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Looking through the Puppylinux pages today, I wondered if it could be used to setup a low-cost thin client, that booted from a USB flashdrive or something. Considering these points:

  • Low speed CPU such as P4/Dualcore is fine (cheaper)
  • No HDD needed (saves $100)
  • No SATA / IDE ports on motherboard needed (cheaper)

So does this allow for a cheap thin client build? Are there any motherboards that cost like $100 for a basic linux experience? Do you get low-cost motherboards or mini-computers that could work well as thin clients with a tiny OS like puppylinux?

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Some of the older laptops are good candidates for this. Pentium-Mobile business-class laptops like Thinkpads. For newer components the bottom rung would be an Atom-based Nettop for about $200. If you aren't stuck on x86, then the Raspberry Pi would be a good candidate too. –  JodieC Mar 21 '12 at 18:28
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Some time ago I bought HP Compaq t5000 Thin Client (t5710 model (it was really cheap (about $100) on some auction portal)) and it is great for my needs. I'm using it as:

  • VPN server
  • ssh server for accessing my home network
  • wake on lan for other devices
  • from time to time as webserver
  • battery charger for my mobile.. ;)

CPU:

pbm@lantea:~$ cat /proc/cpuinfo 
processor   : 0
vendor_id   : GenuineTMx86
cpu family  : 5
model       : 4
model name  : Transmeta(tm) Crusoe(tm) Processor TM5700
stepping    : 3
cpu MHz     : 798.106
cache size  : 256 KB
fdiv_bug    : no
hlt_bug     : no
f00f_bug    : no
coma_bug    : no
fpu     : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level : 1
wp      : yes
flags       : fpu vme de pse tsc msr cx8 sep cmov mmx longrun lrti constant_tsc up
bogomips    : 1596.21
clflush size    : 32
cache_alignment : 32
address sizes   : 32 bits physical, 32 bits virtual
power management:

Memory:

pbm@lantea:~$ free -m
             total         used         free       shared      buffers
Mem:           485           23          462            0            3
-/+ buffers:                 19          466
Swap:            0            0            0

Disk - there is Disk-on-module connected through 44 pin (laptop) ATA connector. It can be replaced by 2.5" HDD or 3.5 HDD using adapter.

pbm@lantea:~$ df -h /
Filesystem                Size      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/root               473.2M    162.3M    286.5M  36% /

You can also use 4 USB ports to connect HDD or some USB storage. It can also boot OS from USB (internal disk and PXE is also supported).

Currently I have on it Slitaz distribution (ISO with X server and some WM - 30 MB!, minimal ISO - 8 MB), and there is a lot of free space on internal disk. List of installed packages you can find here.

Originally it was shipped with Windows XP Embedded (there is image to download in HP KB) with RDP and Citrix clients.

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I put Puppy on a Dell Optiplex 170 I purchased for $60.00. I put Puppy directly on the 4gb drive. Works great for just browsing the net.

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