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 Forum index » House Training » HOWTO ( Solutions )
How to build a small Linux computer
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Bert


Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 1105

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2007, 05:43    Post subject:  How to build a small Linux computer
Subject description: a Puppy Box
 

Hi all,

After I had published some pictures of my homebuilt mini computer on Yahoo, I started receiving some nice comments and questions.

Now, Laurent ( forum name: lvds) asked me if I could write a Howto.
Well, here it is:

Building a Puppy Box

Hope you like it. For many of you experienced geeks, it will not teach a lot of new things.I tried to keep new enthousiasts in mind while writing the page.

My "signature" used to point to the yahoo photos. It will link to the above page from now on.

Best regards,
Bert

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mbutts


Joined: 11 Nov 2006
Posts: 231
Location: sitn on an iceburg waiting for my next meal to swim by.

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2007, 08:52    Post subject:  

Great article!!! It would be nice if other puppy people would share what they have done on homebrewing a computer. We have the "my puppy is more gorgeous than yours", maybe we could have a thread in the forum for "I built it myself" showing off our memebers hardware building abilities. I for one am very much for low power low cost computers. People like Raffy help to make thin clients work, and any projects that show creativeness and an ability to use something frugal and inovative always peaks my interest. One thing that i found interesting is this.
http://www.xpcgear.com/16in1fceplte.html
This is an example of a card reader that can fit in a floppy slot. Newer computers already have this, but its great to know that you can add something like this to older ones too! Best of all, they are cheap and sold all over the place on the net. I have been using an external card reader and the wakepup floppy to boot off of a sd card. It works great and takes up very little size. I have seen some of the pcmcia card reader for laptops and would like to try that some day. Anything that is low power, low noise, and small always gets my attention.

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BarryK
Puppy Master


Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 7800
Location: Perth, Western Australia

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2007, 09:18    Post subject:  

That's great! I read through it all! Presented as an entertaining story.
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lvds


Joined: 23 Jan 2007
Posts: 315
Location: Near the window

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2007, 10:23    Post subject:  

Hi Bert,

It's great to share such a good story !
I hope it will encourage many other users to build their own computer and even enhance the system ! Very Happy

By the way, it will be great if you have time to report how our customized distro works (or not) on your home computer so we can improve them Wink

Best regards,
Laurent.

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tempestuous

Joined: 10 Jun 2005
Posts: 5454
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2007, 11:26    Post subject: Re: How to build a small Linux computer
Subject description: a Puppy Box
 

Bert wrote:
not suitable for high end graphical apps and games

Your motherboard probably has a VIA Unichrome graphics chip. With the Unichrome 3D graphics driver installed, your graphics performance will increase dramatically. Use MU's 3D-Control-Center
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=14463
DVD playback will then work fine. Basic 3D games might work, too.

And forum member dvw86 also built a small Puppy computer based on a VIA processor - http://puppylinux.org/wikka/MiniITX
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Bert


Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 1105

PostPosted: Mon 14 May 2007, 18:17    Post subject:  

Thank you all for the compliments. Much appreciated!
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Q

Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 01:55    Post subject:  

that looks so cool .
here is another idea instead of building one.buy this $139
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS5566172390.html
wipeout vector and put puppy on it Twisted Evil
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Getnikar


Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 143
Location: Gold Coast, Australia

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 04:57    Post subject:  

Great story. However isn't the life of the flash card somewhat limited to a few tens of thousands of io's? Therefore the system will need to be completely re-installed every few weeks/months/days!! into a new flash card?
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HairyWill


Joined: 26 May 2006
Posts: 2946
Location: Southampton, UK

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 07:49    Post subject:  

Getnikar wrote:
Great story. However isn't the life of the flash card somewhat limited to a few tens of thousands of io's? Therefore the system will need to be completely re-installed every few weeks/months/days!! into a new flash card?
This isn't a problem.
If you set it up correctly changes will only be written to the card once every 30 minutes or so.

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Bert


Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 1105

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 08:25    Post subject:  

Getnikar wrote:
Great story. However isn't the life of the flash card somewhat limited to a few tens of thousands of io's? Therefore the system will need to be completely re-installed every few weeks/months/days!! into a new flash card?


Hi Getnicar,

That would be the case if the flash card had to work like a hard disk, constantly reading / writing. But Puppy Linux has a unique solution, called "frugal install".. When Puppy is booted, everything is copied to RAM memory. So everything happens in Ram, saving ( writing) to the card only periodically. This used to be once every 30 minutes -and at shutdown of course-. The new Puppy 2.16 auto-saves every 5 minutes or so, effectively "flushing" the Ram, So, theoretically, the card's life time will be six times shorter with the latest version of Puppy Linux. I have no idea whether this will be noticable in reality. In fact, I would be most interested, if someone more at home in these matters could shed some light on this!

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Getnikar


Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 143
Location: Gold Coast, Australia

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 08:38    Post subject:  

Bert wrote:
In fact, I would be most interested, if someone more at home in these matters could shed some light on this!
Well the only info I know of is that my flash card on my camera lasted for about 2 years, 2000 photos, and maybe 200 photo download sessions to the computer (with photos cleared), before the card started developing dead spots. It was still useable but some pics were corrupted. In a computer environment the filesystem would be corrupted when the first storage error occurred. I suppose fsck might isolate dead blocks, but there would still be loss of data/files, and therefore likely software/system corruption.
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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6266
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 13:22    Post subject:  

Quote:
But Puppy Linux has a unique solution, called "frugal install"..

For clarification, that flushing behavior is unrelated to "frugal". All a frugal install means is storing the main files from the cd on the harddrive and booting directly from them with GRUB, rather than booting from a CD. So just because you have a frugal install doesn't mean it will do the periodic saving. That only happens when you're running from flash media. I run a frugal install on a normal SATA harddrive, so it accesses the drive directly.

You can also change the frequency of saves. The file to edit would be /usr/sbin/savepuppyd.

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Bert


Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 1105

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 15:12    Post subject:  

Thanks for the clarification PG!

I should have mentioned I was talking about flash cards, not normal hard drives.

This is what I found in /usr/sbin/savepuppyd:

Code:
#check PMEDIA is usbflash or ideflash...
LOOPDELAY=6
SLEEPTIME=300 #save every 30 minutes.
#if not a flash media, can save more frequently...
#[ "`echo -n "$PMEDIA" | grep "flash"`" = "" ] && SLEEPTIME=50 #save every 5 minutes.
#v2.16rc ...above line is not completely correct. case of boot from cd (say) and pup_save
# is usb flash, will save every 5 minutes which is wrong.
# for now, have commented-out line, leave at 30 minutes always.


That answers my above question about the life expectancy of a flash card written to every 5 minutes... Wink

However, at the moment I am running 2.16 from a live-cd, saving to a usb-key. Puppy auto-saves to the stick every 5 minutes. I'll see if I can find where to change the parameter in /usr/sbin/savepuppyd.

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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6266
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Sun 20 May 2007, 22:02    Post subject:  

Code:
SLEEPTIME=300 #save every 30 minutes.

Change that line. That number is in tenths of a minute from what I can tell.

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adric22

Joined: 18 Apr 2007
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue 29 May 2007, 13:26    Post subject:  

I've been running two puppy computers from 1 GB compact flash cards. So far, so good. Also keep in mind that different media has different numbers of read/write capabilities. My biggest problem is speed and lack of DMA on the brand of cards I've bought, but I got the cheapest of the cheap.
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