Need a small form factor x86 box to be a firewall/router/dg

Michael Torrie torriem at
Thu Aug 8 17:43:18 MDT 2013

On 08/08/2013 05:23 PM, Lonnie Olson wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM, Michael Torrie <torriem at> wrote:
>> I want a machine that's x86 (i3 or i5), at least 1 GHz, low-power, no
>> fans, ssd disk, 2 gigabit ethernet ports, small formfactor.  Any ideas
>> as to what I should look for?  Anything under $500 is game at this point.
> Is there a reason you prefer x86?  

Yes.  Mainly that I want to run a standard distro on it (CentOS, Linux
Mint, or Debian).  I know that Debian can more or less run on Arm, but
CentOS certainly can't.  And I want a standard boot system (grub, not
sure about UEFI).  And I'd just as soon run normal ext4 (ro mode
perhaps) on an SSD SATA disk than muck about with MMC devices and flash
file systems.  Definitely way overkill, but at this point, I'm glad to
pay for the convenience.

Also I know that x86 has enough horsepower to run DansGuardian.  I've
been playing with DansGuardian on various Arm platforms and so far
they've all been a bit anemic.  Not sure why!  Part of that probably has
to do with onboard flash memory being kind of slow.

> There a a bunch of interesting ARM
> based machines that will fit this kind of usage fairly well.
> Examples:

Yeah I've explored many of these options over the years.  I've got a
drawer full of little plug servers (well just 3 actually).  Interesting
devices, but the esoterics of Arm boot loaders is a pain, and many of
them use older processors. I did manage to convert one plug computer to
straight debian with UBIFS.  I've also got an old Alix (x86) board, and
a routerstation pro.  All cool in their way, but I'm tired of messing
with them.

I had forgotten about raspberry pi until you mentioned it.  I also have
one of those, but it only has one interface. However I think I'll fire
it up tonight as a network monitoring system running something like cacti.

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