Tuesday Jan 31, 2006

From Qube to Cube

I can't be-eeeive it. I have my Qube running. It's hosting services and I now need to explore if "snipsnap" is what I want, but as I explore the next set of applications that might be useful I begin to see how behind the curve the old Cobalt O/S is. I spoke to Chris Gerhard who's thinking about upgrading his three Qubes, but using opensolaris, (see here... for his article, & here... for the opensolaris appliance group). I really like the form factor, and I'm quite impressed with the "headless" system. So I set to looking for replacement cases, in which I might build my own server. Yeah! Right.. Interestingly, CNET have also published an article detailing the growing differentiation between computer vendors around the case (or colour in this instance), but both ACER, with their Ferrari range, & Alienware (See here...) are offering very different laptops.

I came across a number of e-shops, including X-Case, Silver PCs & Directron (their Cube page), all of which do a number of parts including system cases. (This is the word you need if using Google! i.e. case.) I've found a couple of cases that look quite neat. Again no recommendations, I'm merely sharing research.

Firstly, the Lian Li PC 880, this looks very cute, has two internal disks and room for two 5.25 exchangable media devices. CD-ROM & ZIP? Is ZIP any good? Probably not, if we're using 120Gb (or maybe larger disks), then ZIP is shagged. Maybe we need to look at DVD/W. Can we do this with UNIX? The case supports an ATX card. Dimensions W443 x H205 x D503mm, a typical desktop pizza box and while very pretty, maybe a bit large. Its certainly the widest and deepest of those I've found.

lian li PC 880

V800

They also do a more industrial looking system called the V880. You can check this out at their site here.... Its dimensions are 380x160x440 mm (W,H,D), so smaller than V880 but it's still only got two internal disks

What's this called? A company called Shuttle do this. It looks nice, comes with a CPU and hence a bit expensive. Dimensions 200 mm x 300 mm x 185 mm, which makes it the smallest of these cases. This looks like the case that Hitech Savvy use as Qube replacements, it supports SATA disk, but only two (?), and has one 5.25 and one 3.5 external slots so again CD-ROM/W and ZIP devices become available . This one's quite small, but I need to see if it comes without the motherboard as while this'll probably do me, I can that some of my potential collaborators may want something better. Dimensions: 300 x 200 x 185 mm. These people seem to be OEM only, I havn't found their home page.

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This is the Lian Li PC-402A. An aluminum Mini Case - taking a Mini Flex ATX card. Very Pretty. Again 2 internal disks, but three exchangable media slots, which is probably more than required. IAs said, it supports Mini flex ATX Motherboard. Dimensions 210 x 240 x 340mm (W x H x D). Small foot print if a bit high.

This is the Antec Aria, and the picture came from Xcase's site (here...). This one's got three drives, Accepts motherboards up to MicroATX (24,4 x 24,4 cm) and 4 full-height PCI expansion cards, only one external slot but 5.25 so a CD-ROM/W is a possibility, for emergency boot and backup. Dimensions 263 mm (W) x 210 mm (H) x 393 mm (D), so not as big as it looks.

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Note: The pictures in this article are hosted at their publisher's sites. The links are above. They presumably want to sell this stuff and may not be the most appropriate vendor for you (or me). My research isn't finished and I'm not necessarily recommending anything here, except that Cube cases look neat, but they're all much bigger than the Cobalt. Oh Dear

Note: Also I have broken one of my rules and used a table to format this article, maybe it would have been better to write seperate articles, but I didn't. I hope this looks OK in your browser.

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