I needed a machine to do some DNS server tests. I settled on a \$280 EEE PC 900A (stripped of webcam and half of its storage) from Best Buy. That gets me a 1.6GHz x86 server with 1G of ram that only burns 10 watts and comes with its own little console for when I need it. Not a bad deal.
Only 4G of storage, but I’m only using about 60% even with a bunch of heavy eyecandy gnome and compiz stuff I installed to see what would happen (it is pretty fast, lower end graphic accelerator, but not many pixels comes out well).
I wiped the friendly linux it came with and installed Debian Lenny and all is good, except I kept noticing intermittent disk hangs lasting several seconds. I think I finally tracked this down to the kernel syncing out written pages. The fix is to not write so much. By mounting the partitions noatime most of my writes go away and I don’t notice hangs anymore.
Reading the first byte of every file in /usr went from 131 seconds to 92 seconds with the change (after a fresh boot each time), that is about a 30% speedup.
I’m pleased with the EEE. My code builds from clean in 1.6 seconds. I rarely use more than 10% of the RAM doing development which leaves plenty of RAM for caches to mitigate the slow flash disk.