CentOS 6 SFF Motherboard Or Complete System

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I am trying to assemble or purchase a set of CentOS 6 compatible SFF workstations, and am finding it incredibly frustrating to do so. hardware.redhat.com is so slow as to be useless and provides almost no information about each of the 1,300 or so products listed in their database; clicking through them one at a time is incredibly frustrating (and about half of them are discontinued or out of stock when I actually go looking for them, like the Intel DQ series motherboards I was interested in). Vendor web sites are almost no use; they trumpet their Windows 8 compatibility all over the site, but finding information about Linux compatibility is next to impossible. My requirements aren’t overwhelming; an i7 processor, four memeory slots preferred, dual 24″ (1920×1200) monitor capability, and dual ethernet (or an expansion slot for a second Ethernet card). Anyone have any advice on how to attack this these days? I’ve been out of the hardware-purchase game on the Linux side for years, and most of my bookmarks no longer point anywhere useful, sadly.


8 thoughts on - CentOS 6 SFF Motherboard Or Complete System

  • Glenn Eychaner wrote:

    Well, I have no idea was SFF is an acronym for, other than Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I see from your sig that you’re doing astronomy, so I’m guessing it has something to do with scientific computing.

    Question 1: do you want to build them yourself, or buy full systems?

    OEM: Dell’s fine, though to talk to someone in support about Linux, you need “enterprise support”, *not* desktop support. Right now, I’m on an AMD, but Dell Precision T3500 workstation, I *think* it ran around $2k when we got it a year and a half or two years ago; the newer ones are the same price. I’m running CentOS 6.4. Pretty much anything you buy, except
    *possibly* for just-released-in-the-last-month hardware is supported: it may not be ultra-heavy gaming ready, but for anything else, yes.

    Our servers with Intel are running Xeons, of course, as well as the one workstation I just looked at….


  • I assume SFF is small form factor. If you’re willing to buy from Dell, the Optiplex 9010 SFF has 4 memory slots, i7 capable, 2 expansion PCIe-16 (one wired x4) slots. You could use one for a dual monitor graphics card, and the other for extra ethernet ports.

    You’d need to get to someone in Dell enterprise support if you want to buy one without Windows, or you could just not use the Windows license.

    I’m curious though: why do you need dual ethernet for a workstation? Does your office have two lans?

  • Dale Dellutri wrote:

    Don’t do Optiplex. That’s a “consumer” grade box. Get a Precision – that’s what we have here. Also, all of our workstations have video cards with dual ports. If you go this route, MAKE SURE THAT THEY GIVE YOU THE RIGHT
    VIDEO PORTS on the card – we got several with *only* dual displayports, and *one* display to DVI adaptor. (Needless to say, we didn’t order those directly, the orders went up and over….)

    You can order them with either no O/S, or RHEL (with a year’s license).


  • not from the ‘soho’ side of Dell, only on the Large Business side do those options show up, and if you’re just buying a few and don’t have an enterprise purchase agreement, you won’t find any discounts.

  • “Small Form Factor”, as opposed to standard large PCs.

    most anything using a mainstream Intel chipset, Z77 (for Ivy Bridge) or Z78 (for Haskell). for SFF, you want either microATX or some form of ITX most likely, depending on HOW small you want.

    for 98% of workloads, the core-I5 give you better bang-for-the-buck, btw

  • John R Pierce wrote:
    No. We’re not going out to buy new monitors, either here (esp. not while the neoConfederate Tea Party wants sequestration), nor at home. Get ports to fit your current monitors, unless you really *need* to replace them… and since the OP mentioned 24″ monitors, which are *expensive*….


  • not any more. cheap 24″ Acer etc TN 1920×1080 LED LCD panels are under
    $150 on sale. in my book, thats insanely cheap. Even the high end U2410 1920×1200 IPS screen is only about $400, and the U2412M 1920×1200
    IPS is $225 or so on sale.