Looking for a small, silent Linux computer

I want to buy a silent Linux desktop computer. No need to be any “high-end” otherwise.

This turned out to be a nontrivial task. After hours of browsing and listening to advices (thanks to my friends who already gave some!), I see the following options:

1. Buy a laptop and use it as desktop.

Bad: it is not really silent; I do not know a place to buy a Linux laptop (meaning, with 100% Linux HW support, and without any other OS, for which I do not want to pay a cent, neither increase their sales statistics)
Good: it can be carried away if needed; it has the battery for power backup.

2. Buy a Mac Mini.

Good: It has just perfect form factor and hardware collection for my taste.
Bad: Despite some recommendations, I’ve not got enough interest to try it’s original OS. It seems that I’d have to replace the key native applications, such as web browser and media player, with opensource analogs anyway, and lose the (questioned anyway) “integrity” of the UI. I have not read anywhere that the HW is fully supported in Linux. And it looks like the not-so-ugly-as-everyone-else case costs quite noticeable money (if I take the idea that I’m not paying for the software).

3. Find exactly what I need ready-made.

There is a number of “thin client”-type Linux boxes on the market, but I’m looking for something bigger: I naturally need hard drive and a CD-ROM. And here the offer does not seem to exist at all. For example, a nice hit could be eBox, but it does not have the CD-ROM. The only 100% match I found so far is the carTFT series, mini-ITX PCs seemingly designed for car usage (shudder). They look like perfect match to my needs, except memory is limited to 1GB – but I probably put up with this.

Thanks in advance for any relevant ideas or personal experience.

2 thoughts on “Looking for a small, silent Linux computer

  1. If a laptop is not really silent for you you’ll need a system without a spinning HDD. If you needn’t a mobile system you won’t pay extra bucks for a battery and those shrinked keyboard/LCD. So the sole answer is a fanless box with an ITX-size motherboars and a solid-state disk (up to several gig’s though). Like, yes, eBox or Acer Aspire Revo. None of these systems has an CD/DVD-ROM. Fine – a nice, compact, inexpensive, silent box. But a tiny local file storage and a dangling external drive. The storage challenge could be solved with a network drive, such as WD MyBook, located somewhere out of your living/working space.
    There are powerful feature-rich compact systems (like Kraftway Urban) but they are not really silent. And rather expencive. A bunch of inexpensive compact “nettop” systems are offered by Asus and Acer, but they are not silent too.
    If none of the above options is an option, then you have to build it youself. A barebone ITX-size fanless system with an external drive bay + a slim optical drive + a large SSD. Note that these barebone systems have usually weak power supply. I use similar setups in my office – either CD-ROM or network works, but not both.

    • Thanks. I have realized that I can’t demand 100% silence, as I need HDD and CDROM for normal desktop tasks (or, better say, I do not, but my family members with their large home directories and movie collections do 🙂 ) So the search turns away from very nice, 5W-consuming nettops, to heavier boxes. Thanks for the hint about Kraftway Urban BTW! I might just buy it, if it had not had Windows Vista.


      Aleutia D1

      Now it seems that a comparable, but cheaper and in fact more powerful alternative has appeared: Aleutia D1 or even Aleutia Ion. Just the HW collection I was looking for. And with Ubuntu 9.04!!! Now, this starts looking like marketing-scam post 🙂

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