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I want to ship a piece of hardware to clients that they plug in to their network via Ethernet or USB. This device contains an ASP.NET web application that they access via a web browser on any PC in their network.

This needs to be a small device that costs less than $500, meaning it can't be a full server with a Win2008 server license. This would be repeated hundreds or thousands of times - once for each new customer.

Running Mono on Linux is not an option because my app uses Entity Framework, which is not currently supported by Mono.

Are there external hard drives or NAS devices that can run as an IIS/ASP.NET web server?

Thanks, Roger

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As mfinni mentions, you need Windows to "really" run asp.net and IIS. It then becomes a licensing issue. There are restrictions on running client Windows versions as a server. You can get Windows Web Server 2008 R2 OEM for around $370. That may be the cheapest route if you need to use extras like EF with asp.net. The upside to going this route would be that you're not pigeon-holing (word?) yourself if you want to add other stuff in the future that's not supported by some out-of-the-ordinary asp.net/iis setup.

The downside (big downside) to using Windows as an "embedded" system is that you'll need to run antivirus software on it, install updates, etc. just like any other Windows system.

You could possibly look into doing a Server 2008 core installation and just adding the components you need.

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This sounds like a shopping question, but I'll answer this way:

You want a non-Windows device to run IIS and ASP.NET, and Mono won't work. That's a null set right there, sorry. If you need Windows, you need to pay for Windows. You want to sell it for an amount that will net you higher profit than having to pay for Windows, then re-write your application to run on Linux or some other cheap/free embedded system.

The only thing that might fit the bill would be Windows Embedded, or Mobile, or whatever the hell they're calling it now, assuming the following:

  1. Cost to distribute it is low enough for you
  2. It runs IIS and ASP.net with the Entity Framework (and any other dependencies you have.
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