Vegard Skjefstad

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Tag: Mini-ITX

Hardware For Sale

Now that the new VBOX is working as expected, I’m getting rid of the old one. I was considering selling it through some auction site, but decided it was a greater chance that someone who visited this site might put the cash on the table. Here are the specs:

  • VIA Technologies EPIA-800A motherboard.
  • 800MHz VIA Technologies C3 Processor
  • 2x 512MB TwinMOS PC133 SDR/CL3 RAM modules
  • Sony CRX100E CD-RW drive (24X4X2X)
  • 80GB Seagate Barracuda ST380021A
  • A GigaByte PCI GN-WP01GS 802.11 b/g wireless card
  • I don’t remember the name of the case, so here’s a picture of it. The
    measures are 190mm (W), 270mm (D), 165mm (H):

Mini-ITX case

It’s certainly not a power house, but perfect as a small home server, fileserver, dev box or wherever your imagination takes you. When I lived in a shared apartment we used is as the resident computer and it played happily along when used for surfing, e-mails, writing text documents and other home office related tasks, everything on Windows XP.

The old VBOX can be yours for just NOK 1000; that’s about USD 174 at the time of writing. If you’re located so that you can’t pick it up, you’ll have to pay for P&P and please note that I’m selling it with no operating system installed and that there is no warranty on any of the parts. Please leave a comment if you’re interested.

The Assembly Continues

This is the second part of an entry that was way too huge to post as one. The first part was Building The New VBOX.

After I was finally able to configure my RAID setup in Ubuntu, I halted the system to assemble everything. Shock and horror! Just before the screen went black, two large FAILED error messages appeared, informing me that an error had occurred when stopping the RAID arrays. Was I surprised? Not really.

Once again I consulted the Great Interweb Oracle, a.k.a. Google. From what I gathered when reading the Ubuntu forums and bug reports, the posters considered it to be a bug that resulted in the RAID array being dirty on every boot. This, in turn, meant that one of the disks would be rebuilt on every boot. A rather useless RAID setup, in my humble opinion. Read more

Building The New VBOX

All the parts that I ordered for the new VBOX arrived on Monday, just one day after I placed the order. I didn’t have to wait for the parcel to arrive at the post office or stay at home all day to wait for a courier to deliver it to my apartment; I picked up the box at an automated machine at the central station. I entered a eight digit code the postal service sent to me in a text message, then a small door in the machine opened and my computer parts popped out. It was all extremely convenient. Almost like magic.

The first part of the assembly went more or less according to plan, I had to go out and buy a power connector for the SATA drive, but that was the only unexpected event. To get all the parts to fit was a bit of a challenge, the box is quite small and the heat sink on the motherboard is enormous, at least compared to the size of the motherboard itself. On top of this, the shortest SATA cable I could find was half a meter long, which was more than twice the length I actually needed.

As for operating system, I went with Ubuntu because it’s the new hot Linux distro and it also has a very active community. That’s a good thing for me, who know very little about Linux. Ubuntu installed as planned, LAMP, was set up by the main installer and everything generally worked like a charm until I got some ideas. Some crazy ideas. Read more

Redesigning VBOX

I like small computers. Back in 2003 I put together a Mini-ITX system based on a VIA EPIA motherboard. It had a nice, big hard drive, lots of RAM and a adequate CPU and I called it VBOX. Obviously. Every now and then I power it up, install some Linux distro and make (another) honest attempt to learn to set up a server with all the necessary daemons; HTTP, FTP, NTP, DNS, SSH and so on. Now I’m giving it another go, and this time I plan to have the box turned on 24/7 to make it a real server, perhaps even running parts of this site.

Unfortunately, I’m faced with three problems. Firstly, my ISP does not allow me to set up servers on the standard ports. Stupid ISP. Secondly, the same ISP is providing me with dynamic IPs. And thirdly, even if the current server setup is very quiet compared to other servers, it’s still too noisy to have in the living room and I need to have it in the living room close to the router. Getting WPA encryption to work properly in Ubuntu with the wireless network card currently installed has proved to be beyond my computer skills. Read more

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