1 Reply Latest reply on Oct 4, 2012 11:28 PM by gruss

    Fanless Mini-PC / Thin Client / Desk-Top-Box for FLOSS hacking

    gruss

      I'm looking for a 'cheap' fanless miniature all-in-one PC that I can do some FLOSS hacking on. Aesthetics are not too important - I don't what to spend double the price for a pretty case. What I am looking for is:

      - Decent CPU performance - It does not need to be a speed demon - I have a main PC for heavy lifting, but it does have to be smooth and responsive for most UI tasks

        - Hi-Definition video decoding

        - USB, SATA, 100Mb (1Gb preferred) Ethernet, HDMI / DVI (Dual output preferred), S/PDIF output

       

      What I'm looking for is a device I can use as a thin-client (remote X-Terminal) and as a media player (streaming hi-definition content over the network from a file server) which is 100% FLOSS from the boot loader to the applications. There are a lot of cheap ARM based devices which use U-Boot and Linux, but most (if not all) use proprietary binary blobs for their graphics drivers. I know AMD provide excellent FLOSS support for their graphics drivers, as well as good support for coreboot, so I'm thinking my best chance is with an AMD based solution.

       

      I'm already intimately familiar with U-Boot (currently I'm the x86 maintainer) and know Linux well enough to be comfortable so this will be a 'dive right in' project.

       

      Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated

       

      Thanks,

       

      Graeme

        • Re: Fanless Mini-PC / Thin Client / Desk-Top-Box for FLOSS hacking
          gruss

          Well I've had a good search around, and there are plenty of E350 and E450 based mainstream mini-ITX boards including:

          • Gigabyte GA-E350N
          • J&W Technology Limited JW-E350M-GT
          • ECS HDC-I2
          • ASRock E350M1/USB3
          • Asus E45M1-I-DELUXE

           

          There are also lots of custom form-factor boards which are difficult to find purchasing info for and/or are much more expensive.

           

          So, I think my best bet will be to look at buying one of these boards.

           

          The next question is, just how 'open' is the E350 / E450 platform? How well is the hardware supported by open-source Linux drivers? Can I run Linux (and use all the hardware features) without needing to load binary drivers?