The lowest level of weapons qualification badges in the Marine Corps, the "marksman" badge is affectionately called a pizza box.

If the shooter has qualified as a marksman with both a pistol and a rifle, he becomes a walking advertisement for Little Caesar's: PizzaPizza.

pixel sort = P = plaid screen

pizza box n.

[Sun] The largish thin box housing the electronics in (especially Sun) desktop workstations, so named because of its size and shape and the dimpled pattern that looks like air holes.

Two-meg single-platter removable disk packs used to be called pizzas, and the huge drive they were stuck into was referred to as a pizza oven. It's an index of progress that in the old days just the disk was pizza-sized, while now the entire computer is.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

More recently, pizza box has come to refer to a server specifically designed for use in high density rack environments, usually in large numbers. The name comes from the shape of such a server, which is usually wide and deep, but only one rack unit (1.75") high – almost literally the size and shape of a large pizza box.

Pizza boxes are specially adapted for environments with large numbers of identical servers, such as a server farm for web hosting or a Citrix terminal server installation, just to name a few. Due to the boxes' small size, they have very little internal storage capacity, under the assumption that they will be connected to some form of external storage such as NAS or a SAN. Many redundancy features found in larger servers are also sacrificed, again because pizza box-style computers are intended for use in an environment where some other form of software-level fault tolerance, such as clustering or load balancing, is provided. Essentially, a pizza box is an appliance, built to be used in a larger, more sophisticated software and hardware system, and replaced in its entirety if it fails.

As of this writing, popular Intel-based pizza box servers include HP's Compaq Proliant DL320 and DL360 servers, the Dell PowerEdge 350 and 1650, and IBM's xSeries 300, 305, 330 and 335. Apple, not to be outdone, announced their Xserve 1U MacOS X server product in mid-20021. For extremely high-density deployments, some expect the blade server to compete with or even supplant the pizza box, but the technology has yet to be proven.

1: Thanks to cbustapeck for pointing out Apple's Xserve.

Modern pizza box servers can pack a decent punch as well when compared to conventional servers.

Dual processor machines are quite common, as are slots to install up to around 2 GB of RAM. Usually you are limited to three physical disks (either SCSI or SATA), but with 250 GB SATA disks being decently priced, you can get 500 GB of RAID 5 disk space.

Most have dual onboard NICs, and two PCI slots, so you could have up to 10 network interfaces (on the basis that the most ports I've seen on a single PCI card is 4). And most can have two PSUs installed.

So yes, they're not at the high level of power, storage or fault tolerance of a conventionally sized server. But they do provide enough of all of these for most applications.

Many manufacturers made pizza-box workstations, most notably Hewlett Packard, NeXT and Sun. These make a worthwhile addition to any esoteric hardware collection, and never fail to get a funny look out of gamer kids who (too often) seem to think that computers are by necessity either beige towers or bling-blingified LED-festooned shiny monstrosities that have more chrome than actual functionality.

Although they are somewhat old, pizza-box machines tend to run cool, are fairly quiet and have a rather small desktop footprint, while still remaining good for typical tasks such as web browsing and e-mail.

Most any of their native OSes can be configured to provide a decent user experience, though it might be worth trying Linux or BSD as well.

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