Fun with the Asus EEE PC Part 4 - A Server In Your Handbag

Admittedly, I didn't actually try to put the EEE into a handbag, but a couple of people very enthusiastically mentioned that such a feat would be possible. Now of course as I'm sure you know there are few subjects more serious than servers, this is the impression I have got over the years from sysadmins suspicious of developers! So we ought to see if some serious technology works on the machine, could we really use it as a web server? Or a database server? Maybe even for Drupal?

Now of course you wouldn't really want use one of these machines as a server, but being able to run web technology on it would mean that you could deploy solutions onto the device using pre-existing web skills, there would be no need to learn a whole new platform and SDK like with so many other mobile devices. You could share common code between your servers and your EEE. Maybe even use Drupal to build applications for use in the field quickly. This would increase options while cutting costs. Well the good news is that all of this stuff works - with the odd bit of tweaking here and there.

Screenshot of drupal running on an Asus EEE PC

When I picked up the machine from the chaps in KMi they had already installed the LAMP stack (i.e. on top of the Linux operating system, they had already installed Apache, MySQL and PHP by apt-getting the packages from an added Debian repository as part of their work on the unit. So yes, the entire LAMP stack works, you can run normal web applications entirely on the EEE and use them. As a test I installed Drupal onto the unit, this was pretty much a normal installation procedure, you can even enable mod_rewrite to get clean URLs (use the command sudo a2enmod rewrite). There was one small bit of configuration that had to be done though, when any web page was run that features graphics, only the text would be served and the alternate text shown instead. This is enough to fix (thanks to a solution posted about a similar problem here). You need to add this line to the end of /etc/apache2/apache2.conf:

EnableSendFile Off

If you install Drupal under /var/www you should also edit the entry for the default site in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default to change AllowOverrides None to AllowOverrides all. This will allow the Drupal system directories to be protected. After these simple changes, Drupal works perfectly and responds speedily to requests. So it looks like it would be perfectly feasible to use it for mobile solutions, even where no network is available - a new use for the platform.

The last few tasks were to see what it would connect to. You get a built in terminal that can connect via SSH to other computers, I didn't get chance to enable an SSH server but did test the client which worked very well. You can use Krfb to easily share desktops through a VNC connection. It was also easy to drop documents onto a remote NFS share, this didn't require any extra software to be installed, and it looks like it would be able to write to Windows shares as well using Samba, but sadly I didn't get round to testing that.

This all adds an interesting dimension to the EEE. It would come in handy for supporting sites on remote servers and being able to use PHP on the machine means that a very large number of developers can target it.

Well after all that testing I had to give the unit back, but it was a very interesting experience and next time I'll share with you my conclusions on the EEE.

*** UPDATE ***

I've documented how I set up a LAMP server on the EEE more fully here:
http://greenhughes.com/content/setting-lamp-environment-asus-eee

Instructions are also available here:
http://wiki.eeeuser.com/howto:lamp

 

Comments

I found your article quite interesting. While I cannot say that I carry a server in my pocket, my wife is being carrying an EEE in her rather large handbag

Shes does surf with it as most malls where they have free Internet access

Shoe does manager her shopping list on - although its not pratical to carry it around in a supermarket

I found your article quite interesting. While I cannot say that I carry a server in my pocket, my wife is being carrying an EEE in her rather large handbag

Shes does surf with it as most malls where they have free Internet access

Shoe does manager her shopping list on - although its not pratical to carry it around in a supermarket

Nice review...

Now I'm setting up vmware-server on my newly arrived eee pc 900. it's running Kubuntu now and I've setup mostly server apps on it because I'm developing server apps.
apache and python runs fine for development purposes and now I'll try vmware-server and try running a windows server virtual machine on this device...

I'm carrying this in my handbag. Actually it's a small bag that I carry hanging on my shoulder all the time and this device fits perfectly with my sunglasses, money and all the stuff I carry with me...

I was dreaming of a laptop less than 1Kg when I was carrying my old heavy laptop before but now I've started dreaming of 0.5Kg laptops. :)

That is very cool, but I don't know if I really need something like the asus eee.

Interesting article and interesting ideas.

Your totally right about the benefits of not having to learn other mobile device interfaces if you can manage to convince yourself that EEE is a mobile device itself. It seems to me to be a heavy clunky version of the future. This format is the one I think will succeed and I'm pretty sure devices in 10 years time will just be even smaller more powerful versions of EEE.

They are todays equivalent of those old briefcase sized mobile phones.

Very interesting article indeed!
I'm surprised about your time projection of 10 years
before such devices are of a manageable size!
Surely not practical for the supermarket just yet!

Thanks

Steve

I'm really looking forward until technology enables us to have fully functioning (and more so) computers which fit easily into our pockets (or perhaps transplanted into our brains and controlled by nanobots :) )

Great site & great commentary! If any of your readers have questions specific to authentic designer handbags they can go to http://www.authentic-designer-handbags.com

I have a blackberry in my pocket and I thought I have the whole world in my hand. Imagine if I have this new EEE what else can I achieve... technology made the world smaller and smaller day by day.

Yeah, it won't be long before everything is portable. With the 3G phone, the migration is happening now. The only thing is to figure out how to get the user interface better for guys with big hands.

Good post. I have some more information about the ASUS EEE laptop on my own site. Some advantages and cheap offers for everyone. Check it out thanks. Never thought about to install a webserver though :)

I luv this machine. it can handle good loads. I am not as advanced user as you, however, i am trying to improve myself in same regards.. I hope i can learn installation, etc. and for that, this site is a pretty good resource.

thanks.!

My personnal server is a eee 2g surf running debian , it serve my printer on the wifi and a usb self-powered harddrive (this make the nas powerdown proof) the entire server doesnt consume more than 22watt (less than a fluocompact light) and also serve many php tool like phpmp torrentflux. It is also a webserver. While it s wifi i can forgive him on the shelve and let it run 24/365.

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