After my trials and tribulations with the Thecus, I realized I needed a real solution. People on the Slim Devices forums had talked about mini-ITX boards with Via processors as low-power, high-performance solutions. Basically I want a real math coprocessor to handle encoding and transcoding duties, and having an x86 processor will make things simpler. I still wanted low power consumption, and although the system may use more energy at its peaks, the ability for it to throttle down the CPU variably as well as to go into deep sleep mode and spin down the drives when not in use should offset that overall.
I decided I needed more power to run SlimServer comfortably, as well as rip and encode CDs when I get them. I also might want a second Squeezebox someday, and I couldn’t easily run two at once on the Kuro Box or Thecus, especially if transcoding was involved. I also want some headroom for home automation or other projects.
So I got a motherboard, case, and http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813995002. The case was bigger than I expected but I figured I should be able to cool passively (lots of vents) and keep noise and power consumption down. If I can’t there some case fans which are actually very quiet. And this thing will live down in the basement anyway. The power supply is very efficient and usually fanless.
I’m reusing the hard drives I got for the Thecus, as well as my old CD-ROM drive, scavenged from the external USB case to mount inside the box as an IDE device–taking one more power supply out of the equation and its phantom power and efficiency losses.
I put everything together and it didn’t work. It powered on but it didn’t POST. I later determined that the RAM wasn’t seated correctly, and it takes some pushing to get it in right. I’ve booted it but without a loadable OS on it (funny, it can’t boot the ARM Linux kernel off the hard drives) it is less than useful.
I’m thinking I’ll install OpenSUSE on it. I’ve enjoyed Debian and Gentoo but since I have an x86 CPU I might as well avail myself of all the options. While the thing has a video adapter I do plan on running it headless most of the time. It has a sound card as well, and I may try to run squeezeslave on it and use it to play music downstairs.