Home > Debian, Hardware, Linux, Marvell Armada > The World’s Cheapest Linux Computer? Pogoplug Mobile Now Sells for $7

The World’s Cheapest Linux Computer? Pogoplug Mobile Now Sells for $7

Somebody asked “Anyone knows a computer cheaper than a Raspberry Pi with a network interface?” on Google+ mini PCs community. Some OpenWRT routers such as TPLink WR703N selling for about $20, or the VoCore Wi-Fi module selling for about the same price (Wi-Fi only) were parts of the answers, and I also mentioned some HDMI TV dongles that now sell for around $35, which is still a little cheaper than the Raspberry Pi model B when one considers shipping. But I found the answer by dhead666 particularly interesting:

Pogoplug Mobile goes for 7$ on Amazon and that includes psu and network cable.
It run Linux great (I’m using Arch) but you will want to have a ttl-usb cable and soldering iron available in case you manage to mess u-boot (go to the doozan’s forums for more info about the u-boot).

Let’s have a look.

PogoplugPogoplug Mobile is not a new device, as I wrote about it as far back as 2011, but it was certainly not selling for $7 at the time.

Pogoplug Mobile has the following specifications:

  • Processor – Marvell Kirkwood 88F6192 ARMv5TE compliant processor @ 800 MHz
  • System Memory – 128 MB RAM
  • Storage – 128 MB NAND + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port

You can find a review of the device, including board and device pictures, on SmallnetBuilder. The product is sold as a backup device connected to a cloud service, but as we’ll see below, you can also install Arch Linux ARM. There are also other Pogoplug models with USB 3.0 and SATA II, but obviously they cost more.

Pogoplug_Mobile_Rear

What about the $7 claim? Pogoplug Mobile can indeed be found on Amazon for about $7, and it’s actually one of the best selling items in the NAS category. I’ve also looked for other models with SATA and USB 3.0, and gotthe following price list

If Amazon US won’t ship to your country, it’s also available on Ebay, but you’ll have to shop around as shipping costs may be prohibitive…

Even at $7, it’s not really a Raspberry Pi killer, as there’s no video output, and it does not seem you have easy access to GPIOs, yet for headless non-embedded applications it looks certainly interesting especially for storage application as it provides Gigabit Ethernet which should be much faster than the 10/100M Ethernet via USB you get with the Raspberry Pi, and it’s a very cheap way to connect any USB hard drive to the network. At this price it’s almost like they sell you the Ethernet cable and power supply, and give you the device for free. The Series 4 are also cost effective if you want SATA, more USB ports, and extra performance with USB 3.0.

To say the least the reviews on Amazon are mixed, with many people saying the device does not work as expected, and they lost their files. Luckily the Pogoplugs are hackable, and instructions to run Arch Linux ARM from SD card are indeed available for Pogoplug Mobile and Pogoplug Series v4, and somebody also managed to boot Debian. There are various instructions from people who played with this extra cheap device on the net.

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  1. darethehair
    July 19th, 2014 at 22:52 | #1

    Predictably, though this sells on Amazon.ca (for Canadians), the price is $28.90 instead of $6.98 :(

  2. Jon Smirl
    July 20th, 2014 at 01:10 | #2

    These devices are subsidized. They are used to get you to sign up to the Pogoplug cloud storage service. If you sign up for cloud storage directly on their site they will send you one for free. I do not believe it is possible to build one of these and ship for free on Amazon for $6.98.

    Of course it is always fun to take advantage of subsidized hardware.

  3. Stephen Bell
    July 20th, 2014 at 01:46 | #3

    @Jon Smirl

    Like the $200 Chromebooks, which are flashed Nix asap.

  4. Rallias
    July 20th, 2014 at 02:06 | #4

    Correction: You wrote about it in 2011, not 2001

  5. STiAT
    July 20th, 2014 at 07:22 | #5

    Interesting only if I have 10 of them. My concern: 128 MB RAM. You can run Linux, but seriously, applications got way more hungry nowdays.

  6. July 20th, 2014 at 10:08 | #6

    @darethehair
    It seems impossible to get it for $7, or even close to that, outside of the US, especially when factoring in the shipping fee.

  7. darethehair
    July 21st, 2014 at 19:41 | #7

    @cnxsoft True enough! For example, shipping on eBay kills the deal entirely :(

  8. dhead666
    July 21st, 2014 at 21:21 | #8

    @cnxsoft
    There is a large number of us address forwarding services, some are dirt cheap, some will also ship via sea so large packages will be economic to ship.
    Depending where you live some of these services also handles custom release and will send you a unified invoice that includes all the customs fees and vat.

    I use a service that only ship to my home country but I read positive feedback about Shipito which ship internationally.

  9. bibo
    July 24th, 2014 at 21:02 | #9

    @dhead666 do you have one cheap for me? shipping to europe? Thanks!

  10. bibo
    July 25th, 2014 at 04:06 | #10

    Shipito is indeed quiet cheap, 10$ to ship in France. Too bad it’s almost the double of the device price, and too slow for me!

  11. David
    September 2nd, 2014 at 00:52 | #11

    I’ve had a number of requests for these pre-loaded with ArchLinuxARM. I’ve put up an ebay listing with ArchLinuxARM pre-installed, an 8GB USB flash-drive, and an ArchLinux stcker. The whole thing (with free shipping to US) is $40. Here’s the link: ebay.com/itm/131270773585

  12. Paul
    September 13th, 2014 at 22:46 | #12

    After this post went up, the price on Amazon rose by bind-boggling 50%.

  13. Tired_
    September 22nd, 2014 at 02:13 | #13

    Any alternatives? I’m looking for something I can use to turn a USB hard drive into an FTP server for my local network, and I’d like to find something cheaper than a Pi. The cheapest I can find these Pogoplug Mobiles for (to ship to Canada) is $40.

  1. July 22nd, 2014 at 04:11 | #1