Thinking Outside the Box - Part 2 of 3

Thinking Outside the Box - Part 2 of 3

Ideas for Leveraging SBCs in Your Workstation Setup (and other areas of your life)


SBCs are a great tool for computing tasks that need to be running all the time. As SBCs have a very low power overhead, they are ideal for tasks that need to be on (or that are left on) 24/7.


Computing Tasks (Ideal for SBCs)

  • File and media servers
  • Web servers
  • Database servers
  • Smart TV boxes
  • Web-based monitoring tools
  • Massively concurrent processing (cluster computing)


Some Real-World Uses for SBCs

I presently run one desktop computer and three SBCs on my desk. I have four monitors set up. One HD monitor, and three older and smaller LCD monitors. For the mechanically handy makers, multi-monitor stands can be fabricated pretty easily by utilizing the VESA mounts on the back of most monitors. For the rest of us, multi-monitor mounts have become pretty common and inexpensive at many specialty shops and online stores.


I am presently running the following systems and tasks at work (check with me next week for an updated list as my setup is constantly evolving):

  • Core i7-7770 running Win10
    • General computing tasks
    • Heavy websites like Facebook, Gitter, etc.
    • Windows-specific programs
  • ODROID-XU4 2GB running Ubuntu MATE 16.04LTS on a 4.14 kernel
    • Thunderbird email, handling three email addresses: Automatic filtering on incoming email
    • Monitoring cryptocurrency markets in Chromium
    • Listening to music via Bluetooth headphones
    • Project experimentation
  • ODROID-C2 2GB running Ubuntu MATE 16.04LTS on a 3.14 kernel
    • Firefox:
      • Secondary access to back office software (running on an ODROID-U3 in our server rack) – Primary access is from the Windows machine
      • Digital banking
      • Monitoring real-time status of order fulfillment
      • Monitoring real-time webstore analytics
      • Miscellaneous web research
    • Project experimentation
  • RockPro64 4GB running Ubuntu LXDE 18.04LTS on a 4.4 kernel
    • Monitoring real-time Google Analytics in Chromium
    • Project experimentation


I have all four systems using the same mechanical keyboard and mouse via Synergy. It allows multiple computers to act similarly to multiple monitors on a single computer.


One of the great things is that if one of the computers is busy (updating, rebooting, processing heavy workloads, etc.), I can simply work on the others while monitoring the progress. It’s great for multitasking and efficiency!


I am also using the following SBCs at home:

    • Family file server using SFTP and CIFS
    • Backup server for the Windows computer
    • Connected to 2nd monitor so it can be used even when the Windows computer is unavailable
  • ODROID-C2 running Android
    • Connected to 55-inch TV
      • More flexible and open than the “Smart TV” system that came with the TV
      • Allows cord-cutting via HDHomeRun (over-the-air free HD TV), Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, etc.
  • M1 Apollo Lake N3450 running Windows 10 (see our webstore for more details)
    • Connected to VU7A Plus display and 42” TV (dual monitor support)
    • Acts as a music production workstation
      • MIDI controller software (Roli Blocks Dashboard / Roli Equator)
      • Digital Audio Workstation (
      • Plays music from other sources for layering
  • ODROID-C2 #2
    • Runs Camio video surveillance software (see for details)
    • Replaces the dashboard in my 1978 Ford F150 4x4
    • Multiple ultrasonic sensors to detect unseen obstacles (in progress)
  • ODROID-C2 #3
    • Acts as a media server in my 2004 Cadillac Deville
    • Wired into the car’s amplifier
    • Runs SDR (software-defined radio)
    • Has 4 USB ports exposed on the front panel for flash drives, phone sync, etc.
    • Can pair to the phone via Bluetooth
    • Can pair to the house when in range and automatically update the music library off the family file server


I have plans to incorporate other SBCs for many other uses, such as home automation tasks.


Read Part 3 of 3

Previous article Introducing NEMS Linux for Indiedroid Nova: A Powerful Network Monitoring Solution

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