I wanted a small form factor box to run BeOS and Haiku on. After much looking around at the current offerings, many with too new or too obscure features to use for a Haiku build tool, I decided to take the dive on an Eagle Tech IMC6375 (also available in black). The bottom line of this one was the i865G (Intel Extreme 2) graphics chipset, AC97 sound, and the Realtek NIC all onboard, giving it a better than average chance at being a stable Haiku machine. At $250 for the barebone kit (which included case and motherboard for 89.99, and adding in 1 gig of ram and a 2.53 celeron cpu), I threw in two Hard Disks (foregoing the floppy and putting the second HD in that slot) and a DVDR/CDRW drive I had in an older machine, and connected it to my existing 22-inch widescreen LCD and keys/mouse. The money spent was worth it, sort of…
With BeOS R5, it’s ugly… at first. The 5.0.1 update brings in the right NIC driver. However, the Intel Extreme 2 graphics driver on BeBits doesn’t work properly. It works, in color, but not at full resolution. Pulling the driver from an R5 targeted build of Haiku works great though - and it boots with the full widescreen 1680×1050 resolution, once Haiku’s Screen preferences app is used to set the resolution. Sound, well, there is none. AC97 1.6a and Haiku tree pulled drivers both show no device available in the media panel. But it runs beautifully, once tweaked - and more importantly, it builds Haiku for the other partition just fine.
With Haiku, it booted beautifully, 1680×1050 resolution at default, on first boot. The network card is recognized, initialized, grabbed dhcp, and I was able to ping and otherwise see the outside world. Sound was the issue, as with on BeOS - silence at startup. Media prefs showed the AC97 output device - the first time you open it. As soon as I tried to change a setting and restart the media server, no devices are listed. Not a big deal, Haiku OS is still in an Alpha stage, and the chipset might be too new for the AC97 driver to recognize properly. I’m sure Marcus and company will have this worked out soon enough. But barring that, it is a beautiful Haiku box, so far. Only a couple short hours of playing around in it, but I’m overall very pleased.
What’s cool about this box is the ability to boot into a separate bios that will play DVDs and MP3s, without the need to boot the OS. I guess this works great for people that would alternatively have to wait for Windows to boot (which Windows, and Ubuntu Linux, do just fine on this box - with Ubuntu having some issues with the Intel Extreme 2 chipset - go figure - Axel alone got that better than all the Linux devs out there! ). A great dorm room feature. But with BeOS/Haiku, boot times are fast enough for us to just not care, and luckily you can disable this feature in the bios, so that it boots straight to the PC rather than waiting for the user to choose between playing DVDs or booting the PC.
Okay, so now the bad - It’s Loud and Hot. The box itself is loud - the fans create too much noise. Very loud for sitting on the desk next to your monitor. I wouldn’t normally complain about such things, but these sound louder than normal, and to no avail. The case and it’s components are so tightly placed, doing a lot of HD and CD spin-ups at the same time cause the thing to overheat. Not that this would be that big of a deal, except that the case has built in temperature monitors, and alarms when it gets hot. Ripping a CD or running a Haiku compile, not even at the same time, and the case started delivering a really loud, really annoying chirping that doesn’t seem to end.
Placing an external fan within about 5 feet and pointed towards the case seemed to keep it below the alarm threshold during peak spin-up/usage. I really need to figure out how to disable this audible alarm (probably if I just spent a little time in the bios), but in the meantime, I used a little 4-inch desktop fan I had picked up for $7 a while back, and point it at the vent holes. But this solution only adds to the fan noise.
All in all, this is a real good Haiku box for the money if you are in the market for a barebones kit, want small form factor, and have the extra components around (and don’t mind loud fan noise). Minus the sound driver issues, which I don’t expect to last too long, it works with Haiku beautifully. Besides, I bought this box for development purposes, and at the moment, these do not include any needs for sound. I can wait for that to get fixed (or possibly try to help fix it). Besides, if sound was that much a necessity and couldn’t wait, there is one AGP and one PCI slot to fill other devices needs.
For $250 + the extra hardware I had already lying around… a great deal - especially for the money - as $250 was exactly what I was hoping to spend on a barebones kit that I could dedicate to Haiku work. Later on, I’ll probably investigate getting better fans put in it - bring down the sound and bring down the temp, but for now, I’ll just crank up some tunes while working.
At any rate, I decided to write this up in case anyone else wants a good Haiku box at a decent price. Hope it helps in any searches you might be doing.
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