back to article Introducing the Asus VivoMini UN42 – a pint-sized PC, literally

You only have to own a mini PC for a short while to understand the attraction. Minimal footprint, easy to handle and with any luck, a useful selection of interfacing options. Go for the latest fifth generation Intel chips and you can have sufficient grunt to tackle even the most arduous of desktops tasks. Asus VivoMini UN42- …

Footprint

I just had a quick look at the install footprint of Windows 7 on one of my desktops. It's 39 gig.

Windows alone would not fit on this thing's disk!

...but you know what? I'm not going to take that as a strike against Asus here. This is very clearly Microsoft's fault. There is NO NEED for an operating system to be that big. There just isn't. I mean what the hell is IN there?

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Re: Footprint

Most of that will be the update and rollback files which are easily cleaned up.

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Re: Footprint

A DVD player for one, which is excluded from Windows 10 but you can buy at extra cost (and more disk space).

It is definitely Asus' fault that the hardware they make and load with an OS of their choice is not big enough for that OS. I tried swapping my HDD for a small SSD and loading Windows 7 from the recovery USB. IT told me it needed 100Gb to install Windows! So if I made Windows 7 machines I would use a larger drive.

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Meh

Re: Footprint

"Most of that will be the update and rollback files which are easily cleaned up."

Easily? If you have a good solution for cutting these down without breaking the various installers and rollback points I would be very interested!

The internet's full of various so called resolutions most of which are not backed by Microsoft and often don't work. Of course there is Microsoft's update clean up tool which managed to free up at least a megabyte on my machine. I currently have 61GB in the Windows directory alone, of which 25GB is installer and 12Gb is Winsxs.

There's also a number of Microsoft posts indicating that due to the hard/soft links involved in these folders they're not really taking up as much space as they say they are.... Which leaves me with the big question... What is?! I'm on a 256 GB SSD and after 2 years only 50GB is actually being used up by data... and yet I'm down to 10GB of free space!

That said I'm running a 32GB Windows tablet and that's fine after 6 months... but mainly because I only use it for interweb browsing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Footprint

"Which leaves me with the big question... What is?!"

Windows 7 apparently under-reports the size of some folders by a very large margin. It is not until you actually explore the folder that the space used is counted.

My impression is that opening one of these folders is usually preceded by a prompt saying something like "would you like access?". It is most annoying when you are trying to work out where the space is being used. Even the folders in the hierarchy may each need to be explored separately to find their size.

It is possibly folders that Windows regards as having special system significance - but can include what might be regarded as user data.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Footprint

I mean what the hell is IN there?

It starts with weirdly inefficient compilation. Borland and even IBM compiled Windows code into considerably smaller (and faster) executables than MS ever could. MS has never even bothered with working on tighter, more compacter code - it was always left as an exercise for the OEM to throw more hardware at the deficiencies and that is valid all the way up to Enterprise deployment.

To that you can add totally useless crud like update caching and post-patch residue (the gazillion "KBxxx" directories in C:/Windows) which nobody is really clear about if they can be zapped or not (as restore point management isn't exactly well developed either) and I'm not surprised there is a storage problem.

However, this little box strikes me as a reasonable box to run a Citrix client on, or a Linux Mint desktop. Or even a full home video surveillance manager which came up in in a previous Reg article, it strikes me as a better alternative than the pre-cooked *cough* "solutions" on the market and with your own platform you can customise as much as you want. I bet that would comfortably fit on the SSD, provided you far, out video storage to a private cloud or a nearby NAS..

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Re: Footprint

On Vista and later releases you either need to get down and dirty with PowerShell or use something like WinDirStat to properly get visibility of what's using up your disk space.

I find it hilarious that someone's trying to not blame an equipment vendor for offering a hardware configuration with insufficient space for the OS they supply, though. The whole point of OEM gear is that they're supposed to take the pain out of assembling a working rig away from the end user; if they can't do that competently, they're screwing up and deserve criticism for doing so.

At least they allow you some external storage if you don't want to pony up for the larger mSATA SSD but it's still a bit of a fail to bother offering any Windows-based system with less than 64GB of internal storage.

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Re: Footprint

You'll find out that a good chunk of that reported size it's actually the WinSXS directory that mostly comprises hard links which will report occupied space when they really don't. Windows 10 on the other hand, seems to reduce a bit the install footprint. I've recovered about 2 GB after upgrading the magnificent HP Stream 360 (also a 32 GB disk) from 8.1. Didn't had time to check if that's only by remaining temporary space though.

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Silver badge
Joke

Re: Footprint

<quote>There is NO NEED for an operating system to be that big. There just isn't. I mean what the hell is IN there?</quote>

I hear you. The machine that I am using to create this post has a 22GiB (Ubuntu 12.04) root partition, with around 13GiB FREE.

Now, the fact that my /home is on a separate partition, and it is chock full of media files.........

But, your point (that Windows is bloated) is so true. Time for Windows to go on a diet.

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Silver badge

Re: Footprint

"I find it hilarious that someone's trying to not blame an equipment vendor for offering a hardware configuration with insufficient space for the OS they supply, though."

Maybe this was intended to be the barebones version that the customers could use for the light-weight OS of their choice. Then marketing came along...

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Silver badge

Re: Footprint

Time for Windows to go on a diet. Speaking as a windows mostly user, I think 7 was the last iteration I cared about anyway. Will be running Lnux before 10.

I haven't run tree size on my Win 7 install, might have to now.

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Re: Footprint

What is?! I'm on a 256 GB SSD and after 2 years only 50GB is actually being used up by data... and yet I'm down to 10GB of free space!

The enduring mystery of disappearing Windows resources! When your workstation's grinding to a halt and you eventually manage to fire up Task Manager to investigate, it tells you that CPU, I/O and memory are all hunky-dory - you're just imagining it.

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Boffin

Re: Footprint

"Easily? If you have a good solution for cutting these down without breaking the various installers and rollback points I would be very interested!"

These steps will eliminate a lot of the garbage that Windows and apps have accumulated:

1. Delete the Windows crud. Go to Computer, right-click on your drive, and select "Properties". Click on the "Disk Cleanup" button and wait a minute while it scans your drive. If you get a "Clean up system files" button on the summary screen, click on it and wait another minute while it does a more thorough scan. Select all of the items on the summary list, then click on "Okay". Confirm the deletion of the files.

2. Delete the application crud. Install a utility like CCleaner or Wise Disk Cleaner, let it scan your drive, and then tell it to delete the accumulated debris.

3. Delete your temp files. Go to C:, Users, your user profile folder, AppData (you may have to enable the display of hidden files), Local, Temp. Delete all of the garbage there.

4. Delete the system temp files. Go to C:, Windows, Temp. Delete all of the garbage there.

5. Remove the hibernation file. If you don't hibernate your computer, launch an elevated Command Prompt (right-click and select "Run as administrator"). Run "powercfg -h off".

6. Reduce the size of system restore points. Go to Control Panel, System, System Protection. Select your drive and then click on "Configure...". Reduce the "Disk Space Usage" to something more reasonable (I usually set it to 1%). You can also delete your existing restore points at this screen to free up more space.

7. Delete the backup copies of Windows patches and updates (optional). Go to C:, Windows, SoftwareDistribution, Download. Delete all files in that folder.

FYI - Unless you've told it otherwise, the Windows page file will reserve a chunk of disk space equivalent in size to the amount of memory in your PC.

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Silver badge

Re: Footprint

Interesting stuff.

I'm typing this on a linx 10 tablet with Windows 10, IIS web server running and Office installed (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc) and a few other little applications.

It only has 32GB SSD or SD storage, yet I'm only using 18GB of it. And it's not WIMBoot either, that was an 8/8.1 thing . Only 2GB RAM too, and it's buttery smooth. No fan, 7 hour battery life.

Go figgyur.

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Re: Footprint

For the Side-By-Side store (Sxs folder) you can dump that with a powershell command if you won't want to install any new Windows features in the future.

Something along the lines of uninstall-windowsfeature from memory, I use it frequently on VM's that I build to slim them down.

As for the overall size, I have Windows 10 running fine on my £140 Linx tablet with 32GB eMMC internally. I do have a nippy 64GB MicroSD in too for documents and apps, but so far that's taking up under 200Mb.

And that's without the special space saving measures OEMs can use (as can I if I was arsed) where the recovery image is actually what's used but with pointers so the recovery image essentially costs nothing in disc space.

Got around 13Gb free at the minute, and had W10 for at least 4 weeks or so. Ran CCleaner after setting it up and removing the contents of the sxs.

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LDS
Silver badge

Re: Footprint

You have very old, outdated information dating back to Windows 3.1. MS compilers improved a lot since then (look for tests, if you don't believe me), and also the way you want your code compiled. BTW, the better code also was from the Watcom compiler, nor Borland (although its compiler was very good, back then), nor IBM.

Back in the old days of 386/486 processors, and small disks, having compact code was of paramount importance even if it was less performing.

Since Pentium processors and their parallel processing pipelines, techniques were devised to achieve far better performance at the price of code size, i.e. unrolling loops. As processor evolved, new techniques to minimize cache issues and the like were also introduced.

Also, x86 have some "complex" instructions that can do a lot in a single opcode, but may be again slower than implementing the same functions directly with simpler opcodes, in a RISC-like way. There's a lot if instructions still supported but very, very rarely used.

Since hard disk space was no longer an issue, most applications are compiled for speed, not for size, and most compiler optimizations are designed to improve code speed even at the expense of its size - unless you explicitly target size optimizations, which in turn may deliver slower executables.

But an executable contains far more than code - today a lot of space can be occupied by its resources, especially for GUI applications, but not only. You may also have debug data for error reporting, and so on.

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Re: Footprint

I have windows10 (and office13) installed on a 32gb drive with over 10gb free space left.

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Silver badge

Re: Footprint

I did some Windows 10 testing a few months ago with some old laptops that I fitted with some £20 40GB Intel SSDs. The fully updated and clean installs came in at around 12GB.

The Windows 10 installs I've done since release have been in the region of 12-14GB.

I really don't know how people get a 25GB+ clean install.

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Re: Footprint

"The whole point of OEM gear is that they're supposed to take the pain out of assembling a working rig away from the end user;"

Ohh.. good one.

You forgot the joke icon though.

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Silver badge

Re: Footprint

I really don't know how people get a 25GB+ clean install.

They don't know what they are talking about / making assumptions / making it up / lying.

OS polarised wars bigotry. Adults stay out of it.

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Linux

Re: Footprint

You still use MS? I can fit a Kitchen Sink linux on there for less than 10G, all drivers, office, video, audio, graphics, OK. Time to change...

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Re: Footprint

Just bloatware, surely?

Sitting in front of a Red Hat 6.6 box now. It's a full network server and runs a desktop too (via VNC). OS size about 5.5 GB, and that includes 1 GB of log files.

Just checked a Windows 2008 server here, OS size about 12 GB.

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Re: Footprint

If you want to know how big are the files in various folders (and assuming Windows 10 still uses NTFS) ... shut windows down and boot a stand-alone Linux CD. du is probably your first port of call once you've mounted the hard disk under Linux (read-only if you are paranoid).

I'm assuming you can still do an install without obstructive things like secure boot and encrypted filesystem.

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Mythtv frontend or Openelec

32 Gb SSD more than large enough. In fact only 5Gb would do for a frontend unless you wanted local storage (which defeats point of Mythtv front/backend split) Openelec would suite - almost entire ssd for your local library and still link to networked resources.

At 125gbp works out cheaper than buying Zotac ionitx boards + case + other bit'n'bobs

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Re: Mythtv frontend or Openelec

I have two similar boxes from a previous generation that work perfectly as OpenELEC boxes. I would caution to review the status of a nasty Intel bug in the 3.17 kernel that never seems to get fixed for OpenELEC. Any J1900/2900 or similar have the issue that has a workaround, but not nice:

https://github.com/OpenELEC/OpenELEC.tv/issues/3726

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Silver badge
Happy

For space retrieval hints.

Get CCleaner, set to delete hot fix un-installers and temp files and watch the space reappear

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Silver badge

Re: For space retrieval hints.

A few of the machines in front of me at the moment ( obviously these are not clean install they are for the most part at least 3 years old except for the W10 which is only 2 weeks old)

Win XP ( For a legacy door lock controller) 6 Gb

Win 7 (Windows Folder) = 22.5 Gb

Win 7 (Windows Folder) = 19.1 Gb

Win 10 (Windows Folder) = 18.9Gb

Win 2008 R2 (Windows Folder) = 18.3 Gb

Linux Mint ( Typical full install - no optimization) (Entire disk because there are only one to two small application installed ) = 7.9Gb

And to think we used to install the OS from a few floppy disks... 3 for Dos 6.22, 6 for W3.1, 13 for W95

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Re: For space retrieval hints.

My old Dell netbook had a 8Gb SSD and ran Ubuntu no problem. I had to manage my backups and remove non-essential downloads of course. Now I have Chrome OS using about 4Gb.

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Silver badge
Alert

Re: For space retrieval hints.

NT 3.51 was fine on 80 M byte HDD, 16M RAM and 386 ...

Even with Explorer Shell Technology Preview.

Realistically with a decent bunch of applications, Win32S, 32bit Disk Driver, VFW, 32bit TCP/IP the WFWG 3.11 needed a lot more than 6 floppies, 4M to 8M RAM and a 40M HDD. But then that was practically Win95a without Explorer.

Where has it gone wrong?

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Anonymous Coward

Hah! Luxury!

All we had on an Apple ][ was a tape drive. Or a 360k floppy (I think - my memory is fading :) ). Ditto for MS-DOS - it all fitted on a single floppy. Of course, that already started to go to pot with HD floppies, and then someone cane up with floppies there weren't, well, floppy and help 720k. Or even 1.4MB.

Rolling back to an earlier article and discussion, they were also a heck of a lot easier to reliably degauss or destroy :).

Nurse, I'll have my nap now, thanks.

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Silver badge

Re: Hah! Luxury!

Yeah well when I was a lad, all we had was an abacus and storage was dried peas lined up.

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Re: For space retrieval hints.

windows 10 here, cleaned up. With drivers : size on disk : 9.53 Size 14 gigs

It's a lot less than windows 8.1 anyway . I don't know why they have 2 sizes, is it 14 or 9.52 !

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Silver badge

Re: For space retrieval hints.

I don't know why they have 2 sizes, is it 14 or 9.52 !

My understanding was that the smaller number is the actual sizes of the files, while the larger number is the amount of disc space they use up due to many of the files being smaller than (or not a clean multiple of) the File Allocation Unit size. For example, if the FAU is 1Mbyte then any file smaller than 1Mbyte will actually take up a whole 1Mbyte on the disc which could lead to a lot of wasted space.

Modern file systems have ways to reduce this problem but I think it's still something of an issue and since Windows has a heck of a lot of small files, it could account for most (all?) of the discrepancy you see.

Hwyl!

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Re: Hah! Luxury!

>all we had was an abacus and storage was dried peas lined up.

I started in AT in the 60's when pea technology was still new.

In those days the bean counters would scoff, but we'd tell them to give peas a chance.

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Silver badge
Joke

Re: For space retrieval hints.

Modern file systems have ways to reduce this problem

Bigger disks? :-p

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hah! Luxury!

"Yeah well when I was a lad, all we had was an abacus and storage was dried peas lined up."

I once tested a system with bubble memory. Quite honestly, an abacus and dried peas would have been about as fast.

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Silver badge

Re: For space retrieval hints.

Could it also be Hibernation/Page File reservation?

I also switch Hibernation off and if 4GB ram I set Pagefile to 2GB and if I have 8GB I set it to 512MB.

That can free up a lot of space.

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Silver badge

Re: Hah! Luxury! @ Fink-Nottle

Oh dear, have an upvote from me. :)

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Linux

Linux?

A review using some version of Linux would have been a welcome addition. AFAIR a full install of Xubuntu is 4GB and will run quite nicely on an Asus eeePC 900. It also only takes half an hour.

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Re: Linux?

I bought a previous gen Revo with Linux. Sadly Asus couldn't be bothered to sort out a wireless driver, so despite being advertised as having wireless it actually didn't, unless you sorted it out yourself or installed a proper distro. Also the eeepc shipped with a Linux abomination.

No wonder Linux gets a bad press when manufacturers make such an unforgivable hash of it. They should just ship without an OS as you're going to have to replace whatever crud they drop on in place of windows.

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Re: Linux?

No wonder Linux gets a bad press when manufacturers make such an unforgivable hash of it.

This is true. Every machine I've bought with Linux pre-installed over the years has been a mess. Dell and Lenovo have both tried to sell me machines with Linux on them, and the sample one has never worked well enough for me not to say "Um, no, I'll do it myself thanks."

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

AFAIR a full install of Xubuntu is 4GB and will run quite nicely on an Asus eeePC 900

I have a full install of OpenSuse 13.1 (KDE desktop) on my Eeepc 901 (Atom) in 2GB RAM. In fact I'm typing this reply on it now. A little slower to start up than my A10+8GB desktop, but perfectly usable. The install + apps takes about 6GB at the moment which considering that the apps include Libre Office, Kdenlive (for emergency use only!), Handbrake, Rosegarden, a couple of games and all the usual stuff isn't half bad and leaves 8 or 9GB or so of the SSD free for data.

Bought the wife a cheap laptop recently. Impossible to find one without Windows so before the thing had even been plugged in to charge up, out came the small and slow HDD and in went a Samsung 850 EVO with OpenSuse 13.2.

On the other hand, I've been looking to build a small under-the-tv unit for my dad. My current parts list comes to £250 based around this case and an AMD Athlon 5350 or its 1.6GHz, slightly cheaper sibling. The barebones version of this Asus is very tempting as an alternative, but only if I can make it a: run flightradar24.com smoothly and b: play home movies smoothly across the network.

Hwyl!

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Re: Linux?

Fair enough if you want to dual boot (is there enough space for that?), but there is enough choice in the mini barebones market that you simply wouldn't buy this to put Linux on. There are cheaper options.

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

But is this a 'barebones' system? It's got the storage, video output etc and all in a nice inconspicuous box; given a usable OS and no desire for a system that blows smoke out of its ears, this is a nice package. Sure, I'd like it with the full 16GB RAM - given how much software these days is memory bound - but that's a niggle.

This is not a box for Windows; it's a box that should come with Mint.

I paid a few quid more than that for this Chromebook, on which I'm using Ubuntu as a chrooted OS (I haven't worked a clean Mint install yet) and the only practical difference is that this has only 4GB RAM and 16GB flash - for *two* OSes, and of course, it comes with a screen. And yet, for most of my minor needs, it suffices. Mind you, I'd hate to hit it with an OCR job of three or four hundred pages at the same time...

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

"I've been looking to build a small under-the-tv unit for my dad. My current parts list comes to £250 based around this case and an AMD Athlon 5350 or its 1.6GHz, slightly cheaper sibling. The barebones version of this Asus is very tempting as an alternative, but only if I can make it a: run flightradar24.com smoothly and b: play home movies smoothly across the network." -- Martin an Gof

I've got (a) and (b) working pretty well on a Raspberry Pi2. If you want a Wintel box though you could buy a laptop with a broken screen off ebay, £250 seems pretty pricey to me.

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

a: run flightradar24.com smoothly and b: play home movies smoothly across the network." -- Martin an Gof

I've got (a) and (b) working pretty well on a Raspberry Pi2.

Really? A Pi was my first thought but I couldn't get FR24 running on my Pi, but it's a model B and I haven't got around to trying it on the Pi2 yet. What web browser are you using? I assumed it was lack of Javascript causing Google Maps integration to barf that was the problem, maybe it was just that the Pi was a bit too slow and I didn't wait long enough.

The home movies thing can presumably be sorted out with XMBC/Kodi/RaspBMC which is what I was intending to do on an x86 box anyway. The trick will be making it usable for my dad who has never, as far as I know, picked up a computer mouse in his life. He's pretty handy with the teletext though, and my mum's fairly computer savvy. It will really have to be as simple as two big icons, click one for FR24, click the other for home movies.

I was planning to install a receiver anyway (SDR+Pi) so even if I can't make it work as a browser it wouldn't be wasted.

As for £250 being a bit steep, I could get it down a bit but I wanted a half decent processor (the one I listed is 4 core 2GHz), I'd be installing 4GB of RAM (could get away with 2), an HDD in place of the SSD would also save a few pennies and not installing an optical drive would also shave a bit off, but nothing would beat £50 for a Pi, case and wireless keyboard. If I power the Pi from the TV's USB (done that at work a couple of times) I even save a couple of quid on a PSU.

So long as it's snappy enough that my dad doesn't get frustrated waiting for it to load up - he's pretty awful like that. I'll have to experiment!

Hwyl!

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Re: Linux?

@Neil it's not barebones but you can get the same form factor with your choice of (better) internals for less by going barebones, and you don't need to pay for the Windows license. Look for "Gigabyte Brix" and "Intel NUC" to get started. I clicked on a Celeron N2820 model and Amazon offered me that with a 4gb memory stick and 60gb SSD for a combined £167 in its "Frequently Bought Together" section. Wifi is apparently built-in.

So if you want a Linux box, you wouldn't buy the Windows one ;-)

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Linux?

John H Woods wrote:

If you want a Wintel box though you could buy a laptop with a broken screen off ebay, £250 seems pretty pricey to me.

The trouble is that any cheap laptop without a totally anaemic processor, will soon drive you to distraction with fan noise.

I was given an old 1st gen i7 laptop, being a HP it sounds like a jet taking off within 30 seconds, and has to be throttled down to 90% CPU or it will cook itself and die inside of 5 minutes.

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

"when manufacturers make such an unforgivable hash of it."

My experience of Asus is that when users started complaining about hardware issues on customer forums, they deleted the posts and then deleted the forums when people started complaining about the deletions.

They were also singularly unresponsive to email.

I've had similar issues with an Asus R300 server supplied recently from a 3rd party (If I'd known it was a rebadged Asus I wouldn't have bought it). In this case the supplier gets to eat it as unfit for purpose (it kept powering off for no reason and so did its replacement. RHEL6.7)

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Silver badge

Re: Linux?

"Dell and Lenovo have both tried to sell me machines with Linux on them"

For a long time Dell and Levono's "Linux certfied" systems were identical to 2-3 years out of date windows-systems, sold for more than twice the price of contemporary windows hardware.

Not to mention than when phoned up, Dell tech support's response was invariably "Install windows on it and call us back"

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