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Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:43 pm

Now before anybody jumped on my, when I as there age (9-10), my parents bought me an IBM 8086, and handle me a stack of books and said "learn it", necause they had no idea how it worked. Over time, I learned how to do all sorts of neat stuff, and became a PC/NEtworking nerd for life.


I'd like to purchase some type of reasonable PC that could run Linux Mint, and hold a few DosBOX/ScummVM/MAME games, along with all the educational apps. That way, they could get used to *nix, and get a leg up on their classmates.


Any suggestions for hardware?
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:21 am

A NUC with Dragonfly BSD? I don't think Mint provides enough of a roadblock to just jumping onto Facebook, unless they already have a very real desire to learn the OS.

**Disclaimer** I have no idea if a NUC would have good hardware support from Dragonfly.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:34 am

Ethyriel wrote:
A NUC with Dragonfly BSD? I don't think Mint provides enough of a roadblock to just jumping onto Facebook, unless they already have a very real desire to learn the OS.

**Disclaimer** I have no idea if a NUC would have good hardware support from Dragonfly.



I was thinking about a smallish box, with at least a 4 core CPU, and water block, 64 megs 2GB of RAM, an SSD for the OS, and maybe 1 Terabyte for storage (and I nice large LED monitor.


I really want them to learn the same way I did. That's why I'm, gonna hide DosBox/Scummvm and Exult games at least, as a reward for learning how linux works.


Besides, the oldest one watched me run GNS3 and an IOS terminal working on a problems, and now he thinks Im a wizard, and want to learn how to do what I do.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:57 am

Hmmm, bear in mind that kids these days are going to have the competition of their classmates and friends with cellphones (yes even kids in elementary school), tablets, and other nifty mobile like devices. If you can give them something that is equally as cool but also sparks their interest in the world your into then you have a winner. I'd say perhaps an in-expensive tablet/netbook like device, something similar to the ASUS Transformer Book T200TA? Comes with Windows 8.1 but you could install a VMWare OS on it, or perhaps dual boot? (unsure if you can dual boot from the 64gb drive in it). It does however allow for expansion for storage in the keyboard, obviously you couldn't install the OS on it since the two halves separate.

What is your price range? If you wanted to go ultra cheap... Grab up a cool Raspberry Pi sized PC board, have them pick out the little case it comes with, and build it together. Go through the entire OS install and everything, make them do some real hands on with it and maybe even paint the exterior before you even start to install the OS. That will keep their interest in wanting to get the thing they put all of that work into to actually boot into an OS with you.

Just some thoughts :P
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:06 am

Welch wrote:
Hmmm, bear in mind that kids these days are going to have the competition of their classmates and friends with cellphones (yes even kids in elementary school), tablets, and other nifty mobile like devices. If you can give them something that is equally as cool but also sparks their interest in the world your into then you have a winner. I'd say perhaps an in-expensive tablet/netbook like device, something similar to the ASUS Transformer Book T200TA? Comes with Windows 8.1 but you could install a VMWare OS on it, or perhaps dual boot? (unsure if you can dual boot from the 64gb drive in it). It does however allow for expansion for storage in the keyboard, obviously you couldn't install the OS on it since the two halves separate.

What is your price range? If you wanted to go ultra cheap... Grab up a cool Raspberry Pi sized PC board, have them pick out the little case it comes with, and build it together. Go through the entire OS install and everything, make them do some real hands on with it and maybe even paint the exterior before you even start to install the OS. That will keep their interest in wanting to get the thing they put all of that work into to actually boot into an OS with you.

Just some thoughts :P



That's not a bad idea. I was thinking $500-$700. minus monitor. but the boys have a terrible habit of breaking their iPads, and such. I think a desktop is where it's at. And a Rasperberry Pi board, or and Arduino would be cool, too.


Oh, and don't worry, I'll teach them what I know. I'm ready linux, EXOS, Juniper, et all... books, so I'm happy to pass on the knowledge.
 
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Posted this in the wrong section

Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:30 am

Basically, I'm look for a SFF box that I can install Ubuntu or Mint onto, along with DOSbox, ScummVM, and MAME, if the godsons are good.

I primarily want them to use for educational purposes, and when I was their age, my parents dumped a PC and a bunch of manuals and said "here, figure it out". Ideally, I'd like an SDD drive for the OS, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, a terabyte HDD for storage, a DVD-R, a Nvidia card small enough to fit, and maybe a water block for the CPU.

I''ll help them learn linux, but mabye it'll give them a leg up on their classmates.
 
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Re: Posted this in the wrong section

Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:37 am

Well, if you're looking to put something together... what's your budget? Why the need for an NVIDIA card?
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Re: Posted this in the wrong section

Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:21 am

Silverstone for SFF.
Your requirements for a GPU and multiple drives pretty much rules out everything pre-built like a NUC, Brix or similar.

  • SG05/SG06 for something small, cards up to 10"
  • SG08 for something that can handle a full ATX PSU and full length card.
The SG05/SG06 requires a slim cooler in order to use the 3.5" drive cage (stock Intel cooler is fine if you're okay with a little noise under load, otherwise look at the Noctua NH-L9i or Thermalright AXP-100)

You're not going to find a waterblock is a good fit for SFF, it can be done but usually only by sacrificing the drive cage(s) because even a single 120mm radiator requires as much space as a double-stacked 140mm fan, and that just doesn't qualify as "small"
Overclocking isn't really a good idea for SFF - and if you want water for quietness rather than cooling then you'll find that the pump and fan of an AIO system are usually just as loud as good air coolers on a non-overclocked processor, because it's only when you start to push the voltage that air coolers start ramping up their fans.

Unless you don't actually want a small format system, of course. In which case you should re-state your question using 'mITX' instead, because SFF typically means "small".
There are plenty of huge-ass mITX cases like the Bitfenix Prodigy or Obsidian 250D. which have lots of room for drives and cooling; They just don't qualify as small, being at least as large as most mATX cases and even some of the more compact full-ATX cases.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:16 pm

Threads merged.


A micro-ATX form factor like the Sugo SG10 can accommodate a full-on gaming PC in a box that occupies only 23 liters. If you eschew a discrete graphics card and rely on integrated graphics, then very small form factors like the NUC are possible.

Would something like an AMD C70 with a 4 GiB SODIMM be powerful enough for what you want to do?
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:25 pm

If you don't really need an NVIDIA card - not sure why you would, Intel and AMD's onboard GPUs are plenty capable for some lower-resolution gaming (I've used HD 4600 at 720p extensively and it runs really well, and the AMD stuff ought to handle 1080p at lower quality settings reasonably well) - then you could put together something small very easily. An Antec ISK 300 will have room for a mini ITX motherboard and, while it will only take low profile heatsinks (like a Xigmatek Praeton, I found one for $15 at NCIX US), you could use a 65W processor (or more, if you were feeling adventurous) and it's got room for an optical drive and two 2.5" drives as well. You could put a single slot NVIDIA card in it, if you really had to, but the best available right now is a GeForce GT 730, and the performance improvement from Intel's HD 4600 is not worth the cost. It'd probably be slower than an AMD onboard graphics, too.

If you went with an external optical drive, and didn't do the extra video card, you could use an Antec ISK 110. With the integrated 80W power supply and slightly different cooling setup, I definitely wouldn't recommend above a 65W proc (I'm told a Praeton will fit this case as well but needs a slimmer fan than stock to fit). The 110 has room for two 2.5" drives and is even smaller than the 300 - it's basically a shell for a mini ITX motherboard.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:39 pm

A Shuttle XPC will do. I have 2 of them, and they were all nice. They are pain to upgrade, though. I am almost 100 % sure that it has 2 drive slots (My XPCs had a "Netburst" in them so they could have changed the design). It definitely has a place for a DVD drive. The GPU will need to have a Blower type cooler.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:59 pm

2GB of RAM and a quad-core is seriously unbalanced. You're going to run out of RAM long before you do CPU cycles.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:08 pm

Actually, now I think of it, a Kabini system, the AM1 platform, might be a good starter type of setup.
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Re: Posted this in the wrong section

Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:15 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:
Well, if you're looking to put something together... what's your budget? Why the need for an NVIDIA card?


Because Vmware supports Nvidia GPU sharing. my Radeon HD doesn't do that.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:18 pm

bthylafh wrote:
2GB of RAM and a quad-core is seriously unbalanced. You're going to run out of RAM long before you do CPU cycles.



How Much RAM do you recommend? In my Mint 17 VM, I devote 4 cores, and 8GB RAM, and it's snappy as hell. I just want them to learn linux, the way I had MS-DOS tossed in my lap, and had to learm it from the group up. I just haven't decided betweem Mint 17.1 and Ubuntu 14.04.


BTW, I was thinking about a SFF with an SDD, a terabyte HDD, and DVD/Blu ray. a decent CPU with a water block, an Nvida Card (not high-end), and as much RAM as I can stuff in it.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:20 pm

I wouldn't go lower than 4GB with those other things, and lose the water block; it's a waste and another thing that can break.

If your goal is to give them something cheap to "learn Linux", then a Raspberry Pi kit with a case &c would do just fine, if a bit slowly. It can run emulators for at least the Super NES well, too. The step up would IMO be an Intel NUC, which should have excellent Linux driver support. For an introductory computer* I don't think I'd bother with advanced features like GPU sharing. If they really need a second drive for extra storage, an external USB drive should do fine.


*I mean, the kids may decide they don't really care about learning computers and would rather just play games or go on the Internet. It's hard to say.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:25 pm

Personally, I wouldn't spend that kinda money (SSD, watercooling, discrete GPU) until I was sure they needed it - if they get into it, they'll know and appreciate it more when they get an upgrade, rather than just having it sitting there gathering dust if they don't happen to need or want it.

In your case I'd probably buy them a Raspberry Pi or similar in a toughened case, plus a USB keyboard/mouse and a monitor. Tell them if they learn how to program and utilise the Pi, they can only go up in spec from there, and they can keep the input and video devices. There's also a lot of educational stuff out there for the wee development boards, while there's rather less for full blown operation systems, especially if you start layering VMs on top of them.

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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:35 pm

Yes but, if you just want them to learn Linux, what good is a video card that you can use GPU sharing in a VM environment?

You could take, for instance, a Kabini chip, motherboard, 4GB of RAM, an SSD, HDD, optical drive (go external, and don't bother with blu ray, there's no proper movie playback support in linux) and a small case, you could probably put that together for under $400, and it'd be a great setup for learning a new operating system.

But if you're talking about virtualizing your GPU and using water cooling on the CPU... that sounds like an entirely different sort of setup, much more high-end than just "something to learn on". You've already mentioned they have a habit of breaking things, do you really want to give them a watercooled PC?

It sounds like you're talking about two different usage scenarios for this system, so I guess I don't understand exactly what you're saying you want to build? Is it a low cost, easy to assemble box they can use to learn Ubuntu or Mint? Or is it a more expensive, beefy processor, virtual-machine cranking sort of beast with glowing water pipes all up in its business?
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 3:01 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:
Yes but, if you just want them to learn Linux, what good is a video card that you can use GPU sharing in a VM environment?

You could take, for instance, a Kabini chip, motherboard, 4GB of RAM, an SSD, HDD, optical drive (go external, and don't bother with blu ray, there's no proper movie playback support in linux) and a small case, you could probably put that together for under $400, and it'd be a great setup for learning a new operating system.

But if you're talking about virtualizing your GPU and using water cooling on the CPU... that sounds like an entirely different sort of setup, much more high-end than just "something to learn on". You've already mentioned they have a habit of breaking things, do you really want to give them a watercooled PC?

It sounds like you're talking about two different usage scenarios for this system, so I guess I don't understand exactly what you're saying you want to build? Is it a low cost, easy to assemble box they can use to learn Ubuntu or Mint? Or is it a more expensive, beefy processor, virtual-machine cranking sort of beast with glowing water pipes all up in its business?



For the kids, I was thinking a small SFF machine for them to play with. (spo,ethin inthe $500-$700 range) Eventually, when I buy house, I want to use several ESXi 5 servers with 10GB connectiond between the two, and at least 1 or 10-GB connections connected to thin clients throught out the house. That way my future wife and her kids could have their own VMs, anf of they fubar it, I can just restore their VM from a backup. ALso, it would be neat o hav wall mounted VMs throughout the house, for various uses. Pretty cool.

The cheap linux box I want to biuld for the boys isn;t going to be expensive, becuse they tend to break things.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:19 pm

I saw reference to water cooling...ditch that, it's more trouble than it's worth for anyone but a hardcore enthusiast. Stick with low-maintenance items, just because you'd like the kids to become supernerds doesn't mean that it will happen overnight.

My suggestion would be to either get a mini PC and focus on the software side, or a DIY mini-ITX with a transparent case and focus on the hardware side. Keep in mind that since a NUC is really small and is basically a single-board computer, they're somewhat difficult to break. Either way, shoot for an i3--it's powerful enough for the OS and basic tasks, and you don't need a lot of horsepower if they're not going to be doing serious gaming.

For storage, I'd go with 4GB memory and 120GB SSD. Linux does not require much memory to run--I've done Fedora on a 1Ghz Celeron w/1GB RAM--and a small SSD costs about as much as magnetic but should offer better reliability if it might get knocked over etc. Your use case suggests that you won't need much actual storage, at least until their needs exceed what a mini-PC can offer.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:44 pm

Here are my suggestions below. Both come in SSF sizes. They're aren't ARM dev board size, but they are smaller then normal. The 9020 comes with Intel NICs, but I'm not sure about the XE2.

Dell Optiplex 9020
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=8781

Dell Optiplex XE2
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=9696

There is a Pentium G3250 that looks tempting.

Hz so good wrote:
I primarily want them to use for educational purposes, and when I was their age, my parents dumped a PC and a bunch of manuals and said "here, figure it out".


If you want to do it that way. FreeBSD or Gentoo/Funtoo would be good options. :)
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:59 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
Here are my suggestions below. Both come in SSF sizes. They're aren't ARM dev board size, but they are smaller then normal. The 9020 comes with Intel NICs, but I'm not sure about the XE2.

Dell Optiplex 9020
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=8781

Dell Optiplex XE2
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=9696

There is a Pentium G3250 that looks tempting.

Hz so good wrote:
I primarily want them to use for educational purposes, and when I was their age, my parents dumped a PC and a bunch of manuals and said "here, figure it out".


If you want to do it that way. FreeBSD or Gentoo/Funtoo would be good options. :)

I've been happy enough with the HP Prodesk 600's I've dealt with, and I do know that those have Intel NICs (i218 or something). HP does tend to be slightly annoying about selling their business grade stuff to end users, although I found quite a few Prodesks available in your budget.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:35 am

I'm out of touch with Linux now, everything I do with Linux is linux-like (eg, VMWare CLI) but I don't use Linux anywhere.

Last time I dabbled, Nvidia had the only Linux support worth talking about. Is that still the case? Is that why AMD/Intel all-in-ones aren't of interest?
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 10:25 am

"And a Rasperberry Pi board, or and Arduino would be cool, too."

I think teaching coming up with a project that uses a Pi to control an Arduino to accomplish some task would be very interesting.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:00 am

Intel's linux support is great, Chrispy_ - I've actually been doing some gaming on HD 4600 in Ubuntu recently and I've been quite impressed by how well it handles things at 720p. Couldn't speak to AMD's open source or binary support right now, haven't used one in a while. It was improving pretty quickly last I saw.

OP said he wanted an NVIDIA GPU for GPU virtualization with VMware, for whatever reason, I think that's why he wasn't interested in AMD or Intel GPUs.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:47 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
Last time I dabbled, Nvidia had the only Linux support worth talking about. Is that still the case? Is that why AMD/Intel all-in-ones aren't of interest?


Intel's Linux graphics drivers work great. Their drivers are fully open source, so they really have the best support.

Nvidia has great performance, but the cost is having to use their binary driver, which doesn't integrate as nicely into the Linux ecosystem.

AMD is the distant second to the other two in both categories. The binary drivers aren't as good as Nvidia, and their open source drivers aren't as good as Intel.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 5:20 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
AMD is the distant second to the other two in both categories. The binary drivers aren't as good as Nvidia, and their open source drivers aren't as good as Intel.

Yup, and this is why my next Linux build will have an nVidia GPU in it.

I got tired of dealing with AMD's binary drivers' weirdnesses, and have just been living with the Open Source ones for the past year or so. I suppose I could just swap in an nVidia one, but I keep putting it off because I had really intended to built a new desktop before now.
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:13 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Flatland_Spider wrote:
AMD is the distant second to the other two in both categories. The binary drivers aren't as good as Nvidia, and their open source drivers aren't as good as Intel.

Yup, and this is why my next Linux build will have an nVidia GPU in it.

I got tired of dealing with AMD's binary drivers' weirdnesses, and have just been living with the Open Source ones for the past year or so. I suppose I could just swap in an nVidia one, but I keep putting it off because I had really intended to built a new desktop before now.



Yeah, that's why I wanted to include and older/lower power Nvidia card. The drivers for my Radeon HD suck hard.
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:22 pm

deruberhanyok wrote:
Intel's linux support is great, Chrispy_ - I've actually been doing some gaming on HD 4600 in Ubuntu recently and I've been quite impressed by how well it handles things at 720p. Couldn't speak to AMD's open source or binary support right now, haven't used one in a while. It was improving pretty quickly last I saw.

OP said he wanted an NVIDIA GPU for GPU virtualization with VMware, for whatever reason, I think that's why he wasn't interested in AMD or Intel GPUs.




I mispoke, and meant for the Beefy Nvidia cards for the ESXi 5 Servers for multiple diplays. The PC I want to give my godsons's will have an older/low power Nvidia card, because the drivers are better. I want and SSD as the OS drive, adn the 1TB drive for Edubuntu stuff, dosbox, scummvm, and MAME games, and since he older one thinks GNS3 is awesome, I'm going to set it ip for him . I made it crystal clear that they couldn;t play Windows games, or Antyhing.

I'd like it to have a i7-2600K in it Overclock t 4.5GHz like I do, with somekinda awesome cooler, 32-64GB RAM, a 1800p monitor, for it, as well
 
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Re: Looking for a smallish box that I can give to my godsons

Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:31 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Yup, and this is why my next Linux build will have an nVidia GPU in it.


I'm probably going to stick with AMD my next build. I'm shooting for three plus monitors, and while the Intel graphics will handle three monitors, MBs with three displayport outputs don't seem to exist.

I use the FOSS drivers, and Nouveau isn't make as much progress as quickly as I'd like.

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