Building a small Linux computer

...that is fast, inexpensive, silent, fun and perfect for Puppy Linux! 

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About a year ago, I built a computer that was so small, most of my friends started laughing when seeing it. And indeed it was closer to a biscuit tin..

Over the years I noticed I was getting fed up with my big and noisy windows tower and its crazy power consumption. I was also starting to doubt the merits of the windows operating system and its never ending troubles, risks and ongoing upgrading costs. Clearly, something else was needed. I had already been reading all I could find about alternative operating systems and Linux looked like the most attractive and promising. At the same time I discovered the wonderful home-built projects at Computers built into exquisite cigar boxes, old toasters or teddy bears...But my goals were simpler, I wasn't after the smallest possible chassis or a unique or breathtaking design. My requirements for my new box were;

  • no fans, no noise at all
  • low power consumption
  • simple and totally reliable
  • affordable

This was the first computer I ever built and I wasn't at all sure if I was going to produce a functioning machine...I needn't have worried. In fact, building this kind of computer is simplicity itself. Just connect a mainboard to a power supply unit, add some RAM memory and a Flash card and...presto, a new computer! (Well, I'm skipping some details here, just keep reading if you want to know about those...)

After I published some pictures of my Puppy Box on the web, I started receiving comments and questions. Many people seemed to like this little box. Without any doubt the question I get asked most often is: are you happy with its performance? My answer is a definite yes! I wouldn't be happy with it, if I wanted to play the latest 3D games or do photo or video edting on a professional level. But this box is used like most computers in most families: mainly for web-browsing, email, some writing, some light photo processing, netbanking,ect.. Watching video from the web poses no problem. Full screen web video still has an acceptable image quality. Stuttering sometimes happens, but not too often.

A perfect pair

This computer would be a slow performer, if it had to run a more mainstream operating system like Windows, Ubuntu or Suse Linux. But combined with a lightweight, highly intelligent OS like Puppy Linux, it really starts flying! Most programs open in seconds. In fact, there's a danger here: once you get used to this kind of swift computing, it becomes difficult to go back to what used to be "normal". So yes, this box and Puppy OS form a perfect pair. What I like is that it's cute and runs fast, stable and elegantly. But its main attraction to me is that it does all the above while using about 10 to 20 percent of the power needed to run an average SoHo computer!


the box


passive cooling

power supply

ide compact flash


some links...

puppy linux

puppy developer news

puppy community forum

puppy google search