This project is to document and share the trials and tribulations of building small, efficient and economical Linux servers. There are actually two projects, the first will be a ‘Small Box’ based on the Raspberry Pi, the second a ‘Large Box’ which will be based on the Shuttle cases. There is a spin to this project and that is the final versions will have wooden cases – at least that is the eventual plan.
Linux in a Box has been nothing but an idea for a long time, this is just the beginning and nothing more than a just-for-fun hobby at this stage. There is hope to have some beta versions complete over the next 18 months. The aim of this site is to document all the information to do it yourself, maybe at some stage in the future if the final product is successful and the production fine-tuned there could be scope to sell the finished articles.
Other posts and information on this site will include Linux Tricks and Tips and general Linux History.
To kick-off the second project – and the project that will probably take precedence because its far more fun than building a regular Linux Box is playing with the Raspberry Pi. I – like many others (I assume) are in a queue to actually get an order placed. I’m not in any rush mind you – time give me chance to blog stuff!
So, I’ve finally been able to place my pre-order with Farnell UK - I’m in a list (I imagine a long one) however it is now a matter of time before my order is placed and I receive by Raspberry Pi.
In preparation for delivery I have taken some time to prepare for what I might need to start using my new device, the key things are power supply, memory card and HDMI cable.
Luckily I found a hand full of old phone chargers in my junk drawer that provide 5V/1A output based on the mini-USB connection. These are quite common these days.
I did have an old SD card but it was only 1GB – not sufficient for the RPi. SO I’ve ordered a Kingston SDHC 16GB Class 4 Flash Memory Card from Amazon for under £7.
And finnaly I thought about a HDMI to DVi-D convertor but decided on just getting the right cable a HDMI to DVI – as they where under £3 also from Amazon.
So I think I’m good to go once I get my Raspberry Pi, I have all the other USB devices.
I’m looking forward to playing with the real thing, first I’ll just play with Linux on the device. I’ll post about which image I’ll use but I’m going to try the qtonpi image first as its focused on QT development which will be worth a look. I also aim to learn some ARM assembler language – who knows we could eventually develop our own Operating System from scratch – Nothing like ambition!
Time to kick things off! This will be a slow project for two reasons, the first being funding and the second finding time to work on it. This however works because I plan to purchase certain key components each month to slowly build the first ‘Linux in a box’. I also had in mind two projects. This one is to build a cheap, small yet fully featured Linux server.
So, step one is choosing a case. I’ve done a bit of research on this and narrowed it down to a few. I like the shuttle cases and these have there advantages as they come with PSU and system board but in the same breath this is a disadvantage on the whole ‘custom’ built concept.
So there is the Shuttle SH61R4 – a cheaper shuttle offering yet one that comes with a main board that supports 1155 Intel processors. This is key as I already know I want Intel and ideally an i3/i5 processor because they support v-TX for virtualization. These can be bought for around £160 which gets you the case, main board an d PSU.
The I found a site dedicated to mini-ITX components who have a rage of cases, I’ve narrowed them down and know I need one that can fit two 2.5″ hard drives as raid is a must in our end ‘box’.
There is the Jou Jye 528i Mini-ITX Case 250W which come with the PSU for £59 or the more basic M350 Universal Mini-ITX Enclosure for £30 without PSU. So cost wise by the time you’ve added the main board there isn’t much in it. I like the idea of a truly custom system and the fact I can get a cheap case sooner is good. These cases are also smaller than the cube shaped shuttles but I need to check which will cater for all my needs.
Stay posted for which one I decide on and my first ‘Linux in a Box’ will soon start taking shape.
It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago I was upgrading my laptop to Fedora 16. The Fedora community have changed their release name branding this time round – as you can see we now have a ‘Hotdog?’. I’m personally not convinced by this, I always thought sausages where based on pork – maybe a beefburger would have been a better fit?
Regardless I’m keen to get hold of the new release and upgrade again, its always fun getting the newest distribution even if it does cause some pain on occasions jumping in too soon.
To kick this off I’ve been eagerly trying to place an order for a real Raspberry Pi but due to high demand this seems somewhat difficult at the moment. There are two providers available at the time of writing this as recommended on the official Raspberry Pi website which are through Premier Farnell/Element 14 and RS Components. All you can do is ‘express your interest’ and get put on a first come first served waiting list.
Meanwhile, I discovered in Linux Format (April 2012 Edition) a small article with a link to download a Virtual Box image which is effectively a Virtual Raspberry Pi. I trust the wouldn’t be any objection by Linux Format to share this torrent here. At least this gives anyone access to at least play around with it.
In 1976 Bill Gates wrote an Open Letter to Hobbyists, users of the first personal computer the MITS Altair. Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the other founder of Microsoft had wrote a version of BASIC that ran on this computer. Gates wrote his Open Letter to condemn what he saw as software piracy. Users where making ‘illegal copies’ of the program which its users regarded a community tradition of sharing tools. Gates condemned software piracy and asked “Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put three man-years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product, and distribute for free?”
In 1998 a pair of Microsoft confidential memos leaked out of the Redmond headquarters. These documents nicknamed ‘the Halloween documents’ had recognised the free operating system kernel Linux as among the most successfully examples of the Open Source philosophy. “Linux has been deployed in mission critical, commercial environments with a excellent pool of public testimonials”. It would have taken great hindsight by any ones standards to predict the success of community developed software but the irony of the letter Gates wrote over 20 years prior to the Halloween documents must have resonated.
Today there are thriving communities that writes its own – excellent code and then gives it away. Not only do these communities write great software but threaten the very basis of the Microsoft empire and companies like it.
I don’t believe the best of open source software would be as great as it is without the backing of commercial enterprises but it is this middle ground that makes it work so well. The community editions can freely continue to innovate while corporations back these projects and provide stable editions to the market. A fair and honest business model who make their profits focused on customer service and support rather than upfront lock-in licensing fees.