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Linux Business Hardware

Small Footprint Computers 297

Posted by timothy
from the cuteness dept.
Robert Cliff writes "VIA's Mini-ITX based computers have been covered in Slashdot before, but not by this company. This product is interesting because it is a SiS based, fanless 233 MHZ system measuring only 4.75 x 6.25 x 1.9 inches, and it can run off BOTH AC and DC. If you need something larger / powerful, they have other Mini-ITX based systems, which they claim is built "on same factory that builds the cases for many high-end audio products". These guys seem to be heavily promoting Linux."
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Small Footprint Computers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:49PM (#6296704)
    "VIA's Mini-ITX based computers have been covered in Slashdot before, but not by this company."

    Um, this company builds Mini-ITX computers or do they cover/review them?

    Or is it Slashdot that builds them or this company that builds them?

    Errr, um, I'm confused.
    • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:51PM (#6296740) Homepage
      I see your confusion. They also seem to be building their machines outside, on the roof:

      they have other Mini-ITX based systems, which they claim is built "on same factory that builds the cases for many high-end audio products".
      • I love my mini-itx server, but the built-in NIC just plain craps out on me when I'm uploading large quantities of MP3s to it via Samba. Anyone else running Clarkconnect (RH-based) see the same thing?
        • Since your problem is with Samba (which I assume is just on the LAN side), this might not really help, but I also run CC and I've had some problems with my public connection dying. I found a few suggestions on the CC forums which mostly focus on doing some bandwidth limiting to keep things from overloading. Someone there frequently suggests using a bandwidth-managing app called Wondershaper (not included with CC). Maybe that could be configured to just manage the LAN-side NIC.

          Anyway, there are a few gur
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:51PM (#6296733)
    This article has nothing to do with the RIAA or SCO. What the fuck am I supposed to complain about in my comment?
  • by tuba_dude (584287) <tuba.terry@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:51PM (#6296737) Homepage Journal
    I don't know, it seems like a pointless plug for these guys, but with linux pre-installed, it also seems worth it.

    Also, since I can't resist:
    Imagine a beowulf cluster of these...on a BOOKCASE!

  • by pbranes (565105) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:51PM (#6296739)
    I don't think I would get near it if that gross hand comes with it.
  • Nice (Score:5, Funny)

    by fudgefactor7 (581449) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:52PM (#6296747)
    Now I can have an answer to the age old question "Are you happy to see me or is that a computer in your pocket?"
  • I'm interested in placing an ad similar to this one for the upcoming release of "The Art of Computer Programming, Volume Four".

    Which of your departments at OSDN should I contact to take advantage of this wonderful marketing opportunity? If I wish to purchase more than one article, is there any volume pricing available?
  • I've been begging (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ToadMan8 (521480) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:53PM (#6296757)
    for one of these for some time now. I would like to put it with wifi in the back of my car and run a custom (read: linux) mp3 server. Now all I need to tack down is the touch screen LCD interface for it (seriously). A little LCD (must be at least 300 whatever brightness units to see in the sunlight of a car interior) isn't bad on it's own, but with touchscreen it's a bit more pricy. Oh, and I don't yet understand how to interface it with a normal OS like a desktop linux or windows (god forbid). Any suggestions? Anybody done anything like this? This appears to be the perfect 'puter for it though ::grin::
    • Re:I've been begging (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dstrct0 (442821)
      I know where you can get a cheap LCD touch-screen:

      Look up Softfield Technologies. I think the URL is www.softfield.com [softfield.com].

      I recently picked one up from them for around $40 CDN to replace the one on my PDA. It isn't colour, but I haven't had any trouble with brightness, and the price is mighty good. You might have to rig your own connector to hook one of their screens up to a Mini-ITX machine, but I've heard from a friend that Softfield is really good about providing pinouts and other technical specs upon
    • Re:I've been begging (Score:5, Informative)

      by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:08PM (#6296993)
      Look into the PJRC MP3 board - http://www.pjrc.com/tech/mp3/ . No need for a full computer.
    • You just need to run a few wires back to your computer, and write a script that listens on /dev/ttyS0.

      You can play an mp3 from your script with "mpg321 foo.mp3" or "mpg123 foo.mp43". The former works better IMHO.

      I have an mp3 server in my stereo the shares its file over samba, so that everyone in the house (myself and the winshit lameasses) can get files or add to them.
    • Re:I've been begging (Score:5, Informative)

      by throbbingbrain.com (443482) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:18PM (#6297127)
      Now all I need to tack down is the touch screen LCD interface for it
      Try a Matrix Orbital [matrixorbital.com] VFD. It's bright enough for viewing in direct sunlight.

      It's not touchscreen, but it works well and there's already Linux based software [cajun.nu] to drive it as an MP3 jukebox

      I used a VFD 20x4 display, an IRman IR reciever, and a credit card size remote control in my car. Works great.
    • Re:I've been begging (Score:3, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      Now all I need to tack down is the touch screen LCD interface for it

      Here ya go - EarthLCD (LCD's and kits) [earthlcd.com]
      and EzScreen (Touchscreen kits) [ezscreen.com]
    • for one of these for some time now. I would like to put it with wifi in the back of my car and run a custom (read: linux) mp3 server. Now all I need to tack down is the touch screen LCD interface for it (seriously).

      I think a better (or at least more clever) option would be to use Bluetooth to connect a Palm to it, and use that as the display. Some models (like the Tungsten T) have Bluetooth built in, the displays on pretty much all of the recent Palms are more than readable in any light (and include a

    • http://www.amulettechnologies.com/ [amulettechnologies.com]

      Try these guys - you can write the GUI as HTML with special functions, and it interfaces to a standard serial port. Nice, rapid development, if a little pricey.
    • ebay.

      Get yourself an audrey for the front end. Has an LCD, processor, touch screen. For about $70 on ebay.
      If you strip the audrey from its casings, you may be able to mod the backlight to get the lumens you need.

      Then you can stream commands to whatever jukebox you have in the back to play the mp3s.
  • SiS (Score:4, Informative)

    by Iron Monkey (113162) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:53PM (#6296765)

    From my experience, at least with my vid card, SiS and linux don't mix all that well...

    • Re:SiS (Score:3, Informative)

      by GigsVT (208848) *
      SiS laptop video series don't do acceleration well under linux, but who uses the acceleration with this type of computer/chipset?

      The SiS video isn't much faster than a old TNT or so, even when accelerated.

      I've used Linux with ECS K7S5A and K7SEM and used the onboard video with no trouble, albiet not accelerated.
    • I was looking for a good platform for a home grown TiVo, the GP+ looked just about perfect with its video in/out and networking capability.

      I guess this ain't it.

      myke
      • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Informative)

        by orpheus2000 (166384) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:46PM (#6297409) Journal
        The SiS chipset is the least of your worries for this purpose. You either need an MPEG-1/2/4 hardware decoder/encoder, or a > 1Ghz processor, either of which will throw your form factor off in various ways. 233MHz is pathetic for MPEG work (yes the TiVo has a proc about that fast, but it also has embedded encode/decode chips).

        The guys at MythTV [mythtv.org] have discussed this at length; there is just no small, quiet, cheap, Linux friendly way to make a TiVo. Sorry.
  • This interests me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KingDaveRa (620784) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:54PM (#6296773) Homepage
    I'm the kind of person who would like some sort of constantly running system like this (I want to implement a Cache sometime) so these sorts of systems intrigue me. I couldn't put up with the constant whirr of a full PC, but I could put up with one of these. Trouble is, this one seems so pricey, considering the minimalistic specs. For the price I could build a much faster, more capable system, albeit a lot louder (and a bit bigger - its a MATX case I've got lying about here). Are these guys just aiming for too small a market and pricing themselves out? I think they might be.
  • by tbase (666607) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:54PM (#6296785)
    That little guy has some potential, but that is quite possibly the cheesiest looking case I have ever seen. They should have at least put a blur filter on that picture - Sheesh! How about hitting the mold with a hammer a couple of times to knock the air bubbles out of the plastic, at least for the one you're going to use for the product shot!
  • 233MHz??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ciroknight (601098) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:55PM (#6296788)
    Phhsht. My toaster has a 533MHz processor, and it runs off of AC, DC _and_ chemical energy (aka toast ;)
    • hmm, toast power? do you put in 2 slices of bread, and only get one piece of toast back, the other used for fuel?

      somehow I doubt bread with catch on as a energy source. Think of the distribution problems! bread trucks having accidents and catching fire!

      oh, wait, that hydrogen I'm supposed to be afraid of. carry on.
  • by NightWulf (672561) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:55PM (#6296789)
    But for some reason I think of my computer like my car, if it isn't big, loud and forcing other people to stare at it, it's not good! I want the giant 9 bay tower with the jet engine fans blowing out 100,000CFM of air. Hell you want a nice pc mod, figure out a way to shove a motorcycle muffler on the tower, and add a throttle level to the mouse, rev up your system before the big crunch session.

    The above post about power and tower size has no correlation to the size of my genitalia, ah who am I kidding....

  • by worst_name_ever (633374) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:55PM (#6296792)
    Finally a computer for Beck fans: "What about those who swing both ways, AC-DCs?"

  • $400? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dafoomie (521507) <dafoomie AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:55PM (#6296810) Homepage
    It looks cool and all, but $400 is a little much for a 233mhz system without video. Maybe if you had a specific need for something like this. You only need to go slightly bigger (a few of them stacked on top of each other) and you can have a modern system for around that price.
    • Re:$400? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pla (258480) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @04:45PM (#6298012) Journal
      It looks cool and all, but $400 is a little much for a 233mhz system without video.

      I agree completely.

      I've looked around for something similar, not so much caring about footprint (though preferably not full PC-size) as fanless operation with a moderate level of performance (PII/300 level or so). Although such systems use mostly low-cost OEM parts, they always cost WAY more than their level of performance would suggest.

      Someone want to make a killing? Take a system like this Norhtec GP, kill the frills, splurge a tad on form factor, and sell it for under $200. And if you can kill the HDD and make it use something like a 1GB solid-state IDE, all the better.

      For some reason, companies producing tiny PCs like this seem to pretend that people might actually use it as their primary PC. I don't need USB, or 128MB of ram, or a 10GB HDD, or a high-end 3d video card. As long as it has ethernet, keyboard, maybe mouse, and standard svga, 32MB ram and enough IDE-like disk space to throw Linux on, it will suffice for what I (and most people looking for a small, easy, low power, low maintenance (ie, fanless), low noise PC solution) need. Perfect for NAT boxen, car MP3 players, test-beds for crap you don't want on your "real" machine, instrumentation frontends, cheap-n'-dirty laptop substitute, or just about anything you wouldn't need a full modern machine for anyway.
  • Diskless terminals. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@etoyo c . com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:56PM (#6296822) Homepage Journal
    Depending on the cost (and it would have to be cheap), these would make GREAT xterminals. Hell, as I speak I'm prepping a 233MHz laptop for a new life as a web kiosk/dumb terminal for a coffee shop.

    Of course, this doesn't address the really issue with size: the screen.

    • Prices were listed on the page: (Canadian dollars, I assume, since they are based in Alberta)

      Dual NIC GP 395.00
      Dual NIC GP+ 495.00
      Single NIC GP 375.00
      Single NIC GP+ 475.00


      HARDLY appropriate for X-terminal use. Considering that 533Mhz VIA mini-itx boards are available for about $100USD (probably around $170-$200CAN) I'd have a hard time justifying this unless DC power was a must. Even after buying a cheap mini-itx case you still are ahead.
  • by ahooton (175832) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:57PM (#6296832)
    I have been really hoping some other company would start releasing good mini-itx motherboards, other than Via. Their support for linux on the mini-itx boards is just really, really bad. Why is it that no other companies are releasing this form factor? It will be a huge part of the motherboard market (regardless of the OS), once there is some competition by the board manufacturers. Right now, we're all stuck with just one provider for these boards!

    Is there somebody I have missed that is also making the mini-itx format?

    • There are a couple of companies releaseing to the mini-itx standard now, but not a lot. And though others have claimed good linux support I have yet to get a distro to install on my first gen mini-itx... I've tried SuSe 7.1 personal, 7.1 pro, 8.0 pro, and Redhat 8.

      For all your mini-itx goodness, checkout www.mini-itx.com daily.
  • RMS (Score:4, Funny)

    by threephaseboy (215589) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @02:59PM (#6296856) Homepage
    (from the site)The MicroServer supports many x86 operating systems. This includes Windows 9x, Windows CE.NET, Windows XP embedded, GNU/Linux, BSD, and QNX.

    This company is really RMS in disguise!
  • Soekris (Score:5, Informative)

    by ziegast (168305) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:01PM (#6296887) Homepage
    Another company uses the same concept with more of a specialty for diskless firewall products and wireless. The have good support for OpenBSD /w hardware crypto acceleration as well as Linux and FreeBSD.

    http://soekris.com/

    -ez
  • In other news, norhtec.com anounce the world's fastest coffee-cup-sized computer (your coffee cup isn't 4.75 x 6.25 x 1.9! How do you get any work done?).

    Comparison of SPEC CPU2000 benchmarks against suitably optimized(*) Apple G5 demonstrates mATX computers are infinitely faster than Apples latest offering at both integer and floating point computations.

    (*) G5 test optimized by switching it off. "Its faster that way", claim benchmarking company.

  • Advantech (Score:5, Informative)

    by pokka (557695) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:03PM (#6296911)
    If you want to build your own system, go to Advantech [advantech.com] and choose "Biscuit SBCs". They have fanless, VIA-based 667mhz computers that are roughly the size of 3.5" Hard drives. The computers include almost everything you need: audio, ethernet, VGA, TV out, IRDA, USB, IDE, and CompactFlash support. The only things you need to do yourself would be finding/building a case and finding a stable 5VDC power supply.
  • Here's a question out there with all these "small, cheap machines" being talked about.

    I'd like to get a small computer that I'd only use once a month on Gameday with my friends. All I really care about is that it has a good enough processor for playing Medal of Honor/1942/Warcraft III/etc.

    All I really give a crap about is the AGP slot - I figure I stick 512 MB of RAM, have a "decent" processor, and 50% of the cost is the ATI/Nvidia "cool slick 128 MB piece of hot stuff" inside.

    Who's got an answer for a
    • E-mail me for details or questions or pictures (James {dot} McCracken {at} stratapult {dot} com), but here you go:

      VIA M10000 - 1GHz Nehemiah processor (good enough) - $150
      512 MB RAM (hell 256 MB is probably enough) - $???80???
      HDD (size and type doesn't really matter) - $70
      Video- Two options here:
      1. Get a PCI video card. I know it seems archaic but they still make them and these have decent enough performance compared to having to buy a shuttle.
      2. Get a PCI-AGP converter (www.mini-itx.com has them) a
    • Look at one of the low-end cube PC's, then drop in a Celeron 1.7GHz or so, 30GB HDD and a GeForce4 4200. Pretty cheap, and fairly small.
  • Looks very cool, and the price is actually rather good IMHO for a little guy like that. I've always wanted to use something like this for building a robot. It's a perfect size.

    But first, let's give it a real-world test: a good old-fashioned Slashdotting! I mean, what would it say if a server company can't handle being slashdotted?

    Good so far.
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:06PM (#6296967) Homepage
    Pack a music/video server into the mini-van and give the kids in the backseat two notebooks to play with on the way to the beach/mountains.

    Jamie: "Mom, Jimmy crashed my Windows again!"
    Jimmie: "heheheh"

  • (Patent pending)

    In which the "computer" consists of a number of bricks, assembled much like the child's toy "Lego". The bricks come in standard sizes, half-height, double-length, etc. There are bricks for computing, bricks for storage, bricks for power, for backups, and for i/o.

    To assemble a "system" you simply choose your bricks and click them together. Bricks have universal connectors in each "bump" which exchange power and information.

    Implementation: each brick is a complete computer, and the "syst
  • I am very interested in these (or other) small form factor computers. Especially the fanless models (that's just sweet). But I do have a need for High-speed USB 2.0 (demonstrating image sensors). The specs sheet on the pages don't answer what type of USB the MicroServers come with. I have allready sent them a question, but if any of you readers know the answer, please feel free to email it to dam@yellowcatdesign.com.

    Any suggestions about other small formfactor PC's with High-speed USB 2 are also welcome.

    T
  • 233MHz? Try 100MHz (Score:4, Informative)

    by tbase (666607) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:09PM (#6297004)
    From the "Details" Page: "For example, at 100 Mhz, the SiS 55x offers the same computational power as a 233Mhz MMX."
  • by mnmn (145599) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:13PM (#6297057) Homepage
    Although I cant reach the website, its slashdotted now, Ive been waiting for such computers. I intend to replace cisco routers on many levels with these if they have available PCI slots.

    I think the crashing PC prices will harm the cisco market and might spin off PC based router companies. For this reason, Cisco is focusing on management technologies that cannot be replaced by simply replacing that router. Web-frontends for management software that can manage routers and switches via SNMP and proprietary protocols, and other protocols like the CPD that will become indispensible and will make it hard to go from a $2500 router to a better $200 pc-router.

    And for that reason, there is great potential for free/opensource management software as well as its cliet stubs for Linux/FreeBSD routers firewalls and other SNMP devices. Theres also great potential for an IOS emulation app for Linux/BSD.

    I'm just amazed at how an operating system can run on mainframes and pdas, emulate the binaries of many OSes, have all the functions of any other OS and challenge Sun, Microsoft, Cisco and game console markets in one blow.
    • You can't very well replace a Cisco router with one of these. One of the selling points of those routers is there ability to push so much data they can fill all there ports with full bandwidth. Try doing that with PCI...

      This might not seam important but when you start having networks with multiple routers and switches with such low total bandwidth limitations on each all of a sudden your network will start to really suck.

      If you aren't doing complex things like that then I have to ask why the hell you bo


  • I just got my first Soekris box a few days ago - haven't had much of a chance to play, but they fill the same niche as this northtec stuff *and* they take power over ethernet - very handy for remote deploys - say a router for a wireless network running the MikroTik OS ... http://www.mikrotik.com

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:18PM (#6297126) Journal

    The price problem with these things is usually in the cards. I know because I've been doing a lot of research online, looking for SBCs (Single Board Computers) that I could wedge into something small enough to build my holy grail: a "white box" portable.

    Why not get a laptop? Because I hate the ergonomics and the form factors on laptops, and I hate the proprietary battery tech.

    The most affordable card I've been able to find is made by Wincomm. Google around for it, or just check out BWI [bwi.com]. It's still pricey $350-$450 IIRC. You can even get a fanless Transmeta version for like $100 extra dollars if you're still into that.

    All of these cards are expensive when compared to PCs of comparable performance. I have several theories as to why: 1. They cater to the industrial computing and/or embedded market. When you can get them in onesies and twosies (which isn't always the case) they are going to cost more because these companies usually deal on volume with large manufacturers. 2. In some cases they are "ruggedized" and you pay for that even if you don't really need it. 3. The market is just smaller, so they have to price higher to recoup R&D costs. 4. Hefty licensing fees from chip companies (sometimes you have to pay thousands of dollars just for the rights to a reference design using their chips).

    So, until somebody mass-produces the mobile equivalent of a generic MoBo for mobile CPUs, you're going to pay a premium for small form factors. Also, you would have to have better mechanical standards for connectors and add-on cards. The barriers aren't technical, just structural (as in "business structure"). There is no strong incentive for the power players to do this--yet.

    At some point in the future, somebody will break through all this garbage. When they do, we could see some really exciting and affordable portable clone technology. That's what I'm searching for, and waiting for before I buy new hardware. By then, these cards should be powerful enough for non-jerky video too. They're almost there, but not quite.



    • You can find low cost mini-ATX mainboards at O.N.E. Technologies [onelabs.com]. They produce all mainboard formats including mini-ITX mainboards at costs much lower than embedded vendors and nearer to the costs of mass produced mainboards. They will custom tailor mainboards to your specs and turn around protos in only a few weeks.

      • OK... I've clicked all around their site, and so far I don't see any prices. In fact... I've now navigated their entire site and it's all marketing fluff. It looks like another one of those dealies where they want you to communicate with sales. I automaticly bypass those when searching. Why? Because I'm not mass producing. The time cost of interacting with sales is a factor. Also, I'm inclined to boycott any company that does business like that, because the whole point of such a strategy is to get yo

  • Surely... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gidds (56397) <slashdot@@@gidds...me...uk> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:23PM (#6297170) Homepage
    [fx: resists]

    [fx: resists]

    [fx: gives in] Why does it need BOTH AC and DC? That's a major disadvantage, isn't it, needing both mains and battery power (or a separate power adapter)?

    Erm, unless, erm, it means either AC or DC...

  • Currently, I have an M10000 mini-itx board installed in a $6 KMart toolbox.

    My plan is to create a much smaller case and make the system into a portable DVD player (plus computer).

    Tiny LCD screens can be had for $100. Has anybody else tried this?
    • Where do you get the Tiny LCD screens for $100 ?
      • by Cpt_Kirks (37296)
        Actually, I said less than $100, but the "less than" sign got cut off by slash code.

        Here is one:

        http://www.compgeeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PCM-4

        There are others, but I'm going to be a greedy pig and not reveal the source...until I get mine!

        • by RGRistroph (86936)
          Nice, but it's not a computer monitor. That may not matter if you have TV out or something. I don't think you can hook it up the norhtec device, but some of the mini-ITX boards might have a hookup (especially the ones designed for use in building DVD players and digital video recorders).

          I think there are 640x480 VGA LCDs for sale in Circuit Cellar and Nuts n' Volts and similar places. That would be fine for my purposes, which is basically a linux text-only console, but I think they are generally higher
  • O.k., since this little hand-sized thing is overpriced, does anyone know if there is a reasonably-priced (200-300 USD) 1U-sized box that just comes with, say, a motherboard and Via C3? I've got spare RAM and quiet hard drives lying around. Just looking for the bare-bones, small, quiet system.
  • by grantsellis (537978) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:30PM (#6297253) Homepage
    From the site:
    Features: Tiny footprint - the size of a paperback
    4.75 x 6.25 x 1.90 inches
    At 1.90 inches that's either Robert Jordan or War and Peace.
  • because without so much as a floppy drive, you can't really change the OS. And what would you do if the OS crashed?

    I would really like to have one of these, but the fact that I couldn't recover an unbootable machine without removing the cover (or sending it back to the manufacturer) doesn't sit well with me.

    • Who said you need to remove the cover? These machines support PXE, so all you do to recover your box to pull a kernel off the network and a minimal root filesystem, and *bam* you're in business, no drives of any sort needed. It's a bit tougher in Windows, but still very possible.
  • OpenBrick (Score:4, Informative)

    by 73939133 (676561) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:31PM (#6297270)
    A similar machine is the OpenBrick [openbrick.com]

    One difference is that the Northtec uses a harddisk, while OpenBrick uses CF cards by default.

    Does anybody have any further experience comparing these two machines?

    How well does the video input on the Northtec machine work?
    • Re:OpenBrick (Score:4, Informative)

      by merlin_jim (302773) <James@McCracken.stratapult@com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:35PM (#6297312)
      Keep in mind that CF cards are only rated for 100,000 writes, usually.

      They are not a good replacement for a hard disk. Especially if your operating system is gonna put a pagefile on it. In one test case, the MTBF was 1 month.

      That's about 3,000 page swaps a day. Not unrealistic considering that these mini computers are usually underpowered on RAM...
      • Re:OpenBrick (Score:3, Informative)

        by axxackall (579006)
        RAM is cheaper than CF, so buy enough RAM. And make sure that you just boot from CF. Well, you may write (save) some application data at the end right before shutting down. But keep it read-only the rest of the day.

        If you don't know how to do it than read the latest Gentoo Weekly News [gentoo.org], the section about "LiveCD on USB/CF". With Gentoo it's already clear how to it.

  • Mirror and a plug (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pettifogger (651170) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:34PM (#6297291)
    First, does anyone have a mirror of these sites? They're suffering from the Slashdot Effect right now.

    Second, I've been using a mini-ITX design (Shuttle) for over a year now and am completely satisfied. I'm not a gamer or power user, so it suits my needs just fine and I love the small footprint aluminum case. Best of all, it didn't come with the "Microsoft Tax," either.

    I think the mini-ITX form is going to become increasingly standard over the next few years. The average user does not want a huge tower case when something smaller is available. If Dell, Gateway et al. were smart, they'd start offering a very compact computer, and watch their margins grow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:37PM (#6297318)
    I've been using their high performance (MicroServer HP) model for a few months. At 667 MHz, it is powerful enough for a wide variety of applications and is also virtually silent (the hard drive makes a very small amount of noise). They have a very unique heatsink solution that allows for fanless operation (I've had mine running for weeks without a problem). Definitely worth checking out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I could get rid of a dozen pc systems that are used for home firewalls that need more than 2 interfaces.

    If a company would come out with a cheap mini-pc just like the one in this article(no fans, small, etc) with 3 or 4 interfaces, I bet they would sell like hotcakes for use as cheap linux firewalls that don't take up a huge amount of space and don't sound like a jet engine all the time.

  • At 395$ for the dual NIC version, I think they are a little pricey. The rated power consumption of 5W is rather impressive, though ...
  • by tjowatonna (620270) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @03:56PM (#6297546)
    www.littlepc.com It's the smallest computer I've seen and it's even more powerful if not impossible to upgrade. All you need is a firewire hard drive and you could be all set (if you choose not to have one of those flash hard drives as an option). So it's basically a laptop in the shape of a 5 1/2 in drive bay. Beowulf that!
  • This box is still missing digital connections.

    spdif, so I can digitally hook it to my 5.1 channel amp.

    dvi, so I can digitally hook it to my 21 inch lcd monitor, dvi projector, or plasma screen. ( assuming that I had those things ...)
  • From their pricing page:

    • Single NIC GP+ = $475
    • 15" LCD Monitor (w. speakers) = $300
    • USB DVD ROM = $150
    • Keyboard and Mouse = $20
    • TOTAL: $945

    And the system runs on AC and DC power. So tell me again, why the heck wouldn't you just get a cheapy laptop?

  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:43PM (#6298821) Homepage
    For the units without dvdrom, I don't see a way to boot if/when the internal disk develops some problem. Would you just have to ship it back to them for reconfiguring?
  • by wirespring (605560) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:46PM (#6300020)
    My company wirespring [wirespring.com] uses these [medeawiz.com] little P3 machines for kiosk and digital signage deployments all the time. They're only slightly longer than the nOrhTec product, and they're based on the i815 chipset (great linux support). Our FireCast Linux OS runs MPEG1,2 and 4 on these things great (and there's XV support to boot). Plus, if you can't live with a fan, you can pop out the Celeron/P3 and stick a VIA Eden or C3 in for silent running. On the flip side, the manufacturer [kingyoung.com.tw] also makes the product with a different case, and they even have models [kingyoung.com.tw] configured with P4s.

C for yourself.

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