mini-itx and lightweight linux

Forum: Hardware Talk
Topic: mini-itx and lightweight linux
started by: skyl4rk

Posted by skyl4rk on Jan. 30 2007,19:17
I have been trying to learn a bit about the mini-itx format and how to use small linux distros, especially distros that load and run to RAM.  I have used SLAX for some time, booting either off of usb or cd. I would probably continue with SLAX because I like the modules available and because at home I run Slackware, but I would also like to try out DSL and puppy.  

I am looking at installing a mini-itx permanently in a sailboat, looking for low power and silent running. The boat electrics are powered only by solar.  I hope to use it for wireless internet, gpsdrive and other navigation, torrents, playing video and general word and spreadsheet work. It also should be quiet with no fans if possible.

I need some help in understanding how to put together components to work with small linux distros running on RAM.  I have some theories but don't know if they are correct.

Theory: If everything runs off of RAM as much as possible, less power is used and less heat is created than if a spinning hd is used, perhaps RAM is also less power hungry and heat producing than usb or cf?

So if this theory is true, I would like to be able to download a video torrent (for example) onto RAM until it is complete, then copy it over to usb or cf.  The original torrent could continue to run off of RAM to reduce read write cycles on cf or usb.

Do I need a case?  I would like to mount the motherboard on a wood bulkhead (vertical wall) in a protected area with a cover over the side.  This would allow a lot of airflow.  I would connect the wiring and clamp it down to prevent moving wiring from pulling on the board.

My electric system is a 12V battery bank powered by a solar system with a regulator.  If I put together a voltage regulator circuit to give a steady dc at 12V (or whatever the required voltage is), do I need a separate power supply? What voltage do the motherboards need? I already have low voltage disconnect.

Wireless is very important because I hope to get internet connection entirely over wireless when the boat is anchored in harbors.  I would like to have a good wireless antenna.  How can I add wireless to a mini-itx system?  Does it take a lot of power? Is it easy to plug in an antenna?

Do you have any suggestions for low power flat screen monitors?

Is a wireless keyboard possible with a mini-itx?

What is the slowest processor that will run video, preferably with a 3D video card? I am guessing 800Ghz. This is really an economics question because I want a low cost processor.  I don't want a slower processor if I can get a faster one for the same price.

So based on the limited info that I have right now, I would like a mini-itx with:

at least 800Ghz to be able to run video

1G of RAM to allow running RAM-only as needed

1G or 2G compact flash memory

1G usb stick for data transfer

wireless card with external antenna

low power flat screen monitor, should be large enough to watch movies on

Any comments or advice are appreciated!


Posted by kerry on Jan. 30 2007,20:57
Did you check out the DSL store? ( < > ) and take a look at Jhon's toy he's running the setup your after.
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