I've had good success from using the 'flashrom' upgrade procedure inside Linux. A hard reset is required (there are ways to fake a hard-enough reset if physical access isn't possible but I've not tried them).
To put in my vote... I use my PC Engines devices as smart routers. I run Debian Linux right on them, not a routing OS. I use external WiFi access points as I find using on-board stuff (even of my own choosing) seems fraught with complications, and an external one is easier to upgrade when new technologies come.
So my vote:
- a fast enough CPU to handle OpenVPN tunnels, and the like, at full port speed
- 2.5 Gbps NICs seem near essential at this point, since gigabit Internet connections are available in so many places and faster ones are on the doorstep for many (and already available for some, not even to mention data centre applications).
- USB 3.2 with a C connector seems wise at this point (so flexible), and a couple of 3.0/3.1 A ports would be nice.
- RAM-wise, we're already good. I bought my first APU1 with 4 GB to make it future-proof, but the reality is that 2 GB would have been lots.
- I like the current mSATA slot plus SATA port, but mSATA seems to be disappearing so at least dual SATA would be nice, and/or M.2 slots. Having at least two different data connections is desirable because then RAID1 becomes an option to create redundancy.
- Whatever hardware is chosen should have a nice long lifespan, as in previous PC Engines products.
I like that the two PC Engines purchases I've made have both been long-term ones - devices that I've used for many years with satisfactory results. Keeping that philosophy will pay dividends going forward.
I never did buy something in the APU2 range (the APU1 was really quite adequate for me; I'd have gone APU2 if I'd upgraded later of course). But I imagine there are more and more APU1/2 customers who would like something with more meat on the bones.
Keeping the APU2 family around for awhile, if practical (I'm aware of the Intel NIC availability issues) would be great - I think for many applications, these boards are still quite adequate performers. (Certainly for mine, for now, though I'm about to get gigabit connectivity at home and it'll be interesting to see how my APU1 does...)
I have an Alix 2D3 in production that I've run for years reliably. Current storage is on a CF card in the CF bay.
I've picked up a 44-pin PATA/IDE cable so that I can use the on-board interface for secondary storage. Twice I've connected a CF-to-PATA interface (with a CF card installed of course) - once in Master mode and once in Slave mode - but the system hasn't seen it either time.
I'd like to get some clarification:
- can the 44-pin PATA (IDE) interface be used simultaneously with the CF slot?
- if so, is the interface expecting a drive in Slave mode (with the CF card the master)? I know one of the Alix 1dx models has a header you can jumper to make the CF slot slave, but the 2dx manual makes no mention of a similar feature.
- has anyone actually gotten this working?
I am pretty sure from my reading that there is only a single functioning PATA/IDE interface on the board, so using two devices would require one being primary and the other, slave.
Perhaps I'm missing the mark and using the interface automatically disables the on-board CF slot on the 2dx Alixes.
I have updated the firmware on the Alix to 0.99m, and enabled slave device scanning. I also tried disabling UDMA, in case it was causing issues, and adding the IDE device scan delay (even though I'm not using spinning disks). Not that it should matter, but I've also sped up the serial console text to 115.2kbps just to be consistent with my APUs (and pleasantly faster too!).
Can anyone give me some direction? Ideally I'd like to have dual CFs (or potentially down the road, one CF and one mSATA-via-PATA adapter) so that I can have the system run as Linux mdadm RAID1 so that I can tolerate a device failure. (I've done this with one of my APU1s and am about to do it to the other, but on that device, the mSATA slot and the SATA port are logically separate and the only hiccup is in selecting the boot device.)