Review of Intel NUC5CPYH with Ubuntu 17.04 Installation

Submitted by nigel on Saturday 9th December 2017

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. 

Bill of Materials
Remove the base

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. 

Base off

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.

Installation of RAM

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. 

SSD installation

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. 

Bios Home

The machine comes with a lovely BIOS dashboard. When it starts to boot up, press the F2 key to access it. 

Main Dashboard

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!

Installation of Ubuntu 17.04
Boot menu

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. 

Ubuntu Software Installation
Ubuntu Software Installation

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. 

Ubuntu Static IP Address

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
Obviously you will need to change the settings to suit your own circumstances. I am using my ISP's nameserver and I have allocated this machine

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. 

blog terms
Linux Hardware