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VIA M'SERV: the Perfect Little Linux Box? - page 2

Pick a Distro, Any Distro

  • April 5, 2010
  • By Paul Ferrill

We had to perform a few extra steps after the installation finished to install the familiar Ubuntu desktop. These consist of running the following commands from a terminal window:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

This will install the GNOME desktop environment and all the necessary supporting software. We had to reboot at this point for the changes to take effect. We made it to this point on the M'Serv S2100 in a little under 30 minutes. That includes taking the cover off to inspect the system and to make sure everything looked OK after shipment.

<i>Ubuntu Software Center</i>
Ubuntu Software Center

The final step in the installation process was to use the Ubuntu Software Center to install the Virtual Machine Manager. This is a handy tool to make quick work of creating and managing virtual machines. It's a good idea to also install Webmin for accessing and administering the server remotely. It provides a comfortable, web-based interface to manage your server over the Internet.

Observations

The M'Serv S2100 is a solid little box that just works. It runs quietly, making it suitable for an office environment as a small departmental server or just sitting in the corner of a home office. Connecting to an old-school parallel printer won't be possible although a USB printer will work. This box was designed with a few very specific tasks in mind, and it wasn't designed to be a typical workstation machine. It does perform the server role quite well and will support the latest 2 TB hard drives, giving a potential 4 TB of storage.

After installing Ubuntu Server Edition 9.10 we still weren't able to get the Ethernet ports to work at their full-speed 1 GB rate. This is probably a driver issue, but we were not able to find a suitable driver for Ubuntu 9.10. Everything else works as advertised including the creation of a virtual machine using the Endian Firewall Community edition. All warts aside, the VIA M'Serv S2100 is a worthy successor to the A2000 and does its job well at a price comparable to a lower end netbook.

Note: Ethernet speeds are affected by cabling. Stewart Haston at VIA tells us� "To enjoy full Gigabit network bandwidth on applicable VIA products we recommend using Category 5e or Category 6 compliant cabling. Category 5 cabling may result in inconsistent network performance." Some Cat 5 cabling has only one twisted pair of wires, and Gigabit Ethernet requires two pairs.

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