The Intel NUC5CPYH is one of a series of Next Unit of Computing small form-factor computers designed by Intel. The barebone kits consist of the motherboard, in a plastic case with a fan, an external power supply and VESA mounting plate. I opted for the NUC5CPYH model from 2015 which is now end of life, but still for sale with considerable discount at Amazon (see Bill of Materials below). The machine comes with zero RAM and no hard disk drive so they have to be sourced separately - I went for the maximum 8GM RAM (only one slot available by the way) and a 120GB SSD hard disk.
The machine has 4 USB3 ports, support for two videos (VGA and HDMI), optical output, 7.1 sound, a Celeron N3050 1.6GB CPU, SD card reader, WiFi and a gigabyte LAN connector.
Both Windows and Linux can be supported, and I decided to install Ubuntu 17.04 Server. My use case is I wanted to move my development architecture to a containerised setup using Docker, and therefore it also made sense to move my proxy Squid server from my Raspberry Pi discussed here, over to Docker at the same time thus freeing up the Raspberry Pi for other jobs as and when they come along.
|Intel NUC||Intel NUC5CPYH NUC Kit||Amazon.co.uk||£115.00|
|RAM||Crucial 8GB DDR3L 1600 MT/s (PC3L-12800) SODIMM 204-Pin -CT102464BF160B||Amazon.co.uk||£58.44|
|SSD||SanDisk SSD PLUS 120 GB up to 530 MB/s Sata III 2.5 inch Internal SSD||Amazon.co.uk||£48.99|
To install the RAM and the SSD the base needs to be removed by backing off the screws in the device's feet. Note the screws won't come all the way out - doing so will compromise the cables linked between the base and the motherboard.
Once the screws have been backed off, the base can be carefully pulled away from the case. Be careful not to pull out the cables accidentally. The slot for the RAM is at the front of the pic.
The RAM can now be slotted in. This is achieved by carefully sliding the connectors into the slots with the memory stick resting against the supporting clips then gently pressing it down until a satisfying click is heard.
The SSD slot is actually a caddy which is built into the base and the SSD can be easily slid in although it is a fairly tight fit. Push it gently to ensure the connectors marry up. The base can now be screwed close and the peripherals connected (screen, keyboard, mouse) before powering up using the multi-country power connector.
The machine comes with a lovely BIOS dashboard. When it starts to boot up, press the F2 key to access it.
If you click on advanced you can get to the main dashboard. Here you will see your configuration - living proof it can find its 8GB memory!
I downloaded an ISO image of Ubuntu 17.04 AMD 64 bit from here and using the Rufus ISO writer, wrote this to a Cruzer USB memory stick. Note that the SD drive is not bootable so USB has to be used. I placed the USB stick in a spare USB slot and navigated to the boot menu on the BIOS screens.
The order required (under Legacy) is the SSD drive first, then the Sandisk USB stick second. That way once the OS has been installed on the SSD and the installation process has rebooted it won't start the installation again.
The software installation is straightforward. Since I am going to containerise all my development services I don't need to install too much. The standard utilities are always going to be useful, but also don't forget OpenSSH server - this will enable you to ssh into the box so you can consign the screen keyboard and mouse to the cupboard.
By default as part of the installation process, the LAN will be configured to request an IP address from DHCP server. I would like mine to be static so to achieve that, edit /etc/network/interface
root@devbox:/etc/network# cat interfaces # This file describes the network interfaces available on your system # and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5). source /etc/network/interfaces.d/* # The loopback network interface auto lo iface lo inet loopback # The primary network interface auto enp3s0 #iface enp3s0 inet dhcp iface enp3s0 inet static address 192.168.0.202 netmask 255.255.255.0 network 192.168.0.1 broadcast 192.168.1.255 gateway 192.168.0.1 dns-nameservers 126.96.36.199 root@devbox:/etc/network#
So far I have been very impressed with the Intel NUC. It is built with a great deal of quality - just packing up the packaging I was astonished by the sheer weight of this small 4" or so box. Yes I have bought was it is effectively the bottom of the range (i.e. cheapest) offering, and it is now two years since it was launched - a lifetime for hardware. But it performs extremely well for what I need - my own containerised development environment. It has the headroom (8GB RAM) to run all I will need it to and still have plenty of horsepower left should I need to expand.