Another tack


I've been following the discusssions of Richard's BB4Linux developments with interest, but this doesn't really hack it for me.

Since retiring, I have been on the lookout for very small PCs that could be dedicated to a small range of tasks, in the true Unix tradition, but the best I could come up with, at a price I could afford, were the Linux wall warts with very limited I/O capability. Then, a few months ago I discovered the so-called "mini PC" (to me, mini-PCs were the PDP-8s and PDP-9s I programmed in the 1960s, but it seems the term has now acquired a new meaning!)

I bought a Quantum Byte mini-PC for a little over GBP 100:

It comes in a small VESA-mountable box about 6" x 1.5" x 4", has 32 GB of SSD, 2 GB RAM, and most importantly has a good range of I/O: two monitor ports (VGA and HDMI), three USB ports, comms ports (WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth), a card slot (to expand memory up to 128GB) and an audio port. The box runs Windows 10/32, with about 10 GB of SSD to spare for apps. Dual-boot Windows/Linux, or even a Linux-only server, should be straightforward, although I haven't tried these yet.

I originally bought the box as a headless PC dedicated to weather station data processing, but its capabilities were very much under-utilized. So I now also run several other Windows apps (including a couple of large-ish BB4W WinAPI programs of my own) on a two-monitor extended desktop. The box also functions as a thin client with remote access to several other PCs on the local network. One of the remote PCs runs a compute-heavy software-defined-radio app -- the remote real-time graphics are displayed without a hiccup on the Quantum Byte.

The point of saying all this? Well, I do wonder, with all this compute and I/O capability in such a small inexpensive box, if there really is a need for BB4Linux? Apart from a few Linux pointy heads, who would use it? To me, the future would seem to be in BB4Android or BB4IoS, to catch the kids who are already coding in Pascal on their tablets.

P.S. In my grubby little hand I have a Raspberry Pi Zer0. Now what could I use *that* for ....?

Ian, G3NRW

Join to automatically receive all group messages.