Compact Freebsd 'appliance'

George Hartzell hartzell at
Fri Jun 19 17:21:00 UTC 2009

John Almberg writes:
 > I have a client who has an application that he wants to deploy in his  
 > customer's offices as a headless 'appliance'. Basically, just a black  
 > box that you can plug into a Lan, turn it on, and it runs. No floppy  
 > disk or CD, no monitor/keyboard, just remotely managed.
 > This application won't store any critical data, so it doesn't need  
 > redundancy. It just needs to be reasonably reliable, compact, and quiet.
 > My first recommendation was to use a Mac Mini, but that excellent bit  
 > of hardware was deemed 'not professional enough'. So now I am looking  
 > for a compact pc that can run FreeBSD, of course. I think it probably  
 > just needs a power supply, tiny motherboard with onboard ethernet,  
 > usb, etc., and hard drive.
 > If anyone has a recommendation (or if their are any vendors lurking),  
 > please shoot me an email off list. I'll compile a list of  
 > recommendations and post it all at once, in case anyone else is  
 > interested in this.

I have a couple of Via Artigo a2000 boxes, one running FreeBSD-STABLE
(post 7.2) and the other running FreeNAS.  Both work well.  I've seen
posts from one fellow who's tracking a bug with the vge interface
under very heavy load, but both of mine stream music and do Time
Machine backups via netatalk without any trouble.  Logic Supply has a
custom FreeNAS build that recognizes the disks as SATA and that adds 
support for Gb ethernet to the NIC (rolling in changes from -STABLE to
the 6.x series on which the stable FreeNAS is based).

They're not the cheapest place to buy the box, but they're close and
they do good support (I'm just a happy customer and I helped with the
FreeNAS image, no other association).

They're not Living Room quiet, but they're about as unobtrusive as you
can get in a little box w/out going fanless.


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