[clug] linux diskless low power workstations

Alex Osborne ato at meshy.org
Sun Nov 2 02:01:59 GMT 2008

Tomasz Ciolek wrote:

> does anyone have any information on systems suitable for acting as low
> power diskless workstations?

If you're talking _really_ low power (2-3 watts), check out the awesome
Beagle Board:


You could attach a USB ethernet (or wifi) dongle for your network
connection.  It only has DVI-D and S-Video outputs, not VGA, but if
you're buying monitors as well then you can just make sure to get LCDs
with DVI-D inputs.  As far as I know it doesn't do PXE, but it has 256MB
NAND flash that you could (for example) setup to mount and run
everything over NFS  Or you could do something like Bob and co do for
the ANU student labs, just rsync the OS image into local flash (if it
has changed) on boot.  That could save you both network load (if you
have a lot of these workstations) and headaches in the case your
network/server goes down temporarily.

However, if you need to run some proprietary x86-only stuff, like say
Adobe's Flash player, I guess look at VIA based systems.  I haven't
looked for them specifically, but the one place I've come across that
sells a bunch of VIA-based pre-assembled PCs is here:


For example the basic eBox 4853 without any storage sounds like the sort
of thing you want.  They even mention they've tested Linux on them.
This page suggests they draw at full load at most 20 watts, and maybe
10-15 watts during normal use:


Hope that helps,


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