gstreamer; it plays movies very well, with no noticeable problems. It does support Divx and WMV via the gst0ffmpeg plug-in, and can play over the air and satellite digital TV with a supported card and software. This requires manual configuration, however, as it does not scan for channels - that is an ongoing project. The only issue is that since this system does not have room for an internal optical drive, you must configure it to support a USB based optical drive. For basic movie playback however, Totem seems to work quite well.

Change load/save defaults

The need for a photo organizer is supplied by F-Spot. A Kodak C533 digital camera was used to test compatibility. A full 512 MB card was in the camera and using F-Spot it was easy to load the pictures and organize them. They can be organized by date, and moved and saved easily.

F-Spot software can tag your images for easy searching. F-Spot supports a wide variety of image formats including RAW for photo buffs. I found this software to be pretty good, but perhaps Picasso for Linux would be another choice to add to this system.

System update

The Conary Package Manager is used to update the system; it is developed by rPath and distributed under the Common Public License (CPL). Conary is designed to minimize time and bandwidth when performing the update. Testing this feature proved that it works to update the system: during the testing for F-Spot software, one of the limits of this system was discovered. The Kodak C533 camera was not detected by default, so we were able to do a Google search for this issue and found that an update was needed.

We typed the required update into the Conary Package Manager and it updated the software quickly. The KPC then reconnected the camera and images were imported. We also used this to install GIMP and update the system. The update of the system was triggered by an indicator in the upper right corner, notifying us an update was available. The one issue with Conary is that you have to know which update package you want to install; many new users will not know the exact name of the package even if they know the software they want. It would be nice if they provided an application browser that would allow users to view a selection of software.

Since this is Linux, there is a very large base of free software, and the Conary Package Manager does a good job of acquiring it - finding what software you’re interested in is the hard part. On the whole, Foresight and Shuttle have done a good job in picking out the software to get a user up and running. After that, the user will need to do a little groundwork, much the same as any other system.

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  • BaconCache
    Grandma build!
  • imatt
    Great for a public computer for internet access in a family room. Small footprint, low heat, low price. Will be interesting to see what the masses can mod these things into.
  • styln
    Regarding Linux's readiness for prime time...

    Six months ago I installed Ubuntu 7.10 on a compact barebones for my wife, a computer novice. I reconfigured Gnome to look a lot like XP with only one toolbar at the bottom and created desktop icons for common programs: browser, word processor, spreadsheet, media viewers/players, etc. I automounted our NAS and created an icon for that, too. Used CUPS to easily connect two networked printers (yeah, my house is fully networked with a GB backbone :)

    She's as happy as can be and uses it everyday for routine "mommy", tasks including classroom rosters, art class schedules, saving/viewing picture and videos, etc.

    Bottom line is she loves it. As the home IT admin I like it too because it's rock solid and gives me less to do than maintaining the kids and my XP machines. So except for playing games, I see no reason to buy Windows in the future.... and I won't.
  • quicsilver
    Pros: Tried and true chipset, linux, windows, windows server compatible. Small, low wattage, QUIET, stylish. Slot under faceplate for a laptop sized cd/dvd-rom

    Cons: barebone comes with no processor fan, no case fan, no cd-rom. Room for only 2 hard drives. NO CASE FAN

    Rumor has it that they will offer the ICE Genie as an optional separate purchase, which is nice for the processor but I don't know if it's sufficient enough to cool the HDD's. I built one with a celeron 420 and a stock core 2 duo proc fan. (the stock proc fan that came with the celeron was DOA) The fan size on the back is 92mm, I bought an antec 92mm case fan and it's very quiet, the loudest fan on the system is the small power supply fan. It has the slot under the faceplate for a slim dvd/cd-rom. You would have to dremel mod the front clear plastic to make it look right, but it's easily doable. AT LEAST it has the option.

    I built it for a Windows Home Server and it works perfect.
  • Luxcrete
    ** DO NOT BUY THE PC62 PSU FOR THE KPC! ** spite of what this article would have you believe, it doesn't physically fit. I just wasted $100, and I'm pretty angry that the reviewer didn't do his research.

    If you're thinking of getting the KPC for a home server, bewarned that it's not that quiet. Probably fine if you can lock it away in a cupboard, but too irritating to be left out in the open, if you're anything like me.
  • sloto
    There is a cutout for a front USB, but you have to hack and do your own mod. Same conditions for an optical drive. It's doable.
    Mint is my preferred linux and works just fine on KCP
  • uafon
    I have tried many many wifi adapters.....and I can say one thing for sure...
    ..I don't know about you guys, but for me UAWIFI UA3 usb adapter is the BEST.
    No other adapter can compare to this baby, it is VERY powerful.
    There are few people sell them on ebay, but I got mine directly from mft. website price is same.
    I also know that it is Made in USA, so at least by buying it I am supporting US workers.
  • uafon
    In other words, you do not have to power it up, as this adapter. It uses 5V from the USB plug.