Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Hardware Hacking Hardware

Mini-ITX Computing For Everyone 259

An anonymous reader writes "So you have decided that you want an ITX system. Whether it's just to look cool or because you need to reclaim the desk space. Most people wouldn't know where to start when creating their system. Fear no more because XYZComputing.com has created a step by step process on how they created their system. Based on an MII10000 and using a USB Pen to load up Puppy Linux. No details are omitted so if you are new to Mini-ITX and do not have a clue what you need or where to start then this would certainly be a good place to start."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mini-ITX Computing For Everyone

Comments Filter:
  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:26PM (#13626410) Journal
    It's a good thing, they might have had to notify the EPA.
  • by Sleet01 ( 122510 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:28PM (#13626420) Homepage
    How will we read about it then? What happened, did they fall within the event horizon created by the over-abundance of pr0n data on the net?
  • by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:29PM (#13626429)
    when you can just buy a Shuttle [shuttle.com] or some other small form factor pc mostly put together already.
    • by TruePaige ( 834087 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:33PM (#13626441) Homepage
      Some people enjoy building computers, as some people may enjoy watching a football game. Plus the savings money wise is very nice in the pocket. I assume you just don't get it. ~_^
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Saving money? I'm sorry, but I actually did buy my last PC right from best buy!! Scary thought coming from a geek (yeah yeah i know - leave your card at the door now!) that has been assembling his for years (starting from the trs-80 era), but I just could NOT match the prices they had by buying full retail prices (well, OEM stuff included) at hardware stores anywhere across country (true enough, I did buy a P4 and I was pricing a [similar spec'ed] AMD64). Even with the low margins these stores make, it was
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:35PM (#13626447)
      when you can just buy a Shuttle
      Shuttles are fairly big in comparison and the really small form factor boards are expensive. Mini-ITX fits in the middle.
    • by Brainix ( 748988 ) <brainix@gmail.com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:35PM (#13626452) Homepage
      Then the author didn't write the article for you.

      Some of us don't see assembling a computer as work -- we see it as play.

      DIY -- scratching the itch -- is the very spirit of Linux.

      • Well sure, I enjoy putting computers together too. But that's not how the article is presented, especially in the summary. It acts like if you want a sff computer, this is the way to go independent of how much you like putting them together. A better reason, as someone pointed out above, is that Shuttles are quite larger than the one in the article.
      • I agree. Many people take great pride in building computers and do it for 'fun'. Yes, go with the Shuttle if you don't want to take the time to build your own system... but there is a great joy to putting in the time to build a computer. In particular, there is something very exciting about experimenting with the unconventional form factors. Building your own computer system also fun because it's a challenging problem. What's most important about the new computer? The size, design, performance, and cost are
      • however.. you wouldn't need an article to tell you how to do this.. what fun is following someones guide anyway?

        anyways, problem with mini-itx tends to be just the one mentioned: you can get a shuttle type of machine for cheaper and end up with a faster machine to boot and end up with something just as cool looking. I'd like to play around with one but at the current price/performance i'm not going to pay for a toy that's slow and premium priced. even mini-itx cases are premium priced(even crap looking mini
        • by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:45PM (#13626703)
          My server at home, which sits on a static IP address, is a mini-itx based machine. It provides me with: web hosting, email hosting, storage, inside network services and firewalls outside access to my TiVo. Why did I do this with a mini-itx instead of a shuttle? Well, there are several disadvantages to Shuttle over Mini-itx:

          • Noise. The shuttle will likely produce a lot more. The only moving part on my server is the hard drive platters, and they are hermetically sealed and use fluid dynamic bearings. As hard drives go, they are whisper quiet. I've bought a lot of fans in my time, even some rather expensive ultra-quiet ones. Given enough time, all of them eventually get dust in the bearings and start making a racket.
          • Size. Shuttle is small, this thing is smaller.
          • Heat. There is not a single fan running on my server. The hottest component by far is the hard drives.
          • Power. This goes along with heat. The power supply's peak sustained output is 60W. I'd be suprised if the unit consumed more than 25W except during hard drive spin up.
          • Battery back up lifetime. This goes along with power. A standard consumer UPS will run this thing for many hours. No, I haven't tested how long. It has survived 3 hour power outtages.

          Put all this together, and I can hide the server in a closet and forget about it. Just need a power drop and two network connections.
          • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @12:07AM (#13626989)
            My server at home, which sits on a static IP address, is a mini-itx based machine.

            Go ahead, post the link to your server on slashdot. I double dog dare ya.
          • Size. Shuttle is small, this thing is smaller.

            Yea mini-itx boxen are great, I've got my fair share of them. My only wonder/complaint is when the hell is the nano-itx coming out? I've seen photos of it for a year now and I keep getting promised the damn thing is coming. If anyone knows when they are going to be officially released, please reply with that info. With a form factor as small as the nano has claimed to be, I've already got plans to buy about 5 of them for various functionality throughou
          • Sounds like a decent home server. I've been wanting something similar so I can turn off my 650 watt power supply machine that's doing that duty now :-)

            Do you have a list someplace of the components in your box/how you put it together? I'd be interested in taking a look. Maybe it'd be worth my time and money to put a nice home server together that'd be quieter and less power hungry.
            • by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:39AM (#13627583)
              There's really not much to tell, the mini-itx has most of the peripherals on board. It's an EPIA MII 6000 mainboard sporting a 600MHz processor that I think I've clocked down to 533... or maybe it always ran at 533... Anyway, /proc/cpuinfo assures me it's at 533 MHz.

              I'd like to say I had a good reason for only putting a 256MB DIMM on the board, but the truth is I had a 256MB DIMM harvested from another machine upgrade lying around, so I didn't even shop for something larger. There is only one DIMM slot on the board though.

              Since that board has only one network interface, the lone PCI slot on the machine has another network card in it. I seem to remember that the motherboard had some problems with many PCI NICs, I had to shuffle through a few before finding one that worked.

              The hard disks are samsung spinpoint V series 160GB drives which are raid mirrors of one another. Each drive is on a separate IDE cable (the Linux RAID HOWTO said that putting both drives on the same IDE cable was a sure way to kill performance). I'm sure someone out there is incredulous with the meager storage I have, but to be fair when I built the machine a couple years ago, 160GB was a fair sized drive and I haven't filled the drive up anyway.

              It has an old CD-ROM I had lying around attached to it, but I don't think it has been used since the OS was installed.

              The power supply I got from mini-box.com I believe. It has two parts: one that looks like a laptop power supply and another that attaches to the mini-itx board.

              The server is running Gentoo Linux. I have several machines pick up and do a distcc to help the poor server through the big compiles. I've got my own set of iptables running as well as dhcpd, samba, apache2, tomcat, exim, sshd, courier-imap, postgres and named. Sadly, uptime right now is only 111 days. Every so often I want to download the latest Fedora Core, Knoppix, MAME ROMs or whatever and I'll use the server to do that as well (soaks a lot of CPU cycles to do bit torrent though). It's cheaper to have the server download the latest fedora DVDs than to leave one of my bigger machines on overnight.

              The only thing it's not doing anymore is print serving. Although it could, the printer is doing fine attached to another box right now.
    • by spagetti_code ( 773137 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:58PM (#13626541)
      Did you see the power supply - 60W - lets see you find a shuttle that runs on that!

      I have one of these (MII12000 in fact) - idle draw is less than 20W - a dim bulb.

      Power efficient, cool, quiet, small, but not very fast.

      Pick the right tool for the job - in my case a PVR.
  • No details were emmitted eh? That's just amazing. Editors might actually want to _read_ articles and check for large glowing errors more often then say... never, which is pretty much what happens now.
  • Off Topic, but I find it hilarious that the first 6 comments all focus on the 'No details are emitted' phrase. And I was going to make a snide reference to it as well, but I'd prefer to be modded 'Off Topic' rather than 'Redundant', since at least I have something (slightly) useful to say.
    • With as many posts as there are ridiculing the typo, I can see that this is likely the next inside joke for the slashdot crowd. Until I know for sure, all I have to say is this:

      In Soviet Russia, emissions detail YOU.
    • "Off Topic, but I find it hilarious that the first 6 comments all focus on the 'No details are emitted' phrase. And I was going to make a snide reference to it as well, but I'd prefer to be modded 'Off Topic' rather than 'Redundant', since at least I have something (slightly) useful to say."

      Hehe. What's funnier is when you see a story with 10 or so comments (modded up, of course) bitching about it being a dupe. They never realize that they're not better at spotting dupes than the Slashdot editors are.
  • Re:Typo (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:32PM (#13626438)
    No details are emitted so if you are new to Mini-ITX and do not have a clue what you need or where to start then this would certainly be a good place to start.

    I believe there's a typo in the summary. Obviously the submitter meant to say that it'd be a bad place for a beginner to start.
  • Easier process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tji ( 74570 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:36PM (#13626453)
    go to www.apple.com
    click on Mac Mini
    click "Buy".

    I have messed around with the Mini-ITX's for a couple years. The Mini-ITX and the VIA C3 processors they use were way ahead of their time in low power/heat small sized computers. But, the Mac Mini did a big leap frog over the Mini-ITX boxes. It's smaller, cheaper, and faster than any of VIA's offerings - not to mention all the included software, and it looks better than any of the ITX options. If you must have x86, Mini-ITX is a good option. If not, save some headaches & pick up a Mac Mini.

    VIA announced the Nano-ITX a LONG time ago, but have thus far failed to deliver anything.. The Nano-ITX might offer some interesting possibilities. But, at this point I think there is little chance of them actually shipping it.
    • by callipygian-showsyst ( 631222 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:46PM (#13626497) Homepage
      If I got my kid a Mac Mini instead of some AMD box with an NVIDIA card, the kids in school would call him lame and beat him up! And he wouldn't be able to play any games.
      • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:51PM (#13626521)
        So it would teach your kid not to care so much what others think, and give him more time to focus on important things instead of video games?

        Sounds like a win-win to me.

        Maybe you could buy him a console and a Mac Mini.
        • give him more time to focus on important things instead of video games?

          Absolutely! And one of the other reasons I prefer Windows is that there are some great development tools available. All your favorite GNU stuff, plus Microsoft Visual Studio .NET which is the best IDE I've ever seen/used. Even though I've been a Mac developer in the past, it's obvious to me that Microsoft cares more about third-party developers.

          So for a platform to learn computer programming on, Windows with Visual Studio .NET 2005

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:54PM (#13626529)
        I've got news for you: if your kid hangs out with kids who ponder the differences between a Mac and an AMD Box, he's likely to get beat up anyhow!
      • If you got your kid a Mini-ITX machine based on the C3 chip, the kids at school would call him lame and beat him up! The parent is not suggesting that the Mac Mini replaces a gaming rig, he is suggesting that the Mac Mini replaces a Mini-ITX setup very well. Obviously, neither is a system that plays the latest 3D games well (although the Mac Mini is much more capable than the C3-based machine).
      • The kid could still play UT 2004, or (more likley) WOW - otherwise buy the kid a MINI and an XBox (or PS2) and he'll not be laggng behind the others techologically.

        Besides, with a Mac mini you can give the kid an account where he can't screw over the system unlike a PC which pretty much requires him to be an admin - unless he's not going to play games, which you said was the point of the thing.

        The day of the PC dominating the game scene is over, it's a console world going forward. Especially so for teens.
      • Well, after you got the mac mini, you go to Amazon [amazon.com] and click buy again.

        And then your kid can happyly play, um, asteroids, and um, breakout, and super breakout, ah, um, and, um that other one...

        Ah well, just using the Mac is so much fun, who needs games anyway ? Just have him read man pages and learn Python, at least he'll do something useful with his time.
    • The Mac Mini is not a powerful computer, but has power enough for just about anything below video games or serious number crunching. My iBook has about the same specs as the lesser Mini, and it does video editing, plays most recent games tolerably well, handles Office and iWork easily and is a good development machine.

      What the Mini really, *really* needs is video out, and maybe surround sound. It's almost perfect for using as a home theatre device, but lacks video out and surround sound. If Apple could add
      • Re:Easier process (Score:4, Informative)

        by tji ( 74570 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:05PM (#13626563)
        The Mini *does* support video out. You just need an adapter. From the Mac Mini prodct page on apple.com: "Televise Your Visions - You can use any TV with Mac mini as a display. Some newer HDTV models already sport a DVI connection, but you'll need the optional S-Video/ Composite Video adapter to use Mac mini with regular TVs.

        Or, get an HDTV, many/most have DVI and/or VGA inputs. Mine has both, and the Mini looks great in 720P HDTV.

        But, you're right about the audio. It only does analog stereo output. You need a USB audio adapter to get Dolby Digital surround output.

        Also, it would have a great HTPC, if Apple opened APIs for the MPEG2 acceleration hardware onboard. With that, it would be capable of HDTV video playback. Without that acceleration, it's not fast enough to keep up with 1080i video.
      • Isn't serious number crunching the whole point of a computer?
    • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Informative)

      by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:50PM (#13626516)
      VIA announced the Nano-ITX a LONG time ago, but have thus far failed to deliver anything
      When I talked to a rep about it there appeared to be some heat problems they needed to resolve. There are smaller form factors out there than mini-ITX (I have a little fanless VIA Eden-N 800Mhz machine that is in a 170 x 124 x 58 mm case) but you have to go looking outside of the mass market shops - industrial automation places may be willing to sell single units at a reasonable price.
      • > industrial automation places may be willing to sell single units at a reasonable price.

        I looked into a lot of these back when I was building Mini-ITX boxes. There were several more powerful options (e.g. mini-itx form factor, socketed for Pentium M), but, any time I would find a reseller willing to talk to me they would want $500+ for just the motherboard in small quantities. Small volumes are apparently not worth the effort for those guys.
    • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Informative)

      by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:00PM (#13626549)
      If you want to use the DVI output of the Mac Mini with an flat panel, be careful which one you buy :

      http://discussions.info.apple.com/webx?14@33.9SkZa nGL5BJ.4@.68a8dc69 [apple.com] ...or if you are dead set on one that is listed as not working, don't buy the Mac Mini.

      (Why does /. join the line containing the URL with the line after it, irrespective of how many blank lines I put in between?!!?)
    • Re:Easier process (Score:4, Interesting)

      by puetzc ( 131221 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:16PM (#13626595)
      About a year ago I built a silent computer based on a mini_ITX for my wife. Her requests were 1) Small and 2) Silent. It went together easily and has done an excellent job of general basic service. It installed Debian (first testing, and now Sarge) without any undue problems. Three months ago, I bought a Mac mini for my daughter to take to school. Everything she has tried has worked perfectly. If the Mac had been available when my wife needed a new computer, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the homebuilt, as the mini is about the same price and is more powereful. Stability hasn't been an issue with either one.
      • more powerful than what?

        I love the mini form factor but a 1.2 GHz G4?

        What will it be like in year?

        I used to love the macs for their longevity - seemed like they were usable for years longer than PCs... Just don't see it with this chip. I wonder what they will have when they go to intel processors - would love to see a mini with an AMD64 chip
        • At worst, I will move it to Debian - that's what I did with an old iMac that wasn't powerful enough to support OSX. With Linux, it still does a fine job of web browsing and word processing for an undemanding user. If I do that with the mini, it is still small, quiet, and cost less than the mini_ITX. I am sure Apple will support if for several years, and that is probably long enough for a $600 computer. I agree that the AMD chip might have an advantage in 3rd party software that isn't always available for th
        • Re:Easier process (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
          I'm using a P2 266 at home. Really, all I do is browse the web, type some documents, a little bit of development for fun. It's pretty sufficient. For games I have a GameCube. Seriously, if you can't wait a couple seconds for your web browser to open up, you need some patience. I understand having a better computer at work, but for at home, I think most people should be fine with a computer like mine.
        • I love the mini form factor but a 1.2 GHz G4?

          What will it be like in year?

          Presumably in a year it will be like it is today...
          If you buy a machine based on that CPU for processing power, you picked the wrong box to begin with.

          I picked an iBook (1.2 GHz G4) instead of the x86 I usually go with because it was cheaper (although less powerful, which was completely irrelevant to me) and more adapted to my use. In a year, it will still be adapted to what I do. Likewise in two years when I might start looking for

    • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Informative)

      by CurbyKirby ( 306431 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:34PM (#13626657) Homepage
      Mod parent up to 6, at least.

      I was really looking forward to running my home servers on Mini-ITX boards. Then the Mini came out and almost every enticing feature of the Mini-ITX platform (for home use) was instantly overshadowed.

      Power Tie, at 10W-20W for the entire system.

      The other power The C3 Nehemiah is decent at integer math for its clock speed and power usage, but sucks at floating point. Google some benchmarks for more information. For a server, that's generally not a terrible problem, but it makes the Mini more flexible in the ways it can be used.

      Price I can get a new mini at under $500 shipped direct from Apple, with a hard drive, CD-burner, memory, case, latest commercial software. Good Mini-ITX cases cost well over $100 just because the market is small. A recent Mini-ITX board is $200-$300. No, don't use the price of an original Epia, which can't hold a candle to a Celeron 400, not to mention a 1.25GHz G4. Don't use the price of a full-size cheapo ATX case, cause that's not a fair comparison. Then add storage, RAM, etc. Even after spending all that (easily $500-$700 for a system that can even attempt to rival a low-end Mini in terms of performance), you don't get...

      Support Apple has legendary customer support (look at, say, Consumer Reports and their customer support comparisons). Via might not be terrible, but they'll only help you with the mainboard, not the components, nor integration.

      Linux I haven't checked in the last few months, but I'd wager that the Mini has better Linux support for its embedded hardware overall. EPIA drivers have a history of being shakey. See also the stability problems below, if you're thinking of going with an older, cheaper board. I loaded Debian-PPC on my Mini and everything just worked. Granted I don't use Airport Express (which as far as I know still doesn't work) and the Mac's onboard hardware monitoring chip isn't easy to configure with lm-sensors, but nothing that I really needed required special drivers.

      Tinkering If you insist on building things yourself, then the Epia wins here. Keep in mind, however, that you can open a Mini and make minor changes (like adding RAM) without voiding your warranty.

      Expansion Be careful if you think the Epia wins here. Some boards claim to support up to 2 PCI cards, but they are plagued with DMA problems. Notice that the newest Epia SP has dropped claims of such support. The problem crops up while sending large amounts of traffic to a hard drive and PCI card at the same time, or Ethernet port and hard drive, etc. and it will tank the machine. This is a known problem apparently resulting from a slow interconnect between the North and South bridges. Via's official forums (www.viaarena.com) has threads about this issue. To be fair, the CN400 chipset has a much faster interconnect, so problems might be alleviated. As for the Mini, most peripherals and add-ons will support one or more of USB and Firewire, so there's not a big problem. Video capture may or may not be a problem (are there Linux-friendly Firewire video capture devices?), since I haven't looked into that at all.

      Apple stickers Bundled with the Mini! =P

      The Epia is often used to build car-puters, whereas I haven't yet heard of something using a Mini for that purpose. If you have a particular PCI card you must use, that might be a reason to go Epia. Aside from those reasons, the Mini is a better deal and probably more capable.
      • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:45PM (#13626699) Homepage Journal
        The Epia is often used to build car-puters, whereas I haven't yet heard of something using a Mini for that purpose.

        I haven't been tracking this use, but I've seen several forum posts and several web sites around puting a Mac mini into cars. Heck, just put "Mac mini auto" into Google and you'll find a few of them. There are at least two companies offering add-ons, one sells a dock to put the computer in and pull it, and another is a DC power supply rather than using an AC inverter then the power brick.
      • Re:Easier process (Score:4, Informative)

        by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @11:38PM (#13626901)
        The Epia is often used to build car-puters, whereas I haven't yet heard of something using a Mini for that purpose.

        Whilst it's probably not exactly what you were thinking of, there is always Team Banzai's [gobanzai.com] DARPA Grand Challenge entry, Dora, powered by three Mac Mini computers [slashdot.org]

      • The Epia is often used to build car-puters, whereas I haven't yet heard of something using a Mini for that purpose. .

        There you go. [mp3car.com] See the entire thread.
    • ya *but*

      that cpu is a bit anemic. i've been fighting to keep from buying one of these things for myself (bought one for my mother and brother). that cpu is a wimp compared to other things on the market
      • The original response was comparing to the VIA Mini-ITX boards. The G4 processor in the Mac Mini is much faster than the VIA C3. Depending on the instruction mix, the VIA C3 comes in somewhere between 50 and 75% of a comparably clocked P3. The fastest ITX boards are somewhere in the 1.2 - 1.3GHz range.

        Whether it's powerful enough is really a question about what you want to use the system for. I really have not had any problems with the performance. But, I'm not a gamer, which seems to drive CPU requ
    • If you must have x86, Mini-ITX is a good option. If not, save some headaches & pick up a Mac Mini.

      I'd go one step further and say that if you must have x86, wait until next year when there will be x86 based Minis. Apple pretty much owns this space right now. Heck, if you don't want to buy Apple products, then wait until after the x86 Minis come out and competitors have to either have comparible boards or substantially cut prices. It's all good.
    • Re:Easier process (Score:5, Interesting)

      by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:56AM (#13627311) Homepage
      At first I was going to disagree with you, however, after checking the details on the Mac Mini specs it is impressive. I was expecting the mini-ITX to beat the Mac Mini hands down on power efficiency but it looks like they are on par with one another.

      You can still beat the Mac Mini price by well over $100 if you piece together a mini-ITX system with similar specs, but the Mac will have a much more powerful CPU and GPU. If you don't need the extra CPU and GPU power then the cost savings may make the mini-ITX a better solution.

      I've used mini-ITX systems in several applications, webservers, firewalls, wifi access points, etc., but I will definitely consider the Mac Mini hardware in future projects that may need more oompf. Especially since it appears it is quite easy to install linux over the top of OSX. While OSX is a nice OS (works great on my dual 1GHz G4) but it would waste resources on a headless box.


  • How stable is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:37PM (#13626457)
    I went through 2 via boards on linux before settling on an Nvidia board because I just couldn't get the damn things stable (to be fair, the soyo board was stable so long as I didn't plug anything into the pci slots).

    The other thing I'd love to know is if it can do full screen, high res divx in linux, or if there's a mini itx case that can. I figure most of these boards aren't going to run an accelerated X, but I haven't done enough research yet.
    • VERY stable. I'm using one of these Mini-ITX boards to serve as my household server. I've plans to make a Linux based media box shortly with another one of them, using something like OpenEmbedded to produce the image set for it.

      Unlike the AMD/Intel motherboards you refer to, VIA has pretty tight design control over these boards as they make them internally for the large part- many of the manufacturers, Soyo included, tend to play with the parameters and step into the marginal operation territory, causing
  • mATX ITX (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fortress ( 763470 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:37PM (#13626459) Homepage
    For my money, the mATX boards are a much better value. Cheaper, mainstream processor support, support for the usual PCI/PCIe/AGP peripherals means a more powerful, robust, upgradeable system. Plus, you can get cases that look like a piece of stereo equipment and can be unobtrusive in your living room.

    IMHO, ITX is better suited for embedded systems, not a more general purpose computer. Unless you have a very specific, limited use (like a MythTV frontend), you'll almost always be better served getting an mATX-based system.

    As with everything, YMMV.
  • the fine print (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:39PM (#13626463) Homepage Journal
    From the last page of TFA:

    With a few additions, like a hard drive and optical drive, a computer like this one could easily be a great work computer.

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement....
  • Dying a slow death? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tktk ( 540564 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:45PM (#13626491)
    Over 2 years ago, I bought the M10000 Nehemiah boards when they came out. Since then, there have been small increases in CPU speed and a few new mobos with different configurations.

    The Nano-ITX's were supposed to be the next big thing. The Nano boards would be around 4.5" square, with SATA...etc. From what I can remember, it sounded like a great little board. For the first year after they were announced Nano-ITXs were shown at the various tech trade shows. This year, I can't remember hearing about them at all.

    It's been long enough without a Nano-itx release that I'm starting to think that Nano-itx boards are vaporware and taking with it the rest of the VIA epia line.

  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:06PM (#13626565)
    I have an old Epia-m @933MHz that I tried to revive just yesterday. This is an old version of the Epia, I do think (and hope) the newer ones are better.

    It took my 3 tries to get Windows up and running (correct steps are 1- update BIOS, 2- Install Windows, 3-Install drivers, 4- Windows Update a few times), while keeping your fingers crossed.

    It hangs while lauching powerDVD and WinDVD, and VLC is too jerky to use (at 640x480x32@75)

    I checked, it still costs 2 to 3 times more than a regular MATX board+proc, for about 1/2 to 1/4 the power. Plus, cases are VERY expensive if you want something that look nice, plus a low profile DVD reader/writer (check www.mini-itx.com).

    It's kind of cool to have, and makes a nice conversation piece for all my nerd friends, but usage value is very low. I don't think I could make any kind of server of it. Maybe a router, a basic Windows Office PC, or a linux experimentation platform (but drivers are an issue).

    It IS incredibly small, very silent, and does work.
  • Budget Breakdown (Score:5, Informative)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:10PM (#13626575)
    I was curious how much this whole project cost after seeing the price links for the ITX motherboard under the article. So I googled around for component prices, and after seeing the prices, I can see why the author didn't include his budget in the article.

    $220 ITX mobo, 1Ghz VIA C3 processor
    $139 Silverstone case
    $95 OCZ 512Mb DDR RAM
    $45 Flash Voyager 512Mb pen drive
    $499 Total

    Note the project breakdown as listed in the article does not include a hard drive, optical drive, monitor, kbd, mouse, etc. Just the CPU.

    That is fuxxing insane. Mac Minis start at $499, come assembled, includes a 1.25Ghz G4 processor, optical drive (CD-R/DVD-ROM), 512Mb RAM, internal modem, and a 40Gb hard drive with OS X and iLife software preinstalled.

    Either the ITX project builder is goddam insane for building such a ridiculously expensive, low spec machine, or Apple is goddam insane for selling such a powerful machine for almost nothing. Or both.
    • itx's are an insane choice for desktop if you're looking for bang to buck(didn't walmart have a 499$ laptop or something?).. or just anything to buck.
    • Re:Budget Breakdown (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nik13 ( 837926 )
      I bought a readily asembled PC at bestbuy (yeah i know!) 2 weeks ago for this much. It's much smaller than any of my normal towers (in every dimension), quite acceptable. Looks better than every PC I've had built with 150$ cases, better build than all these "nice" systems I've built (with expensive cases, asus boards and all)... Came with a P4 3.06GHz, 512MB of DDR2, a 200GB SATA HD, DVD+-RW DL with lightscribe and all, pretty kick-ass video (for onboard video at least-the new intel 915), 7.1 ch digital aud
  • nano-ITX (Score:5, Informative)

    by renehollan ( 138013 ) <rhollan@NoSPaM.clearwire.net> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:24PM (#13626623) Homepage Journal
    TFA says that nano-ITX isn't quite ready, and that's almost still true: I have a Via nano-ITX board and a Silverstone Lascala LC08 case into which it....

    ... doesn't quite fit because Via changed the board form factor at the last minute.

    Silverstone says they are retooling to make new LC08 (and LC07) cases to accomodate the nano-ITX board, and I'm waiting impatiently. Sadly, what was originally to be a fanless design won't be anymore, with Silverstone's new case: Via didn't like Silverstone's heat pipe instead of a fan, and nixed the idea for the retooled case, not giving it the "nano-ITX" moniker blessing if it didn't support a fan.

    Why not just use a mini-ITX?

    Two words: CN400 and VT1625.

    The CN400 is an HDTV resolution equivalent to the old CLE266 MPEG2 decoder chip, and the VT1625 is an HDTV resolution RGB to YPbPr (i.e. component) encoder.

    MythTV with hardware-assisted HDTV MPEG2 decoding on a fanless thin clint would have been 'da bomb'! (Well, O.K. "fanless" is starting to become a matter of opinion and "do I dare not hook it up and hack a heatpipe?", but still.)

    There are miniITX boards with the CN400 (Commell makes one), and there are fanless mini-ITX solutions (Hush PC makes one, heatpipe-based, but alas it won't accomodate the Commell board, and is as expensive as it is good looking), but the two sets don't yet intersect, which is why I was pinning my hopes on the nano-ITX board.

    There are already patches to CLE266 and VT1623 drivers to accomodate the CN400 and VT1625, so Myth on the thing looks like a slam-dunk.

    I've already got the nano-ITX board, and an (early, and therefore useless) LC08 case, so, despite the fan issue, I'm likely to go ahead and build the thing (nano-ITX, 512MB RAM, trayless DVD-ROM, hard drive/flash disk), anyway, having spent $400 for the nano-ITX board, $175 for the DVD-ROM, and whatever the RAM cost (I had a spare drive) once I get an updated LC-08 case.

    • I don't know how you got ahold of a Nano board.. I think it's been almost two years since VIA announced them, and continually pushed back the release date. I long ago gave up on any plans I had for the Nano.

      But, you're right, the MPEG2 decoder in the CN400 would make a great MythTV frontend. If the Nano ever sees the light of day, and the mythtv compatibility seems good, I might pick one up.

      It's a damn shame Apple doesn't open APIs to their MPEG2 acceleration in the Radeon display chip in the Mac Mini
      • If you're really interested, I can plow through my old Visa statements from the summer to find out who I bought the nano-ITX board from. I remember that they specialized in computer systems for automobiles (DIN-sized motorized slide out and flip-up LCD displays were 'da bomb' for them), and when I expressed surprise that they actually had stock in the U.S. (they had two left when I ordered mine, but were ordering them from Via as fast as they were shipping them out), their sales rep explained that they had
    • The folks at mp3car.com claim to have Nano-ITX motherboards in-stock. [mp3car.com] They also sell a complete system in a spiffy blue case.

      The fine folks at Damn Small Linux also have a Nano-ITX system. [damnsmalllinux.org] There are several versions of the machine at the bottom of this page. [damnsmalllinux.org]

      Looks like I gotta stop calling it "Nano-ITX Forever" ...
  • If you're always going to be attaching to a network, you should be able to pxeboot off of the net. Linux works reasonably well for that. It just saves you one more part. At that point, all you need is a keyboard mouse and monitor.

    Mostly I've used netboot to run classrooms where the won't let me instll Linux or Unix for the students. I've also started using it at home to boot old boxes with limited drives, or where I'm too lazy to do a full install.

  • by Fortress ( 763470 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @10:38PM (#13626679) Homepage
    This is a little off-topic, but the first dozen or so replies (emitted?) to this story made me wonder about the poor spelling in many Slashdot articles. We all know spellcheckers have been around forever, and it would seem to be a trivial task to fix errors in accepted stories. So what's going on? I have two theories:

    1. The editors are shielding themselves from liability by not changing submitted stories in any fashion whatsoever. Similar to the way that comments are never deleted or modified, only moderated down.

    2. They're deliberate troll-food. Slashdot seems to have more than its fair share of grammar/spelling Nazis, and the occasional error is an easy way to throw them a bone. Trolls are happiest trolling, and they generate hits just like the rest of us. I think sometimes that dupe stories are the same thing.

    P.S. Since I mentioned the spelling/grammar Nazis, I'm sure you (you know who you are) are looking at this psot very carefully. The question is, did I really make an error or am I just demonstrating #2 above?
    • It's really much simpler than that; both emitted and omitted are real words. It's just that emitted means "given off", as in "The laser emitted a greenish light" and omitted means "left out", as in "All the boring details have been omitted in the interest of time." Both words will pass the spellcheck test. It's more of a grammer issue, similar to people who use "there" when in fact they really mean "their" or "they're" -- yes, it's sad, but the geniuses who program our nation's infrastructure, couldn't spel
  • One piece of information I'd like to find is where the frak to buy a nice 12V power suppy to power multiple mini-atx systems.

    I tried google, but the only thing I could find either could only power 1-2 or they want a bulk order of 500.
  • Yet [yak.net] another [timecube.com] irritating [tampax.com] site [datejesus.com] where [clothmonkey.com] random [wosib.org] words [virtualcrack.com] in [downsyndromedolls.com] an [victorysiren.com] article [gaytruckersassn.org] link [straightdope.com] to [kosherpets.com] irrelevant [etext.org] ads [banknotables.com] and [40ozmaltliquor.com] Web [pwdca.org] sites [forgotten-ny.com].
  • Basically I spent a lot of money and ended up very disappointed. I wanted to create some kind of multimedia/streaming-box, capable of turning into a complete PVR for DVB-T oder DVB-S. The problem is: To have a smooth DivX - Playbay in any event you have to go for the 1GHz CPU at least. But even though the VIA EPIA platform is considered low-power, the CPU is cooled by this noisy 6000rpm spinning fan. Since the VIA EPIA platform is completely custom, it is very very difficult to replace this fan (and get ano
  • Why didn't this guy just get a cappucino? They are exactly what he's looking for but come with Intel processors, and the chassis is smaller than his. Ok, there's a fan inside, but it seems like he gave up a lot. Hmmm...
  • by callipygian-showsyst ( 631222 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @11:58PM (#13626963) Homepage
    This site is one of those annoying [lesbian.com] sites where random words [m-w.com] thoughout the pages are higlighted and link to some sponsor. [vim.org] Nothing is more annoying! [rosie.com]

    I also can't imagine that any of the clicks [robert.to] the advertisers get [intel.com] are legit. It's probably mostly accidental [blogspot.com] clicks as people are navigating around [stanford.edu].

    Of course, the best thing would be to encourage people [blogspot.com] to make their sites a little more user-friendly [rotten.com] with more than a few words of text [snopes.com] on each page. But barring that, some form of ad blocker [microsoft.com] that finds and kills these things would be a good idea. Maybe someone can write one for Firefox [rnc.org] and Internet Explorer? [well.com]

  • it's a shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idlake ( 850372 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @01:52AM (#13627298)
    Mini ITX pioneered the small form factors, quiet desktops, and Nano ITX was supposed to go a step further. But complete and assembled Mini ITX systems are shipped only by a few obscure vendors and expensive for their limited performance, and Nano ITX has been MIA since 2003.

    Apple, meanwhile, has grabbed the small, quiet desktop market with the Mac Mini, which is a beautiful piece of hardware, but is a bit limited in terms of software (pretty much OS X, since Linux isn't all that well supported).

    Let's hope that Apple will come out with a Mac Mini/86, and that other PC vendors will clone the concept quickly. 640k may not be all you need, but a quart-sized PC ought to be all you need.
    • That Mac Mini/86 would be a Mini-ITX board with some special DRM feature to lock-in OSX, I presume?
      What other differences are there between an ITX system and the Mac Mini?
  • by malus ( 6786 ) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @07:26AM (#13628108) Journal
    I have had the opportunity over the last several months to work with the VIA Epia-M, and Epia-PD boards.

    I've used Debian as my primary OS, and the 2.6 kernel tree. Overall, everything seems to work quite well. The NIC has no problems of note. The soundcard was a snap. The I2C bus has been ignored, since I don't need any of it, but from what I read, there are (quite) a few problems with it's implementation & support under Linux. Their "padlock" features are for naught. Hardware random number gen has issues prior to (as best I can determine) 2.6.10, as in, "not bloody supported without a BIOS patch".

    The main problem I have run into is with the graphics. Support for the unichrome graphics chipset is just plain AWFUL. Via claims "open source!", but all they have done is swipe the code from the OSS unichrome (reverse engineered) project, and incorporate it into a nightmarish install system which REQUIRES very specific versions of the kernel (both 2.6 and 2.4), running on very specific distros, Red Hat, Fedora, SuSE. There is *nothing* available as a raw tarball (at least nothing as far as I can tell). You must run VERY specific versions of X.org, and or XFree86, and these drivers are available ONLY as binary modules, more or less, the unichrome chipset is unsupported.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.