small doesn’t have to mean slow

Much as I love my slugs (and low power consumption coupled with almost completely silent running means I love them a lot) I do sometimes need just a little more “grunt” than they offer. I have been running a PHP based webserver together with postfix on an old (actually very old) Compaq Armada 4160T (that’s a laptop dating from the mid 90s – look it up) simply because I happened to have it lying around when I needed to build the mailman listserver I described in an earlier post. Astonishingly that has worked well for some time – if a little too slowly.

So I recently wanted to consolidate some services (and add a few others) currently running on the Compaq and a slug and started looking for some cheap, preferably quiet and small machines which wouldn’t over tax my power bill. There are a number of NAS machines coming up which looked as if they would fit the bill once reconfigured to run debian – take a look at debonaras for example – but most of them come with little memory, low CPU power and limited upgrade capability. Worse, they can be quite expensive for what they offer. For example, one of the likeliest candidates, the Thecus N2100. comes with only 128/256 Mb of RAM and a 600Mhz Intel IOP 80219 CPU yet costs around £170. For that I can get a much beefier box.

My first considered alternative was a barebones shuttle – possibly the KPC K45 which could easily take an intel core duo processor and a couple of gig of RAM. Adding a terabyte of disk would give a very useful system. However, a visit to a local specialist supplier convinced me that an Asus P1-P945 would be a better bet. My new Asus is small and quiet. The barebones system cost just over £100. I added an E2200 dual core processor, two gig of Crucial RAM, and a 500 Gig disk for a total of just over £230. A very nice system. In fact, I’m considering using one as the basis for a media center because it wouldn’t look out of place slotted under the TV. Now where’s that mythbuntu disk…..

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    • Mel on 2009/02/08 at 10:35 am

    Just bought a slug and set it up as my FTP server. Thinking about unlsung for to enable it to be a print server as well. happy days

    • Mick on 2009/02/08 at 12:43 pm


    Go for debian rather than unslung – much more fun and a greater range of software available from the repositories.



    • Steve on 2009/03/11 at 4:49 am

    I’ve recently set up a eeeBox for my uncle as he needed a new PC. I think it came as a shock after his PII 266 doorstop.
    Anyway, having spent a few hours with the eeebox I was very impressed, the PSU is rated for 12v 35watts max. The machine is almost silent (the supplied 160gig laptop drive seemed to be the loudest part).
    I plan on getting another to debian up and play with. £200 for a machine with built in wireless, ethernet, 160gig HDD, 1gig RAM and a 1.6Ghz Atom CPU sounds like a good deal to me. Plus of course the 12v supply means I can install it in the car, or connect it into my powercut proof home data network (solar charged 12v batteries run my ADSL router and switches).

    • Mick on 2009/03/11 at 9:41 pm


    That’s interesting. I hadn’t considered the EeeBox. However, as a correspondent on a mail list I subscribe to has pointed out, my P1 is chewing up around 50-60 W at rest. I actually checked with a power monitor and it came out at 52W unloaded. That adds up to quite a sizable bill over a year, particularly when you compare it to a slug (around 16 W with a 500Gig USB disk attached). Most of the power drain on my P1 comes from the E2200 (65W TDP). I might run some tests on my recently acquired Aspire One, which also uses the Atom processor, to see if I can get away with using one of those with a MySQL database driven webserver.



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