Linux compact flash booting for silence

By Duck
Oct 31, 2006
  1. I would very much like to have a silent running low power PC for mundane tasks such as web browsing, document writing, etc. I have a 1.2GHz fanless mini-ITX board already but I need some guidance with the software side. I do not want to have to listen even to a laptop hard drive crunching away, so I plan to use NAS to store many GBs of data and make the PC solid state. I am not sure exactly what is the best way of doing it. At first I thought network booting was the way, but I recently I downloaded and used gParted, a live CD with partition and hard disk tools. It has a proper graphical interface with a desktop and the whole thing is only 30MB. It seems you can do a lot with a small amount of disk space, and since a good 1GB compact flash card is not that expensive, I reckon that will give me enough space to work with and will be speedy enough to replace a hard disk.

    Ideally, I want a fully up to date Linux OS with gnome, firefox, IM, basic word processor, to run right out of the compact flash card. I want to be able to use any software like openoffice, the GIMP, etc, but that can be loaded from the NAS maybe? (this is where I really don't know how to go about setting it up). But I want the OS to behave like a regular OS installed to a hard drive where you can make changes to it and they will still be there after it is rebooted. As opposed to a Live CD running out of the compact flash card (i.e. not a "read only" OS).

    As for the NAS, it is very likely I will make my own with a PC running ClarkConnect - (it will be a firewall and NAS box). It will have at least 250GB disk space, which I think can be set up as either FTP or Windows File Server (Samba?).

    What do you think? Is it feasible? Or am I just crazy? ;)
  2. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,919   +11

    I don't see why it couldn't work. CF cards are pretty much the same as normal IDE drives, only the connector is a bit different.

    I've been considering one myself for an old computer too.
  3. Duck

    Duck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 24

    Thats good I think I will try it then. Any recommendations for a Linux distro that can fit into 1GB disk space? Probably most modern ones will take more than that with their default installation?
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    Do you have to go for the default? It would probably be a bad idea..

    Solid state devices have a limited amount of write cycles. Running a whole OS with a vanilla filesystem off one is certain to wear down the media pretty fast.

    You need a custom approach where most writing is done over the network and the (read only) flash thing holds only the necessary files to boot or a RAM disk image.
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