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Want to set up homeserver: Zonbu good solution?


miracle
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Hello all,

I am thinking about setting up a simple home server for several things:

- File server, connect my HDD's to it (2x500gb, 1x400gb, 1x200gb)

- Web server, run Apache(2), PHP5 and MySQL 5 for local testing/developing

- Backups, automatically run backups from one HDD to another

I'd like it to be able to run constantly, and I don't really need access to it, other than the obvious file access via network, remote control and ssh.  WiFi would be preferable, and it should be small enough so that I can easily tuck it all away somewhere in a back room of the house.

I've done some research on this, and Zonbu came to mind.  For those  of you new to Zonbu, it's a pretty small linux box that runs on a 1. 2Ghz intel-compatible VIA chip, 512mb ram  and 64mb of that is used as shared (video) memory.  Also, the OS is stored on a 4GB CF card.  All in all not a top-notch power machine, but I really don't need all that much power, plus the Zonbu uses ~20 watts tops.  I've read that in normal usage, 11 watts is used, and 8 watts when in stand-by mode.  I don't need much HDD space, since I have multiple external HDD's for data storage, and with it's 6 USB ports, I can easily plug those in.

The device, including shipping costs (and no service plan) and a 802. 11g USB dongle will set me back for €208, or $288.

Now my question is, do you think this machine can do what I want it to do? Is there a better option out there that you'd recommend?

Any input is much appreciated. 

Thanks in advance!

-Dave

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I’ve not played with their Linux build, although I remember someone saying it was a build of Gentoo and that unless you buy the unit outright they cripple it so you can’t do anything like installing software.

For around the same price (for the buying it outright) you could build a nice little server using a Jetway Versa J7F4K1G5D Mini-ITX Motherboard, picoLCD, 1GB of memory, 160GB of storage and a cheap mini-ITX enclosure. The thing would look/work better and you could pick the OS you want to use whether that be Linux, UNIX, BSD or Windows.

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I’ve not played with their Linux build, although I remember someone saying it was a build of Gentoo and that unless you buy the unit outright they cripple it so you can’t do anything like installing software.

For around the same price (for the buying it outright) you could build a nice little server using a Jetway Versa J7F4K1G5D Mini-ITX Motherboard, picoLCD, 1GB of memory, 160GB of storage and a cheap mini-ITX enclosure. The thing would look/work better and you could pick the OS you want to use whether that be Linux, UNIX, BSD or Windows.

Thanks for your reply. I had the full 'uncapped' version in mind yes, as I am not interested in their service. I too thought about making my own box using separate parts, but as I live in The Netherlands, either the price on the individual item is too high, or it's just not available here. That is, unless I plunder eBay and cash out some serious dough for the shipping costs for each item. I checked to see if I could find some pre-build models, but so far all google gave me was news about some AOpen machine. Tiny, sure, but more expensive than the Zonbu, and not all that much better..

I'm open to suggestions though!

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Don't OS's run on flash need to be tweaked to avoid heavy amounts of I/O to the disk? Otherwise you run the risk of trashing the disk? So I would avoid anything that is heavy on the disks, maybe make it a NAS or something. Deffinately replace the OS with something a little more standard.

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Using flash memory you do have write endurance limit which depending who makes it, can variety quite a bit. I believe its around 100,000 erase cycles for a bulk of the manufactures, although modern solid state drives are said to have around 300000 erase cycles.

When you do make a computer that uses flash memory you really don’t want to write to it much so once you have the OS on it, it’s best to only write to it when you have too. This means making sure that everything that gets written to a lot like  the home directory is located on a hard drive.

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Using flash memory you do have write endurance limit which depending who makes it, can variety quite a bit. I believe its around 100,000 erase cycles for a bulk of the manufactures, although modern solid state drives are said to have around 300000 erase cycles.

When you do make a computer that uses flash memory you really don’t want to write to it much so once you have the OS on it, it’s best to only write to it when you have too. This means making sure that everything that gets written to a lot like  the home directory is located on a hard drive.

I won't use the machine at all, it'll just be running as a file server with all the files located on external drives. If it's running in this 'idle' mode, it won't write anything to the CF card, right? And if not, is it easy to move the home folder to an external drive without re-installing Linux or anything? You can see I'm not all that linux savvy (I'm learning, I'm learning :)).

Don't OS's run on flash need to be tweaked to avoid heavy amounts of I/O to the disk? Otherwise you run the risk of trashing the disk? So I would avoid anything that is heavy on the disks, maybe make it a NAS or something. Deffinately replace the OS with something a little more standard.

I assume Zonbu thought about this too, and tweaked the OS for this purpose. You say I should replace thet OS with something more standard, isn't Gentoo standard enough? I know Linux is a system that runs on just about anything, so maybe I'm completely wrong if I think of 'but what about drivers?' as soon as you mention installing a different linux...

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I just placed an order with Zonbu. I've had email contact with them, and they said they'll ship out the first batch of Zonbu's next week, so I can expect mine hopefully in 2 weeks, right when my vacation hits off. I've added the USB 802.11g dongle so I can set it up on a wireless connection right away. If you guys are interested, I can keep you up-to-date on the progress of my little project. In any case, I'll post a bunch of photos on my Flickr account as soon as I get my hands on it. Unboxing shoots are pretty popular these days..

Call me geek, but I'm pretty excited to try this one out! It's been a while since I got a new device to play with.. Thanks for all your feedback guys!

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I won't use the machine at all, it'll just be running as a file server with all the files located on external drives. If it's running in this 'idle' mode, it won't write anything to the CF card, right? And if not, is it easy to move the home folder to an external drive without re-installing Linux or anything? You can see I'm not all that linux savvy (I'm learning, I'm learning :)).

*cough*logfiles*cough*

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*cough*logfiles*cough*

Ah right, of course. I didn't think about that one. Is it easy to make the system store the log files on a seperate drive? I'm thinking of using a portable 80GB HDD I have here for the system for whatever things it needs to store, so my data drives remain for, well, data.

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