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Re: free software mini pc

On 02/15/2012 11:01 AM, green wrote:

So to recap my original post, the basic requirements are:
- fanless mini PC
- it will run Debian
- production environment (reliability is important)
- good Linux support to facilitate fast deployment and low maintenance,
- avoiding non-free software (non-free firmware, out-of-tree kernel modules,

and I mentioned also:
- many devices with only partial mainline Linux support
- unable to find itemized information about Linux kernel support
- some devices ship with Linux (often Ubuntu) and use a custom kernel

My original post did not mention this explicitly, but I would be pleased to
find a manufacturer/vendor that is interested in supporting Linux users, and
provides devices with 100% functionality using 100% free software.  Perhaps
that sounds a bit less demanding, while still being very closely related to
the original.

Somebody else mentioned Logic Supply - http://www.logicsupply.com/ - They do build-and-test with Ubuntu on some of their mini-ITX systems, and I don't think they'd be offering that service if things didn't work well:


I bet if you called them they'd let you know in detail what they do in terms of testing a system with Ubuntu. You might want to ask if they'll build and test a system for you with Debian. Couldn't hurt to ask, and they might just do it.

My uneducated look at the market now says that fanless Intel Atom is a better bet than ARM in terms of actually finding hardware you can load up and use.

Eracks is another vendor than might work for you.

Here is an Eracks Atom-based system that they'll ship with a variety of distros (not sure if it's fanless):


This fanless Eracks system ships with Ubuntu, but they say they'll do it with other OSes as well (and they offer them in the dropdowns for most of the boxes on their site):


From what I can see, these smaller vendors (i.e. they're not Dell), especially those that specialize in Linux and BSD systems (like Eracks, ZaReason and System76) are willing to work with you to get you the right box, and they will be there to support you after the sale.

But we all know that this is Linux (and/or BSD, if that's your pleasure), and it's hard to find guarantees in terms of one distro or other working with the hardware (and continuing to work years into the future). There's bound to be a degree of chance involved in purchasing hardware -- hell, I have computers that ship with Windows that can barely run it (and have terrible drivers), and I've had plenty of problems with an iMac that shipped with OS X 10.7.

Accept that there may be some fiddling involved, and you'll be closer to getting this problem solved.

Here is a ZaReason system that is not fanless, but is closer:


The fanless requirement is tough, but I think something from Logic Supply will work for your use case. Might as well call/e-mail them and get some detailed answers.

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