Choosing a computer to run MPF

Please make sure you read the Choosing a PC for MPF section first.

In this section we talk about a potential production setup. Thus, this is mostly about compromises. What is the minimal (e.g. most cost effective) hardware? You probably want to tune your game first.

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Single-board versus “real” computers?

Picking an OS

The checklist

Now that you’ve read about all the background information that goes into picking a host computer, let’s break it down into the questions you need to answer to pick the one that makes sense for you.

What OS are you familiar with?

More and more commercial machines are running Linux. But if you’re comfortable with Windows and you’ve never used Linux, then by all means do not put a Linux computer in your pinball machine. It’s just not worth the headache. Sure, this might mean that you have to buy a $150 motherboard/SSD/RAM/PSU combination versus a $50 single board computer, but meh, that 100 bucks will be worth it in terms of future pain avoided. And besides, pinball machines cost thousands of dollars to build. What’s another 100 bucks to make your life easier?

Do you have anything you can use now?

The best host computer is the one that you already have. :) Seriously, if you have something laying around, just start using it. You can always change it out later. BTW, we’ve received a few questions from people wanting to use Mac Minis.

Is this a one-off machine, or are you taking something into production?

What are your graphics and display requirements?

The Bottom Line

Remember that MPF and Python work identically regardless of whether they’re running on Windows, Mac, or Linux. So even if you pick the “wrong” host computer now, you can always change it out later without having to change any of your code or configuration files. So if you have an old laptop sitting around then go ahead and use it for MPF. You can always swap it out with a small single-board computer down the road.