New Product: LinITX Embedded Controller

Controller Logo

About the Controller

The LinITX Embedded controller is simply an ALIX board with Linux embedded allowing the installation of various Debian packages. One such Debian package is the Ubiquiti UniFi controller which is available free from UBNT.com.

We get phone calls daily about setting up a UniFi controller. A lot of these phone calls come from installers with customers who do not want the Ubiquiti UniFi controller on their own computer and scenarios where it is not practical to have a dozen software controllers such as a UniFi install into a residential apartment complex.   This created a neat opportunity to test and build an embedded controller to bring the benefits of having an always-on hardware controller to the Ubiquiti range with no need to host it on a server or a personal computer.  Although we have now turned the UniFi Controller into a hardware solution the UniFi Web interface we all know will still be available for easy and quick configuration.

What most people don’t realise is that an always-on controller is highly recommended to keep the UniFi network alive 24/7, this is becoming more true with Ubiquiti’s up coming products such as the UniFi Switch’s and UniFi UVP Phones which will need almost constant contact with the controller in order to function correctly. If the controller is installed on a mobile computer and a Ubiquiti UniFi goes down and looses its configuration that UniFi will not come back up until it has made contact with its registered controller, this by its self creates a need for a small compact always on hardware solution.  Also the excellent amount of statistics obtainable (under the Insights Tab) is all lost when there is no 24/7 available controller to send those all important stats to.

How was it made

The controller is simple in its design and build so, if you’re feeling confident enough, it can be built as a DIY project. Hardware wise the controller is made from a 2D2 (256MB RAM) Pc Engines ALIX Board coupled with a 4GB compact flash card. A couple of variations of ALIX board were tried during testing but it was found that the 256MB boards had the requirements we needed to run the controller smoothly for Ubiquiti UniFi deployments. Voyage 0.9.2 was selected as the open source Linux operating system for its compatibility with the PC Engines boards, the UBNT sources were then installed and the UniFi controller loaded along with its dependencies. Once built the embedded controller was tested here at LinITX HQ on our Ubiquiti UniFi network and it performed perfectly upgrading over 200 UniFi’s and still serving us all WiFi.

See list below the parts needed to build your own: –

  1. ALIX Board 2D2
  2. 18v Power Supply
  3. ALIX Chassis
  4. 4GB CF Card (4GB ICF Optional)

Alternatively you you can purchase a pre built and tested Controller here.

Options

At present we are offering the LinITX Embedded controller in 2 flavours, 1 with Ubiquiti’s most recent and Stable Controller Release V3.2.7 and the other with the new Beta V4.2.0 Release. Both controller sets come as standard with a 4GB CF card which is perfect for small to medium UAP infrastructures (around 20-30 UAP’s) but for larger scale and L3 (internet) management we recommend upgrading to a ICF card which is designed for more read and writes ensuring the controller outlives the UAP’s.

Future

In the near future we hope to develop the Controller to run on the PC Engines APU board giving it 2-4GB of DDR3 RAM alone with 30GB SSD storage, we hope this will open up a new realm of possibilities for the LinITX controller including full PBX support for the new UVP’s and other VOIP products by hosting the new Ubiquiti UniFi controller or perhaps and Asterisk server in parallel. Why stop there the added benefits could also include Pfsense along with the UniFi Controller and many more options in the coming future.

Keep an eye on our Website and this Blog for future product updates and helpful guides to our products.

4 Comments

  1. Keithy says:

    Hi,

    Does this have enough grunt/storage to run mFi controller for small system (e.g 1 temp monitor and a couple of mPower ??)

    Thanks

    • Koyn says:

      Hi Keith,

      This is an interesting question i’m sure it will run fine when using the ICF card which can handle the increased the read & writes. I will test this to confirm and get back to you.

      Regards

      Koyn
      LinITX
      ***************************
      Update – The LinITX Embedded Controller is capable of running the Mfi controller and it seems to run smooth. The controller cannot handle the Mfi and Unifi controller together, its gets a bit slow. Hopefully the Next version on a more powerful APU board will.

      Koyn

      • Keithy says:

        Hi Koyn,

        Thanks for checking this out.

        Did you have to use the ICF card??

      • Koyn says:

        Hi Keith,

        Yes i used an ICF card which can handle the database writes that the mFi Controller needs. I have also put a product option together on our website which can be found here

        Regards
        Koyn
        LinITX

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