I know I said my next post was going to be about NFS setup, but I thought it might be useful instead to take a momentary break for listing off the final hardware manifest. My previous posts have been a little unclear on this subject, so to avoid confusion, here's a list of everything I bought that's currently part of the machine, along with links to NewEgg product pages:

Component Purpose Price (as of today)
MSI Wind PC Barebone Motherboard, processor and case, all pre-assembled in a nice, neat, power-saving package $139.99
Kingston Elite Pro Compact Flash Card Operating System Storage $22.99
512 DDR2 533 Memory (don't remember which brand I used...) $7-8
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB Hard Drive, /dev/sdb in the main RAID array $64.99
Seagate Barracuda ST3750640AS 750GB Hard Drive, /dev/sda in the main RAID array (no longer available) $80
VIGOR iSURF II HCC-S2BL Aluminum HDD Cooler for the 750GB drive $22.99

All of this is variable to suit your tastes, of course...this is just what I used. If you've got a bit more money lying around, it might be worth investing in larger hard drives. Make sure they're SATA (ideally SATA 3Gb/s) drives rather than IDE, as the Wind PC doesn't have any IDE ports. 7200RPM is also a good idea for quick access times.

Also, I've found that 8GB for the operating system is a bit on the high side; on my current setup, Debian is only taking up a measly 1.7GB. You could probably get away with a 4GB card instead, but the prices are low enough that it doesn't save you much.

Oh, and as far as memory is concerned...512MB has been plenty for my purposes (my swap file is pretty much never used), but if you can afford 1 or 2 gigabytes instead, why not? Just make sure it's DDR2 533 laptop memory (yes, this is basically a laptop without all the mobility-related bits), and only one stick of it (the Wind PC only has one memory slot).

Meanwhile, the entire software stack is free and open source, so there's nothing else to buy beyond what I've listed above (unless you want something else, of course).  Based on the components/prices above (and assuming you don't need to buy any of the extra stuff I'm about to list off), you're looking at a total project cost of about $340, not including any shipping costs you might incur.  Not a bad deal considering the degree of customization you get along with it.

There are a couple of other things you'll need, but only temporarily; for these, it's best to just use something you've got lying around if you can:

  • 1GB SD card or USB flash drive, to use as the installer media
  • Monitor
  • USB keyboard (PS/2 won't work; the Wind PC doesn't have a PS/2 port)
  • Another computer which (among other things) will be used to set up the installer media; to really get this right, you'll need to install something like VirtualBox and create a dummy Debian installation that can access your installer media...which I suppose I should document :)

Anyway, next time we'll get back after the step-by-step setup; there's still a fair amount of software setup to do, but we're almost there.