Linux, politics, and other interesting things
I’ve been considering the possibility of using Xen on an ASUS EeePC as a mobile test platform for an Internet service. While the real service uses some heavy hardware it seems that a small laptop could simulate it when running with a small data set (only a few dozen accounts) and everything tuned for small amounts of RAM (small buffers for database servers etc).
According to the wikipedia page about the EeePC  the 70x and 900 versions of the EeePC use a Celeron-M CPU. According to Wikipedia that is based on the Pentium-M (which lacks PAE support and therefore can’t run Xen).
The Fedora Tutorial about the EeePC has a copy of the /proc/cpuinfo data from an EeePC  which shows that the model in question (which is not specified) lacks PAE. Are there any 70x or 90x variants that have PAE? Intel sometimes dramatically varies the features within a range of CPUs…
The 901 version and the 1000 series use an Intel “Atom” CPU. According to discussion on the Gentoo Forums some Atom CPUs have the “lm” flag (64bit) but no “vmx” flag for virtualisation  (which means that they can run Xen paravirtualised but no KVM or hardware virtualisation for Xen), it also has PAE. This is more than adequate.
According to the Wikipedia page the Atom comes in both 32bit and 64bit variants . Hopefully the 901 version and the 1000 series EeePC will have the 64bit version.
The 90x versions have support for up to 4G of RAM but the 1000 series is only listed as supporting 2G, hopefully that will be 4G or more (although I wouldn’t be surprised if Intel had a chipset supporting only 4G of address space and PCI reservations limiting the machine to 3G). But even 3G will be enough for a mobile test/development platform which should make it easier to debug some problems remotely.
The 901 is available in Australia for just under $700. It’s a little more expensive than previous EeePC variants ($500 is a magic number below which things can be purchased with significantly less consideration), but it still might be something that one of my clients will pay for.
The prime aim is to be a mobile sys-admin platform that can be carried anywhere, running a Xen simulation of the target network is an added bonus.
Any suggestions for other laptops that should be considered will be welcome. It needs to be light (1.14Kg for a 901 EeePC is more than I desire), small (a reduced display size is not a problem), and not overly expensive ($700 is more than desired).
Update: JB HiFi is selling the 1000H model . The 1000H has an 80G hard disk and weighs 1.45Kg. The extra 210g and slightly larger size are a down-side, as is the extra ~$50 in price.
A comment was made that OpenVZ could be used. If that avoids the need for PAE then a 702 series would do the job (with some USB flash devices as extras). The 702 is a mere 920g.