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Advantages of ARM Servers

People often ask about the advantages of ARM Servers compared to x86 platforms, so we thought we’d outline a few of the key advantages offered by ARM dedicated microservers.  If you think we missed any, feel free to add your input to the comments section below!


ARM Advantage #1:  Cost

Let’s assume you are in the market for a modest dedicated server to host your website, email, or custom services.  A popular provider is HostGator, who offers an entry level server for $174 per month.  It is a dual-core Intel 2.3ghz processor, has 4gb of RAM, CentOS Linux, and 2 IP Addresses.  It will do the job.

However, a miniNode ARM microserver will also do the job.  A dual-core 1ghz ARM processor, 1gb of RAM, and Ubuntu Linux are not quite equal, but for $14 per month you could get 2 of them, and separate the Web and Database servers… most likely achieving similar performance for a fraction of the price.

Also, as ARM continues to make inroads in the datacenter, these specs will quickly catch up to the x86 platforms.


ARM Advantage #2:  Power

Let’s continue using that HostGator server as a baseline.  While they don’t disclose the exact thermal specifications of that server, it would be surprising if it had anything less than a 250 to 300 watt power supply driving it.  ARM servers, on the other hand, trace their ancestry to smartphones and tablets, and therefore have a strong focus on efficiency and minimal power consumption.   ARM processors and platforms typically operate within a 1 to 15 watt envelope, with miniNodes drawing right around 5 watts under load.  At datacenter scale, these power savings are enormous.


ARM Advantage #3:  Ubiquity

ARM has shipped 50 billion chips, and the Internet of Things, wearables, and smart devices will bring about the next 50 billion in short order.  Servers based on ARM designs are able to seamlessly operate, communicate, and interact with those devices.  Android, Linux, and Windows RT all run on ARM.

Let’s return to the HostGator example one last time.  They advertise “Apache Web Server, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby (on Rails), FFMpeg Support” and “IPTables Firewall” are supported on their server.  miniNodes offer that same LAMP software stack, in addition to being an ideal platform for node.js, jQuery, MongoDB, Hadoop, and Python development.


Hopefully this helps clarify why ARM is such a disruptive technology in the datacenter and server ecosystem.  Again, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to add your comments!


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Low-Power Computing with ARM Servers

As any server administrator or hardware enthusiast can tell you, today’s servers offer unprecedented amounts of computing power, memory, and storage for the demanding applications run by big business. Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors with up to 16 cores, terabytes of RAM, petabytes of storage, and specially tuned GPU’s can crunch data and ensure mission critical services run 24/7 with no interruptions in service. And while this is great if you’re a Fortune 500 company with billions of dollars in revenue, what if your needs are more modest? What if you require the same technologies, software stack, access, and control that the large enterprises have, but on a smaller scale? What if, quite simply, you don’t need the raw horsepower that even basic servers offer?

miniNodes ARM Servers offer a unique and compelling alternative. miniNodes ARM Servers are bare metal servers with a more modest hardware configuration, that cost less and use less power. They run Ubuntu Server, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and can host services, email, applications, DNS, Hadoop, Node.js, Ruby, and more. They come with the operating system already installed and configured, and they cost just a fraction of the price of a typical leased server.

Further, since they are based on the same ARM processor architecture that smartphones and tablets use, they are engineered for efficiency. Typical power loads average about 5 Watts, compared to 500 to 1000 Watts for a traditional server. So not only do you save money versus a traditional server, you are helping conserve energy and minimize the impact on the environment.

We know there are more powerful solutions out there. But, in many use cases, they are simply overkill for a company’s computing needs… We call this “Right-Sized Computing”, and we hope it better suits your needs.

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Testing Your Code and Applications on ARM Servers

With the launch of miniNodes last week, developers, programmers, students and more can now test out their code and applications on ARM Servers easily and cost effectively.  miniNodes ARM Servers are bare metal dedicated servers, running on ARM Cortex processor cores, with integrated memory and storage.  They run Ubuntu Server 13.10 (with support for Fedora 20 coming soon) and are accessible via SSH like any other standard server.

The significance of ARM processors, and the importance of ensuring code works on ARM platforms is quickly becoming crucial for business.  ARM Cortex processors power the iPhone and iPad, and the vast majority of Android phones and tablets as well.  As more and more computing shifts from the desktop computer to the mobile device, application developers need to ensure their code works on those platforms.

miniNodes can help with this transition by providing a low cost sandbox for developers to test apps, without worrying about a virtualization layer, incompatibilities, or integration efforts.

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Engineering Begins: Hadoop Cluster on ARM Microservers

miniNodes is proud to announce an engineering effort aimed at bringing a scalable, affordable Hadoop Cluster running on ARM powered servers to the marketplace. This research and development is intended to build a low-power, balanced, and efficient batch job processing solution running on dedicated ARM server nodes, that can be leased cheaply and easily.

We’ll keep this blog updated as we progress on those efforts.

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HOW-TO: Installing Fedora 19 ARM Remix on the Cubieboard2 ARM Server

If you are looking for a Red Hat / CentOS compatible Linux distibution with RPM and Yum support, but that will run on ARM Servers, Fedora 19 is a great option. Fedora Project engineer Hans de Goedde has built a version that will run on the Cubieboard2, as well as other Allwinner A10, A13, and A20 based boards which is documented here:!topic/linux-sunxi/XCIaukbAjyI. To get Fedora 19 running on the Cubieboard2 ARM Server, here are the steps I took:

First, we need to download the image file from:

Next we need to make sure our SD Card is not already mounted. If so, unmount it.

Now, we can write the image to the card:

xzcat Fedora-19-a10-armhfp-r3.img.xz > /dev/mmcblk0 #this may take a while

Next, remove the card, and then re-insert it so that it gets mounted. Mine did not mount automatically, so I simply ran:

mount -/dev/mmcblk0 /media/linaro/uboot
cd /media/linaro/uboot
./ cubieboard2
cd /
umount /media/linaro/uboot
shutdown -r now

The system will reboot twice while it completes the Fedora installation, which may take a while, but eventually the GUI will load and you will prompted to choose a Time Zone, create a User and Password, and can then login to the system!


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HOW-TO: Install Ajenti on the Cubieboard2 / Linaro 13.04 ARM Dedicated Server

The setup instructions provided by for Ubuntu systems are simple to follow, and work perfectly on the Cubieboard2 running Linaro (Lubuntu) 13.04.  Here is a quick walkthrough just to demonstrate the capability.

From a fresh installation, only 5 commands are required.  Upon logging in and launching LXTerminal, or connecting via SSH, run the following:

sudo su

wget -O- | apt-key add -

echo "deb main main ubuntu" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

apt-get update && apt-get install ajenti

service ajenti restart

Upon completion, open a browser, and enter https://[your-ip-address-here]:8000 in the address bar. You may be greeted by a warning due to Ajenti’s self-signed SSL, but you can safely proceed. You will come to a login page, and the login credentials are root / admin (you’ll want to change this immediately for security purposes). After logging in, Ajenti will take a moment to load, and then you will come to the Dashboard, shown here:


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HOW-TO: Installing ZPanel on the Cubieboard2 ARM Dedicated Server

If you are looking to install a web hosting control panel on your Cubieboard2, or perhaps a RaspberryPi or other ARM based server, ZPanel is one of the few open source options currently available. These commands were run on a freshly installed Lubuntu 12.10 for ARM build. I’m not sure if they will work on the Fedora 19 ARM build, but if someone verifies functionality, let me know. Also, take note that I am not configuring a mail server in this tutorial, just Apache, PHP, MySQL, and ZPanel.

First, we need to get the server ready, before we can actually install ZPanel. We’ll start with getting tofrodos and proFTP server installed. Open up a Terminal and run:

sudo su
apt-get install tofrodos
apt-get install proftpd
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

Next, we’ll install Apache:

apt-get install apache2
service apache2 stop

Apache will need a hostname, so modify this file and define the fully qualified host name of your server:

cd /etc
nano hostname

Now we will need to define the IP Addresses for Apache to use. Modify the file to look like this, of course replacing ‘your-ip-address’ with your actual IP and ‘your-hostname-here’ with the hostname you defined in the previous step:

nano hosts localhost
your-ip-address localhost
your-ip-address your-hostname-here

Finally, we need to create a file called servername.conf and place your hostname in it as well, after the ServerName directive. Have it look like this:

cd /etc/apache2/conf.d
nano servername.conf
ServerName your-hostname-here

Now, its time to install PHP, MySQL, and phpMyAdmin:

apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-intl php5-mcrypt php5-curl php5-gd php5-sqlite
service apache2 stop
apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client php5-mysql # you'll need to define a password for the MySQL root user
service apache2 stop
apt-get install php-pear php5-dev apache2-prefork-dev build-essential make && pecl install apc # you can choose default settings
service apache2 stop
apt-get install nmap
apt-get install zenmap
apt-get install libapache2-mod-auth-mysql php5-mysql phpmyadmin # you'll be asked for the MySQL root user credentials once again
cd /var/www
ln -s /usr/share/phpmyadmin

Let’s configure PHP to use make use of apc and MySQL:

service apache2 stop
nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini # scroll down to the "Dynamic Extension" section, and add two lines. On the first, place '' and on the second place the text '' (without the quote marks on either).

Before proceeding with the installation of ZPanel, let’s reboot just to be safe.

shutdown -r now

Once the server comes back up, we can make use of Xengulai’s ZPanel install script:

sudo su
chmod +x

The install script will configure all of the services and install ZPanel on the server. Please note, this is not my script, all credit goes to Xengulai. Per his instructions, we need to reboot once again upon completion:

shutdown -r now

If all goes well, you should be able to access ZPanel in a browser at http://localhost/zpanel
For additional help, check out the ZPanel forums at

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Dedicated ARM Servers

miniNodes are microservers that can replace the functions and capabilities of a “regular” server at a fraction of the cost, while also using a fraction of the electricity required to run a normal server.  Powered by the same proven ARM Cortex chips and technology that iPhones, Androids, and tablets run on, miniNodes can host cloud services and applications, run websites, crunch big data with Hadoop, create webserver farms, and more.

miniNodes is launching with 2 flavors to choose from:

ARM Cortex A8 processor
Dual Core @ 1ghz
1gb RAM
250gb Hard Drive

ARM Cortex A9 processor
4 Cores @ 1ghz
2gb RAM
250gb Hard Drive