Exciting news - Christmas has come early for the IT department (or at least for me because no body else can get near it!) as our shiny new toy has arrived. About four weeks ago now I read an article on the register about thin clients and more specifically a company called Norhtec and their new micro client Jr. This is a very simple embedded computer based on a lowly 200 MHz processor which is designed to run a cut down version of Linux for simple tasks, but it turns out to be surprisingly capable.
The application I have in mind for it is as a platform for our Nagios network monitoring system which is currently running on a cheap desktop machine loaded with Fedora. Given that desktop machines can use anything up to 200 Watts even when free wheeling and of course even running Linux they occasionally have glitches and crash, the idea of having a tiny computer with no moving parts and which only requires 15 Watts is very appealing both from an environmental and a reliability standpoint.
When the machine arrived first impressions were very good, its tiny - about the same size as a 3.5" hard disk, and boots up with the (optional) compact flash based puppy Linux installation in about 2 minutes. The only thing we had to do was quickly pop to Maplins for an adapter to change the rather exotic Thai power pins to something more mainstream :o)
As the operating system runs entirely in RAM it takes a while to get into the mindset of installing applications to the master rather than installing into RAM and the application disappearing next time you boot up.
So far I have installed FireFox 2 which runs nicely even with the new Flash 9 Beta plug in, and this afternoon I will attempt to squeeze Apache and Nagios onto it if they will fit. Might need to have a muck out first though ;o)