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Creating Your First Chumby Widget – Part Three: Testing Your Application on the Chumby

In parts one and two of this series, we learned how to build an app for the Chumby, and how to connect to the Chumby via SSH. In part three, we will all of this knowledge to use and finally get our application running on the Chumby device!

Though there are a few methods for testing your application on your Chumby, I find the fastest and thus most useful way to be to tell the Chumby to load your application using SSH. To do this we will first need to setup a simple web server on your local computer so that the Chumby can find your application files. Ready? Let’s go!

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Accessing the Geek Menu on Your Chumby Device

Have you ever wished that your Chumby had a secret menu that would allow you to enable all sorts of cool functionality like SSH, and the ability to get Screenshots? No? Well too bad, I’m gonna tell you how to do it anyways!

I will be demonstrating how to accomplish this using the Chumby 8; however, it should be a very similar process on any other Chumby device. I have also written a tutorial on this topic specifically for the Insignia Infocast 8.

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How to Enable SSH on the Chumby 8

“Secure Shell or SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices.” (Secure Shell – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ).

What does this mean, and why should it matter to a Chumby developer? To put it simply, SSH allows us to easily connect to the Chumby device through the command line. In turn, this let’s us force the Chumby to do our bidding (insert evil laugh here). What might you want to tell your Chumby device to do? Well, for starters, you might want to tell it to run your application. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to test and debug your Chumby apps. If you’d like to learn more about creating and testing Chumby apps, you can read my full blog post on the topic HERE! But first, make sure you read through this tutorial and get SSH enabled on your Chumby!

Before you can enable SSH, you will first need to unlock the mysteries of the hidden Geek Menu. If you are unfamiliar with how to access the Geek Menu, I recommend that you read my blog post “Accessing the Geek Menu on Your Chumby Device” before continuing. If you’re already skilled in the arts of Chumby geekery, then feel free to move to the next step!


Once you’ve made your way into the Geek Menu, enabling SSH is a simple matter of clicking the button labeled “SSHD.” You should see a small Chumby logo appear next to the button, then quickly disappear. SSH is now enabled on your chumby device!

It’s important to note that SSH will only stay enabled until you reboot your Chumby. If you shut down your device, then start it up again, you will need to go through these steps again to re-enable SSH.

If you’re lazy like me, and don’t want to have to go through the process of enabling SSH each time you restart your device, you can SSH into your Chumby and enter the following command:

Once this command has been entered, SSHD will be enabled on your Chumby device by default! You can find more info. on this as well ass other cool tips and tricks at you can do with SSH at: Chumby tricks – ChumbyWiki

That’s all there is to it! Now that you have SSH enabled, why not check out my post on “Connecting to a Chumby Device Over SSH.”

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How to Update Your Chumby’s Firmware

In this tutorial I’ll walk you through the process of updating the firmware for the Insignia Infocast 8″ and the Chumby 8 (both follow the same steps). You might be wondering why you would want to update your firmware. The main reason is that the latest firmware contains updates to support Actionscript 3.0. So if you’re looking to do any AS3 development for the Chumby, you will need one of the devices listed in this tutorial with the latest firmware installed on it (note: there will be additional devices released in the future that also support AS3).

If you have an older Chumby device, the process for updating the firmware is still the same.

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How to enable SSH on the 8″ Insignia Infocast (Chumby)

“Secure Shell or SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices.” (Secure Shell – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ).

What does this mean, and why should it matter to a Chumby developer? To put it simply, SSH allows us to easily connect to the Chumby device through the command line. In turn, this let’s us force the Chumby to do our bidding (insert evil laugh here). What might you want to tell your Chumby device to do? Well, for starters, you might want to tell it to run your application. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to test and debug your Chumby apps. If you’d like to learn more about creating and testing Chumby apps, you can read my full blog post on the topic HERE! But first, make sure you read through this tutorial and get SSH enabled on your Chumby!

Before you can enable SSH, you will first need to unlock the mysteries of the hidden Geek Menu. If you are unfamiliar with how to access the Geek Menu, I recommend that you read my blog post “Accessing the Geek Menu on the Insignia Infocast 8″” before continuing. If you’re already skilled in the arts of Chumby geekery, then feel free to move to the next step!


Once you’ve made your way into the Geek Menu, enabling SSH is a simple matter of clicking the button labeled “SSHD.” You should see a small Chumby logo appear next to the button, then quickly disappear. SSH is now enabled on your chumby device!

It’s important to note that SSH will only stay enabled until you reboot your Chumby. If you shut down your device, then start it up again, you will need to go through these steps again to re-enable SSH.

If you’re lazy like me, and don’t want to have to go through the process of enabling SSH each time you restart your device, you can SSH into your Chumby and enter the following command:

Once this command has been entered, SSHD will be enabled on your Chumby device by default! You can find more info. on this as well ass other cool tips and tricks at you can do with SSH at: Chumby tricks – ChumbyWiki

That’s all there is to it! Now that you have SSH enabled, why not check out my post on “Connecting to a Chumby Device Over SSH.”

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Getting Screenshots From Your Chumby Device

As I was going through the process of writing my tutorials for the Chumby devices, I found myself wanting to get screenshots from the device to help better illustrate the various menus and screens that I was describing. Luckily for me, Chumby was one step ahead of me on this! On the Chumby there is a hidden menu, lovingly referred to as the “Geek Menu”, that gives you the ability to enable some extra features. One of these features, called “FBCGI” (short for Frame Buffer to CGI), copies the latest image from the frame buffer (i.e. whats currently displayed on the screen) to the cgi-bin directory on the device. You can then access these image files (screenshots) through your browser. The process for enabling FBCGI and accessing the screenshots is outlined below:

Enabling FBCGI
The first step to enabling FBCGI is to access the hidden “Geek Menu.” If you don’t know how to do this, you will want to read my tutorial “Accessing the Geek Menu on Your Chumby Device” before continuing.

I will be demonstrating how to accomplish this using the Chumby 8; however, it should be a very similar process on any other Chumby device.


To enable FBCGI, simply click on the FBCGI button (logical, right?)

Accessing the Screenshots
Now that you have FBCGI enabled, you will be able to access images of whatever is currently beingdisplayed on your device’s screen. How you access these images will depend on whether you are currently in the control panel, or viewing an app. The reason for this is that there is a separate frame buffer for each of these views. Frame buffer 0 (fb0) holds images of your widgets, while frame buffer 1 (fb1) holds images of the control panel.

To access screenshots of the control panel:
Open up a browser and go to the following url: your.devices.ip.address/cgi-bin/custom/fb1

To access screenshots of your widgets:
Open up a browser and go to the following url: your.devices.ip.address/cgi-bin/custom/fb0

That’s all there is to it! Now you can take screenshots of all the great apps you develop for the Chumby to show off in your portfolio!

Next Steps:
Check out some of my other Chumby related tutorials!




Creating Your First Chumby Widget – Part Two: Getting Connected

If you missed part one of this series “Creating You First Chumby Widget – Part One: Setting up Your Files,” I suggest you take a moment and browse through it before starting this section. For those of you who have already completed part one, welcome back! In this part of the series I will walk you through the process of updating the firmware on your Chumby device, enabling SSH, and finally connecting to your device over SSH.

Get Yourself a Chumby:
Now that everyone’s caught up and has a working application that they want to publish to the Chumby, there is just one more thing you need: A Chumby device. This may sound like common sense, but I feel it’s important to note that in order to properly test your application, you will need to get a Chumby device. At the time of this writing there are no Chumby emulators available, so the only way to fully test your application is to get your hands on a device. That being said, not all Chumby devices support Actionscript 3.0, so before deciding which device to buy, you will want to make sure that it supports Actionscript 3.0. You can find a list of Chumby devices that DO support Actionscript 3.0 HERE.

Update Your Firmware:
In order to run AS3 based applications on your Chumby device, you will need to make sure that you have the latest developer firmware installed. You can get the latest firmware for your device at the links below:

Enable SSH:
I know to some of you SSH might sound like some hard-core technology reserved for uber-nerds and computer science majors, but fear not, by the end of this tutorial, you too will be able to wield the pure power of SSH to allow you to test your application on your Chumby device as well as getting trace output and other debugging info.

The first step to connecting to your Chumby via SSH is to enable SSH on the Chumby Device (logical, right?). You can find out just how to do that at the links below:

Connect to Your Chumby Over SSH:
Now that SSH is enabled, let’s put it to work. The first thing we are going to need to do is open our SSH client, and connect to the Chumby. If you are unfamiliar with using an SSH client, or have no idea what I am talking about, check out my post “Connecting to Your Chumby Device Over SSH,” which explains what an SSH client is, where to get one, and how to use it to connect to your Chumby. If you are already a master of the command line, and know how to use SSH, you still want to briefly review the steps in the tutorial that outline how to connect to your Chumby using an SSH client.

Next Steps:
I know this may seem like a lot of work, but were almost there! I promise you, once you get through setting up and testing this first application, this will all be a breeze. In the part three of this series, we will finally get down to the fun stuff: Getting your application running on the Chumby!

Creating Your First Chumby Widget – Part Three: Testing Your Application on the Chumby



Connecting to Your Chumby Device Over SSH

So you’ve got yourself a shiny new Chumby Device and want to know how to connect to it over SSH so you can start testing all the cool Flash apps your building for it (obviously this would be the first thing anyone would think to do, not, I don’t know, playing with the device or loading it up with hundreds of cool apps that other people have created.. I digress..) The first, and most important, step in this process is to make sure that you Enable SSH on your Chumby device. Luckily for you, I have written a couple of blog posts outlining just how to do this on a number of Chumby devices.

Once SSH is enabled on your device, you will need to get your hands on an SSH client (this is what allows you to connect to the device and enter commands). How you accomplish this will depend on whether you are using a Mac or a PC:

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What the FLOCK!?

A while back I downloaded the Flock, a new “social” browser that had a bunch of nice tools to help you stay connected with your social networks and various other online outlets. While it did not replace Firefox and Chrome as my defacto browser, some of the built in features (specifically the offline/online blog editor) earned it a stable place in my application folder. Today, while looking for a new desktop blog editor, I decided to give Flock another shot. I opened up the built-in blog editor and, after being unable to load up a saved draft from my WordPress account, decided to upgrade to “New Flock” (The resemblance to “New Coke” would soon become apparent), hoping that this feature would have been added by now. To my surprise, not only was the feature not added, but the entire blog editor had been removed from the Flock browser altogether! They didn’t stop with the Blog editor though, they decided to pull every feature that made their browser unique and even remotely useful, and stripped it down to a half-assed Firefox competitor with a few features to connect you to Facebook and Twitter. Long story short, Flock has now been permanently removed from my computer. I feel bad for anyone that invested in that company…