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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?


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Old 02-01-2007, 10:53 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Mint, Raspbian
Posts: 34

Rep: Reputation: 15
mini-itx and lightweight linux

I have been trying to learn a bit about the mini-itx format and how to use small linux distros, especially distros that load and run to RAM. I have used SLAX for some time, booting either off of usb or cd. I would probably continue with SLAX because I like the modules available and because at home I run Slackware, but I would also like to try out DSL and puppy.

I am looking at installing a mini-itx permanently in a sailboat, looking for low power and silent running. The boat electrics are powered only by solar. I hope to use it for wireless internet, gpsdrive and other navigation, torrents, playing video and general word and spreadsheet work. It also should be quiet with no fans if possible.

I need some help in understanding how to put together components to work with small linux distros running on RAM. I have some theories but don't know if they are correct.

Theory: If everything runs off of RAM as much as possible, less power is used and less heat is created than if a spinning hd is used, perhaps RAM is also less power hungry and heat producing than usb or cf?

So if this theory is true, I would like to be able to download a video torrent (for example) onto RAM until it is complete, then copy it over to usb or cf. The original torrent could continue to run off of RAM to reduce read write cycles on cf or usb.

Do I need a case? I would like to mount the motherboard on a wood bulkhead (vertical wall) in a protected area with a cover over the side. This would allow a lot of airflow. I would connect the wiring and clamp it down to prevent moving wiring from pulling on the board.

My electric system is a 12V battery bank powered by a solar system with a regulator. If I put together a voltage regulator circuit to give a steady dc at 12V (or whatever the required voltage is), do I need a separate power supply? What voltage do the motherboards need? I already have low voltage disconnect.

Wireless is very important because I hope to get internet connection entirely over wireless when the boat is anchored in harbors. I would like to have a good wireless antenna. How can I add wireless to a mini-itx system? Does it take a lot of power? Is it easy to plug in an antenna?

Do you have any suggestions for low power flat screen monitors?

Is a wireless keyboard possible with a mini-itx?

What is the slowest processor that will run video, preferably with a 3D video card? I am guessing 800Ghz. This is really an economics question because I want a low cost processor. I don't want a slower processor if I can get a faster one for the same price.

So based on the limited info that I have right now, I would like a mini-itx with:

at least 800Ghz to be able to run video

1G of RAM to allow running RAM-only as needed

1G or 2G compact flash memory

1G usb stick for data transfer

wireless card with external antenna

low power flat screen monitor, should be large enough to watch movies on

Any comments or advice are appreciated!
Old 02-03-2007, 12:12 AM   #2
Registered: Nov 2006
Location: Paradise Mauritius
Distribution: Debian lenny, Jlime,Delilinux
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: 15
ok from my experience with dsl and puppy
a 866 mhz p3 coppermine with 512 ram can run these os with no problem
i did get a small system for fun once
it was a p3 866 mhz with a via chip installed on the motherboard
all was on the motherboard the video lan sound
i used a small 7 inch or so lcd for the monitor
no harddisk only usb (128 mb)
was cool i dont think u can get your 12v power to run the motherboard!! i used a 350 w power supply to power my system
i think that all red wires connected to the board are 12V the others are of different voltage like the yellows are 5V you should get something while goggling on the net
it should make your machine completely silent
hope these help


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