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I have an Idea inspired by cooper. I saw a few Linux dev boards that support sata USB and Ethernet. This is all I need. It would be nice to get one with USB 3. But not a requirement. I just want to put some Linux dist that supports samba. Vlc and other things for streaming media. Put a hard drive in it and 2 USB drives. Use it as a file server and maybe a media streaming device. Put my samba.conf try to mirror parts of my exhisting config. Setup shared drives and any other little things I need. I might need a powered USB hub. The thing is it takes up less space and power than my PC.

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If this is all you want, I'd recommend you get a Raspberry Pi. Well supported by a vast community and it costs very little to run/operate. A possibly more interesting device is the Odroid-C1. It's only slightly more expensive than a Pi but it too has a very nice community around it (pros and noobs, welcoming to all) and performance-wise it blows the Pi out of the water. Depending on where you live it might be a bit harder to come by though.

There are other boards out there with a (much) bigger bang for a (somewhat) bigger buck, but those tend to throw you in the deep end and if you don't know how to swim, you're in trouble. The PcDuino, sadly, tends to fall in this category. The community here is the Linux-sunxi community which is overtly hateful towards AllWinner over GPL violations but does what it can to support these boards.

When you want to run a server on these boards, general support of the CPU and its USB and network ports should be sufficient. USB 3.0 is, for the moment, mostly a pipe dream. Only the really expensive boards come with that. Only exception to this is the PogoPlug whose manufacturer went bust and Amazon bought the remaining stock. They're dirt-cheap GBit+USB3 arm devices but there's no community and no prospect of one starting anytime soon.

If you want to run a more desktop/XMBC type machine, the support for the video chip is critical and, again sadly, often very poor. If it has a Mali chip you better run Android or forget about hardware accelerated video. Same with the Cedar thing in the AllWinners. The video parts of the Pi were open sourced but to what extent this might benefit you is still under debate. In general I'd recommend people wanting to have a tiny desktop/XMBC device to just get a NUC. Intel-based, Windows compatible and generally well-supported hardware-wise.

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