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PC In An XP Box 296

Posted by Hemos
from the teh-joy-of-machinery dept.
wolrahnaes writes "There is an article up on mini-itx.com explaining how to fit a fully functional PC based on a VIA M10000 EPIA board in to a Windows XP box. The author even explains how he then fit it in to a Red Hat box and used a sensor to tell the bootloader which OS to run based on which box it is in."
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PC In An XP Box

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  • by ralphb (15998) * on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:46PM (#8709115) Homepage
    ...that one of the most expensive component of the project is the box itself.
    • Re:It's ironic... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JPriest (547211)
      It is also a repost, do the editors not read slashdot?
    • Actually the most expensive component of my desktop is the box itself. So that's not exactly unusual, except that the box in this case is made of cardboard, not steel.
    • Especially if it's going to run Windows XP AND RedHat! Why not just install NetBSD on it? After all, it runs on EVERYTHING! =P
    • No one I know with Windows XP has ever had a Windows XP Box. Maybe because everyone I know that has Windows XP has the corpfiles edition on CDR/CDRW. Actually not everyone, I know someone who brought a hacked SP1 pirate copy back from Asia.

      H'mm I wonder if the popularity of Linux distributions would pickup if MS was to make their hardware activation bulletproof?

      • Actually, my school's laptops came with legit XP Pro SP1, without a box (only a manual, a CD, and a piece of cardboard shrinkwrapped together), and my grandmother's HP didn't even come with a CD for the OS.
  • Now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bishop, Martin (695163) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:47PM (#8709138)
    Now I just have to find an OS/2 box...
  • Welcome (Score:3, Funny)

    by jstrain (648252) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:48PM (#8709140)
    to the wonderful world of people who have too much time on their hands!
  • FINALLY! (Score:5, Funny)

    by PFactor (135319) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:48PM (#8709143) Journal
    A Windows XP box worth the retail price!
  • Monopoly (Score:5, Funny)

    by kettch (40676) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:49PM (#8709156) Homepage
    Microsoft will definitely get into trouble when they start bundling computers with purchases of Windows.
  • deary me (Score:5, Funny)

    by slayer99 (15543) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:49PM (#8709160) Homepage
    "Windows XP Box" By Andy France - Posted on 1 December 2003

    Slashdot: Always first with the news ;)
  • Ok, so we all know that you can get small motherboards and shove them into odd things..

    This *might* have been interesting 2 years ago, but at this point.. so what?

    Anyone can do this if you want to waste the cash and time.
    • by deadgoon42 (309575) * on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:53PM (#8709200) Journal
      The most interesting part of this article was the part where he customized the bootloader to read his sensor and tell which box the system was in. That was pretty innovative if you ask me.
      • I thought that was pretty cool too; the box boots the right OS depending on which box it's in. But as far as I can tell, the sensor just tells whether there is an outer box at all, not what box it is. So someone could easily defeat the system by putting it in a larger Windows box or even a Panther box. It would be cooler if he had put in a UPC or RFID reader that determined what kind of box it was and acted appropriately...

        One question though, what does he do after someone sits on his redhat box or othe
        • by Anonymous Coward
          as far as I can tell, the sensor just tells whether there is an outer box at all, not what box it is.

          Actually, it just determines whether the motherboard is upside down or not. (the mounting orientation for the redhat box is the reverse of the xp box)
    • Anyone can do this if you want to waste the cash and time.

      Funny enough, this can be said about everything in life.
    • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:40PM (#8710319)
      ...is that computers are getting small enough for that goatse guy to do his own personal "case mod" and it's only a matter of time before we have the link.

  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:51PM (#8709177)
    Too bad most Slashdotters who use XP won't actually HAVE an XP box...
    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:08PM (#8709316)
      Too bad most Slashdotters who use XP won't actually HAVE an XP box...

      Well, it's not really too bad, since having a box is a sign you gave Microsoft lots of extra money. While I expect you intended to imply that some slashdot readers pirate Microsoft software, many know that they can legally buy OEM copies of WInXP with some hardware for a lot less than they would pay for a boxed retail copy of XP. In some cases that hardware can cost as low as a buck. And whatever it costs you get the same software, a legal unique ID for it, extra hardware and a lower total cost. So unless you want to display that box as a sign of shame for paying too much for the software, (or get great rebate deals on other products that effectively make the retail box free, as happened when XP first came out) why would anyone buy the retail box?

      • In some cases that hardware can cost as low as a buck.

        Which cases would that be? The license I've seen [microsoft.com] says that a desktop OS (such as XP) must be distributed with either a fully assembled computer system, which "shall consist of at least a central processing unit, a motherboard, a hard drive, a power supply, and a case," or a "nonperipheral computer hardware component (that will be an integral part of the computer system on which the Software Unit will be installed)." I can't see anyone selling either of

        • I have several old computers that meet that specification that I'd probably sell for a buck. But I'm not sure you'd want to pay that much to buy them.

          TW
        • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:19PM (#8710571)
          On the chance that Microsoft might go after someone, I'm certainly not going to name anyone, but you can find this very easily by searching on-line retailers. I just found a second source with a very quick look, and my usual source is currently selling the OEM version of XP Home for $84 and OEM XP Pro for $134. The website says "Must be bought with hardware" and if you look a little more you will see that they spell out that it can be ANY HARDWARE, and they do have some quite inexpensive hardware items (Need an extra patch cable or extension cable?)

          Even if you can't find the OEMs who will sell it with "any hardware", considering that the OEM price of XP home is in the $80 range, if you did have to buy it with a CPU or Hard drive, you could still buy am OEM version with low end hardware for a lot less than you would have to pay for the retail box version of XP home with no hardware (not that Bill is over charging or anything). Given the option, I would take a "free" CPU or hard drive to save some money.

          However, you have pointed out one cookie-cutter license posted by Microsoft. It's well known that they write individual OEM aggrements with many if not most resellers, and the terms of these licenses are generally not made public. Since the terms of private agreements between Microsoft and their OEM are not public, I can not know them and I cartainly cannot be held to terms kept secret from me. So if I buy an OEM product from a Microsoft reseller in good faith, I certainly have every right to use it. And I have to believe that Microsoft is condoning the selling of such products that they supply, even if they hold other vendors to different standards. As you say, The "nonperipheral computer hardware component" is a bit vague, but Microsoft is the one who wrote it and made it vague. You know it's happening (you say as much), and Microsoft knows it's happening. In any case, the end user is in the clear, so paying a lot more for the retail box of XP is a move that only puts more money in the Microsoft war chest.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:08PM (#8709318)
      > Too bad most Slashdotters who use XP won't actually HAVE an XP box...

      That's true for most of the population, since most XP installs are preloads.
    • Uhm. I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about.
    • by zsau (266209)
      I have a legally licensed copy of Windows XP, but don't have a Windows XP box. But then, I don't use it...
    • "Too bad most Slashdotters who use XP won't actually HAVE an XP box..."

      I'm not a pirate, I just gave a hoot!
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

      by niktesla (761443)
      That reminds me of the OEM version of XP that I saw for sell in the Philippines. It was just a bag with the CD's and a "computer" consisting of one little screw.
  • The final step was to take an assembly language MBR boot loader program and modify it to read the state of the tilt switch and make it boot the partition containing Windows XP or the partition containing Linux. To those that don't know the secret of how it works it looks like magic. It boots the right O/S for the box it is in.

    Is it just me, or do these guys have way too much time on their hands? I mean... what in the world do they hope to accomplish besides a (+5, HOLYSHIT) moderation?
    • by brucmack (572780) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:20PM (#8709417)
      Do people who play games have too much time on their hands? Those who like shooting pool? Those who contribute to open source projects?

      It's a hobby. But for some reason when something is seen as too nerdy, people start wondering if they have "too much time on their hands." Implying that it's somehow a lesser thing to do.

      People do this because it's fun, and post it online because people like to look at it. I think it would be wicked to have a computer that booted a different OS if it was turned upside down.

      The accomplishment is enjoyment for the person making it and those who can read about it and share in that process. You aren't one of those people, fine. But don't try to come off as superior to the guy because his hobby is case modding.
    • +5 Insightful? Try "redundant", "flamebait", "overrated", and maybe even "lost, you must be looking for 'My-Hobbies-are-more-worthy-than-yours.org'".

      What in the world do you hope to accomplish with your worthless journal entries?

    • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:57PM (#8709701) Homepage Journal
      "Is it just me, or do these guys have way too much time on their hands? I mean... what in the world do they hope to accomplish besides a (+5, HOLYSHIT) moderation?"

      Is it just me, or do these guys have way too much time on their hands? I mean.. what in the world do they hope to accomplish besidse a (+5, Whoopdedoo_You_Pointed_Out_It_Isn't_A_BFD) moderation?
      • Lol. Tell me about it. In the last few weeks, I have seen the number of "I am I the only one?...", "Is it just me?", etc. posts whose only purpose is to karma whore. What is worse they usually do get modded up to +5. Now, maybe +5 Funny would be fitting, but I wonder how many of the originaly posters would reply back to their own post "Funny? I was serious! I wasn't karma whoring! Honest!".

        Anyhow, when I moderate I keep an eye out for 'cookie cutter' karma whoring posts like these.
    • Is it just me, or do these guys have way too much time on their hands?

      I'll give you a friendly little hint- we're reading Slashdot here- nay even worse we're posting to it. Why would you ever spend time posting to Slashdot except to get a +5 Insightful. ... I'm heading out to the shop.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:51PM (#8709183)
    So, Bob, what did you do this weekend?

    Oh, you know, barbeque with the friends, fucked the wife, usual stuff. You?

    The usual, drank a bunch of jolt, wacked off in the basement to anime and wrote an article about a useless PC mod.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Listen Up (107011)
      Too bad the guys with Jolt, anime, and useless PC mods are the ones powering the next generation. The old way of life is dying slowly and thankfully.

      Without the innovative ideas coming from people such as basement dwelling computer geeks, you wouldn't be typing your moronic post on Slashdot right now.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

        by Cruciform (42896)
        If they keep whacking off in the basement to anime, the next generation isn't going to be around to power anything! :)
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gregmac (629064) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:22PM (#8709436) Homepage
        Too bad the guys with Jolt, anime, and useless PC mods are the ones powering the next generation. The old way of life is dying slowly and thankfully.

        If the 'old way of life' - in this case eating and procreating - is dying off, then it seems to me there won't be a next generation to power..

        Without the innovative ideas coming from people such as basement dwelling computer geeks, you wouldn't be typing your moronic post on Slashdot right now.

        The hardcore geeks - you sound like you'd fit in that camp - aren't the only ones 'innovating' (the merits of putting a PC in a cardboard box are probably discussed in other comments, so I won't comment on that). There are lots of people that build cool and innovative software and hardware, and still lead an active social life, with lots of beer drinking and sex.

        I normally wouldn't reply to such an OT post but you make some stupid comment like that, and I just can't resist.
  • bah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dreadlord (671979) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:52PM (#8709189) Journal
    Yawn, that's nothing, wake me up when they manage to get a working PC with Windows in it.
  • Two Words: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bingo Foo (179380) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:53PM (#8709195)
    "Recycle Bin."

  • by amigoro (761348) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:57PM (#8709232) Homepage Journal
    When the SCO guys come to find you, just show them the box and says it runs XP.

    Moderate this comment
    Negative: Offtopic [mithuro.com] Flamebait [mithuro.com] Troll [mithuro.com] Redundant [mithuro.com]
    Positive: Insightful [mithuro.com] Interesting [mithuro.com] Informative [mithuro.com] Funny [mithuro.com]

  • still no cure for cancer.

    seriously, wouldn't time be better spent on other, more worthwhile projects than building a computer in a box?

    CB
    • Ahh a classic troll... maybe this guy doesn't have education, skills, and interest in curing cancer. Maybe he does, OTOH, have what it takes to pull off an amusing "case mod". Sheesh... lighten up already... it's pretty funny, and that made it worth *my* time. :)
    • seriously, wouldn't time be better spent on other, more worthwhile projects than building a computer in a box?

      You mean something like skipping class in college & playing Smash TV, like this guy did?

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=101891&cid=86 8 7052 [slashdot.org]

      I'm sure this guy will go back to curing cancer after he gets all the drivers installed.

      It's a joke, relax. :)
    • by Dirtside (91468) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:46PM (#8709617) Journal
      seriously, wouldn't time be better spent on other, more worthwhile projects than building a computer in a box?
      ...said the guy posting on Slashdot.
    • by Lxy (80823) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:54PM (#8710064) Journal
      wouldn't time be better spent on other, more worthwhile projects than building a computer in a box?

      I don't know how to cure cancer. Not a clue. I'm not even sure how to help raise money. Cancer is bad, I don't have a clue how to help. I don't know how to cure AIDS either, so don't ask. Hell, I don't know how to cure ham.

      I DO know how to shove little boards into little boxes and install linux on them. If you'll excuse me, I'll do that instead.
    • the home computer was built by a couple of guys wasting time in their garage.
  • by MythMoth (73648) on Monday March 29, 2004 @07:59PM (#8709251) Homepage
    I thought that project was kind of dull when I first saw it. It's not improved with time. On the other hand, I really like the look of the new Nanode PC from Mini-ITX (same site), designed by Hoojum.

    Take a look at this picture [mini-itx.com] and the cat. Now look at your desktop PC and imagine a cat standing next to it. The nanode really is that small.

    I want one.

    The site with the rest of the info is here [mini-itx.com].

    D.
  • Why not use the actual box [google.com] from the motherboard? They look attractive enough to me. If I had enough spare time, I might setup one myself.
  • A PC inside another PC, as in a recursive PC.. box inside a box. Guess I must not have ever actually seen a a Windows XP cardboard box ;)

  • FedEx box (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:05PM (#8709291) Homepage
    This is a more refined version of what I did recently, mounting a standard ATX motherboard (with integrated video), a sideways-mounted ethernet card, a 1U power supply, and a 20GB hard drive in a FedEx box, with a power and reset switch and an HD LED on one side. I had room in the box for a stock CD drive, but didn't bother, since I rarely use removable media. I did leave an unused IDE cable and power lead available near the opening in the end of the box, just in case (since the IDE connectors on the motherboard are inaccessible).

    One substantial difference is that I used only the cardboard box itself as a mounting infrastructure; I didn't build a little case and then wrap the Windows or Linux box around it, like this does.

  • *yawn* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lane.exe (672783) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:05PM (#8709292) Homepage
    When he packs a Mac into an apple, let me know.

    • Does an iPod count?
    • This could be potentially trivial if you had an iBook to sacrifice. The more modern iBooks (ie not clamshell), are 11.2" x 9.1" x 1.35". I just eyeballed a boxed copy of OS X up against a piece of paper as ~10" x 8" x 1.5". Now I haven't had a chance to look at the guts of an iBook, but if they are anything like the guys of a TiBook, the only difficulty would be the height. If you ripped out the mobo and rearranged the optical drive and hard drive, you could get the 9.1" down to probably 6" or 7" easily. If
  • Someone puts a mb in a capt. crunch box and it starts whistling? Really, this is like the time back in high school when one of the non-techies discovered he could set up his computer so that the cpu could be seen outside the box. The big answer was: so what? It's just a stupid little square. Same here. What's next? Putting it in a carboard cut out of britney spears?
  • by Ian Peon (232360) <ian&epperson,com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:11PM (#8709342)
    Text, sans really cool pics. When he writes "Windows XP Box" he means the cardboard box that Windows XP comes in.

    Introduction

    I needed a small Windows XP machine and a Mini-ITX board was the obvious choice. So I decided to build my "Windows XP Box" in a Windows XP box. The external dimensions of the box are a tiny 243mm x 200mm x 48mm.

    My requirements were:

    * Use as powerful a motherboard as possible for the size i.e. a Nehemiah EPIA M10000.
    * It must have an internal CD drive (this size eating requirement turned out be be very hard to meet).
    * No bits could be cut off the motherboard to make it fit.
    * The box must not bulge in an unsightly way, nor can the box be made bigger.
    * It must not burst into flames when working hard (this should always be a requirement of a computer project).

    Fortunately there is no longer any requirement for an internal floppy drive. That would have have defeated me.

    Construction

    The bits arrive and it looks like an impossible task, with too many bits to fit in a small space.

    I nearly gave up and decided it was an impossible task. The Windows XP box was 3mm thinner and 12 mm narrower than the Adobe Acrobat box I had measured up when first deciding if the project was going to be possible. The challenge was to arrange the components into a 3D jigsaw, then decide how to build enough of an internal support case to get everything to stay in place.

    Eventually it looked like I might have a possible layout, but the tolerances were tight. I had 6mm to spare on the long internal dimension of the box and only 3mm to spare on the thickness of the box, and this was not allowing for any thickness for the internal support case that holds everything in place.

    In order to mount all the bits I was going to have to make an inner support case that would tightly slide into the cardboard box. I chose Wonderboard plastic as my construction material because it is reasonably strong and very easy to work with (it cuts with a Stanley knife). It would have been nice to use aluminium, but the cramped design made the chances of a short circuit too great.

    The first construction step was to cut out a base plate the exact size of the inside of the cardboard box and double check where the bits will fit.

    As the Wonderboard was 3mm thick this reduced my tolerance in two dimensions to zero. The CD drive would touch one side of the inner support case. The deep part of the CD drive would touch the heat sink on the motherboard, with the narrow bit being able to overlap it, and the far side of the motherboard touches the other side of the Wonderboard case. In the other dimension it was even harder. The top of the sound connector would touch the support case, and the underside of the motherboard would touch the cardboard box. Fortunately the hard drive can slide under the motherboard as this is above (below?) the unused PCI slot. The only place left for the PSU was above the hard drive with the bulky connectors facing down towards the CD both to the front and the back of the hard drive.

    Now I could position the CD drive hard against the side and start assembling the support case. In the next picture you can see the step up between the thin part of the CD drive and the thicker part of the main body of the drive. The heat sink on the Mini-ITX board touches this step.

    After much cutting and half a tube of glue the case was finished. I built pillars to support three corners of the motherboard and the power supply and added brackets to support the CD and the hard drive. In such a compact design cooling was a concern so I made fan mounting points in opposite corners of the case. To keep the CPU nice and cool I cut a hole for it it the side of the case and glued in a couple of plates to act as ducting so the CPU fan will only suck in cold outside air. The other two fans are the exhaust points. The fan guards were cut out of a metal speaker grill using an angle grinder as neatly drilling t
  • by Joey Patterson (547891) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:13PM (#8709356)
    Use a box [funkyfresh.com] to build yourself a new box [slashdot.org] so you can run Box [sf.net] inside of Bochs [sf.net] on your box!
  • by One Louder (595430) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:42PM (#8709586)
    If you put in a box labeled "Duke Nukem Forever" it travels to the distant future and surprises some eloi and morlocks.
  • A small fanless (or just very quiet) box with 256MB RAM, and two network ports that would take no more than 40-50W of power (this is critical as I want it to be running 24x7). Processor doesn't matter, but it has to be PC compatible. I want this all in a small package (Micro ATX or smaller) with power supply and 20GB hard drive built in for $300. Oh, and it has to be Linux and FreeBSD compatible, too. I don't care if it can't run Windows.

    Wake me up when they deliver something like this.
  • but can he fit it into this distro's [lesbian.mine.nu] box?
  • by wing03 (654457) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:06PM (#8709750)
    Goes right back to that thread about hot rods and PCs.

    Some are interested purely in performance.

    Of those, there are the straight line speed freaks, tight cornering freaks, altogethering racing freaks...etc.

    Some are interested only the aesthetics of the car. Neon, bouncing and turning the trunk into a giant subwoofer.

    Off in another corner, you've got those who are cooking food ontop of their engines, putting real aviation wings (to fly), turning the car into an amphibious vehicle, sitcking incredibly weird looking chasis on a vehicle frame.

    With someone sticking a computer inside a software box, it certainly looks like computers have made it to the same level that automobiles have in the minds of people.

  • why not just silkscreen the desired artwork onto a blank cabinet?

    Actually, that would be a neat little business - putting artwork on computer cases. Maybe Cafe Press could add it to their product line. [cafepress.com]

  • From page 4 of the article: The problem now was that I ran the risk of accidentally booting Linux from the "Windows XP Box" or even worse, booting Windows from the "Linux Box". That would not be good. It needed to be fool proof.

    He should have it set up so that it boots XP when the guts are in the Linux box, and boots Linux when it's in the XP box. That way he can wave his hand at the computer and say "That's my XP box that runs Linux", or "That's XP running in my Linux box" and confuse any local annoyi
  • So good... (Score:3, Funny)

    by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Tuesday March 30, 2004 @02:03AM (#8711493) Homepage Journal
    I like how the web designer changed the title from:
    windows xp box
    to:
    windows xp box.. so good they slashdotted it twice...

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