$99 Mini ITX System

I posted this in the “Green Guys” Forum the other day and after messing with these little boxes quite a bit and converting my SOHO setup to this ITX system, I am so impressed that I thought you guys might want to check it out. I bought several for the purposes of easy beta testing “stuff”, easy swaps from TB, FBX, PIAF and etc. I will move my firewall over to one soon as well and rid myself of unsightly power hungry big boxes.


This is, I hope, not SPAM. I have nothing to do with Andover Network Liquidators, but thought this a good deal.

Andover Network Liquidators has hundreds of Mini ITX systems for $99 each which includes shipping. Older Intel 1.8 GHz M processor, gig of Ram, no hard drive, nice case, two NICs, one 10/100/1000 the other 10/100. Of course they boot in wrong order (for me), but no problems in changing ones’ ifcfg-ethX files.

Worked/works very well and had no problems at all in either. Will accept a 3.5 inch HDD or 2.5 inch HDD. These things have all been in like new condition! Not a spec of dust on a fan blade. One had a scratch on the face, but oh well!

Here is the info…


Buy them on eBay.


First of all, on the one hand I appreciate you posting this. On the other hand, I wish you’d given a few more details. I also wanted to comment on one thing you said:

“but no problems in changing ones’ ifcfg-ethX files” … actually that could be a fairly significant issue for those who know little about Linux, and just install one of these distributions from an ISO and go… so if you need to actually know how to do things like that to make this box work, it may not be a good choice for some of us.

Not all FreePBX users are Linux geeks, some of us came from the Windows world. Even after two years of playing with this stuff I’d have absolutely no idea how to change “ifcfg-ethX files”, or even where those files are located. I’ve never had to know that to get any FreePBX-based distribution to work. So it would probably be a good idea not to assume prior knowledge, and maybe to point us to a how-to if this is something essential to getting these working.

You also didn’t say anything about how easy or difficult it is to connect a hard drive to this unit. The eBay link says, “2GB CompactFlash Installed. One can adapt this to use a 2.5” hard drive." I assume they mean an internal 2.5" drive, but is that an easy plug-in or do you have to do any hardware or software hacking to make that work? Obviously the 2GB of compact flash would not be nearly large enough for even a small FreePBX installation.

With no optical drive, there is the question of how you get your distribution of choice onto the box in the first place - not everyone has an external optical drive just lying around. Can you copy the ISO to the CompactFlash and boot from that, or what?

The other thing you sort of implied but did not actually state - do these offer any significant reduction in power usage over a typical desktop box? (Unless by “Green Guys” you were referring to another distribution that no longer uses true FreePBX).


I suppose this type of “deal” is not for the IP PBX newbie and is not for the person who has never built a PC or two in his life. This was posted and meant to be a “public service” for those that could use such a thing and for those that know how to build a PC and wanted a nice board and chassis and with no modifications, other than maybe a couple of screws, a hard drive (thought that would be a no brainer somehow) and maybe a cable or two, make themselves a nice compact, good looking, quiet TrixBox, FreePBX, PBX in a Flash or Elastix box!

By Googling the type of ITX board/computer that it is, many other answers to your questions would be answered.

I simply felt that the price was too marvelous for what you get! I did not know that I should do an in depth “how to” or review.

That being said, I feel as if I have been chastised and I will certainly be more cautious and more informative should I ever post anything again.


PS Green Guys was in reference to the TrixBox group.

It was not my intent to “chastise” you, and there certainly might have been readers who would appreciate this information. All I’m saying is you need to remember that there are people who use FreePBX that have all levels of experience. Some are certified Linux geeks, while others are basically people with a Windows (or Mac) background who break into a sweat whenever they need to mess with Linux configuration files. And some have never built any hardware in their life, while others could assemble a system in their sleep.

The thing I did not understand was how close this thing was to a complete, working system. In other words, I pretty much figured out that if you bought one of these you could not just pop in a CD and be “up and running in half an hour”, if only because there was no CD or DVD drive, but I’m not sure that would be obvious to everyone. What I was trying to figure out was just how much additional effort would be needed.

What I think many of us are waiting for is a small, self-contained, low-power system - or, to put it another way, a “Mac Mini” but without the “Apple tax” - something small, quiet, low-powered, but still a fully-functional computer. When I first saw your post I thought maybe you had something like that (although the low price was my first tipoff that it probably needed some additional parts) but the more I read and followed your links, I realized this might not be what I had first thought, and just wanted some clarification (particularly since you were so enthusiastic about this thing in your original post). In the future, you may want to state at the outset that it’s not a “plug and go” system and that both additional hardware and some knowledge of Linux will be required to make it work.

Since you didn’t directly answer my questions, I’m still not sure if a hard drive can be installed internally or if you can just plug in an external hard drive and go, and I still don’t know how you’re getting the distributions installed on the system. If you’re telling me that if I don’t know that already then I shouldn’t buy one, that’s fine - but at least you should let people know that it’s only for experienced hardware builders, so the rest of us aren’t left with the impression that it’s something similar to a regular desktop computer, but in a much smaller case. That’s not “chastisement”, just some advice so folks don’t misunderstand what they’re getting for their $99.

As for “green guys”, if you’d said “lime green guys” I would have immediately understood who you were talking about! :slight_smile:

First, I am enthusiastic about this little box! First and foremost because the price is right and secondly it is small and pretty quiet. I would also bet that anyone who has ever built a PC or two could have this done in an hour or so.

What you will need:

1). A hard disk drive, either a 3.5 inch or a 2.5 inch. (I chose a 2.5 inch because I wanted to reduce my power usage).
A). If using a 2.5 inch laptop type hard drive, you will need to purchase a laptop to laptop type IDE ribbon cable.
B). If using a 3.5 inch hard drive, the cable is there already. Just unplug it, which you will have to do in any event, from the Compact Flash memory drive as that is not needed and will not be used ever again.

2). Get an old internal CD ROM drive, or a new one but you can’t install it, and another standard IDE ribbon cable.

3). Mount your hard drive, either 2.5 or 3.5 inch in the big empty space and on the plate that easily unscrews on the box’s left side, (your right as you face the front as I recall). Yes, the drive is internal.
A). If using a 3.5 inch drive, again unplug the far end of the IDE cable from the Compact Flash drive and plug it into the 3.5 inch hard drive.
B). Plug one of the hard drive power plugs into the 3.5 inch drive.
C). If using a 2.5 inch hard drive, remove the IDE cable that goes to the Compact Flash drive. Plug in your new laptop to laptop IDE ribbon cable to the 2.5 inch hard drive and of course back into the smaller IDE port on the motherboard from which the original cable was unplugged. Power is supplied in this 2.5 inch cable.

4). With a regular IDE ribbon cable, plug one end into your CDROM drive and make sure that this CD ROM drive has its jumper set to Master. Plug the other end into the regular sized IDE plug on the motherboard.
A). Remember: The smaller IDE socket on the motherboard is IDE0 the bigger one is IDE1. Some people might refer to them as IDE1 and IDE2.
B) Plug another power plug into the CDROM drive. You will have to set the CDROM drive on top of the open box as the power leads coming form the power supply are fairly short.

5). If you are adding an FXO or FXS card or some other PCI card, unplug the existing PCI card (which is a PCMCIA adapter board) from the PCI slot. Plug your card in and secure it with the screw. If you want or need more than 2 PCI cards, you will have to purchase a 2 card PCI riser. Google is my friend.

6). Plug the power supply, an external brick type, into the wall and the 12 volt plug into the 12 volt power receptacle on the case. It will power right up.

7). Put your favorite distro in the CDROM drive and the CDROM should boot. IF NOT, reboot press the DEL key and go into the BIOS and find where to set the CDROM to be the first boot device.
A). Boot the CD and install your distro.

8)… setup your distro of choice.
A). Figure out which NIC is your Ethernet port as you only need to configure/use one for most installations and you can do this by trial and error. First by plugging your Ethernet cable into one of the jacks and pinging your assigned IP then do the other. If you don’t know how to use ping, Google it.
B). IF using DHCP, eth0 will fail during bootup IF you have your network cable plugged into the wrong NIC port. Try again with it in the other port.

9). Power down.

10). Remove the CDROM drive and unplug the IDE cable.

11). Put the lid back on the case. Woops step one, should be: remove the case lid.
A). Go back to step 8 to finish your setup.

Here’s another link I found on this exact board and case. (Google is my friend).

http://jdc.penguinness.org/ Just scroll down.

Lastly, WiseOldOwl, many things can be inferred through one’s writing and the method of delivery and syntax can convene many things to the reader. By stating, 'I also wanted to comment on one thing you said:", then going into multiple items, convenes or at least convened to me, “hey, I am a bit perturbed by all of this because you didn’t explain this or that to me”.

Chastise: 1).to inflict punishment 2). to censure severely, 3). archaic.

Being a first time poster and being overwhelmed by this absolutely made me feel chastised! Generally if I do not understand something in someone’s post and I am interested or confused, I would ask a simple question or two in that thread, and would not write a “how to” on posting to the lowest common denominator on the forum. I believe that if you’re into FreePBX, you gotta have some smarts!

And yes, this may not be a project for everyone. I am not selling them and I do not care if you or anyone else buys them. I was, again, simply trying to pass on what I thought was some worthy information that ‘someone’ could use.

I also feel that Google is my friend and most users, if interested and with a bit of research, could make a determination on their own as to whether such a project was within their capabilities.