Before I start telling about my new pet project, I must congratulate my 3 colleagues that joined me at the Ubuntu booth on this weekends Dipro fair. We managed to gather around €80 of donations from people collecting an Ubuntu (or Kubuntu) installation medium. Compared to an earlier fair I did, with roughly the same people, this amount of money is enormous. If everything goes well, this money will be transfered to the Belgium Ubuntu loco team for supporting their actions.
Anyway, like any other Dipor fair, there were a lot of people trying to sell old computers and laptops for unreasonable prices, the most hideous cases, do-it-yourself-ink-cartridge-refill kits and mini keyboards only my kids can type on :)
While strolling through the fair, however, a colleague showed me an interesting Wyse Thin Client. These terminals are normally used as a very lightweigt computer, accessing terminal services provided by some server running Windows or Unix. This particular device (a 9455XL) was running some embedded version of Windows XP which I found quite intriguing. I also thought that all these devices had proprietary hardware, allowing them to run OS'es provided by Wyse only.
This device was different. After kindly asking the seller for a screwdriver, we noticed a very familiar VIA chipset inside. The main board also had a normal IDE controller and one of its bays was occupied by 512MB, 40-pin, Transcend, IDE Flash Module. There was also a PCI riser card present, to be able to add an additional hardware component like a TV card. For the readers that got lost in the past few lines, this was a normal, damn small, extensible PC with very low power consumption :)
The guy was selling these for €25 each, so I bought one.
Since the device only consumes an average of 15W, this will serve as an ideal replacement for my current 24/7 router-firewall-all-in-one-file-and-print-server providing Internet access to my network at home. The latter is a normal IBM Aptiva consuming an average of 65W. You could also use this as a cheap NAS device, after inserting a very huge hard disk.
I had been thinking about this before, but I never found a reseller in Belgium for mini-itx boards and solutions. The German Mini PC site came close, but after configuring my first device, using their builder, it seemed a lot more expensive than I anticipated.
In the next posts, I will elaborate on some adventures in installing the device. I will also talk about the software I will install on this device (yes, it will be Linux, what else) and how it's configured. I will also turn this device into a content based proxy, instead of a normal NAT (Network Address Translator), to be able to filter out some unwanted sites. The latter will be interesting and necessary, since my girfriend's daughter is taking her first steps on the Internet.