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Canonical tips Snappy projects involving Acer, GE, Microsoft

May 12, 2015 — by Eric Brown 1,551 views

Canonical announced collaborative, cloud-oriented IoT projects using the lightweight Ubuntu Snappy OS with Acer (aBeing One), GE (ChillHub), and Microsoft.

In January, When Canonical announced its lightweight, IoT-oriented Snappy version of its Ubuntu Core OS, it was revealed that Snappy was baked into the Ninja Sphere home automation hub, as well as a special version of the Erle-Copter drone and its Erle-brain autopilot. Now, the Ubuntu sponsor has revealed that GE’s ChillHub smart refrigerator runs Snappy, and announced a further Snappy partnership with Acer, and another one with DataArt and long-time OS foe Microsoft.

Snappy architecture

Canonical announced the collaborations today at IOT World which runs through May 13 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The companies will demonstrate the ChillHub, developed by GE and FirstBuild, as well as a prototype of the Acer aBeing One cloud/IoT platform, which is the first of several unnamed collaborative projects with Acer. A Snappy-based industrial predictive maintenance project developed with Microsoft and DataArt appears to be a bit farther off.

GE/FirstBuild ChillHub


The ChillHub was announced at this January’s CES show as a Linux-based smart refrigerator with WiFi and USB connectivity, as well as an SDK for community-designed, 3D-printable accessories. The ChillHub, which was designed by the open source FirstBuild developers community and built by GE, is intended for developing apps and gizmos for refrigerators and other devices that “benefit from operating inside a cooled space.”

(click images to enlarge)

The ChillHub runs Snappy on a Raspberry Pi Model B. An open-source GE Green Bean circuit board serves as a gateway between the Pi and various sensors and control functions that are under the direct supervision of the fridge’s low-level microcontroller. The ChillHub lacks a touchscreen, but can be controlled via mobile apps.

The refrigerator was originally listed at $2,999, but will instead retail for $999 when it begins shipping in July. It can now be pre-ordered on at an early-bird price of $799. Canonical and FirstBuild recently collaborated at the HacktheHome hackathon, where 280 engineers, designers, and makers competed for prizes given to the most innovative new IoT home automation and appliance apps.

Acer aBeing One

Canonical’s Snappy collaborations with Acer’s BYOC (Build Your Own Cloud) business unit start with the aBeing One cross-platform “smart center” mini-PC. Announced in February, and due to ship in the third quarter, the aBeing One lets users share files and remotely control devices running different operating systems. Acer did not have images of the device, but a 3DNews report , translated from the Russian in this UnlockPWD story, provides one from a press event.

Acer aBeing One prototype, looking much like an old school toaster
Source: 3DNews

As the name suggests, the aBeing One is the first of several cloud/IoT aBeing products. The device combines Snappy with AOP 3.0 (Acer Open C&C Platform 3.0) and BYOC backend services, in order to “help consumers consolidate and share intelligence, and have full control of their many IoT devices,” says Acer. The device will be available with other development modules “for creating smart living and working applications, as well as an experimental platform for alliance members,” says the company.

“Our aim is to accelerate time to market for all those who are investing time, energy and creativity in IoT projects,” stated Mark Yang, Director of IoT Solution of BYOC Business Unit at Acer. “Working together we can combine clever technology like Snappy with go-to-market experience, incentivizing the developer community to design more and more innovative Snappy apps to run on Acer hardware. This collaboration is just the start of more to come for the world of IoT.”

Microsoft and DataArt predictive maintenance

Canonical had the least to say about the collaboration with Microsoft and DataArt on a Snappy-based industrial predictive maintenance platform. The device can be set up in minutes and integrates cloud services, Big Data, machine learning, and Docker containers, says the company. The system supports Snappy Apps, DataArt’s DeviceHive M2M communication framework, and the Juju Charms cloud deployment application, all running on OpenStack and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platforms.

Despite being the backer of the most prominent Linux desktop distribution, as well as a competitor with Microsoft cloud and server distributions, Canonical has collaborated with Microsoft in the past. For example, the company has worked to bring its Juju DevOps tools to windows and port Windows Server to OpenStack. Unlike the testimonials provided by Acer and GE, however, Microsoft’s quote made no mention of Canonical or Snappy.

Snappy background

“Snappy” Ubuntu Core, which is also called Snappy on Devices, was formally introduced in last month’s Ubuntu 15.04. Billed as the smallest and most secure edition of Ubuntu, Snappy is a lightweight, transactionally updated distribution that spans cloud container hosts and embedded devices. As such, it provides a platform that’s ready made for cloud-connected IoT networks.

Snappy integrates a cloud interface and a common app store, and has a modest minimum requirement of 128MB RAM and a 600MHz CPU. It also provides automatic smartphone-like software updates, including security safeguards that are said to block unauthorized software updates. Recommended development environments include the BeagleBone Black and Odroid-C1 SBCs.

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