For quite some time, I have been the proud owner (sic) of a VIA EPIA ML, mini ITX motherboard. I bought it almost in a whim, when a colleague of mine wanted to get one for himself and at the time when the purchase took place, it seemed like a fantastic idea. The theory was, that I would build me a machine that would stay up 24/7. Of course, it had to be as quiet as possible and as low consuming as possible, even if it meant sacrificing features and performance. “What was the intended use?” I hear you ask. Well, since I am out of the house many hours a day, which means that no one is using the internet at that time, it would make a very nice “Download Server”. I was also thinking I could set up a Web Server and/or and FTP Server on it too, mainly to experiment. There were some thoughts in the back of my head, about turning it into a file server, but that would be an added bonus to what I was planning. Let’s say that my main concern was to be able to download noise free.
The model I got was the EPIA-ML6000EAG. With a 667MHz cpu and 1GB maximum RAM, it seems as a poor choice, but hey, I was on a tight budget! At about 60$ it was almost the only choice for a fanless system I intended to build. Since I could spare no extra expenses, I used a memory chip I had laying around, an old 200W ATX power supply and put the whole bunch inside a cardboard box! No, that’s not a typo, I really had a PC inside a cardboard box! Oh, come on! Give me some slack! I am not the first one to do that, you know… Style was not my main concern, plus, it would be hidden away below my router.
Supposedly, it was designed to work well with Windows, so I installed WinXP, uTorrent, FileZilla, Apache and a couple of other little programs and then took some time to marvel at what I had achieved. Not much that is… No doubt it would run, but that would be slow as hell. It didn’t bother me though. Remember, I was planning to leave it running all day, so slow or not, it would do what it was supposed to do. And it served me well, for more than a year. But recently, it had become a pain to work with and since I’ve been mistreating netbooks by installing all kinds of Linux on them, I thought about getting my hands on the EPIA as well.
The first distro I tried, was Mint. Having installed Mint on the eeePC, made me think that it would somehow be ideal for what I wanted. The installation was brief and problem free, but the results were far worse than I anticipated. Gnome was terribly slow and no matter how much I tried to tweak the settings, it would still be uncomfortably slow. I know, I know… With only 667 Mhz what could one expect? Anyway, after many installations and dare I say much frustration, I ended up installing Peppermint, which seems to be a lighter version of Mint. I cannot say much about the GUI, because apart from the initial boot, I have not seen it :). I chose to boot it straight to console, so I would not waste any resources. This can easily be done by editing the /etc/default/grub configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/default/grub.
Locate the line that says GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”
and change it to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash text”
When you are finished, don’t forget to update GRUB
Reboot and you’re seeing a nice console!
Next thing I wanted to do, is set up an SSH server, so I could connect to EPIA remotely and perform whatever tasks I wanted. If you are planning to follow any directions I post here, keep in mind that I am talking console only! Forget Gnome, KDE, or any other window manager. I don’t like it very much myself, I admit, but trust me, that was the only way I could achieve satisfactory results. Moreover it is a very good chance to learn a thing or two about the command line, right? With Windows, all you have to do, is enable remote desktop on your computer, forward port 3389 on your router and you’re done. In Linux however, remote desktop is not so simple, especially when you don’t have another Linux box to connect to your PC… SSH on the other hand is simple as it can be, minus the lack of pretty graphics. In order to install the OpenSSH Server you need to type:
sudo apt-get install ssh
You now have an SSH server up and running and you can test it right away by typing:
If it asks for your confirmation to allow the connection, you’ve installed it correctly and technically you can start connecting to your PC from anywhere you want. There are plenty of settings for you to mess with, but I have not yet gotten down to that. As soon as I make any progress on the subject I will post right away.
The basic set up is completed, the box is working finer than fine and I am able to access it from anywhere in the world. In Windows, I use Putty as my SSH client and I highly recommend it, since it is light, quick and delivers. What I need to do now, is set up an FTP Server, maybe a web server as well and of course find a torrent client that runs from the command line. Stay tuned for more…