As the WeeklyMeeting20031021 notes have pointed out the PTP got 90 pcs donated to it last week. I have had one of the PCs running for the last few days and here is the low down.
The units are mostly AMD K6-2 233's with 128 meg of ram, 2gig HDS, a floppy drive and a few have CDroms. The come with the Trident S3 graphic chip-set integrated into the mobo as well as 2 usb ports, a serial, parallel and ps2 kyb and mouse ports. They all come with a 10/100 ethernic as well.
The units are pizza box style if pizza boxes where double their usual height. They have fans in the back and make a modicum of noise; this is subjective as some folks used to the ultra quiet will think there is a mac truck driving by in perpetuity and other with older gear will think they are smooth as silk, albeit rustly silk.
Now on to the fun. I booted the unit I had from its CDrom with a copy of DamnSmallLinux. The graphic chip balked a bit until I turned down the gui to run under xvesa. Once tuned down though it ran fluxbox like a charm. Everything went right from the get go, dhcp got an ip from my router, the drives all mounted, the devices all worked, in short the vibe was pleasant.
I then did a HD install of DamnSmall thus cleaning off the HDs of any cruft left over from its previous life. Once installed I booted from the HD and did some Apt-Get shopping. As a cpu test I grabbed setiathome and let it do its 100% cpu load thing for about 24 hours, no problem.
The unit is working so well in fact I am witting this report on it. Compared to a Soekris or newer solution this is not the brand new jimmy, but these boxes are solid router boxes that could easily be set up with base installs to act as NoCat sporting PTP nodes in short order. They could ver well be the new clone army boxes that the PTP use to grow out the PTPnet.
My recommendation is to grab about 10 of these units and do an Installfest / Workshop to get them setup with a base Debian/NoCat install and then get them in the hands of folks who want to set up nodes. Folks will need to provide the wireless card or AP. There is room in these for a PCI card or if your using and AP solution make sure it can be put into a dumbed down Bridging mode.
This will not only get us to set down a stable install methodology that can be documented, taught and replicated on at least 90 boxes and not only is it a way to get the folks willing and wanting to volunteer to do PTP projects, but it is also a way to get more nodes into the field.
Total Win Win Win
After those 10 are in the field and working, we do another Installfest / Workshop and so on as long as there are folks willing and wanting to put up nodes in the PTPnet. I would put a few of these aside for spare parts, though most of what can go wrong should be getable down at FreeGeeks.
I already have one volunteer who lives up in the wilds of NE portland who is ready and willing to do this.
The goal right now will be to get that install methodology down so that we can run the workshop and pass on that knowing; folks like Keegan, Rob, Don and others who have done node/nocat installs will be valuable resources for this part. . From there its going to be a matter of asking for willing and wanting volunteres who can supply the wireless gear and the space to host the node. Once thats done we can set up the workshop/ install fest and get down to the biz of node building.
I see lots of real potential in this first 10 node install. If the powers that be in the PTP deem it a worthy task then I will be willing to do what is needed to see it done.