The subject of this post is a bit provocative on purpose: I got bored by forum posts and IRC messages stating, that 'EFIKA is not for me', 'I don't know what to use it for', etc. I'm a server guy, and at first sight one might think, that it's a contradiction, that I like this little machine. And that's right, it does not have much horse power. But for a home (SO/HO) server it's not really necessary.
On the hardware side, here is what I use:
- PicoPSU (for the size, and it's silent)
- USB 2.0 card
- 80GB 2.5" HDD
- 250GB 3.5" HDD on USB 2.0
Why the two HDDs? The small one is good for booting and continuous operation, as it's silent and does not use much power. But it's slow. That's why USB2 and the other HDD is needed, there is a 6-10x difference in read and write speed. The external HDD is turned on only as needed, during the day when a file server is needed. For the night, when torrents are downloading even that 2-3MB/s is 10x more, than needed.
My OS of choice is openSUSE. As reported in earlier forum posts, it works fine on EFIKA. At the moment it's not yet possible to install it directly, I copy it over from my Pegasos. A little work is needed to compile a kernel supporting EFIKA, I use now the one from current factory patched by the patch collection from Crux PPC. What's not included in openSUSE 10.2, that can be installed from Packman, or compiled. Actually, this last thing, compilation, what took most of my time this afternoon, compiling my favorite torrent client, 'rtorrent' took a couple of hours on EFIKA. But it was worth, as it's the least resource intensive, but still user friendly torrent implementation.
With openSUSE and it's management system 'YaST', it's really easy to setup a system. Here is what currently runs on the machine:
- DNS server for local machines, a local resolver and master for the 'czp' domain :-)
- NFS server to access files from Linux
- Samba to access files from the one remaining Windows machine (not mine...) at home.
- DHCP server, as it's a lot more flexible, than the one built into my ADSL router
- Apache with PHP: web interface for MPD, local installation server, etc.
These services usually take a long time to configure, fine tune, but with YaST a working, partially customised setup is ready within an hour.
A few other software I installed:
- Music Player Daemon (MPD) to play music on the EFIKA in a way, that it can be remote controlled either from a PHP application or there are many MPD clients available. This comes from the Packman package collection.
- 'rtorrent' compiled from source: a curses based torrent client, using just minimal resources (I use it to seed openSUSE DVDs at 5-10MB/s without noticeable CPU consumption). This can be used during the night to download Linux installers, etc., when bandwidth is not needed for work.
With the added USB2 card, possibilities are nearly endless, I just need to find the appropriate Linux supported peripherals:
- printserver: my laser printer has an USB port
- USB wlan card to create an AccesPoint for my notebook
- USB->Ethernet converter to be able to hook up my ADSL modem. The firewall / NAT in my ADSL router is a kind of dumb, EFIKA with custom firewall script could make a much better job.
- USB->Serial converter to hook up a fax modem and send/receive faxes
These are just a few things, and one little EFIKA can handle all of these...