Computers

StormFly puts an operating system on your wrist

StormFly puts an operating sys...
Barcelona's Now Computing has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring its StormFly operating-system-on-a-wristband to market
Barcelona's Now Computing has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring its StormFly operating-system-on-a-wristband to market
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Although StormFly doesn't require access to the internet to work, one of the biggest selling points for the security-conscious is that ability to go online using a host computer and not leave any traces of your activity on the machine itself
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Although StormFly doesn't require access to the internet to work, one of the biggest selling points for the security-conscious is that ability to go online using a host computer and not leave any traces of your activity on the machine itself
At its heart sits an open source operating system that's bootable on most modern (64-bit) PCs and Macs with the help of proprietary smart-boot technology
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At its heart sits an open source operating system that's bootable on most modern (64-bit) PCs and Macs with the help of proprietary smart-boot technology
Kids using shared computers at school can use their own operating system with StormFly, without impacting on the machine being used
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Kids using shared computers at school can use their own operating system with StormFly, without impacting on the machine being used
StormFly boasts fast read/write speeds thanks to the inclusion of USB 3.0, benefits from 128-bit encryption, and makes use of a host machine's system memory
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StormFly boasts fast read/write speeds thanks to the inclusion of USB 3.0, benefits from 128-bit encryption, and makes use of a host machine's system memory
StormFly has been designed as an alternative to cloud-based computing which, according to Now Computing, can be cumbersome, slow, sometimes ugly, and not always available
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StormFly has been designed as an alternative to cloud-based computing which, according to Now Computing, can be cumbersome, slow, sometimes ugly, and not always available
Once the host computer's hardware has been redirected to StormFly, users can play, work, download and enjoy time at the computer using personalized settings without impacting on the host
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Once the host computer's hardware has been redirected to StormFly, users can play, work, download and enjoy time at the computer using personalized settings without impacting on the host
Barcelona's Now Computing has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring its StormFly operating-system-on-a-wristband to market
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Barcelona's Now Computing has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring its StormFly operating-system-on-a-wristband to market
If you don't want or need an OS on your wrist, StormFly can be used like any other thumb drive
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If you don't want or need an OS on your wrist, StormFly can be used like any other thumb drive
Unlike a LiveCD Linux effort that you might be able to create on your own USB flash drive, StormFly is claimed to have full app and file persistence
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Unlike a LiveCD Linux effort that you might be able to create on your own USB flash drive, StormFly is claimed to have full app and file persistence
Users can opt to pay an annual subscription to have the device back itself up online whenever it gets connected – if your StormFly gets lost or stolen, you can then buy a replacement with all of your files and settings loaded onto it
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Users can opt to pay an annual subscription to have the device back itself up online whenever it gets connected – if your StormFly gets lost or stolen, you can then buy a replacement with all of your files and settings loaded onto it
StormFly's shared folder is visible to computers running other operating systems – which means that users can drop a video into the folder while using a Windows PC, for example, and view it later on a Macbook booted into the StormFly system
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StormFly's shared folder is visible to computers running other operating systems – which means that users can drop a video into the folder while using a Windows PC, for example, and view it later on a Macbook booted into the StormFly system
StormFly on display at MineCon in Paris recently
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StormFly on display at MineCon in Paris recently
Now Computing introduces young Minecrafters to StormFly at MineCon in Paris recently
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Now Computing introduces young Minecrafters to StormFly at MineCon in Paris recently
View gallery - 13 images

As I know only too well from personal experience, factors such as damaging or space-hogging downloads, personalized desktops, tweaked settings or all manner of accumulated digital detritus can have serious effects on the performance of shared computers. Super Talent offered some welcome relief to PC users in 2010 with its Express RAM Cache thumb drives, allowing users to carry their own virtual desktop, personal files and favorite programs from computer to computer. Now Computing out of Barcelona, Spain, has taken the next logical step by throwing a full operating system on a wrist-worn flash drive. StormFly bypasses the resident PC or Mac operating system completely, so it doesn't leave a trace of user activity, and includes enough space for personal files and user settings.

StormFly has been designed as an alternative to cloud-based computing which, according to Now Computing, can be cumbersome, slow, sometimes ugly, and not always available. At its heart sits an open source operating system that's bootable on most modern (64-bit) PCs and Macs with the help of proprietary smart-boot technology. The 16 GB wristband-based pre-production prototype also boasts fast read/write speeds thanks to the inclusion of USB 3.0, benefits from 128-bit encryption (a password is required during the boot process for added security), and makes use of a host machine's system memory.

Once the host computer's hardware has been redirected to StormFly, users can play, work, download and enjoy time at the computer using personalized settings without impacting on the host
Once the host computer's hardware has been redirected to StormFly, users can play, work, download and enjoy time at the computer using personalized settings without impacting on the host

A StormFly user starts by plugging the wristband into the USB port of the host machine and rebooting or booting from cold. The boot process is then interrupted (instructions are provided) and the hardware redirected to run from StormFly. Then you're ready to play, work, download and enjoy your time at the computer using your own personalized settings (wall paper, mouse cursors, icons and so on) without impacting on the host.

Half of the available storage space is taken up by whatever Linux OS is running on the device, together with system files (including device driver management) and installed programs. There's 4 GB for user settings and personal information and the rest is allocated for a shared folder.

Everything except the shared folder is password protected, and this folder is visible outside of StormFly's system – meaning that users can drop a video into the folder while using a Windows PC, for example, and view it later on a Macbook booted into the StormFly system.

Unlike a LiveCD Linux effort that you might be able to create on your own USB flash drive, StormFly is claimed to have full app and file persistence (meaning that apps and files are retained at every reboot), and if you don't want or need an OS on your wrist, it can be used like any other thumb drive.

Users can opt to pay an annual subscription to have the device back itself up online whenever it gets connected – if your StormFly gets lost or stolen, you can then buy a replacement with all of your files and settings loaded onto it
Users can opt to pay an annual subscription to have the device back itself up online whenever it gets connected – if your StormFly gets lost or stolen, you can then buy a replacement with all of your files and settings loaded onto it

Although StormFly doesn't require access to the internet to work, one of the biggest selling points for security-conscious folks like myself is the ability to go online using a host computer and not leave any traces of your activity on the machine itself.

Now Computing is also introducing a rather refreshing take on the back-up of data. Users can opt to pay an annual subscription of US$19.99 to have the device back itself up to the company's encrypted servers whenever it gets online. Should a StormFly wristband get lost or stolen, a new one can be ordered from Now Computing (for $49) and the company will create a replacement using the last saved backup. This will then be sent out by courier. Sweet.

StormFly for Education

Sadly, StormFly is not yet available to buy. Now Computing has launched on Kickstarter to help provide the financial push needed to finalize the product and bring it to market. A pledge of $59 will secure an orange- or black-colored StormFly (three months backup service included). The Evangelist level for $199 includes lifetime backup and one replacement StormFly. If successful, backers could get to wear and use StormFly as early as April.

Sources: Now Computing, Kickstarter

View gallery - 13 images
6 comments
Razorpetti37
You can easily do this with any large capacity USB thumb drive using Pendrive and a Linux distro (not a Linux LiveCD). Am I missing something special about this?
Nairda
This one comes in a stylish arm band thats what :)
If someone could create an app to run on a droid phone eg Galaxy/Note and provide a touch screen supported Linux distro (not Android), that would be something.
The app would load a VM container with the chosen distro. Just so its trendy your phone needs to be concealed on your forearm with a sports armband. Under a trendy long sleeve hoodie of course. :b
Kevin E. James
Don't the kids each need a computer to plug onto and reboot?
Ed Barcelona
They now have a 32 Gb version! It is making the pledges soar...
Mark Bergen
@Razorpetti37 They don't make it really clear, but it isn't just an usb-stick. It a 32gb SSD drive with USB 3.0 - that makes is faster and better useable than a regular usb-stick. For all the reading and writing an OS does, you would really need it to be SSD instead of normal Flash-memory (and such).
Also, for the lazy among us, they partitioned it quite nicely; there's 12gb for the OS, 10gb for /home (always nice to do this on a separate partition) and 10gb for a shared folder (FAT formatted, so accessible for all other OS's and TV's and other stuff that supports usb).
(also there's no annoying boot menu the LiveCD shows you; Ubuntu boots as if it was actually installed on your computer)
I personally really like the project. If you agree, please support this Kickstarter!
Foxy1968
The idea is on the right track. Making parents come up with the price of an ipad for a school student is expensive and the number that would end up with cracked screens make it an unrealistic proposal but this is what is happening in schools right now.
Something needs to be done about the people in charge of making these decisions.
If the students were given something like a Raspberry Pi, and provided a keyboard and monitor in each class room that connected them to a citrix system that they could connect to at school and from home there would be no problem with replacing lost, stolen or broken devices and no students coming to school complaining that their latest assignment was on the laptop or ipad that they lost or broke. Providing a platform with everyone on an even playing field where rich and poor have the same oportunity.