Ever since pdb started the channel, I’ve been sucked back into IRC, having been free of its wretched grasp since high school. It took me a while, however, to find a client that I liked. Back in the olden days I had a nagware version of mIRC which worked passably well for me, but that hasn’t been updated or streamlined at all in the intervening years and is starting to look a little dated. XChat which was built as a Linux desktop client but ported to Windows was nice most of the time, but had a few Windows glitches, as well as being mired in controversy because the author, intellectually speaking, is a thieving douchebag.
So I created a virtualized Linux system on my XP server/arcade cabinet machine, and after trying several clients, settled on irssi. This, combined with an SSH server, allows me to access my IRC client from any networked operating system, on any computer, anywhere that I can get net access. It is effortless. It also has the side benefit of keeping logs even when I’m away, which can yield hilarious results.
But running a virtual machine on a computer meant to play arcade games and serve up bittorrent is a pain. What I needed was a dedicated Linux box. What I didn’t need was a full-power computer sucking electricity and pooping heat just so I could run an IRC client.
Enter the NSLU2, a network device originally intended to serve up USB hard drives over the network. With a custom firmware, it can run a full Debian Linux system. At 233mhz with 32MB of RAM, it’s no beast, but for a single-function machine, it’s great. The best part? I measured the power use: 3 watts. Not bad for $50 on eBay and an hour’s work.
It’s *TINY*. The picture above seems to make it appear larger than it is. Maybe this will give you a better perspective of how tiny it is:
That’s it, to the left of the monitors. I’ll blog about my monitor setup soon… I have some cables coming in this week that should allow me to tidy the whole arrangement up and make it semi-permenant.
In the mean time, if you want to get a similar box going, I can offer you some tips to make things easier. Just give me a buzz at email@example.com, or skype me at Whitebread_On_Patrol.