As a bit of a change from all the PCI/Kubernetes posts, I thought I’d write up my initial impressions of the new project volterra Windows ARM dev kit, that I got this week. I’ve been interested in getting an ARM based desktop machine for a while now, but never seen anything that quite hit the mark in terms of performance/pricing.
Physical and Specification
After unboxing the device, we’re left with a fairly small compact system, with a brick style power pack.
So far in use, it’s been very quiet and although it’s meant to have a fan (as reported here) I’ve not heard it in use at all. In terms of power drain, when switched on and left at a Windows desktop, it seemed to be drawing ~4 watts, so not too thirsty.
Container Tooling Setup
My goal was to set the device up to do containerization work and some development, so I wanted to see what tools would work ok. A first port of call was getting WSL2 up and running so I could SSH directly into that environment. Here I found that the WSL2 setup in the windows app store doesn’t currently work with Windows OpenSSH server, so doing a WSL manual install was necessary to get it setup. However once I got that done, it worked pretty well.
Next step was to get Docker up and running. At the moment Docker Desktop doesn’t have a Windows ARM build that I can see, so I just installed docker-ce directly inside WSL using Docker’s install process. The only niggle there is that it needs starting manually with
sudo service docker start.
After I got Docker running next step was having local Kubernetes clusters with KinD, this works out of the box as do any of the Golang tools I’ve tried so far, as ARM64 on Linux is pretty well supported.
Another tool I use a lot is VS Code and this installed no problems, probably unsurprisingly as Microsoft want this device to be a dev kit :) I had less success with GitHub Desktop though as there doesn’t appear to be an ARM64 version available at the moment, so command line
git is it!
There’s some other things I wanted to potentially use on this device. First one is the note taking tool I use Obsdian. Here I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a Windows ARM64 build on the download page, which works no problem at all!
Next up was dropbox for file synchronization, and unfortunately as far as I can see there’s currently no Windows ARM64 version available.
I got a request to add the UEFI configuration settings here, so this is the four sets of options when you boot to the BIOS (N.B. you need to use the mini-displayport video out rather than USB-C for this)
Project Volterra seems to be a useful dev box for ARM64 work and so far it’s working out pretty well. The small form-factor and low power draw make it an attractive option for a headless box that can run a decent range of workloads and, in containerization land anyway, software support is pretty good.