Alpha Machine

My Alpha Machine – where it all started

If Bill Gates can look back at the “MITS – Altair 8800” as the means he was able to develop Microsoft as a company, for me I can look back at my Alpha Machine which started me on my journey learning Suse Linux, CentOS Linux, MS Server 2003, MS Server 2008, Oracle, Moodle, Joomla and MySQL. This Alpha Machine gave me a break to explore on the features of the above Operating Systems and Open Source applications way back 2009 June. I found myself  jobless for the first time here in Singapore at the height of the Global Financial crisis. I wasn’t even able to finish my contract with Creative Technologies Pte. Ltd., but that was a good thing since it allowed me to be entitled for severance pay. Instead of packing up and leave, go back home to the Philippines, it was my first “Cortez – Burning of the Boats” moment for me as instead of using my severance pay to secure a flight back home immediately, I used the money I received to fund my Alpha Machine. Faced with insurmountable odds at first, upon returning my work permit to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, I was given a month to look for another job.

Thankfully, within a week I was able to get employment for an SME company in the business of deploying Content Management Systems and Learning Management Systems Servers for MOE schools. It was rather a small outfit but I was overall in-charge of 43 enterprise servers both for schools and private companies all over the island who are customers of this SME company. The sad fact of the matter is, I had to learn within a month the CentOS Linux operating system as well as learn Joomla and Moodle.

I had no choice but to build my “Alpha Machine” and install Suse Linux first since the training I attended at New Horizons in Tiong Bahru was sponsored by Novell and they are the ones reselling Suse Linux for Enterprise here in Singapore. Since I had no money, I could only afford the humble Intel Atom D945GCLF2. It only sold around $180.00 including the DDR2 800 2GB ram. I then immediately assembled the unit using a very cheap “ION” mini ITX casing from the Philippines brought in by my friend which only costed $50.00 at that time with a 130 watt power supply.

Intel Atom 330

My Intel Atom 330 D945GCLF2 motherboard

It was a very steep learning curve for me, and since I couldn’t immediately afford an HDD, I had to install the Linux OS on a CF card that I was using for my Sigma Camera. Within the one month period of steep learing, I was able to have operating knowledge of Linux as well as “Apache” which was vital to my role deploying Content Management Servers and Learning Management Servers. I then went on experimenting on settings every night for 30 days sometimes staying up until 2 am in the morning and only to wake up by 6 am and write down on my notebook whatever new things I learn. I must have re-installed the OS more than 10 times as I have managed to foul things up every time I tweak on something.

Intel D945GCLF2 Atom 330

Up close and personal with the Intel Mini ITX motherboard

After my stint using this as a learning tool, it served as an MS Home Server 2003 for more than a year running 24 hours a day until I finally upgraded my Home Server to a Shuttle K45 SE. This trooper of a motherboard never missed a beat while it was on continuous service. It served as an Internet Bridge / Doorway to my nephew back home in the Philippines where I can post some files for him on this server, and he can just log in remotely from the Philippines and access the files. After being replaced by my Shuttle K45 SE PC, this motherboard found itself under storage from 2010 October till 2012 April. Just last weekend, I decided to resurrect this motherboard and re-purpose it for further development work which I am keen on pursuing to install a Debian Linux OS version onto it for the purpose of turning it into a Freedom Box running “TOR”. Looking for a decent case which fit my budget as well as meet my criteria and taste for aesthetics was quite a challenge until I finally decided to choose the Cooler Master Elite 100. I figured, what a fitting homage to this board to house it inside this very nifty Micro ATX / Mini ITX enclosure.

Page 1

Detailed info of the Cooler Master Elite 100 Micro ATX / Mini ITX casing

Above and below are details of the PC enclosure I’ve chosen which just recently became available here in Singapore

continued details on the Cooler Master Elite 100

Notice that this casing I chose can be mounted behind an LCD monitor using a VESA bracket, a feature that was part of my requirement as I eventually want to permanently install this rig behind my 32 inch Sharp LCD TV once I manage to install Google Chrome Android OS running on this Atom and make my TV an Android based internet TV.

Top View

What it looks like from the inside

This is how it looks from the inside, imagine that this nifty casing can accommodate a Micro ATX motherboard, I’ll try it out next time using an Asus P8H61 Micro ATX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor. I think its going to be so cool. To date, I am also thinking about loading Mac OSX Lion in this Alpha Machine and make it as a BT Downloader…….. Over the labor day long weekend, I have managed to experiment further on this Alpha Machine and I have tried to install Mac OSX, surprisingly, it was fast and  I was able to play HD videos on an Intel Atom Motherboard. Then it hit me and I finally decided to install MS Server 2008 r2 and once and for all commission this as an IIS web server hosting my iWeb Site – http://marlou-madrio.ham-radio-op.net

Server Configuration

My MS Server 2008r2 IIS Web Server 2

Screenshot of Server Configuration as seen by the OS

All in this tiny silicon universe

The Intel Atom in perspective

The Intel Atom in perspective

  1. Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I’ll send this information to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

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