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Author Topic: tiny core computer  (Read 13973 times)

Offline thane

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tiny core computer
« on: November 28, 2009, 08:23:09 PM »
Brainstorming. Thinking about building a computer "from scratch" for running tiny core. Based on something roberts said, maybe just with USB stick(s) for booting and storage (no hard disk, no CD or DVD drives).

Alternatively, just getting a hold of a box (hopefully free) that can boot off USB and going from there.

Dumb idea? Worth trying out? Anybody done anything similar?

Offline 4-stroke

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 09:02:22 PM »
Not a dumb idea at all. I've been thinking the same thing. I'd like to have something really small with passive cooling. More desk space and complete silence.


A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." - Douglas Adams

Offline Guy

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2009, 09:25:10 PM »
I prefer to use hard drives.

USB drives have a limited life, maybe several years.

It is not the cost of the USB drive that is of concern. It is the fact that when it fails, you lose all of your personal files.

I know others have different opinions.


I have actually been running Tiny Core, and previously other Linux distros, on computers which did not cost me anything for several years. Computers which other people discarded because they are a little slow to run Windows XP. Thousands are being thrown away every year. These computers have hard drives. Some have been working, others have needed to be repaired.

For example, one of the better free computers is 800 mHz with a 40 gb hard drive.  This one had a power supply not working. I replaced this with a power supply from another free computer.
It came with 256 mb of ram. I added another 512 from another computer in which the motherboard failed.

Thousands of computers like this are being thrown out every year. It may be difficult for most people to get hold of them.

Some people are selling used computers like this at excessively high prices to people who don't understand.
Many people see what is. Some people see what can be, and make a difference.

Offline vinnie

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2009, 05:41:00 AM »
I inserted a motherboard in a wooden box built by me. I put on it only cpu and ram (4 gb).
I use a flash memory but if you want you can also use a usb hd or SATA/e-sata.
For ide hd i reccomend you a converter like this for example:
http://cgi.ebay.com/USB-TO-IDE-SATA-S-SATA-Converter-CABLE-Adaptor-w-POWER_W0QQitemZ180402670408QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item2a00d64b48

Offline thane

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 09:53:08 AM »
Currently I have an old Compaq Deskpro EN with 512M of memory. I boot off read-only CD (USB boot not supported) and save to a USB stick. Still has Windows 2000 on the hard drive which I haven't bothered to reformat. Basically just using the box as a web surfer and media player.

Even now I don't use a swap file, but a gig or 2 of memory would be nice. I have a couple of CDs, one with the basic current version of TCL and the other customized slightly (e.g. with waitusb=5 coded in isolinux.cfg). Also a few USB sticks with different sets of extensions. I'm sure there's a way to duplicate all this with hard disk partitioning or something but it just seems handier to plug in whatever I want and go. At the rate TCL is changing I'm usually burning new CDs every month, which I have to do on my wife's Windows PC or at work. Hence my interest in an all-USB setup.

None if this requires a built-from-scratch box of course, but it might be fun to try sometime...

Not sure USB's write limitations are really an issue. Even if there were 10 writes/day to a 10,000 write USB stick that's still 3 years of usage. Plenty of time to backup!

vinnie, I admire your creativity.

Offline jur

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 04:42:02 PM »
USB write limitations are of concern if you are a storing browser cache items on it. With browsing there are many many writes going on all the time. I don't have any figures but obviously it is orders of magnitude higher than 10 writes/day.

But TCL can cater for this by not having a persistent home directory - you back up only a few times per day perhaps, and that would hopefully exclude the browser cache.

Offline vinnie

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 03:26:48 AM »
@thane: thanks, honestlythe box is more like a box for hamsters  ;D

@jus: yes, and then with sufficient space in ram the you can unmount the flash drive :)

Offline Lee

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 06:06:27 AM »
The big limitation with USB drives on my older computers is...

The USB ports are all on the -back- of the boxes.

In my basement computer area ("the NOC", as I call it) I can get to the back or front of my museum pieces - a stack of three Compaq Deskpro EN - but not both the front and back.  I have physically unplugged the floppy and CDROM drives in them since those are never used, so now the only thing I needed the front of the machine for was to reach the power switch.  A few feet of bell wire, a momentary-on micro switch, some glue and I now have an auxiliary power switch on the back of each unit.

@ thane - if you haven't already done so, its time to put a new battery in that Compaq.  Radio Shack stocks them.
32 bit core4.7.7, Xprogs, Xorg-7.6, wbar, jwm  |  - Testing -
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USB Flash drive, one partition, ext2, grub4dos  | Otherwise similar

Offline bmarkus

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 06:21:00 AM »
The big limitation with USB drives on my older computers is...

The USB ports are all on the -back- of the boxes.


What is about a simple USB extension cable?
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Offline vinnie

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 06:42:35 AM »
What is about a simple USB extension cable?

A solution less stable/artigianal?

Another cute solution could be similar to this: http://www.pcusacorp.com/product/CR-IN212XIO-1.html but it is less economic.

Offline thane

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2009, 09:58:28 AM »
Thanks, Lee, I'll take care of that. Haven't done a thing to it since I rescued it from a dumpster years ago and finally hooked it up in March...

Offline Lee

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2009, 10:58:33 AM »
Wellll... ;)  I didn't happen to have a handful of USB extension cables laying around - and I need to get to the back of these boxes occasionally anyhow.

I like the idea of that thingy that fits in the floppy bay - but for my more modern workstation, not these antiques.

32 bit core4.7.7, Xprogs, Xorg-7.6, wbar, jwm  |  - Testing -
PPR, data persistence through filetool.sh          |  32 bit core 8.0 alpha 1
USB Flash drive, one partition, ext2, grub4dos  | Otherwise similar

Offline vinnie

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2009, 08:09:02 AM »
 ;)

Offline tclfan

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Re: tiny core computer
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2009, 08:26:21 AM »
Currently I have an old Compaq Deskpro EN with 512M of memory. I boot off read-only CD (USB boot not supported) and save to a USB stick. Still has Windows 2000 on the hard drive which I haven't bothered to reformat. Basically just using the box as a web surfer and media player.
Another consideration is that these older machines like Deskpro EN have USB 1.1, therefore extremely slow. So even if it was bootable from USB, it would be practically useless. Booting from TC from CD is the best way therefore...
Another purpose of these older machines would be to use them as NAS servers. Just stick a FreeNAS CD and the machine runs headless, no monitor, keyboard or mouse. Just need to put in some old disk drives and you have RAID, etc...

Offline vinnie

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