[Techtalk] tiny homebuilt appliance?

Alvin Goats agoats at compuserve.com
Fri Oct 24 13:45:21 EST 2003

> like, hi there,
> I'm looking for an alternative to using old PCs for firewall/gateway and
> other 
> specialized servers. They're big and clunky. I've heard here and there of 
> little computers-on-boards- anyone know what I'm talking about? For an 
> Internet gateway, for example, all I need is CPU, memory, and storage. Not a
> whole huge box with expansion slots and fans and masses of circuitry I'll 
> never use. Something with a serial connection and Ethernet.
> For a commercial box, I really like Snapgear. But I'd like to build my own. 
> I'm not sure what to look for, I've been googling and getting confused.

Well, I went back to the original post.

What you are looking for is a microcontroller/SBC (Single Board
Computer) of the type used in embedded systems. These are very bare
bones, meaning YOU supply:

o mouse
o keyboard
o power supply/battery
o disk drives
o monitor/lcd

They typically include at least one serial port (often 5 or more), an
ethernet controller, floppy and HD controller (EIDE or SCSI), keyboard
connection and sometimes VGA. One such company is:


Browse them, learn the terms they're using and then search for similar
companies using THEIR terms. The one I mention above is linux compatable
(Linux, Embedded Linux and Real Time Linux) and the boards range from
386's to Pentium III's (the 386 can survive in environments the 486+
cannot due to circuit size of the IC): 


Super small are the "system modules" or "system on module" type devices,
measuring in the area of 2.5x3.5 inches:


Many of these are slower than what most people want for a PC, but
because they are slower, they DON'T require any cooling, which is highly
desirable in many of the places they are used. 


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