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kkitts
2006-03-22, 12:09
Hi All,
Like many people, I generally just post to the forum when I have a question. But I thought that, for a change, I'd drop a short note about a success I had building a "budget" slimserver box. Actually, my goal was not the absolute cheapest possible - because while the slimserver is the only full time process currently running I may use it for some other minor purposes in the future.

I selected a Short Form Factor computer by Shuttle - the SK21G. It has video, audio and ethernet all built-in for $179.00 at newegg and other places. Just add memory, CPU, disk and a DVD for software installation and you are all set. I added 512M, a "budget" sempron 3000 and an inexpensive Asus DVD player. I splurged and spent $119.00 on a 320G Western Digital HD (Model # WD3200JD) because I'd seen a review that said it was very quiet. I'm a bit of novice at building computers - but the directions from shuttle were very straightforward.

Using the shuttle it is possible to disable the check for keyboard in the bios (hit del on boot to get into the bios). Therefore, there are only 2 connections that go into this box - power and ethernet. One thing that really astounds me - the box is virtually silent. I always kept servers in a wiring closet at my house out of habit - but this box could really be placed anywhere.

I've used ssh to stream music to iTunes at work (over a cable modem link) and it works great. I disabled a few processes that I new I would not need and set "init 3" using the built-in SUSE YAST tool - so that unneeded GUI stuff won't run at startup. I can always "init 5" if I want to do GUI stuff. While running ssh, slimserver and "top" - top shows idle CPU of between 98 and 100%. I had to laugh when I saw 100% idle - and ask a unix sys admin friend of mine how 100% idle could be possible... The response using the web over the cable modem link from work is very crisp. Music plays back flawlessly without any stutters (at 320K bps mp3).

I used SUSE 10 for the base OS. It installed and detected everything perfectly. I used the SUSE package installation program to install the latest Slimserver rpm from the slimdevices.com web site and that went almost flawlessly too. Unfortunately, the slimserver does not autostart under SUSE. One needs to read the man pages for the SUSE insserv program which is used to hook the slimserver startup script located in the /etc/init.d directory into the SUSE boot-time script startup process.

I could likely have gotten by with less CPU, memory and/or disk. The system I built was likely overkill for what I needed - but I wanted a system that I could set and forget. I've filled only about 1/2 of the 320G and at the rate I collect music that should last me several years at the very least.

Cheers,

Kevin

nathanroberts1
2006-03-22, 12:53
I'm about to attempt to put something similar together so that I can free up my laptop. What was the total cost inc. CPU, RAM etc? I'm trying to weigh up whether I may be better off looking to ebay for an old PC. Quiet is nice but it'll be sited in an upstairs room so not as important as price.

kkitts
2006-03-22, 13:30
I could likely have put it together much cheaper - perhaps by getting a smaller disk or doing the "rebate" thing - but I've tired of filling out rebate forms! ;-)

I spent:

Shuttle $179.00
512M: $31.00
Sempron 3000: $85.00
WD 320G HD: $119.00
Asus DVD: $23.00

Total: $437.00

I can't recall all of the shipping charges - some of the items shipped free and some had a smal charge - but it was reasonable.

I thought about just using some old disk drives that I have on hand. I have an old ATA 80G drive and a USB 80G drive and some older drives. I could have cobbled together enough disk space by using multiple old drives in a larger case. Actually, my previous version of this system was a Pentium II/266 wich used some disk space actually SMB mounted from another windows system! Crazy, eh?

Kevin

bpa
2006-03-22, 13:34
In the Uk/ireland there is a Dell outlet for refurbished PCs. You can get a dimension 1100 celeron-2350, 256Mb RAM 80Gb disk with Windows starting about Stg£210 or Euro 310. No screen but kdb& mouse and Dell support.

kkitts
2006-03-22, 13:40
One other quick thought on the subject of disk drives...

If you go with a Shuttle - note that it uses SATA (Serial ATA) - so you need to use newer drives - possibly a disadvantage if you want to reuse old disk drives. There is 1 IDE interface in the Shuttle that I got (SK21) - which I used to connect the CD/DVD. I'm almost certain that the IDE interface supports 2 disk drives - a master and a slave drive. So you could, in theory, connect a CD/DVD and one old Parallel ATA drive. Or, if you're a bit nutty like me - I've even been know to do Linux installs over the net or install the DVD, take it out and put a hard drive back in to use that IDE channel. Lots of options... ;-)

Kevin

RiccardoR
2006-03-22, 15:20
Another choice is to buy from e-bay an used small and very quiet HP e-pc (PIII or PIV) for not more than 150 euro plus a new 300HD for 110 euro. Total: 260 euro.
RR

kkitts
2006-03-22, 15:34
Interesting...

Looks like it may have pretty good Linux support as well...

http://www.hp.com/wwsolutions/linux/products/clients/e-pc-cert.html

Kevin

kkitts
2006-03-22, 15:39
geez... the shipping from some of those e-bay vendors for that machine is $45.00. Gotta really watch shipping costs from people on eBay, eh?

Kevin

kkitts
2006-03-22, 16:06
I see that the e-PC only has room for:

1 ( 0 ) x internal - 3.5" x 1/3H

I guess that means 1/3 height 3.5" disk drives. Do you think most modern ATA disk drives would fit in the case? Also, the CD is one of the "slim line" notebook style things - so that would be expensive to replace if you wanted to use it to read DVDs. Still, interesting...

dean
2006-03-22, 16:59
I'll also second the Dell option. The low end small business server
machines are quiet and fast enough.

You'll pay a premium for their bigger drives, but if you wait for a
deal it's quiet competitive.


On Mar 22, 2006, at 12:30 PM, kkitts wrote:

>
> I could likely have put it together much cheaper - perhaps by
> getting a
> smaller disk or doing the "rebate" thing - but I've tired of filling
> out rebate forms! ;-)
>
> I spent:
>
> Shuttle $179.00
> 512M: $31.00
> Sempron 3000: $85.00
> WD 320G HD: $119.00
> Asus DVD: $23.00
>
> Total: $437.00
>
> I can't recall all of the shipping charges - some of the items shipped
> free and some had a smal charge - but it was reasonable.
>
> I thought about just using some old disk drives that I have on hand. I
> have an old ATA 80G drive and a USB 80G drive and some older drives. I
> could have cobbled together enough disk space by using multiple old
> drives in a larger case. Actually, my previous version of this system
> was a Pentium II/266 wich used some disk space actually SMB mounted
> from another windows system! Crazy, eh?
>
> Kevin
>
>
> --
> kkitts
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --
> kkitts's Profile: http://forums.slimdevices.com/member.php?userid=1993
> View this thread: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=22355
>
>

shvejk
2006-03-22, 20:10
I see that the e-PC only has room for:

1 ( 0 ) x internal - 3.5" x 1/3H

I guess that means 1/3 height 3.5" disk drives. Do you think most modern ATA disk drives would fit in the case? Also, the CD is one of the "slim line" notebook style things - so that would be expensive to replace if you wanted to use it to read DVDs. Still, interesting...

I have PIII HP ePC setup as a dedicated SlimServer and I am very satisfied. Yes, it takes a standard 3.5" ATA disk. However, I believe that the BIOS only recognizes up to 137GB.

If the above disk limit is not a problem, then PIII ePC is an excelent solution. The box is almost silent ( much more quiet than my P4 Shuttle XPC box ).

I have recommended this setup on this forum before. See this for more info:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=19781

Cheers,

kkitts
2006-03-22, 21:53
I'll also second the Dell option. The low end small business server
machines are quiet and fast enough.

You'll pay a premium for their bigger drives, but if you wait for a
deal it's quiet competitive.


Just curious, how do you get the best deal on these Dell PCs? Through the Dell web site? eBay? Something else? I'm in the USA of course.

BTW, I'd think that for many people the 137G limit of the e-PC would be a bit limiting. I guess that was for the PIII version. Perhaps the PIV version has a higher limit? BTW, there are a slew of PIV e-PC (model 42) on eBay at the moment. They seem to be going for about $190.00 including shipping - but they only have 20G hard disks - so one would need to replace that for sure.

Kevin

JJZolx
2006-03-22, 22:18
Just curious, how do you get the best deal on these Dell PCs? Through the Dell web site? eBay? Something else? I'm in the USA of course.

BTW, I'd think that for many people the 137G limit of the e-PC would be a bit limiting. I guess that was for the PIII version. Perhaps the PIV version has a higher limit? BTW, there are a slew of PIV e-PC (model 42) on eBay at the moment. They seem to be going for about $190.00 including shipping - but they only have 20G hard disks - so one would need to replace that for sure.
Yeah, I took a quick look at the low (and I mean _low_) end Dell server. $449 for a Celeron machine with an 80GB SATA drive and 512MB of RAM? Nothing against Dell, but their bread-and-butter is in midrange servers. If you want highend servers, with highend customer service, go with HP or IBM or even Sun. At the low end, go white box and build it yourself.

For a little over $400 you did good Kevin.

I really like those WD drives. I have four of the WD3200JDs in an NAS and I'm pleasantly surprised both by how quiet they are and how cool they run.

RiccardoR
2006-03-23, 14:11
I don't know if there is a limit on HD space recognized but I have an HP e-PC 40 (Pentium III 1000) with a new Maxtor 300Gb HD (two partitions: the first, C:, of only 6Gb for the S.O. and the second, D:, with the remaining space (more of 270Gb) used only for music archive).
The S.O. that I use is WinXp (with the cure of XPLite!) and, Yes, the CD Rom inside is a slim device (sic!)(normally used on laptop) but I never use it because the pc has only two cords (external power supply and lan) so I'm thinking of internally detach the CD to lower the power comsumption.
Another beauty is the noise very very very low: the pc is in my bedroom and is quite inaudible.
Recently I have bought an used HP D530 USDT (it's a very slim pc from HP with integrated power supply) but the noise produced, however low, it's not so low as my old e-PC 40 (that I suggest unless You need more than one HD/Raid configurations).
Riccardo

nathanroberts1
2006-03-23, 16:16
Would this be suitable - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8784284006&fromMakeTrack=true - ?

I would need to be able to put my, currently external, 200gb drive into it, and I would get annoyed if the SB player interface wasn't sufficiently smooth, but 50 GB pounds seems a bargain.

bpa
2006-03-23, 16:45
Ireland has a Dell manufacturing facility so I reckon that is why there is an outlet. Dell has free shipping offers every so often so it makes the price competitive to DIY or for people who want peace of mind compared to Ebay. This is the UK URL.

http://outlet.dell.com/Emea_Dfo/EuDispatcher?country=GBR&target=InventoryPage&lob_constraint=DIM
Note: prices exclude VAT (17% in UK I think).

Also available through
http://www.sterlingxs.co.uk/

I'm sure there are similar outfits in the US.

Mark Lanctot
2006-03-23, 18:08
Would this be suitable - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8784284006&fromMakeTrack=true - ?


Should be more than enough. Note that you may hit the 137 GB barrier if the BIOS does not support it.

Harani
2006-03-25, 05:50
I too have built a shuttle slimserver box

it also acts a printer server and stores all my other media files such as movies and digital photos

it has two 250GB SATA hard drives in a mirrored RAID 1 configration (so only 250GB usable space)

it does not have a monitor or Keyboard, it's purely used as a network attached Storage device. I just VNC into it if i need to make any configuration changes.

the 5 1/4 bay is unused (I had a CD drive in it but removed iit after initial configuration) so there is space in there for two more 3.5" drives and the next stage will be to put a RAID 5 card into the unused PCI slot and another 2 250Gb drives to give me 750 GB of usable storage spacee redundantly striped across 1Tb in Total

To keep the OS seperate fromn the data drives this is stored on a 6Gb 2.5" laptop HD which is small enough to sit in caddy which Velcro's to the underside of the HD bay (no more room for anything bigger once all 4 drives are in)

The RAID 1 (and later the RAID 5) give me redundancy in case of a HD failure. And the OS drive backs itelf up to the data Array periodically

the box is of course firewalled and does periodical shcheduled antivirus updates and checks

The whole thing so far has cost me around £290.