Hardware Selection

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Laptop Selection

The criteria used for selection of the laptops was as follows:

  • Light weight - Small children need to carry them from a safe/charging trolley to their desks and back)
  • 3hr+ battery life - This rules out most standard batteries as their life will decrease over the years.
  • Robust build quality
  • Minimum Specification: 1GB DRAM, 8GB SSD, 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 1024x576 resolution screen.
  • Linux compatibility - Makes sense
  • Ships with Linux, Free or No OS - No way we're paying the Microsoft tax if we're not going to run Windows.
  • Low cost - Would like to keep the budget for these 60 netbooks under £12,000 (£200 each) before VAT.
  • Low Power Consumption - Save even more money on the potential running costs

Since Microsoft bullied manufacturers into shipping Windows rather than Linux with their Netbooks, in 2009 it has become more difficult to get Netbooks with Linux as shipped. I looked at very many offerings from:

  • Asus eee PC (very few Linux models remaining)
  • Acer Aspire One
  • HP Mininote
  • Dell Mini 10v

Selected Laptop Model

We finally ended up selecting the Dell Mini 10v because they could be ordered from Dell with long-life 6-cell batteries at a very good price (£204 ex VAT and shipping). You should contact Dell's School's Team for your area to get a quote (warning - they aren't the easiest department to deal with, just be persistent and get them on the phone for a quote). The runner-up was the Acer Aspire One but that cost possibly £10 more even with possibly inferior 3rd-party replacement 6-cell batteries. The HP offering was ridiculously expensive as were many of the other's we glanced at. All of the Atom netbooks have remarkably low power consumption when charging and powered from the mains. Actual measurements of the Dell Mini 10v running under load was 12-15 Watts. When charging the consumption was around 3 Watts.

Server Selection

Didn't shop around quite so much for the server. Did look at offerings from IBM, HP and Dell. The required minimum spec was as follows:

  • 4-8GB DRAM
  • Energy saving Low-powered CPU/cores: 2 x 1.6GHz
  • 2 x SATA HDD 320GB total
  • RAID mirroring would be a bonus
  • Tower case (no rack in this school)
  • Fairly quiet operation
  • Ships with Linux, Free or No OS

Selected Server Model

We ended up selecting:

  • 1 x Dell T105 server (4GB DRAM, 2 x 160GB HDD, Quad Opteron 1352 CPU)
  • 2 x Samsung eco 1TB disks from ebuyer.com (cheaper to throw the small Dell disks)
  • Total cost < £700

Charging Trolley

  • 1 x 30 bay safe / recharging trolley (Link to item at RM)
  • An existing 16 bay charging trolley was re-used - extra power strips are added at the rear (2 netbooks in each bay).
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