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Koolu Thin Client
Functions of the Koolu

Jim Carter, 2007-12-16

When you specify computer hardware, the correct order to consider issues is this:

The new machine is replacing an existing desktop system which acts as a home server. Its current jobs are extensive in number, but not in CPU power required. In addition, the new machine is being considered for a role at work in a student computer lab, and so it will be set up for a full-bore desktop role, evaluated and reported on. The desktop features will be removed, or at least de-emphasized, when it goes into production as the home server.

Tasks to be Performed

These are the home server's tasks. For most services (marked *), each other (UNIX) host on the internal net has a slave server so it can operate autonomously. Only clients on the internal net can connect to these services (with one exception).

Evaluations may be found here of these Desktop Environments:

The AMD Geode clearly is aimed at the market for set-top boxes. These devices receive compressed audio-video data, decompress it, and show it on a TV set and accompanying speakers. Given my limited testing of video playback in the Linux desktop context, I imagine that the AMD Geode is well able to do the set-top box task. The Koolu would probably make a decent simple playback node for a media distribution system, but it has a few limitations. First, the VGA video output is a bit low-tech and a HDMI output could not be kludged together (I think). Second, the sound is AC'97 type, just two channel stereo. But it should be possible to buy a USB sound module that can put out surround sound. Third, a true media center machine needs to be able to compress video at the same time it decompresses, and the Geode LX 800 definitely does not have enough CPU power to do both tasks at once. (Perhaps a proocessor from the Geode NX series would be powerful enough.)

Selection of Hardware Infrastructure

To support these various jobs we are using, or will use, this hardware infrastructure:

So the total cost of new hardware infrastructure, in addition to the Koolu itself, was $197.