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Saturday·26·July·2008

MicroClient Sr. //at 01:16 //by abe

from the *WANT* dept.

About a year ago, I bought a Norhtec MicroClient Jr., a complete 200 MHz MMX-compatible SoC (“Vortex86”) PC so small that it fits into your hand or onto VESA mountings. Althought thought as thin client, the machine has 128 MB RAM and runs Debian from either netboot, USB stick, CF card or 2.5” harddisk without problems and not even that slow.

Later last year, we needed more MicroClient Jrs. at work and since the MicroClient JrSX had a 300 MHz 486SX-compatible SoC processor (“Vortex86SX”) from MSTi and 128 MB DDR RAM instead of SD RAM, we expected them at least in the same performance range and bought a few for ETH and I also bought one for myself. Well, they were about three times slower, since the FPU is missing, not all programs from Debian Etch work fine, e.g. X doesn’t work without patching and recompiling (with Sid, X works, but not the kernel anymore – Update, 26-Jul-2008: See #454776 for a solution for this problem)…

BTW: I had both machines with me at FOSDEM ‘08 at the Debian booth and the MMX-compatible machine also at Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (CLT) at the Symlink booth and in Kurt Gramlich’s talk about ecological computers. So if you saw them there, just imagine the same case, with a twice to three times faster CPU and four times the amount of RAM, but with roughly the same carbon foot-print!

For our thin client purposes at work we now use ALIX boards from PC Engines (Mini-ITX format) with 500 MHz AMD Geode processors. They’re much faster than the MicroClient Jr. and need even less power.

Today, while surfing around on some Mini-ITX shops, I found some computer in obviously MicroClient Jr. case, but with 500 MHz VIA Eden processor and 512 MB of RAM. I first couldn’t believe it. They are selling it as eTC-2500. Since eTC-2300 was one of the brandings of the MicroClient Jr. which is called eBox-2300 officially by the manufacturer DM&P, I searched for eBox-2500, but didn’t find anything useful. Then I looked at the manufacturer’s product page at CompactPC.com.tw and found the eBox-4300 — so it’s really true, they managed to fit a board with 500 MHz VIA processor and half a Gig of RAM into the already fscking small space inside the MicroClient Jr. case, and even without needing more power: Still 15W from the power adaptor. Next stop was Norhtec’s Website. And yes, they also have a new MicroClient product: The MicroClient Sr.. I really need to have one of those for my MicroClient collection! ;-)

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I usually don't buy new hardware. Why should I if I get old hardware I can use thrown after me.


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