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Old 29th June 2008
twisted_steel twisted_steel is offline
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Default Mini-ITX motherboard suggestions

I am looking at building two Mini-ITX systems, both with different requirements. I'd like to get the same hardware for both to make 'support' easier - one will be replacing an older Pentium 4 Prescott Shuttle in my parents' house. I'm looking specifically at Mini-ITX because I would like a box with low power usage that is as quiet as possible, as at least one will be in a living room. Note that the two boxes will not be located in the same place and will not (as yet) be talking to each other, so I'm not looking to combine them into one system.

On to the requirements ...

Box #1:
  1. SSH Server for remote access.
  2. XM PCR control software to tune the XM PCR over USB. This has little overhead, so it probably isn't that much of an issue.
  3. IceCast (or similar) streaming from line-in to send the audio to other computers in the house. This is the most processor-intensive task that has me worried about picking a good processor.
  4. Apache to act as a remote interface for controlling XM and accessing the IceCast streams.
  5. SAMBA file sharing to use as a small backup server for Windows machines.

Box #2:
  1. SSH Server for remote access.
  2. VPN using OpenVPN or the new features of OpenSSH. This would have at most 1 simultaneous user.
  3. irssi+screen
  4. Small backup server using either SAMBA or scp/sftp.
  5. General messing around - I am awaiting a used copy of Absolute OpenBSD.

The SSH and VPN requirements have me thinking that it might be worth getting a board with PadLock hardware-accelerated encryption. I will be picking up 1GB of memory for each system since it is so cheap. Storage will probably be a hard drive at this point - it looks like some of the Western Digital Scorpio drives are quiet. The servers will either be on 24/7 or be on during the daytime and shut down at night, then brought up again in the morning with Wake-on-LAN. I haven't decided that part yet.

Does anyone have any motherboard suggestions that will meet my requirements? Thanks

Last edited by twisted_steel; 29th June 2008 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 29th June 2008
J65nko J65nko is offline
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Some suggestions can be found at http://daemonforums.org/showthread.php?t=325
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Old 29th June 2008
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If you wanted a Jetway/Newegg solution, you could have for box #1-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107019

and for box #2-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107016

Neither come with memory or hard drive, but are pretty cheap nonetheless.

I can't speak to their OBSD compatibility as I haven't used the hardware personally.
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Old 30th June 2008
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New (May/June) kid on the bloc

Intel with Atom processor
http://www.intel.com/products/mother...GCLF/index.htm
Available at usual mini-itx shops in Germany and the Netherlands for 75/79 Euro
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Old 30th June 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ai-danno View Post
If you wanted a Jetway/Newegg solution, you could have for box #1-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107019

and for box #2-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107016

Neither come with memory or hard drive, but are pretty cheap nonetheless.

I can't speak to their OBSD compatibility as I haven't used the hardware personally.
Newegg doesn't do international shipping.

Remember, on a forum with users from all over the globe.. don't post links to stores only available in the US.

Last edited by BSDfan666; 30th June 2008 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 30th June 2008
twisted_steel twisted_steel is offline
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J65nko View Post
Some suggestions can be found at http://daemonforums.org/showthread.php?t=325
I looked at this thread earlier and really like the low-power draw of the Soekris and Alix boards, but they don't come with any onboard sound which is a problem for Box #1. I think I did see a Mini-ITX board on there, so I'll have to go back and investigate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ai-danno View Post
If you wanted a Jetway/Newegg solution, you could have for box #1-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107019

and for box #2-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856107016

Neither come with memory or hard drive, but are pretty cheap nonetheless.

I can't speak to their OBSD compatibility as I haven't used the hardware personally.
The inclusion of the case is attractive, as is the price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lvlamb View Post
New (May/June) kid on the bloc

Intel with Atom processor
http://www.intel.com/products/mother...GCLF/index.htm
Available at usual mini-itx shops in Germany and the Netherlands for 75/79 Euro
I saw a few mentions of this new board and from what I gather the North bridge uses up a lot more power than it people feel it should. It's hard to tell if that's just people being picky or if it's a real issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDfan666 View Post
Newegg doesn't do international shipping.

Remember, on a forum with users from all over the globe.. don't post links to stores only available in the US.
I'm in the US at least, but I understand where you're coming from. I can at least search for part numbers at a few places

I came across a Pico-ITX motherboard and case combo today that retails for $300 USD. It is the VIA ARTiGO and includes the VIA EPIA PX10000G motherboard It's a little pricey, but power draw is minimal - one review of the motherboard noted 14W idle and 16W at full load.

I think it's going to take me a while to go through all of this. Keep the suggestions coming
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Old 12th July 2008
twisted_steel twisted_steel is offline
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I think I've settled on my parts list. I'm going to build Box #2 first and if all goes well, I will use the same hardware for Box #1.

Motherboard: VIA EPIA LN10000EG (1GHz fanless)
Memory: 1 GB DDR2 667 MHz
Hard Drive: 160GB 2.5" SATA laptop drive
Optical Drive: Sony NEC Optiarc Slim 8x DVD Burner *
Case: Morex 3688B - Black 60W or 80W **

* I think the install will be easier if I just buy a drive and use that. Plus, as the burner was about the same price as a reader, I should be able to also burn backups to DVD right from there. However, if it's easy enough to do a network install and upgrade, omitting this part would save me about $45 USD.

** I haven't decided whether I need a 60W or 80W power supply yet, but I may just get the 80W to be on the safe side. I did see that someone has a parts list for a similar server where they used a 80W power supply. However, their system does have a desktop drive. Link to their setup: click. I settled on this case from a price perspective and I haven't seen anything suggesting that the fan is loud.
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Old 12th July 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Hello,

I would suggest http://www.mini-itx.com and/or http://www.mini-box.com, which I think both do international shipping.

I would also suggest that if you are not in an immediate hurry to hold off for a couple of months. By the end of the year the new mini-itx 2.0 motherboards are supposed to hit the stores. Among other updates they are supposed to include the ability to have up to a minimum of 2GB of RAM. See more on this standard from VIA.

As far as motherboards for mini-itx, VIA and Jetway seem to be the two big manufacturers and VIA is the dominant CPU manufacturer. Gigabyte has released two mini-itx boards, but they are a little hard to try and find. Also, AMD has their Geode line that is meant for mini-itx applications - but VIA is much more advanced than anyone in this application. If you want the native encryption, VIA is the only one currently including that with the CPU.

You can easily do a network install - or probably even easier, an install from USB media. If you go with an optical drive, I would say go with the 80W power supply just to be safe, even though the 60W should be enough. You might also want to consider the Pico-PSU.

Morex is a good case manufacturer for mini-itx cases. The 3688 is nice, but if you going with the fanless CPU, why not a fanless case? I myself like the T-3300 and the T-3310.

I don't know what your storage requirements are, but if they are too high, you might consider using CF as a storage medium. We have a thread on that subject here - CF as a *BSD hard drive?. We also have a thread on small systems here - Soekris experiences.
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Old 13th July 2008
twisted_steel twisted_steel is offline
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Thanks JMJ_coder. I completely missed the T-3300 and T-3310 in the list of cases. According to the Logic Supply site, the LN motherboard will fit in the T-3300 but not the T-3310. I guess it may have something to do with the size of the heatsink. Like you said, it definitely makes sense to go with a fanless case if I have a fanless motherboard. As all of the cases I've been looking at come with power supplies, I may stick with them for the moment, though the Pico looks very nice.

I have been leaning towards the hard drive rather than a CF for space more than anything. I'll have to think about this some more. The CF would use less power and would probably be cheaper than the HDD, but it does have limited storage space.

The USB install sounds promising. I have a 1 GB stick lying around here somewhere. I'll have to look around and see what this involves. I did see that the above cases do not have room for CD/DVD-ROM drives, but I think as long as I can do another type of install, it should be fine. I would only really need the CD/DVD drive once during the install - I can always back up my data from the network and burn it on one of my other computers.

As far as the timeline for ordering my system, I'd like to get it done pretty soon rather than wait for the new lineup. Then again I guess there's always something better coming out, so I might as well bite the bullet and just get my system now
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Old 13th July 2008
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by twisted_steel View Post
I have been leaning towards the hard drive rather than a CF for space more than anything. I'll have to think about this some more. The CF would use less power and would probably be cheaper than the HDD, but it does have limited storage space.
Well, not necessarily. While it has its benefits, being inexpensive is not one of them. I bought a 2GB CF card (SanDisk Ultra II) on sale for $20 and a Syba IDE adapter from newegg for $12 - that's $32 for 2GB. This will be to test this technology in my old 486 system. If you want to go with SATA (which I think I'll do in my mini-itx system), Addonics just came out with a nice new card for $80 plus I'll get two 8GB cards (SanDisk Extreme III) currently selling for $92 each, which I'll run in RAID1 (the card does this - RAID0, RAID1 or Concatanate). That's about $264 for 8GB - not for those looking for a cheap solution. Even a SSD will be cheaper and more storage. I'm just very interested in this technologies potential (theoretically, you could carry around your computer in your wallet - with the right setup).

This technology will be (as opposed to a traditional hard drive) - absolutely quiet, extremely portable, low-power, quicker seek times.


Quote:
Originally Posted by twisted_steel View Post
The USB install sounds promising. I have a 1 GB stick lying around here somewhere. I'll have to look around and see what this involves. I did see that the above cases do not have room for CD/DVD-ROM drives, but I think as long as I can do another type of install, it should be fine. I would only really need the CD/DVD drive once during the install - I can always back up my data from the network and burn it on one of my other computers.
Another potential is to use an external CD/DVD and connect via usb - then only plug it in when you need to.


Quote:
Originally Posted by twisted_steel View Post
As far as the timeline for ordering my system, I'd like to get it done pretty soon rather than wait for the new lineup. Then again I guess there's always something better coming out, so I might as well bite the bullet and just get my system now
I would normally agree, but this is a _major_ update to a whole new standard. And, for me at least, waiting the extra time for the 2GB of RAM (a big and much needed improvement in my mind) is worth the wait (besides, I have to wait a month or two until I get my money ).


Good luck.
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Old 14th July 2008
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After much research on this, I've found something quite interesting-

http://herologic.com/oscommerce/cata...products_id=58

$319 (presumably a pre-shipping price.)

It seems one of the founders of this company actually used to work for Soekris.
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Old 14th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ai-danno View Post
$319...
Slightly off topic given that the OP is wanting to look for desktop alternatives, but for a dedicated-purpose system, Alix2C3 motherboards are running ~$137US & with very simple cases running less than ~$20US. Given that these motherboards have three network interfaces, a redundant CARP fail-over configuration between two systems could be realized for roughly $400US.

http://www.mini-box.com/Alix-2B-Boar...8&category=754

For followers of misc@ & undeadly, Alix boards hail from PC Engines in Switzerland, & has gotten quite a bit of attention from Marc Balmer. This may be a worthy (& cheaper...) contender to Soekris.

FWIW.

Last edited by ocicat; 14th July 2008 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 14th July 2008
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The ALIX, Soekris, and similar boards are extremely tempting, but I think they are outside of my requirements. I may revisit them down the road once I get a house and make a proper network. It looks like they would work very well as firewalls/routers/vpn, but would need another server on the network for file storage, etc. I don't have any other servers here at the moment - just a laptop and desktop.
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Old 14th July 2008
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ocicat View Post
Slightly off topic given that the OP is wanting to look for desktop alternatives, but for a dedicated-purpose system, Alix2C3 motherboards are running ~$137US & with very simple cases running less than ~$20US. Given that these motherboards have three network interfaces, a redundant CARP fail-over configuration between two systems could be realized for roughly $400US.

http://www.mini-box.com/Alix-2B-Boar...8&category=754

For followers of misc@ & undeadly, Alix boards hail from PC Engines in Switzerland, & has gotten quite a bit of attention from Marc Balmer. This may be a worthy (& cheaper...) contender to Soekris.

FWIW.
OOOOOOOOO!!! That looks very nice for a firewall box - and comparitavely cheap, considering what it comes with.
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Old 14th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
OOOOOOOOO!!! That looks very nice for a firewall box - and comparitavely cheap, considering what it comes with.
Time to save up some more money
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Old 15th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ocicat View Post
Slightly off topic given that the OP is wanting to look for desktop alternatives, but for a dedicated-purpose system, Alix2C3 motherboards are running ~$137US & with very simple cases running less than ~$20US. Given that these motherboards have three network interfaces, a redundant CARP fail-over configuration between two systems could be realized for roughly $400US.

http://www.mini-box.com/Alix-2B-Boar...8&category=754

FWIW.
I think that beats what I found.
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Old 15th July 2008
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The price for an Alix is unbeatable.
If you want to get more performance and less power consumption than an Intel Atom you should take a look at the new AMD Athlon 64 2000+ which beats the Atom (compared it to Alix|Geode LX there's only better performance ). With the Athlon 64 2000+ you can use every AM2 or AM2+ Board incl. the MiniITX Variations.
If Alix does the job you need it for it's very cheap but if you need more power search for the new AMD.

Unfortunately I can't find a report about this CPU in English only one in German. Google seems to be unresponsive...

Last edited by tuck; 15th July 2008 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 19th July 2008
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I have this mobo as my firewall / webserver at the house..
I know this board is more available in Europe..everywhere in the US it is
out of stock..

It is same chipset CN 700 as listed in the NewEgg links give earlier..
but if a new one is coming out.. I would wait..

rk
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Old 19th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roundkat View Post
I have this mobo as my firewall / webserver at the house..
I know this board is more available in Europe..everywhere in the US it is
out of stock..
If anyone is looking for more information on that board, I found this thread on Ars a few months ago when I was looking for possibilities: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/...m/525009880931
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Old 19th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twisted_steel View Post
If anyone is looking for more information on that board, I found this thread on Ars a few months ago when I was looking for possibilities: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/...m/525009880931
Here is the dmesg for the board.
Quote:
OpenBSD 4.2-stable (GENERIC) #3: Fri May 9 09:39:42 CDT 2008
root@<domain-remove>.com:/usr/src/sys/arch/i386/compile/GENERIC
cpu0: VIA Esther processor 1500MHz ("CentaurHauls" 686-class) 1.50 GHz
cpu0: FPU,V86,DE,PSE,TSC,MSR,PAE,MCE,CX8,APIC,SEP,MTRR,P GE,CMOV,PAT,CFLUSH,ACPI,MMX,FXSR,SSE,SSE2,TM,SBF,S SE3
cpu0: RNG AES AES-CTR SHA1 SHA256 RSA
real mem = 1055420416 (1006MB)
avail mem = 1012871168 (965MB)
mainbus0 at root
bios0 at mainbus0: AT/286+ BIOS, date 09/26/06, BIOS32 rev. 0 @ 0xf9ee0, SMBIOS rev. 2.3 @ 0xf0000 (33 entries)
bios0: vendor Phoenix Technologies, LTD version "6.00 PG" date 09/26/2006
bios0: IDOT ID-PCM7E PC2500
apm0 at bios0: Power Management spec V1.2
apm0: AC on, battery charge unknown
apm0: flags 70102 dobusy 1 doidle 1
pcibios0 at bios0: rev 2.1 @ 0xf0000/0xd1a4
pcibios0: PCI IRQ Routing Table rev 1.0 @ 0xfd110/144 (7 entries)
pcibios0: bad IRQ table checksum
pcibios0: PCI BIOS has 7 Interrupt Routing table entries
pcibios0: PCI Exclusive IRQs: 5 10 11
pcibios0: PCI Interrupt Router at 000:17:0 ("VIA VT8237 ISA" rev 0x00)
pcibios0: PCI bus #1 is the last bus
bios0: ROM list: 0xc0000/0xfe00 0xd0000/0x8000! 0xd8000/0x2600 0xdb000/0x1000
cpu0 at mainbus0
pci0 at mainbus0 bus 0: configuration mode 1 (no bios)
pchb0 at pci0 dev 0 function 0 "VIA CN700 Host" rev 0x00
pchb1 at pci0 dev 0 function 1 "VIA CN700 Host" rev 0x00
pchb2 at pci0 dev 0 function 2 "VIA CN700 Host" rev 0x00
pchb3 at pci0 dev 0 function 3 "VIA PT890 Host" rev 0x00
pchb4 at pci0 dev 0 function 4 "VIA CN700 Host" rev 0x00
pchb5 at pci0 dev 0 function 7 "VIA CN700 Host" rev 0x00
ppb0 at pci0 dev 1 function 0 "VIA VT8377 AGP" rev 0x00
pci1 at ppb0 bus 1
vga1 at pci1 dev 0 function 0 "VIA S3 Unichrome PRO IGP" rev 0x01: aperture at 0xf4000000, size 0x10000000
wsdisplay0 at vga1 mux 1: console (80x25, vt100 emulation)
wsdisplay0: screen 1-5 added (80x25, vt100 emulation)
ami0 at pci0 dev 8 function 0 "Symbios Logic MegaRAID" rev 0x01: irq 10
ami0: LSI 523, 32b, FW 713S, BIOS vG121, 64MB RAM
ami0: 1 channels, 0 FC loops, 1 logical drives
scsibus0 at ami0: 40 targets
sd0 at scsibus0 targ 0 lun 0: <AMI, Host drive #00, > SCSI2 0/direct fixed
sd0: 238470MB, 30400 cyl, 255 head, 63 sec, 512 bytes/sec, 488386560 sec total
scsibus1 at ami0: 16 targets
em0 at pci0 dev 9 function 0 "Intel PRO/1000GT (82541GI)" rev 0x05: irq 11, address 00:0e:0c:c6:58:50
pciide0 at pci0 dev 15 function 0 "VIA VT6420 SATA" rev 0x80: DMA
pciide0: using irq 11 for native-PCI interrupt
pciide1 at pci0 dev 15 function 1 "VIA VT82C571 IDE" rev 0x06: ATA133, channel 0 configured to compatibility, channel 1 configured to compatibility
pciide1: channel 0 disabled (no drives)
pciide1: channel 1 disabled (no drives)
uhci0 at pci0 dev 16 function 0 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 10
uhci1 at pci0 dev 16 function 1 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 10
uhci2 at pci0 dev 16 function 2 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 11
uhci3 at pci0 dev 16 function 3 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 11
ehci0 at pci0 dev 16 function 4 "VIA VT6202 USB" rev 0x86: irq 5
usb0 at ehci0: USB revision 2.0
uhub0 at usb0: VIA EHCI root hub, rev 2.00/1.00, addr 1
viapm0 at pci0 dev 17 function 0 "VIA VT8237 ISA" rev 0x00
iic0 at viapm0
vr0 at pci0 dev 18 function 0 "VIA RhineII-2" rev 0x78: irq 10, address 00:1b:b9:6c:d7:45
ukphy0 at vr0 phy 1: Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface, rev. 10: OUI 0x004063, model 0x0032
usb1 at uhci0: USB revision 1.0
uhub1 at usb1: VIA UHCI root hub, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
usb2 at uhci1: USB revision 1.0
uhub2 at usb2: VIA UHCI root hub, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
usb3 at uhci2: USB revision 1.0
uhub3 at usb3: VIA UHCI root hub, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
usb4 at uhci3: USB revision 1.0
uhub4 at usb4: VIA UHCI root hub, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
isa0 at mainbus0
isadma0 at isa0
pckbc0 at isa0 port 0x60/5
pckbd0 at pckbc0 (kbd slot)
pckbc0: using irq 1 for kbd slot
wskbd0 at pckbd0: console keyboard, using wsdisplay0
pcppi0 at isa0 port 0x61
midi0 at pcppi0: <PC speaker>
spkr0 at pcppi0
it0 at isa0 port 0x290/8: IT87
npx0 at isa0 port 0xf0/16: reported by CPUID; using exception 16
pccom0 at isa0 port 0x3f8/8 irq 4: ns16550a, 16 byte fifo
fdc0 at isa0 port 0x3f0/6 irq 6 drq 2
biomask ffed netmask ffed ttymask ffef
pctr: user-level cycle counter enabled
dkcsum: sd0 matches BIOS drive 0x80
root on sd0a swap on sd0b dump on sd0b
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