back to article Linux Mint joins mini-PC hardware business

Linux Mint, flush with its recent popularity in the distro stakes, is looking to take the pain out of installation with its first hardware line, called mintBox, that comes in smooth and ribbed versions. "We're passionate about what we do and for our very first Mint device, we wanted something unique, something special and …

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Is it just me, or is that price really high?

Am I missing something?

Couldn't I get a laptop with better specs and an included screen for less?

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Re: Is it just me, or is that price really high?

Yes, you could, but it would have a fan inside. The point of the fit-pc is basically that it is completely silent, shock-proof and has an operating temperature range up to about 80 Celsius.

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Re: Is it just me, or is that price really high?

> Yes, you could, but it would have a fan inside. The point of the fit-pc is basically that it is completely silent, shock-proof and has an operating temperature range up to about 80 Celsius.

Or you could try looking at a system like a Hush, beautiful bits of kit, but not for the feint of wallet.

Sometimes, silence is golden.

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Re: Is it just me, or is that price really high?

Shock-proof? With spinning platters? Should have a 128gb SDD. More than enough for any GNU/Linux.

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No, it's not just you....

They are bloody expensive! Mint and Ubuntu are so easy to download and install - you could buy a regular box and pay someone to do it for you for that.

I would sooner have the 13 Raspberry Pi's thanks, especially running as a dedicated XBMC client..

Gotta love smooth or ribbed though, although I expected El Reg to make more of that, or is it just too easy?

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Paris Hilton

Re: No, it's not just you....

Ribbed and silent - just what you need for enjoying a 'special' video at night.

Yes, cost is high but then they don't have the volumes that laptop makers enjoy.

Paris, she enjoys a large volume...

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Re: No, it's not just you....

I was thinking just that. I wonder if the Pi is going to be a game changer ie the price of computers are about to drastically drop.

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Paris Hilton

Smooth or ribbed?

Being minty fresh it might leave behind a strong tingly sensation.

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> The mintBox is Mint in a box. It's tiny, it's silent, it's extremely versatile and it comes ...

... with a hole in the middle?

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A hole in the middle

A hole in the middle is *exactly* what it needs, so that it can be chained or bolted down to stop it getting pilfered.

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Typical use?

What are people using these mini-PCs for? Are they enterprise thin-clients, home theatre devices, or simply just for hobbyists (i.e. messing around)? Or do they occupy a niche e.g. embedded systems?

Genuinely curious - this is not a flame!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical use?

Considering that beginning with 2013 every new PC will run only Windows 8 courtesy of UEFI + Secure boot, this device occupies a niche that will grow larger until Microsoft will show the big stick to the manufacturer who will then promptly kill it claiming a lack of interest from general public. Been there, seen that with the netbooks.

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Re: Typical use?

Fully enclosed fanless ones are ideal for factory automation and HMIs, and actually work out much cheaper than PLCs (and a darned sight easier to program).

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Re: Typical use?

esata and gig ethernet mean its up for small home server usage, even in the tropics or desert!

These would be good for Australia where temps can easily hit 45C and you don't want to run the a/c at home while your at work so that your PVR doesn't fall over and you don't want your PVR to make much noise.

$450-550 does seem a bit steep, but at least there are some consumer level devices out there - most of the time you're looking at industrial systems costing 2500 and up (if you can find a price).

These prices are why lightpeak could easily succeed. You can have a slightly noisy server tucked away and run the optic cable to your display screen. Compare this to a NAS box and the prices don't seem so bad and the flexibility of an open x86 system is there too.

Easier to use than a pi, though I think you'd be hard pressed not to buy a laptop with esata instead, unless you needed absolute silence or 80 degree C tolerance.

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IPcop and NAS

When I move I plan to front my new home network (cabled) with a firewall, so I'm looking for a box that can run IPcop comfortable enough not to limit throughput, even when I have 2 VPNs up. I'm also planning to build a NAS which doubles up as a VM host.

I am thus very interested in fanless, spindlefree (SSD, for the base OS) based mini PCs, and I know from experience that IPcop runs on almost anything. However, for the VMhost/NAS I suspect I'll need to build something myself - the amount of power I need almost guarantees I will have heat to dissipate, which means forced airflow. Either direct, or remote via a liquid cooler.

So, to answer the question: firewall, Wiki/email/web server, remote controller, media recorder head end, internet radio - loads of uses. There is quite a bit more on the market than just the "Mint" devices, though.

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Re: Typical use?

A couple of years ago I built a PC based on a passive heatsink Atom 550 board and itx case. No fan. No noise. Low enough power consumption that I don't feel guilty leaving it on 24x7.

It means I can access the internet immediately, without having to wait for a system to boot. It also means that I can access "home" from work or anywhere else. Little things, but I like them.

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Re: IPcop and NAS

You could run the firewall in a VM on the server. That's what I do - Astaro runs in a VM on a VMWare ESXi server. You'd need two network cards in the server, one for the local network, one that just connects to the DSL modem/cable box/whatever. For the server, I use an HP MicroServer - low power, and the fan is barely audible.

I'm toying with using a low power PC like this one to use as a print server, running XP or maybe Server 2003. ESXi doesn't get on with USB printer/scanners, it barely does USB storage.

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Is it just me, or is that temperature really high?

"....has an operating temperature range up to about 80 Celsius."

Definitely not a laptop.

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Re: Is it just me, or is that temperature really high?

Try sticking it in a cabinet or a desk with bad ventilation, and you'll be glad it has that high a tolerance. I'm actually quite impressed by it - this is at least a device you can use in the more tropical places of the world, provided you keep humidity levels decent (monsoons are *not* ideal climatic conditions for computer kit, especially outside :).

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Why XBMC...

When that box won't run 1080p MKVs?

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Joke

Re: Why XBMC...

It can handle some music or other videos but even you should know that your windows box is for your porn. Don't insult Linux.

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Alert

Re: Why XBMC...

Genuine question - how do you know that, is it the processor or XBMC itself?

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Proper task division

your windows box is for your porn. Don't insult Linux.

To be exact:

Windows: to watch porn

Linux: to serve porn

Hope that clarifies matters :)

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Anonymous Coward

Price is ok...

Considering the rather neat case (make mine ribbed) and the specs, this price point isn't bad at all.

A few years back, I built Linux based a 'near silent' PVR (has a fan cooled PSU) - when you add up all the parts - motherboard with onboard cpu, ram and the case, costs start climbing.

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Re: Price is ok...

These days you can build a fanless mini-itx system (see AMD Fusion, dual core 1.6GHz) for less than the cost of this puppy.

Industrial systems have always taken the mick with regards to pricing. Generally because of the lower volumes and tighter QA that hostile environments require. However this Linux Mint beastie looks like it's managed the worst of all worlds: high price, moving parts (disk) and aimed at the domestic market.

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Fanless mini-itx system

You can, but a mini-itx box is considerably larger. My first thoughts about the mint box were "neat", "cool" and "expensive". A bit like an OpenWRT'ed router, but with the missing bits not missing (graphics, SATA, enough USB ports, enough RAM ... It's also got an RS232 port and a very high temperature tolerance. I doubt it's purely aimed at the domestic market.

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Ouch!

$400+?

Pay less for an ION based system and stick any Linux on it - with a real processor inside and good video.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pay less for an ION based system

Why Ion when Fusion so much better?

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FAIL

How much?

ROFLMAO!

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Paris Hilton

Obl. Wayne's World reference

"Ribbed, for her pleasure. Eeeeuuhwwhh"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPSVVw4Pxp4

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Mint

Mint was alright until it decided after an update that my Wifi card was no longer to be supported.

Then it got ditched.

Tried CommodoreOSVision for a joke, but it decided that my NVidia video card was not to be supported.

Things were going well for a while, it was getting to the point where Linux just worked, now its going back to 10 years ago when getting anything to run is an exercise in Vi ' ing config files.

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Mushroom

My phone has a faster processor

It says a 1 GHz processor.

My phone has quad core 1.4 GHz. My old phone with 1 GHz couldn't play Angry Birds without freezing, thus the upgrade.

For Hi Def media full screen you need about 2.4 GHz.

So, if it can't play Angry Birds, and can't do movies, it's not going to sell well. I suppose it could be used for playing original Doom.

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Coat

Re: My phone has a faster processor

A phone processor isn't the same a x86.

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Re: My phone has a faster processor

So you decide on desktop specs on the basis that it cannot play Angry Birds.

That's a new one, thanks.

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Trollface

Re: My phone has a faster processor

You've got to be trolling. Surely even Windows users know that Ghz comparison is only meaningful between chips with the same architecture (and then only if you're running something that's CPU-limited rather than disk-limited or net-limited).

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Re: My phone has a faster processor @SirAdelaide

No, you don't need a 2.4GHz processor, you need a decent GPU. Many phones out there with 'only' 1Ghz processors that can play angry birds, 1080p video over HDMI etc. Because they have a decent GPU.

Dunno what the GPU on this thing is though.

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Pint

«Dunno what the GPU on this thing is though.»

Radeon HD 6290 and Radeon HD 6320, respectively ; just check the link (at the word «said» in the article). The specs aren't bad, but I agree - this baby is a bit dear. Haven't yet tried Mint, but the Cinnamon desktop developed by Clement Lefebvre and his team is a doozy, far better than anything else I've tested on my Ubuntu boxes....

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

I'd really like to review the pro model

...maybe in a few months when I've got more dosh to hand. Ah well *sigh*

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Mint is easy to install

but a whore to upgrade. Back everything up to external HDD, reinstall from scratch and restore everything? Really?

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Headmaster

Pedent corner.

"Linux Mint isn't making the boxes themselves"

..is incorrect in both GB and US english.

I think you mean;

Linux Mint isn't making the boxes itself.

or

Linux Mint aren't making the boxes themselves.

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Happy

Re: Pedent corner.

I read the "themselves" as applying to the boxes, not Linux Mint.

Oh, and you mis-spelled "pedent".

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Sheevaplug etc

Doesn't seem to compare well with Sheevaplug, pogoplug etc. And if it has a spinning disk, it is not silent.

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Re: Sheevaplug etc

????Plug devices don't have graphics hardware, or any means to add such, so that's an apples to oranges comparison. You might better try comparing it to a Rasberry Pi plus accessories (Power supply, box, USB hub, USB disk).

2.5" disks are silient enough for most people, and one can substitute an SSD if you're in the minority.

Never did understand why they doomed the ????Plug things by failing to include any graphics support at all. Just plain old 2D 1280x1024 would have sufficed. We don't all want to run games or watch movies.

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Linux

Re: Sheevaplug etc

VNC your plug. you can get 2345x9876 or 12x21

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RTFA

TFA says "Linux Mint is pitching the devices at corporates, the education sector, and internet cafes."

For that target market, the announced price seems reasonable and the hardware seems to be fit for the job: you don't need 1080p video for corporates, education or internet cafes but you do need good network connectivity, which those boxes seem to have. I for one am happy to see computers aimed at business users with a version of Linux pre-installed and I wish them the best of luck.

Now I can see the bragging around the water cooler: I got a *ribbed* Mint box, what did *you* get?

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