Mappedin Theoreticals: Out of the (Mini) Box Thinking

July 26, 2019

This week’s Theoretical is a little more technical and a lot more thought process, as we take a look at how our Analytics team created a custom solution for their new Intel NUC which was to house their new testing set-up and data storage. As we found out, however, the solution required more customization than they initially thought.

They initially chose the Intel NUC8i7HVK (Hades Canyon) as the Mini-PC to help them build this solution. A relatively powerful gaming and developer machine, the Intel NUC allows users to custom configure it to their own specifications. For the analytics team, the Mini-PC was to be configured with development in mind.

Intel NUC 8i7HVK (Hades Canyon) computer.

“When it came time to install the operating system on our Hades Canyon, it quickly became apparent that our preferred operating system (Ubuntu) was not supported out of the box. For developers, many of our daily tasks include reading and applying documentation for various development tasks. This can make it very easy to exceedingly rely on documentation when approaching new problems. With very little documentation on installing Ubuntu on our Hades Canyon, the solution to our problem seemed much more challenging than what the actual solution ended up being.”

A quote that reads "In the majority of cases, the documentation available to you is your greatest tool in finding a solution to a problem. However, it can quickly become limiting. Sometimes a little bit of intuitive thinking can lead you to your own solution.”

As the team began researching how to create the custom install that they were looking for, documentation (or lack thereof) came up again and again. Most of the research that the team found seemed to indicate that it was not actually possible to install Ubuntu on the NUC. One of the only promising sources for this process that did emerge was a blog by Jason Evangelho, describing how he went about setting up Ubuntu 18.10 on his NUC. This looked promising, and showed that the customization they were after was at least possible.

In order to create a fully customizable solution, the Analytics team had to get creative and began experimenting with installing different versions of the OS they were looking for onto the machine to see what would stick.

“With this post and Ubuntu’s backwards compatibility in mind, our team decided to install the latest version of Ubuntu (19.04 Disco Dingo) on our NUC. The thought behind this solution is that Ubuntu (and many other software products), follow a backwards compatibility protocol. In other words, if Ubuntu 18.10 works on the NUC, so will Ubuntu 19.04.In short, this process worked without a hitch as we were able to install Ubuntu 19.04 on the NUC without any problems.”

Working with the Intel NUC and within the parameters of what their team needed, it was an exercise in fully customizing a machine, especially when the available options served some (but not all) of the necessary requirements.

“In the majority of cases, the documentation available to you is your greatest tool in finding a solution to a problem. However, it can quickly become limiting. Sometimes a little bit of intuitive thinking can lead you to your own solution.”

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