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RAID on Rye

Why A Toaster?

Obviously, placing a micro computer into kitchen equipment such as a toaster is not particularly what would first enter one's mind.

THG: How come you went for this extraordinary form factor?

Dave Goeke: In 2001, I was working in QA for a Fremont startup named ApplianceWare Corporation. Its product, ApplianceWare Server, is a stripped down Linux distribution that turns a computer into a network file server with software RAID, similar to what companies such as Open-E offer today. The only installed services are networking, software RAID, Web server, mail, and file sharing (SMB, NFS, AFP) to support Unix, Linux, Windows, and MacOS network clients. The whole product fits in a 100 MB partition.

Building computers in a toaster was done to for the ApplianceWare marketing team to use at sales presentations, demonstrations, trade shows, and in marketing collateral. Toaster RAID seemed to give customers a good laugh when used to demonstrate ApplianceWare Server. The array of blinking busy lights added to the effect.

THG: So you borrowed the idea from ApplianceWare's marketing team. Are you also using its RAID software for your toasters today?

Dave Goeke: After leaving ApplianceWare I continued building Toaster RAIDs. Obviously, they run ApplianceWare Server, and I use them at home as file and network servers. The black and silver double slice toaster RAID pictured on the left (see intro page) was built several years ago. The other fellow, the brown and silver retro toaster, was finished last October.

THG: Would you say fitting computers into such a geeky housing is something everybody can do, or did you somehow specialize in doing this?

Dave Goeke: Over the years, I have developed a bit of experience and knowledge about how to build a file server in a toaster. I will explain the details of the two systems, how to build one, important considerations during assembly, and caveats to avoid.

THG: That sounds great, let's get started!