[CentOS] Motherboard and chipset compatibility

Mon Aug 12 16:14:30 UTC 2013
Glenn Eychaner <geychaner at mac.com>

So, having returned from a month's vacation, I'm back to work on attempting
to build a set of small form factor CentOS compatible computers. I've
really tried to do my homework, but this doesn't appear (at first glance)
to be at all easy. It's not made easier by the fact that I have to get it
right the first time (and I haven't built a PC in a decade); the time and
money cost of shipping anything to and from my remote location in Chile
means I can't afford to waste time buying and returning things.

First question: does anyone have any experience with the Jetway NF9E-Q77 or
ZOTAC Z77ITX-A-E motherboards? Having struck out on Intel Q77 or Z77-based
SFF motherboards (the DQ77** series is completely out of stock everywhere,
and the DZ77** series is ATX only), I have found a couple of Mini-ITX
systems based on these two motherboards.

Second question: Where can I get information about which Intel chipsets
(Z77 vs Z87 vs Q77 vs C602 vs ...geez, there are a LOT of chipsets, as
evidenced by http://www.supermicro.com/support/faqs/os.cfm) are supported
by CentOS 6 / RHEL 6? I have not been able to find this information on
either the Intel, RedHat, or CentOS web sites.

Third (more general) question: My requirements are (I believe) modest:
* 1U short-depth rackmount chassis OR Mini-ITX small-footprint chassis
* Dual GbE network ports
* Dual 1920x1200 monitor display
* One SSD drive
* 32-bit CentOS 6.4 compatible.

It's the combination of the first, third, and fifth requirements that
really seems to get me hung up. I've found plenty of 1U server systems
(such as SuperMicro), but none of them support dual displays.  (Some of
them have a PCIe16x riser card that could conceivably accomodate a separate
graphics card, assuming I could find one that fits; I have Emails in to
various tech supports to inquire about this. I've found LOTS of 2U
solutions, thanks, but only have 1U of available rack.) As far as Linux
support goes, the RHEL Hardware List has thus far been pretty useless (much
of the hardware on it is obsolete or discontinued), and most manufacturers'
web sites have been equally useless. (One exception being ASUS, which has a
Linux-compatibility list at
SuperMicro has a very nice list referenced above, but none of their small
form factor motherboards support dual displays AFAICT; I have found nothing
useful at Intel's site.)

Does anyone have any resources they'd like to point me to?

Glenn Eychaner (geychaner at lco.cl)
Telescope Systems Programmer, Las Campanas Observatory