So recently a client asked me to build her a virtual calendar. She's tired of having paper ones and would rather hang a few monitors on the wall instead and have them update themselves wirelessly.

The key constraints for this device: - Must be no bigger than a monitor
- Must be quick to turn on/off
- Must have wireless capability
- Ideally low power

The task falls to me, then, to find the hardware to do this. First under consideration was old/broken laptops... Unfortunately I don't really have any kicking around that I'm willing to tear apart.

Next up was the ALIX.3D3 from mini-box. Easy on the power and VGA output to boot XD Sounds appropriate... I'm just concerned about the hardware support (I'll probably be using an implementation of Damn Small Linux to drive the thing; then I can just grab a GTK calendar app of some sort.)

Do you think that such a small board will be able to run X smoothly (bearing in mind that's all that it's doing? I'm unfamiliar with the AMD Geode line of processors (beyond that they're for embedded systems.)

My question boils down to: For the sort of embedded system I mentioned above, would it be better to scrounge up/modify old laptop parts or go with the (tiny) ALIX board+mini-PCI wireless for only a few hundred dollars?

Thanks for the input!!


I'd definitely go with a VESA-mount solution. It solves the hardware problem completely so you don't have to worry about figuring out how to turn old laptop parts into an appropriate physical solution. Now all you have to do is solve the software side... good luck!

The ALIX you pointed at was good enough at first glance, but I glanced right past the RAM requirements, which you might be able to squeak Evolution into, but... eep. A quick google seems to indicate that beefier systems like this and this will also VESA-mount and would provide much more breathing room in terms of resources. LinuxDevices often takes note of such machines, so browsing their archive might also turn up some interesting hardware for you.

  • I'm just hoping that the ALIX board has enough resources to keep X/Evolution (or some other calendar app :S) happy! XD I think I'll order a board anyhow; even if it's not enough, I'll find a use for it! – ParoX May 6 '09 at 18:10
  • Sweet! Thanks for the update XD I'd seen a few of those nano/pico-ITX board and I'd initially dismissed them as too large but since they have VESA mounting I can hide them! ^.^ – ParoX May 6 '09 at 19:47

I would worry about the calendar application FIRST. This is going to be a harder problem to get satisfactory, particularly if she is picky and detail-oriented. The on-screen aesthetics are going to be just as important as the display/wall aesthetics!

Once that is figured out, getting displays selected, mounted and connected is relatively straight-forward.

Good luck!

  • I'm not so worried about the calendar app. I demo'd Evolution's calendar and she liked that. It's pretty easy to sync an Evo calendar against something like Google Calendar which she can access from anywhere. :) – ParoX May 6 '09 at 18:09
  • I gathered that, which was why I wrote the answer. I think it is a mistake. Get the calendar details in a row, then find a way to display that calendar. As with everything on the site, this advice is worth what you pay for it! Good luck. – tomjedrz May 6 '09 at 18:40

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