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Home | News Archive | December 2003

Ginger, the Gingerbread Village Server
December 19, 2003

You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread LAN. We've always thought that to create Mini-ITX projects you have to be a bit of a fruitcake, but this one takes the biscuit. Cooked up by a baker's coven at The University of Rochester's Computer Interest Floor, this is perhaps one of the nuttiest projects we've seen. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's completely half-baked. Inside the motherboard house sits an EPIA 800 (not a witch) running FreeBSD - no copies of Win-doughs for these guys. Feast your eyes on this thorough-bread masterpiece... Yule love it. Sweet.

CIF's Recipe for their Gingerbread Village Server

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Mirra's Personal Server
December 18, 2003

Mirra mirror, copies all, and yet remains so very small... Mirra's Personal Server is more of a mirror appliance than a server. This Mini-ITX based PC ships with software that you install on your main desktop running Windows XP or 2000. Once the software is installed it will automagically back up files as you create them - almost like a networked RAID 1 setup. Optionally, you can share files with others through an interface at Mirra's website, which you can use to send email invitations to your contacts. 80GB and 120GB versions are currently available, with a revised version intended for the first quarter of 2004.

ExtremeTech's look at the Mirra Personal Server

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A Few EPIA TC Pictures
December 18, 2003

A shiny new 200 pin SODIMM arrived in the post today for our EPIA TC, so we celebrated by snapping it in and powering up - the first 12V EPIA we've examined. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite. The board we have is an "EPIA-TC10000 LP1000" according to the sticker on the reverse, and doesn't have the optional CCM-01 cardbus module. Our MP3 Mini-ITX Milk Float project will have to wait till we can boot Linux on it from Compact Flash. The pictures (one of which randomly loaded above) are of the new lower profile audio sockets, the 12V DC power input connector at the rear corner of the board, the elusive LVDS connector in the centre of the board (see below), the slightly fiddly but I'm sure we'll get the hang of it 200pin SODIMM RAM module connector underneath the board (watch out for this next year on Nano-ITX), and the additional +12V power and IDE power connectors in the front corner of the board, next to the blue IDE sockets.

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EPIA Daughterboard Pictures
December 18, 2003

We thought you might be interested in some pictures of the various daughterboard options that hopefully will be available for use with the forthcoming EPIA MII and TC motherboards. The CCM-01 is a Cardbus module equipped with a Cardbus slot and Compact Flash slot (both slots are type I/II) - it fits above the lowered audio outputs on an EPIA TC or MII. The other modules all fit in a Tetris-type manner between the dual heatsinks of LVDS-equipped EPIA TCs, MIIs, CLs and PDs, connected to the LVDS socket. What's an EPIA PD? It's an EPIA CL variant with powered 5/12V serial ports aimed at the POS market. If you have an EPIA CL handy, you can see the mounting holes in the heatsink, even on non-LVDS motherboards. The LVDS-04 module is equipped with the VT1631 transmitter, and supports 18/24 bit LCD panels at 1024x768. The DVI-01 module has a VT1632 transmitter, for connection by DVI. The RGB-01 module supports TTL panels at up to 18 bit. There is also an LVDS-01 module, designed for earlier and rather more elusive EPIA Ms with LVDS.

CCM-01

LVDS-04

DVI-01

RGB-01

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Guide to Linux on Mini-ITX
December 17, 2003

We're back - and what an office party that was.. Andrew Howlett has put together a rather splendid guide to installing and configuring Linux on VIA's EPIA motherboards, getting into the nitty gritty of Audio and Video drivers and covering several different Linux flavours. Definitely worth a look.

EPIA Linux How-to at Viaarena.com

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Tranquil launch Tranquil Media
December 04, 2003

Tranquil have launched the Tranquil Media an EPIA M10000 powered multelemediaphotimeshiftingtunerpc based on the silent Tranquil PC chassis. The Tranquil Media is the latest product in a line which includes the Tranquil PC, and the Tranquil Smooth Server. Features include 256MB memory, 120GB Hard Drive, DVD/CDRW Drive, a redesigned mirrored front panel and a new super emissivity heatsink - but it is the bundled PVR Digital TV and FM Tuner card, Remote Control and Tranquil Media Centre software that extends the Tranquil Media's functionality beyond that of a PC. We like its ability to read emails to you, and to ask it to record a TV programme by email...

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Project Christmas Tree
December 04, 2003

Projects from mini-itx.com have been gracing the pages of computer magazines for the past few months now (tip for magazine editors - mention the website and send us a copy!!), but Josh Blodwell at Custom PC in the UK has gone one step further and actually created and documented his own "Project Christmas Tree", powered by an EPIA 5000 motherboard. Here's a picture of it in a state of undress - you'll need to buy their January 2004 issue to read the full article (or flip through it in the supermaket like we did). Has anyone else created a seasonal Mini-ITX project we wonder?...

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VIA Respond to our Petition!
December 03, 2003

VIA, creators of the Mini-ITX motherboard form factor, have issued the following official response to the online Petition we started last week:

Dear VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboard enthusiasts

We appreciate your valuable feedback and comments from the Release All EPIA Motherboards into Distribution petition. As always, it is great to get feedback from the people who use our products and we are committed to finding ways to meet your needs.

To ensure compatibility of other system components with VIA EPIA TC Mini-ITX mainboards, we are working closely with selected channel partners who are able to provide a range of compatible accessories such as 12V DC-to-DC power supplies and LVDS panels in a number of bundle options, e.g. from a board and power supply to a barebones system to a full system including a monitor and operating system.

We believe that this decision will lead to greater customer satisfaction with the convenience of purchasing various components from a single vendor and removing the need for often expensive and frustrating compatibility testing of parts.

In the past, VIA has reacted quickly and positively to feedback from Mini-ITX enthusiasts, as can be seen with the launch of the VIA EPIA M-Series of mainboards that provide improved digital media performance for applications like DVD playback. We will continue to make your suggestions a top priority in the development of future products and would like to thank you once again for your suggestions and comments.

It will be interesting to see how this policy shift will affect the availabilty of the more specialised boards - it will take several weeks for any product to actually filter into retail. It looks like the same rule will apply for LVDS MII and M-Series boards - if a VIA channel partner is able to provide an LVDS panel with a board, then they can sell it as a barebones solution or bundle deal. The forthcoming EPIA TC boards will be available from VIA channel partners can provide an approved (i.e. tested) power supply to end users.

Keep signing the petition - we set it to end in January, and can't turn it off...

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The "Windows XP Box"
December 01, 2003

Andy France needed a small machine to run Windows XP, so he built his Mini-ITX board into (what else?) - a Windows XP box. The box measures just 243mm x 200mm x 48mm, and manages to cram a CD and hard drive in there. Don't worry Linux fans - Andy has a Red Hat Linux version too...

Andy France's "Windows XP Box"

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