Details of the LXBOX Mini-Computer Project

    In a previous post, I wrote about the Linux Mint -based LXBOX mini-computer , which we brought to the release and launched for sale in February this year. Thanks everyone for the comments! To some, the presentation of the material seemed too elaborate, so I will write here in a structured manner about what kind of animal it is, who gave birth to it and what it is eaten with. And a little about discounts for Khabrovchan at the end.



    The project was originally conceived by the Berlin company GSN, we (GK TONK) connected to it at one of the early stages. Since 2007, we have been engaged in the production of thin clients and, with the help of partners, we carry out projects (mainly for small businesses) to build computer infrastructure, including using virtualization tools. Our thin clients, on average, are 30-50 percent cheaper than their counterparts from Dell and HP with comparable functionality, due to this, as well as a customer-oriented approach (in the case of extremely rare breakdowns, the devices are not repaired, but replaced immediately as a whole), and we managed to take a good share this, so to the end, alas, and not formed in Russia market .

    Initially, the sight when creating the LXBOX was made specifically on the Russian market. In Germany, GSN uses LXBOXs exclusively as workstations in small projects. According to statistics, sales of pre-production and production models at the moment I can say that used on most of the orders come from just business users (some of the projects of our partners have been implemented using LXBOX, about them write the details later). However, only in February we began to launch LXBOX in the retail segment, therefore, perhaps, the situation will change by the summer.


    The goal was to create an honest software and hardware product suitable not only for the office, but also for home use as a typical PC or media player. That is, not a “piece of iron”, but a “decision”. The main requirements for the device were:

    1) No noise and minimal power consumption (passive cooling).
    2) The device should be ready to work “out of the box” and as pre-configured as possible.
    2a) Current software versions must be installed. Among the programs must necessarily be an office, media players (media shell), browsers, torrent downloads and tools for working with disks, audio, video, photo and CAD tools for development and editing. Virus protection must be implemented.

    And purely corporate gadgets and hardware requirements:
    3) at least 2 video outputs to be able to use the device for Digital Signage .
    4) 2 LAN ports for the ability to work as a crypto-gateway (of course, after flashing).


    We put both Windows and Linux on thin clients, but in this situation, the logical choice fell on Linux. Based on the Linux Mint 13 OS based on Ubuntu LTS 12.04, official support of which is carried out until 2017. As a working environment, MATE 1.6 is used. The menu, interface and logic of operation looks as close as possible to the Windows OS (XP, 7). At the moment, the assembly with serial number 21 is already relevant. In 2013, the assembly was tested in the office segment and installed on LXBOX beta samples (several hundred were sold).


    As a result of the analysis of found bugs, as well as the release of updated versions of programs, an assembly for LXBOX was born. In addition to office programs, it includes purely home applications, including the XBMC media shell .

    As a hardware platform, the proven AMD64 platform with the following characteristics is selected:
    • CPU G-T56N 1.65GHz for the older model LXBOX 3 and G-T40N 1GHz for the younger (office) LXBOX 2
    • Catalyst Radeon HD6320 (6290) Graphics
    • HDMI, VGA video outputs for LXBOX 2 and plus DisplayPort for LXBOX 3
    • RAM 4GB
    • 16GB Industrial DOM
    • Gigabit LAN ports, 4xUSB2.0, high-speed combo USB / eSATA, Wi-Fi, audio input / output

    The platform is fairly typical and not the newest, but you must understand that passive cooling systems are 3-5 years behind in performance from the “fan segment”, and users who do not need passive cooling, of course, have a choice from more attractive ones in terms of performance platforms. But at the same time, LXBOX is not a platform as such, but a “PC out of the box”.

    There were about 1-2% of requests for warranty cases in 2013 and early 2014 (a total of 8 devices). We initially decided to bring this product to the home market only if we have positive experience of at least six months in the corporate segment. And at the end of 2013, we finally decided that there should be a campaign in the home segment.

    Creating LXCLUB and perspectives

    In my opinion, large manufacturers lack customer focus. Therefore, each LXBOX buyer will receive a discount “penguin card” with a unique ID and a constant 7% discount on our next products, advanced features on the site, and an additional 2 year warranty when registering a card on the site (thus the total warranty period is 3 years) . At the same time, we do not plan any promotions in the future, and only regular customers will receive a discount. In general, over the past 3 months, several dozen devices have diverged to the "inner circle" (friends and relatives), we even started joking that it was time to create a "network sales system" a la Oriflame.

    Well, of course, we won’t abandon our users - so, the firmware will be updated every 2-3 months - the new firmware will contain the current versions of the programs, while user data will not be affected by a flashing.

    In addition to the computers themselves, the release of storage for HDD 2.5 "/3.5" with an eSATA interface is planned, which will, like LXBOX, be mounted on VESA and serve as a "gasket" between the LXBOX and the monitor. There are other plans that I won’t talk about so far.


    Who may be interested

    Actually, I am very grateful to the Hi-News portal, which reviewed LXBOX , for such a clear segmentation of the target audience. And if use as a media player personally does not seem to me a priority, then I consider the scenarios of use as an "advanced Internet typewriter" with full support for Flash and JAVA, as well as an "educational computer" more likely. Well, of course, use in office needs remains among the priorities.

    I will also be glad to hear your opinions on this matter.

    Prices and offer for Habr

    The results of a survey from a previous article showed that, although some people consider the price of the device to be normal, for most it seems overpriced (11,890 and 13,890 rubles). If you look at the hardware platform, this opinion is absolutely true, because the AMD e450 platform, similar in characteristics to our older model, can be found in Moscow for 9-11 thousand rubles. In general, when placing an order through a special project on Habré or from our websitewith the login on Habr, the cost will be 10,990 and 12,990 rubles, respectively. We are talking specifically about the orders of individuals, this offer does not apply to legal entities. The promotion is valid until April 30. For those who, based on my yesterday’s article, made a request on the site, this also applies - just tell the operator your nickname on Habré (we arrange orders so far only on weekdays).

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