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I'm currently using a Beaglebone Black as a multipurpose toolkit and I'm having trouble finding a replacement. The specs (that I use) are the following:

  • 512 MB RAM (somewhat low for updates but it works)
  • USB client (absolutely required for the gadget functionality)
  • 4 GB onboard flash (somewhat low as the kernel sources and portage tree take up a large portion of it)
  • MicroSD slot (only used for music, ISO files for mass storage/CD gadget, and storage for traffic dumps)
  • Ethernet (ideally 2+ for bridging and logging traffic)
  • USB (ideally 2+, used for Bluetooth or a second Ethernet adapter since the BBB (non-wireless) does not have either of those built in)

The other features (dual PRU, GPIO) have potential uses, but those are less important than the list items. Additional Ethernet can be added with more USB ports, but carrying the extra dongles along is a hassle. Built in wireless with a chipset that can be put into monitor mode would also be nice, but not if it replaces Ethernet. The nice thing about the BBB is I can use most of the features with just USB power from my laptop so I don't need to worry about a power source, I just can't find anything better that can replace it.

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Soekris Net5501 fits the bill. Have a look at it. It has GPIO, 4 ethernet ports, serial port, SATA host, USB port.

It’s not tiny, but it’s not uncomfortably big either.

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