I’ve been seriously considering the fitPC for my own purposes. Currently, the DHCP server (ISC) and the web proxy (Squid) in my home network are two separate servers running versions of Red Hat or CentOS. Both are slimline computers, but otherwise are standard in their configuration: standard hard drives, standard motherboards, etc. I think it might be safe to assume that this also means standard power consumption (200-250 watts, I’m guessing).
Along with the wattage is the noise as well. With the two servers and two desktops running (and a rackmountable switch), that is a lot of fans and a lot of noise (more than non-techies would realize!). That’s four computers with 200-250 watts each (high estimate) – for 800-1000 watts of power consumption.
This doesn’t even take into account what it would be like with the Sun SparcStation 20 or the UltraEnterprise 1 started up – I shudder to think how much power they take up (and I know how noisy they are….).
A 5-watt computer with no fan (silence!) would be very nice. The things that are most appealing about the 5-watt fitPC are the silence, the minimal power drain, and the standard configuration. Many computers that fall into this category are in fact, embedded systems – small memory, small flash drives, and so on – often with specialized software (even if it is open source).
The fitPC is a standard system, so it will run anything that will run on an Intel 586-based system.
The company is in Israel, and until recently was the only source for their product. They appear to have been overwhelmed with orders sometime in November, but are going as fast as they can. I’ve no idea if they are backed up now or not. They’ve also introduced resellers apparently: System Industrie Electronic AG in Austria, Anders Electronics in the United Kingdom, and CompuLab Embedded Systems in the United States. None of the resellers has the fitPC listed as available, but presumably if you contact the right people from their list, everything will be just fine.
They have a set of forums that are excellent, and serve as an excellent resource for purchasers and owners of fitPC systems.
One of the questions that comes up on the forums is: Does the fitPC work well with X where X is:
- FreeBSD (only if USB installation is fixed)
- FreeDOS (unanswered so far)
- CentOS (one successful report)
- Ubuntu Server (still trying)
- PCLinuxOS (just fine!)
- Windows 2003 Server (not too badly)
It comes with either Windows XP or Ubuntu (an optimized Gentoo is also available). The listed cost is $285 US.