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Private file and mail server gizmo runs Ubuntu

Jun 6, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,391 views

OpenProducts is prepping an Ubuntu-based private file and email server called OPI with LUKS-based microSD encryption, and optional USB or cloud backup.

Like’s recently announced Sherlybox, the OpenProducts OPI device runs Linux, and is intended to enable a private cloud controlled solely by the user. While the Sherlybox is more of a network attached storage (NAS) device with optional onboard storage, OPI is a multifaceted, secure server that offers NAS-like access to external storage. Unlike the Lima device, which depends on USB storage, OPI instead uses encrypted microSD storage.

OpenProducts OPI
(click images to enlarge)

The OpenProducts OPI has 10 days left on Indiegogo to snag the remaining $3,000 of its $10,000 “flexible funding” goal. Unlike many crowdfunded projects, such as Lima, which are launched essentially in the concept stage, OPI is ready to go, with shipments promised for later this month. Packages start at $119 with an 8GB memory card, or $135 with a wall mount and power supply. Both include three free months to the OpenProducts cloud backup service.

The backup service is optional, however, and unlike the private cloud feature on Qnap’s TS-x51 NAS device, there’s no third-party cloud service required to act as an intermediary for remote access. It’s your own private, NSA- and Google-free paradise. The OPI Indiegogo site quotes some rather unsettling fine print from the Google Terms of Service that suggests why a private cloud service might be worth the expense.


OpenProducts was launched in 2011 in Sweden by Tor Krill and PA Nilsson. Krill previously ran Excito, which made the Linux-based Bubba and Bubba Two file and print servers.

Although OPI has an internal firewall, it’s not a firewall appliance or a router, and it does not anonymize Internet sessions (i.e, Tor Krill did not build a Tor router). Multiple layers of encryption, however, should keep the baddies at bay.

OPI in action
(click image to enlarge)

The device supports multiple users, letting you provide synchronized access to friends and colleagues to files, multiple email accounts, and shared calendars and contacts. It’s also designed for storing and sharing photos, but it’s not a multimedia streaming device like the Sherlybox.

An Android app provides access to data, and you can also use clients such as common web browsers, Microsoft Exchange, Thunderbird, and Evolution. Some other applications may require a plugin to provide access.

Inside OPI
(click image to enlarge)

The OPI device is much smaller and faster than the earlier Bubba servers. It runs a derivative of Ubuntu 14.04 on a Texas Instruments AM3352 Sitara system-on-chip with a single 1GHz Cortex-A8 core. The 105 x 105 x 25mm box consumes a mere 1.5 Watts, says OpenProducts.

There’s no WiFi, which could compromise security. An Ethernet port is the sole communications conduit, with all data encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS), the successor to SSL.

OPI ships with 512MB of DDR3 RAM, 2GB of onboard eMMC flash, and a microSD slot for data cards ranging from 8GB to 64GB. All primary storage is located on encrypted microSD cards. There’s a USB mini-B port that can be used for local backup storage. It can also be used for plugging in a USB key to authenticate access during booting, or as an optional power source, along with the available 5V DC jack.

The SD card encryption uses LUKS encryption in conjunction with AES encryption. Other stack components built upon the mostly unmodified Linux kernel include the Nginx web server, the Dovecot IMAP server, and the Roundcube web mail client. OPI uses Owncloud for contacts, calendar, and file sync webdav access, and it calls upon S3QL for backup. A free dynamic DNS service is also available.

Further information

OPI funding packages start at $119 with 8GB of storage. Although at publication time the product’s funding goal has not been reached, the campaign is being conducted under Indiegogo’s “flexible funding” rules, so they get to keep nearly all the funds collected in the event that full funding is not achieved. The funding round ends June 15, after which the prices will be higher, and products are due to begin shipping in June 2014. More information may be found at the OPI Indiegogo page and the OpenProducts website.

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5 responses to “Private file and mail server gizmo runs Ubuntu”

  1. joe says:

    runs ubuntu
    thats too bad

    • Tor Krill says:

      Sorry to hear that you find Ubuntu a bad choice of distro.

      We chose Ubuntu since the 14.04 is a long time support release upon which we could base our adaptations.

      Furthermore since Ubuntu is derived upon Debian, a distribution which we like very much. Unfortunately there where no good stable release to use atm Jessie has no set release date yet otherwise we most likely would have used that.

      Can i ask what your preference of distribution would have been Joe?

      • DDevine says:

        Ubuntu is a turn-off for me too. Debian, even it’s perceived “unstable” is still most likely a much better choice. It’s unfortunate that there is no CentOS for ARM yet… Though, give it a year or so and there will probably be something to fill that space – Fedora Server at the very least.

        It sounds like software this box runs is very similar to the personal setup I have created for my self and have successfully been using for a few years now :)

        It’s a pity that personal/small scale mail is not a bigger concern of the open source community – though I’m working on it…

      • Frank says:

        It would be nice to have eventual support for Debian. Just because the Debian model allows for more stable support long-term; sticking with an LTS Ubuntu means 2 years of outdated packages and then maybe an upgrade to something modern if we’re lucky.

        But I assume this is an issue with the drivers? Would you be willing to give out more information on what the chips inside are, and what the support state is like? Since it’s not doing OpenGL, we could assume a good level of Linux support. I don’t think this is for the casual user, but rather those of us that really want Debian for one reason or another.


        • Tor Krill says:

          Hi Frank,

          As a small company we unfortunately only have resources to support one distribution. With that said a change to Debian is not totally unlikely in the future. Further more since we really like when people doing cool stuff with our devices we most likely will provide an unsupported Debian bare bone installation and rolling your own installer isn’t very difficult.

          The main reason for choosing Ubuntu apart from the “stable” reason is that we need many up to date packages such as a python3. And as a comment on hw-drivers we actually uses our own kernel package that is more or less an unmodified kernel. (Currently 3.15.1)

          Regarding hardware you can find some info here but basically it is a BeagleBone black derivative.

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