Build home mini PC with Cubietruck and Linux

Four months ago, I decided to build a home mini PC. Its main purpose is to act as NAS server, but it should also support additional light services too.

Home mini PC requirements:

  • ARM board (low power consumption and very good performance)
  • SATA 3.5″ hard disk(much more stable than 2.5″)
  • GNU/Linux (as always)

Home mini PC services:

  1. NAS server (1st level requirement)
  2. Light server-side music player (2nd level requirement)
  3. Light BitTorrent client (2nd level requirement)
  4. No need for X window (not a requirement)
  5. Apache HTTP server (3rd level requirement)
  6. Light wiki server (3rd level requirement)
  7. Light database (3rd level requirement)

Candidates:

  • Raspberry Pi: Unbelievable community support and hundreds of applied examples, but has limited RAM and mainly does not support SATA.
  • BeagleBone Black: Stable and much more Open Hardware than Raspberry Pi, but much less features (CPU, RAM, …)
  • Cubietruck (aka Cubieboard 3): Much more features than all the above, but with much smaller community. Specifications summary here.

As you understand, my requirements are not very light for a small board šŸ™‚
So, I decided to use Cubietruck (CT), which is the strongest board, but getting the risk of small community (as I am not a hardware or Linux expert).

I received my Cubietruck a few weeks ago!!!

cubietruck_details

Final hardware:

  • Cubietruck
  • Cubieboard HDD Addon (to support SATA 3.5″, which needs external power input 12V)
  • Power Adaptor 5V 3A (for CT)
  • Power Adaptor 12V 4A (for HDD addon)
  • Western Digital Red 3TB
  • SD Card 16 GB

ATTENION: You have to use different power adapters to power Cubietruck and HDD Addon. Output USB connection of HDD Addon (which work as power adapters) cannot supply enough Amperes to your Cubietruck, when are needed. Extra details here.

Final Software:

Final view…

cubietruck hdd sata details

Cubietruck with HDD SATA and all cables

Details…

cubietruck hdd addon base

Cubietruck and HDD Addon base

In next blog post, I will try to write about Debian and any extra hints I found.
If you need extra details please leave a comment to answer (or to include this info in next post).

UPDATE (20/12/2014)
I just did a fast read/write test on SATA disk of CT via NFS (requested via comment).
The network topology is as follows:
laptop_wireless --- simple_router --- CT_wired

Copy file (256MB) from laptop to CT:
$> time dd if=/dev/zero of=/mynfs/store/test_dd_128k_2048 bs=128k count=2048
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out
268435456 bytes (268 MB) copied, 128.897 s, 2.1 MB/s
real 2m10.458s
user 0m0.000s
sys 0m0.188s

Copy this file (256MB) back to laptop:
$> time cp /mynfs/store/test_dd_128k_2048 /tmp/fff
real 1m45.158s
user 0m0.008s
sys 0m0.384s

There are two important factors that affect performance of the above test:
a) If laptop was connected via wire instead of wireless the speed will be much faster.
b) CT was running other things concurrently and was not idle.

Regards,
Adrianos Dadis.

Real Democracy requires Free Software

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About Adrianos Dadis

Building Big Data & Stream processing solutions in telcos business domain. Interested in distributed systems and enterprise integration.
This entry was posted in GNU/Linux, Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Build home mini PC with Cubietruck and Linux

  1. Jo says:

    Realy nice. Wasn’t it possible to use the HDD Add On as Power Supply fur the CT (with a micro USB Cable)? With the result that you have just one 12V Power Supply and just the HDD Add on with an Micro USB Cable for the CT.

    • Adrianos Dadis says:

      Hi Jo,

      unfortunately this assumption was my biggest problem šŸ˜¦
      I did the same assumption and I got into trouble (check my post in CT forums here).

  2. Kuber says:

    Hi,
    Nice setup.

    I currently have a very basic NAS setup with my Raspberry Pi and some USB hard drives, but the performance is not that good.
    Iā€™m planning to upgrade it to a CubieTruck but Iā€™m not sure what kind of performance improvements I will get.

    Do you have any numbers on the performance of your NAS?
    And did you try any USB hard drives to see how they perform?

    • Adrianos Dadis says:

      Hi Kuber,

      I have not tried any real usb disk, just a simple small flash usb disk to copy a few files which just works.

      I just updated current post with a few numbers (read/write via NFS), please check above.

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