[conspire] conspire Digest, Vol 50, Issue 7

Edmund J. Biow biow at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jul 10 14:09:17 PDT 2007

> Quoting Hector Chow (tristan2k at yahoo.com):
>> Hi guys,
>> I am interested in getting myself a linux pc setup and have you guys
>> help me install the Linux distribution.  What do you guys recommend
>> if I want to spend about $300-400 for a box. For example, what
>> components are recommended: suggested video card, soundcard, etc.  I
>> am thinking of installing either Debian or Ubuntu.
Hector, almost all desktop components work fine with Linux these days if 
you are willing to install proprietary drivers and use ndiswrapper.  
Still, it doesn't hurt to plug in the name of a potential component and 
the word "Linux" in to Google before you drop the hammer.  Every once in 
a while you run across something that refuses to play nice with the 
Penguin (the Via PT890 chipset available on some of the low end Fry's 
Intel mobo/CPU combos seems to be one such culprit, though I have no 
first hand knowledge).

My choice of components depends a lot on what is on sale at the moment. 

Here are some of the sites I check to see what is on sale:

General components:
Sales Circular (big box stores):

Bargain Sites

Deal forums:

But all that shopping around and ordering or buying from multiple 
vendors has a cost of its own, and all that mucking around with mail in 
rebates is such a hassle. 

You might consider just ordering a Dell with Ubuntu.  I've seen basic 
models drop as low as $279 (about a week ago).  Right now you can buy 
one for as little as $329 and shipping (about $30):
When you customize it select No Monitor [subtract $170].

The machine comes with a 48x CD-RW/DVD combo player, 512 MB of DDR2 and 
a 160 GB SATA hard drive, plus a rather nice 256MB Nvidia Geforce 7300LE 
video card that will work with the open source 'nv' driver if you don't 
need 3D or want Compiz/Beryl.

The CPU appears to be Intel's new dual core 1,6 GHz budget model, the E2140:
It appears to be a slightly slower version of the Intel Core Duo (Conroe 
core) with a relatively low clock speed and modest 65 watt energy 
needs.  You can get a slightly faster E2160 (1.8 GHz) for $20 more and a 
standard E4300 C2D for an extra $70 (the E4300 has 2 MB of L2 cache vs. 
1 MB for the E series).  I don't believe any of them has the Intel VT 
technology if you want hardware accelerated virtualization.  Probably 
something with an AMD X2 CPU would be a better choice for a low end 
system it you plan to virtualize a lot.  All modern CPUs support AMD 
X86_64, if you want to run a 64 bit distro.

Half a gig of RAM is enough for most desktop purposes, but RAM is 
ridiculously cheap these days, so you might pick up another stick the 
next time you are at Fry's.  Today they are hawking a gig of Crucial 
DDR2 PC5300 for $20 after a $20 MIR. 

> From: Deirdre Saoirse Moen <deirdre at deirdre.net>
> Subject: Re: [conspire] suggestions
> On Jul 10, 2007, at 12:27 AM, Rick Moen wrote:
>> Hector, you should consider coming to the CABAL weekend and ask  
>> some of
>> our more seasoned hardware buyers, including Bruce and Daniel.  It's
>> this coming Saturday, 4 PM to midnight.
> I'm convinced that if it were possible to install Linux on a pencil,  
> Bruce and Daniel would be the first to do it.
That's nothing, some folks out there can install Linux on a dead badger:

Of course, it would be even more impressive if they could use a live one.

-Ed Biow

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