Hardware: cheap Intel config?

29 Antworten [Letzter Beitrag]
gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Hello Trisquel happy users,

I’m looking for a new desktop computer for a couple of friends who don’t need much. They were happy with their old Pentium 4 but it’s time for a change.
They’re need to be able to view their pictures (new camera, so very heavy pictures) comfortably, and perhaps crop them with Gthumb, but nothing much.

They don’t want to spend much on their computer. So far, I’ve found a few ideas:

* ASRock D1800B-ITX Mini-ITX + Processor Intel Celeron J1800

* Gigabyte GA-H81M-S2H / Gigabyte GA-H81M-D2V + processor Celeron G1840 (2.8 GHz) or Intel Pentium G3240 (3.1 GHz)

Do you know if those mobos work out of the box?
What’s you opinion/experience of this hardware.

SuperTramp83

I am a translator!

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Beigetreten: 10/31/2014

What you want to check is the GPU. Make it an Intel GPU but not the skylake.
There is I would say 95% of chance the wifi adapter/bluetooth won't work without proprietary firmware but external or internal ones are very cheap. You buy one, you plug it in and it works. Look at thinkpenguin below (the add on this website).

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Beigetreten: 07/24/2010

Actually, many constructors enforce hardware DRMs, which are obviously unjust, to not let the user freely change the internal Wifi card: Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony and Toshiba at least.

Majin Buu
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Beigetreten: 11/05/2016

I have a Dell laptop and there are specific instructions about how to change the internal Wifi card. I don't think that all models of companies you list enforce DRM.

> which are obviously unjust

100% d'accord

grimlok
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Beigetreten: 04/16/2013

I too have not run into any Dell laptops yet that don't allow you to change the wifi adapter. I have in fact run in to a few Hewlett-Packard laptops that have a restriction though.

onpon4
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Beigetreten: 05/30/2012

If it has to be x86, I'd suggest finding something used on ebay or something.

If not, and their needs are low as you say, why not an EOMA68 computer card + micro-desktop? :) It only adds up to a total of $120, and it's upgradeable. It even consumes a whole lot less power, so they'll save money on electricity in the long-run (in addition to the long-term savings on upgrades).

https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop

Judging by the videos, the A20 computer card seems to be at least significantly faster than the OpenPandora, which I had no problem using as my main computer for roughly the second half of 2012.

MANHOSO
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Beigetreten: 03/16/2015
gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Many thanks for your answers.

* I forgot to say, they don’t want a notebook, they have a 19" screen (VGA port only) which is okay for viewing their pictures. So they want a desktop computer.

* I’m well aware that Wifi is nearly always full of nonfree blob but this isn’t a problem because these friends don’t need Wifi. They dislike cables but Wifi can be unreliable and slower than an ethernet connection. Ethernet is good enough for them.

* I have an old camera so it makes 3Mb-heavy pictures. The new camera these people are going to buy will make very heavy pictures, 20Mb (20million pixels).

* Would an Allwinner A20 based config enough? I’ve long intended to assemble a small box for myself from A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2 https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A20/A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2/open-source-hardware but there’s no VGA output. I’ll have a closer look at https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop (thanks for the link, onpon4) — I don’t want a Nand card, by the way. And I’d miss a real ethernet port.
I’d be very interested if they managed to make their board completely opensource hardware, Allwinner not being totally free (guilty of some violation of the GPL). Okay, I must read more on this, as the FAQ mentions software only.
onpon4, do you still use your computer? What can you do with it?

It is "upgradable", well, only by throwing away the single board and buying another one, if I understand right. You can’t even add RAM. Of course, it’s better than getting rid of a whole big desktop computer.

Supertramp said: Make it an Intel GPU but not the skylake.
I read on this forum that Skylake chipsets contain some freedom-unfriendly or even spying blob but are Haswell chipsets (Intel HB81, socket 1150) free from such evil?
It’s interesting to see that present-day CPUs contain GPU as well. Such centralisation is convenient (good-bye ADM/Nvidia headaches) but also means that Intel takes control of two important components even in desktop computers: CPU and GPU. It’s a bit like RaspberryPi with its nonfree Broadcom chipset that controls both the boot and the GPU.

Another problem can be Gigabyte Motherboards with their extra bios (EFI) features.

And finally, yes, there’s ebay, well, it’s a hotch-potch, you may find hardware in good repair, it takes a long time to find out which vendor sells the best component, and of course you first need to register on Ebay, bye-bye privacy. But there’s not much choice other than ebay (I’ll try our national second-hand website which may not require registration).

Another problem with older computer is soon going to arise: free Linux drivers and firmware for AMD or Nvidia cards won’t be compatible with older cards, probably after Debian Jessie (Linux 3.16 until 2020). (Trisquel runs on a newer kernel). This is something I have to look into more closely.

And the web is getting heavier and heavier, unless you block CSS and scripts.

Cheers,

onpon4
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Beigetreten: 05/30/2012

> I’d miss a real ethernet port.

Think Penguin sells a USB adapter for that:

https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-usb-20-hi-speed-10100-fast-ethernet-network-adapter

> Allwinner not being totally free (guilty of some violation of the GPL)

The GPL violations related to the A20 were resolved years ago, so it's not really relevant. As it stands, the Allwinner A20 is one of the best SoCs for libre software today.

> onpon4, do you still use your computer? What can you do with it?

My computer is an x86 laptop from Think Penguin right now. The EOMA68 products haven't been sent out yet. ;) That should be in another month or two.

If you meant to ask about the OpenPandora, no, I don't use it anymore, mainly because the way you install software on it is terribly inconvenient and most software compiled for it is linked directly to the userland blob required by its PowerVR GPU for hardware acceleration. Also, the connection of the battery contacts is somewhat unreliable and I'm not commonly in situations where its portability would be useful anyway.

But back when I was using the OpenPandora, I was able to do everything I wanted to do with it for the most part. Actually, other than the 256 MB of RAM (which required limiting Firefox to a couple tabs at a time), I just didn't have any difficulties with the performance of the hardware with the exception of 3-D games and games written in Python.

> It is "upgradable", well, only by throwing away the single board and buying another one, if I understand right. You can’t even add RAM. Of course, it’s better than getting rid of a whole big desktop computer.

The computer card, you mean. Yes, that's how it works, though you could very easily resell the computer card on ebay (and should do so). Also, the new computer card is much cheaper than a whole new computer would be, except it is a whole new computer. :)

Note that while the cost of pre-ordering an A20 card is $65, it has been stated that the mass-market volume cost would be much lower - I want to say $30, but I'm not entirely sure. Other computer cards are likely to be around the $50 range as well.

Also don't forget the modularity of everything else: with the micro-desktop, the computer card, wireless/ethernet, keyboard, mouse, screen, and storage are all separate components which you don't need to replace every time you want to upgrade the performance. ;)

vita_cell
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Beigetreten: 07/19/2015

The problem of A20 computer card is GPU, other things are seems to be perfect.

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Many thanks for all this information, onpon4.

I thought there was still some problem with the Allwinner A20 but that rhombus-tech had solved it on their own board (the people behind https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop.

>the Allwinner A20 is one of the best SoCs for libre software today
That’s what I read on the Freedombox wiki, and I’d like to have a go but now you’ve made me aware of eoma68/rhombus-tech, well, I think I’d better wait for mass sale, if that happens.

Reading that page and the rhombus-tech pages, I was under the impression, this board was made up of smaller modules you could simply unswitch. I was wrong, then.

You buy the board, you can buy or make a little box for the board. That’s it. Or you can buy the board inside a laptop, and you keep the laptop case, keyboard and screen for ever and simply change the board, which is a good thing.

When you have a desktop computer, you usually keep your keyboard, mouse, case, and ethernet card (I have one that’s not an onboard one, because the onboard one is flaky), and sometimes, you can keep some other components or cards. I assembled our computers, so I try not to throw away components and re-use them.

Storage is a bit of a headache, with these boards. You need 2.5" hard drive disks which are expensive or 3.5" HDD in a case, which is also an expensive solution. I have 3.5" spare HDD but the problem is to connect them to the USB

So apart from the usb ethernet adapter,is it like the https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A20/A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2 whose price is before VAT, unfortunately — this becomes clear if you read the information about how to order.
Yet, I’m not sure about USB ethernet. The Raspberry Pi has an onboard one and I read it isn’t very good.

As for the computer for my friends, I’ll wait until they’ve bought their new camera, and then see what they really need to view their pictures on a light DE, like LXDE or even JWM. Perhaps oldish components will do.

Cheers,

onpon4
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Beigetreten: 05/30/2012

> Reading that page and the rhombus-tech pages, I was under the impression, this board was made up of smaller modules you could simply unswitch. I was wrong, then.

It's inaccurate to think of a computer card as a "board". It's more like a cartridge. In fact, it's very similar to a PCMCIA card since PCMCIA card cases are being re-used. It's contained in protective casing and based on a strict standard. That makes it much easier for users to change and upgrade.

So there are two components: the computer card (which contains the SoC), and the housing (which contains all your interfaces). Different housings can have different sets of interfaces; the micro-desktop just has VGA and USB ports so you can hook it up to peripherals and use it like a desktop computer. The laptop has a screen, keyboard, "touchpad" (actually a small capacitive touchscreen), a battery, and USB ports. Different housings might have other sets of interfaces; there's a handheld game console someone is working on, for example.

But the point is, you separate the SoC from the interfaces. That way, you can use the same computer in multiple forms, and upgrading your computer is much cheaper and less wasteful.

This is less noticeable for desktop computers, but it does have an effect there, too. Desktop computers' motherboards are limited in terms of what they can accept. Eventually, you have to replace the motherboard to upgrade the CPU or RAM. However, any EOMA68 computer card will work in any EOMA68 housing it can fit into, so it won't have this problem with EOMA68. You can even flip-flop between architectures in your upgrades if you want to.

> So apart from the usb ethernet adapter,is it like the https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A20/A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2

No, not at all. What you linked to is just a single-board computer. The A20 computer card can be used like that (it's an extra feature of that particular computer card), but the primary way you use it and other EOMA68 computer cards is by plugging it into EOMA68 housings.

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Many thanks for your explanations, onpon4. I’m beginning to see the light ;-) The Rombus-tech website isn’t very clear. First, I thought there were different mini-cards you could assemble on to the main card, then I thought "housing" was like a case, or a box, like they sell for the A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2, with the right openings.

So, to take an example,for the EOMA68 computer card, you need to buy the housing to have a VGA port. The VGA port is part of the housing, not part of the computer card.
If you buy the A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2, you have no VGA port (though you may have one perhaps, but no matter for the moment). If later they sell a single board with a VGA port, and you still want the VGA port, you need to buy a new single board.

On the contrary, if Rombus tech or someone else makes a housing with an ethernet port for the EOMA68 computer card, you can keep the card and buy the housing.

Still, I’d be totally bowled over if I was able to buy an ethernet port and attach it myself, one way or another, but of course that would mean that Rombus tech would make electronic circuits for various ports on their card.
At present, USB ports have been chosen since they are somewhat universal: you can "attach" ethernet, wifi, sata hard disk, USB flash drive, etc.

Am I still talking nonsense? (I love those single boards like A20-OLinuXIno-LIME2, Beagle Board, Novena, but perhaps, I’d better wait for the EOMA68 computer card)

onpon4
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Beigetreten: 05/30/2012

> The Rombus-tech website isn’t very clear.

Yeah, that's not really the best place to read about it. Better are the Crowd Supply page, and the specification, which is written here:

http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/EOMA68

> On the contrary, if Rombus tech or someone else makes a housing with an ethernet port for the EOMA68 computer card, you can keep the card and buy the housing.

Yes, exactly.

> At present, USB ports have been chosen since they are somewhat universal: you can "attach" ethernet, wifi, sata hard disk, USB flash drive, etc.

Exactly. There's actually a bigger housing which has been proposed called the mini-desktop which contains Ethernet and SATA ports, but the micro-desktop is simpler, so it made sense to start with that. :)

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

uboot: they have a P4 socket 478, nothing like a P4 socket 775 which you mention. If they had P4 socket 775, I would add some Ram, and they would be good to go.

They don’t want a notebook, although of course they could attach their 19"screen to the notebook.

I’ve heard of flashrom but it’s rather vague for me. I’m interested though for my own computer which is socket 775 and in good working order. Must add a more powerful CPU (E5800’s enough for me, I should think). Trisquel, Debian [libre] run fine on an E1240 but I feel that the next Trisquel will be a bit heavier, as will Stretch probably. Kernels apparently get heavier.

Okay, I’ll check if my motherboard is compatible with Libreboot.

I’m looking forward to Trisquel 8 :-)

Cheers

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Yes, uboot, I’ve realized your G41M-ES2L motherboard is one in a million :-) Many thanks for the flashrom info :-)

I read the LibreBoot website pages. Very sad info about some FSF members :-(

tonlee
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Beigetreten: 09/08/2014

Is the G41M-ES2L the only option to get a libre software desktop? And libreboot has not supported all the mainboard's functions until recently or still does not? What about all the other atx mainboards that libreboot's website lists? Installing libreboot on them does not provide a libre software computer?

davidnotcoulthard
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Beigetreten: 02/28/2014

https://minifree.org/product/docking-station-for-libreboot-x200/ ? (slower than a desktop, though, I guess)

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

Like many mobos, the G41M-ES2L has Realtek RTL8111, RTL8111C, to be precise. Some people complain about the chipset, have you experienced any problems?

Socket 775 motherboards aren’t dirt cheap on Ebay, they often are as expensive as some new 1150 socket mobos, but I rather like them, and socket 775 CPU are totally dirt cheap.

Buying second-hand Ram can be a bit risky, though.

vita_cell
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Beigetreten: 07/19/2015

The northbridge is very very hot, bit I still had no problems. Be sure to clean NB and put quality thermal paste on the chip. Yes, this board is about 30-50€ used. Don't forget to purchase Xeon x5460, the best CPU for that board you can buy.

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

About the Gigabyte G41M-ES2L mobo, I like the fact it’s an onboard intel GPU. I see that Nvidia cards becomes legacy quite fast, and finally even nouveau will soon stop supporting them. Maybe I’m a bit pessimistic but as I have a good socket 775 mobo without an onboard GPU, I’m dependent on Nvidia graphics cards and nouveau. When I chose my mobo, I didn’t realize Nvidia would be trouble since at the time (2007) I used Ubuntu. Ubuntu makes you rather blind to nonfree firmware :-(
I hope that Intel GPU will be supported for a long time by Linux. On this mobo it’s GMA X4500, I think, no glitches?

After years of using Realteck ethernet onboard and PCI cards, I’ve just realised they require nonfree firmware in order to really work. In my Debian libre, I get warnings that my card may not be working while it does in fact work, but perhaps only at 100Gb/s, which is fine by me.

I don’t need a super CPU, actually. An E5800 would suit me fine, and all those Intel CPU can be overclocked, contrary to the Haswells etc. I could also overclock our E2160 and Celeron 420 but old E5800 or E8400 CPUs are dirt-cheap these days.

Seeing how Intel making new sockets and CPUs, and adding nonfree firmware to its CPUs without which the CPU will not work (beginning with Skylake? or even before?), making most of them non overclockable, I think that socket 775 mobos may be the best choice.

ARM is another choice as well, but less easy to use (single boards don’t make adding harddisks very easy, for instance).

vita_cell
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Beigetreten: 07/19/2015

GMA4500mhd it is very stable, but do not expect nice 3d performance.

Realtek PCI card? what card? LAN CPI card? Wifi PCI card? Already classic integrated Ethernet card problems are fixed.

x5460 is better, or much better:

http://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Xeon-X5460-vs-Intel-Pentium-E5800/m5754vsm3092

http://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Xeon-X5460-vs-Intel-Core2-Duo-E8400/m5754vs2720

Why not pay a bit more and still get dirt-cheap CPU which is better?

Yes, since Skylake, it needs blobs, also, whole "i" series need super-ultra-secret ME blobs for not shutting down after 30min, it can not to work without super-ultra-secret-cryped ME blob more than 30min.

The 775 socket is legendary.

ARM is fine, but no one makes upgradeable hardware with ARM.

gnulux
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Beigetreten: 06/17/2015

This is my Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8100/8101L/8139 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter (rev 10)
It does work but I think if I installed Realtek nonfree firmware, I would nolonger get warning that "firmware is possibly missing".

As for Intel-Xeon, I would probably need to cut a notch or such like. I saw a video about some Xeon.

delaforce
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Beigetreten: 05/18/2014

As far as I can see GA-G41M-ES2L has a bug according to libreboot webpage:

"NOTE: due to a bug in the hardware, the MAC address is hardcoded in coreboot-libre. Therefore, you must set your own MAC address in your operating system."

Have the rest of libreboots got this hardware-fingerprint or another.

libreleah
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Beigetreten: 04/03/2017

gnulux, i can definitely vouch for G41M libreboot if you want a cheap libre desktop with trisquel. i use one myself, for testing and it works very well

https://libreboot.org/docs/install/ga-g41m-es2l.html

cpu about 30 on ebay... board about 30, ram... cheap. sometimes you can find them online with board+RAM+CPU for less. then you just get a cheap case and PSU.

make sure to flash both chips with libreboot, otherwise the factory BIOS security mechanism will kick in, and it'll try to recover itself in an endless loop

Thvle
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Beigetreten: 04/28/2013

Exist various revisions of this motherboard... Rev 1.0, Rev 1.1 Rev 1.3 and 1.4 I think. This is important?

libreleah
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Beigetreten: 04/03/2017

I'm not sure it matters. As far as I know, all board revisions should work.

vita_cell
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Beigetreten: 07/19/2015

Buy 4gb of ram (8gb is possible but expensive). And a Xeon x5460 with 2-5$ adapter(x5460 20 euros from China). Also one Nvidia Kepler will be fine, if you compile coreboot+seabios. Don't know if nvidia will work with actual libreboot version.

vita_cell
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Beigetreten: 07/19/2015

Or if you know about soldering, but 8MiB SPIs chips, and solder those. Or/and desolder main and backup chips, and solder/left only main SPI chip. Backup chip make no sense.

davidnotcoulthard
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Beigetreten: 02/28/2014

Going one generation earlier (which I guess does ssacrifice the GPU, but oh well) nets https://www.coreboot.org/Board:gigabyte/ga-b75m-d3h

Or for small PCs with HDMI outs you can always get a HDMI-VGA adapter.

BTW I'm on Haswell. Smooth sailing.