Good Embedded Servers

I got asked a few questions about LAMP servers. Here are some of my favorite machines to use if you dont have a lot of space or power. Most of these are Pentium I Class machines unless noted otherwise.

The IBM Netvista 2200 I have a bunch of these used as Digital Signage and Media Players. They are very hard to make an OS for but if you Google Netvista 2200 Linux you will find one site with all you need. They dont have a real bios as a pc would have and only like to boot a specifically formatted kernel. These aren’t really suitable for running a backend database.They do need an external 12V power brick.


Then there is their bigger brother the IBM Netvista 2800. These are great for almost anything. They have a real bios and can run Dos apps pretty well.  They will also run mos flavors of Linux and I even had on loaded with Windows 98se on a 4GB microdrive. To make that microdrive fit in the CF slot required removing the top side of the CF connector. All I did was clip the top corners with a pair of cutters and fold the side over. It snapped off cleanly. I’ve done this to to a half dozen or so and never broke and thing. YMMV. I like the fact that the power supply is built in and it has pc standard serial and parallel ports and 2 PCI slots. These make great firewalls or VOIP PBX machines.


When you really want horsepower there are plenty of small form factor (SFF) pc’s out there with P4 or better processors. In the top of this pic is a 2.4Ghz P4 Netvista box and the bottom is a 2.8Ghz P4 SFF machine many of these lack space for  PCI cards even thought he motherboard will have the slots. The big Netvista has a few half height PCI slots. The middle machine is a Wyse thin client. That’s a whole different story, or at least paragraph.


I have tried many different thin clients and the HP are the best so far for my needs. The Wyse shown above is an oddity. It has a single PCI slot, a DVD and HD but is a Fat Thin Client. I like it but its external power brick gets in the way at times. The HP’s have no expansion and limited resources but can boot from a USB key so its easy to boot Linux and backup your work. I have many of these with FreeDos, DSL Linux and even one with Askozia PBX. They do run MySql pretty well but I use Monkey Web Server instead of Apache.


If you get the newer version it has a removable cover on the case that hides 2 USB slots. These can be used to hide Pen Drives and will be locked in by a standard PC cable restraint lock.

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