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5 Little Linux Computers
Linutop, Fit PC2
July 1, 2010
This month we take a look at a number of small form factor PCs that either come with Linux or would make a perfect fit for your favorite Linux distro. Each of the computers mentioned takes up very little space, but all deliver plenty of computing performance to handle everything from basic web browsing to watching videos. They make nice little firewalls, basic file/web/print servers, and quiet, low-power media servers. All of these units typically consume a fraction of the power of a conventional desktop and less than many traditional laptops.
Cost is a big factor when you compare the price tags to other machines. It's hard to justify spending $300 - $400 on a small form-factor PC as a desktop replacement when you can purchase a netbook for about the same price or less. The differences in performance and capabilities just don't justify the price differential. We'll take a look at some of those netbook offerings in a later roundup. For now, let's look at what's out there in the world of "little" computers.
Little computers are all the rage and the Linutop 3 from France delivers small in both size and in power requirements. The Linutop 3 box measures about 23.5 cm square and 5.5 cm thick (9.25 inches by 2.17 inches). From a power perspective, the unit draws an energy efficient 20w. It comes with the Linutop OS preloaded on the internal 2GB Flash memory along with a number of productivity applications. A 1.0 GHz VIA C7 processor coupled with 1 GB of memory delivers more than acceptable performance for typical usage. On the rear panel you'll find four USB 2.0 ports, audio in and out jacks, a 1 GB Ethernet port, VGA and DVI video connectors and a single RS-232 serial port. The front panel includes an additional two USB ports along with headphone and microphone jacks. List price for the box is 340.00 EUR, which translates to around $415.00 US.
Another entry in the little computer category is the Fit PC 2i from the UK. This little guy runs on 10 W of power while touting either an Intel Atom 1.1 GHz or 1.6 GHz processor. It includes two GB Ethernet ports, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, four USB 2.0 ports and a mini-sdhc socket supporting bootable devices. For video, there's an HDMI connector and an optical S/PDIF connector for high-quality audio. This baby just screams to be a compact home theater PC, running the latest version of Myth TV. List price for the Fit PC2i Lite is 265.00 GBP or around $398 US. Fit PC also sells a 7" USB touch screen monitor for 99.95 GBP ($150 US).