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Wind.dk - the site of lunacy

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Wind.dk - the site of lunacy

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t2 - 日本語

I assembled V'ger from new parts, to function as a multipurpose server.

It is currently running a webserver, serving the page you are reading now. There is also ftp, and I have set it up to synchronize a directory with Bokko-chan for backup and maybe easier access to my school documents from everywhere.

It's running a daemon for playing music, - though the built-in sound may not be the best in the world, connected up to my little NAD amp and JBL mini-monitors, it's pretty nice to have in the background, and there's a lot of space on the harddisc!

A few other things are also set up, though some of it does not work quite as I would like it, but I expect I will get around to it eventually.

Since I bought all the components from new, a bit more thought went into them than in one of my usual whatever-I-can-find machines. Also the setup may be interesting for someone looking for a powerful but not too big and in particular not too expensive computer. If you reduced the capacity of the harddisk (to something like 500GB), left out the USB flash drive and added a DVD-writer, you could still add a keyboard, mouse and monitor and pay no more than for the smallest Mac Mini - without keyboard, mouse and monitor - and this is a considerably more powerful piece of hardware. It does not run Mac OS X out of the box, if that is what you want (a sensible choice), but it might run it with a little tweaking, and otherwise some Linux distributions make for really nice systems.

So, even though it was put together over a year ago, I think it still makes sense to describe the components in a little more detail than usual - if nothing else, it will give myself a starting point next time I'm putting together a computer. If you do not care for such details, just skip the list, It is a small 2,80GHz DualCore system with 4GB RAM and 1,5TB harddisk:

    Silverstone SST-SG05B Mini ITX Black
    It may seem strange to base several of the system choices on the case, but I wanted a small quiet-like and energy-efficient computer, as well as a case I could bear to look at once in a while. This one seems to fit the criteria very well. There's only room for one 3,5" device, but that should be enough for daily use, as long as it is a high capacity harddisk. The case only takes mini-ITX motherboards, so that limited the options very much. It is cooled by a filtered 12 cm fan taking up most of the front (tells you a bit about the size of the thing) and the power supply is a well constructed 80plus device. The greatest limitation is on the processor fan - 78mm in height is quite generous at least in a small case, but still not many modern fans will fit in it. Here's a pretty good review of the case and power supply.
    Intel DG41MJ mini-ITX Socket775
    The motherboard is a mini-ITX to fit the small case. This puts some limitations on the capabilities - there were only two available in a reasonable price range - but this one from Intel seems to be well equipped for the purpose. It can take 800MHz DDR2 and processors with up to 1333MHz FSB. The on-board X4500 graphics are better than the current bottom of the line, which is a particularly good thing, as there isn't really an option for a separate graphics card. Of course the computer is not supposed to be used for heavy graphics, but maybe a bit, and it is just that bit more future-proof. Likewise, I don't have gigabit Ethernet at home, but if I upgrade my switch, there's already Gbit on-board. Audio may be the most limited, but when I decide the on-board isn't good enough, I'll probably get an external USB-device like the Silverstone EB01, so the choice between a PCI and a PCI-E 1x socket does not seem to be of much concern - the old PCI socket on this board being the most peculiar feature.
    Intel Pentium DualCore E6300
    Not to be confused with the old Core2Duo E6300, this is a 2.80GHz processor with 1066MHz FSB and 2MB cache. Presumably the 2MB cache as opposed to the 3MB cache in the E7400 is the reason they don't call it a Core2Duo. Whether that is the only important difference between the two, I don't know, but this is considerably cheaper than the 7400, and for my purposes I excpect it will be almost if not just as fast, and quite fast enough.
    Silverstone SST-NT07-775 CPU cooler
    And the specifications go on, 15-23 dBA, copper center, extruded aluminum fins, low profile... It is just a fan, to cool the processor. Most importantly, it is small enough to fit in the case and on the motherboard, and it is large enough not to be too noisy, I hope.
    Crucial DDR2 BallistiX PC6400 2x2GB CL4
    At just a couple hundred yen more than Kingston RAM with 5-5-5-15 timings, I thought I might as well get the 1-2% speed increase of 4-4-4-12 latencies. Most important of course is the 800MHz bus speed. 4GB total may be more than I need at the moment, but that may change, and the last thing I want a server ever to do, short of actual malfunctioning, is start swapping.
    Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm 1,5TB
    I got this model ST31500341AS a little cheap from my nephew, who has never used it. It is a long story and it wouldn't make any sense to anyone who isn't an out-and-out freak. Anyway, he also suggested the name for the machine, and it is a good name.
    Kingston Datatraveler Mini Slim 4GB USB flash drive
    This is just for installation images - as I don't intend to put a DVD drive in V'ger for now, I needed some alternative method of installing the system and making updates to BIOS'es and such. Of course, if I decide to get a DVD-drive for it some day, the Sony AD-7590S looks just right.

During setup I used a new mouse I ordered while I was at it, and I found one of my really good old PS/2 keyboards, as well as an old quality monitor, again for the setup. By now it is mostly running headless, being controlled remotely in different ways.

One unexpected side effect of Vger, is that I no longer need to turn the lights on in my entrance when I get home at night. The power LED emits a bright blue light, bathing the room in enough visible photons to find my way around it.

Finally it is worth mentioning, that as I have put V'ger together both to run with low power consumption, and to completely replace one old computer and partly another big computer, I expect it will have completely paid for itself in savings on my electricity bill in no more than three years, maybe much less. Then it can join the ranks of Bokko-chan and Mahoro, both of which I consider to have fully returned the investment, even disregarding the pleasures of nerding around with them. The returns will come in a completely different way, but that is as it should be.

If you do not know V'ger, just watch Star Trek The Motion Picture. I will not spoil the surprise for you - more than the movie already does by sitting you through the first hour of superfluous trekkie eye candie. It is very pretty and all, and I recommend it, but even if the story would have been a very cool episode, it does not exactly add up to a good movie.

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