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Are You Getting Pickier....


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#1 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 09:21 PM

about the machines you want to install Linux on? I sure am.
It's nearly 10 years now since I discovered Linux and at the time my interest in it was to keep an old Dell Dimension 4100 desktop going. It was about 7 years old, ran Windows Me. Turns out it it was a great Linux machine - Dell built them to last and the hardware was perfect for Linux.
That got me into the recycling business as a number of friends in Almonte were junking their Win 98 machines back then to either buy a Windows XP desktop or laptop. A lot of these old junkers ran Linux well and I gave a bunch away after I fixed them up. I even took pride in installing some version of Linux on really old machines. I had a Pentium II laptop from 1998 that originally ran Win 95 and was so old it didn't have either wifi or even Ethernet connections. The ultimate was a 1997 Fujitsu laptop with Pentium 133 and 80 MB of RAM. I got that functional with Deli Linux as I recall.
As much fun as that was,I had to face the fact that sometimes Junque is Junque. This became more apparent to me in 2008 when I got my first brand new Linux only desktop. It was around the time Bruno was building a fire-breathing Intel Core 2 Quad. I couldn't afford that so I got an AMD Athlon 64 X2. This machine was amazing after all the old hardware and it is still a fine unit today for music and light surfing.
I replaced that X2 a couple of years ago and my main Linux driver now is a quad core A8-5600K, 16 GB of RAM, SSD and HDD, and a recently added R7 360 video card. Although it's not bleeding edge it is a fantastic machine and quite frankly I don't want ever to settle for anything less. I am sure if I ever replace this machine I'll build another new one from scratch.
Now when I get someone offering me a new machine, I am far more picky - even if I intend to give the machine away afterward.
Of course it goes without saying that I'll never take anything with a CRT monitor. Even VGA flat screen is getting a bit long in the tooth. Other things I want to see:
  • Dual core processor and 64 bit capability. That technology has been around for 10 years now and that is as old as I want to work with. Virtualization capability is also nice.
  • At least DDR2 memory modules.
  • SATA cabling. I'll take PATA on the optical drive but not  on the hard drive.
  • Full size case. There are increasing problems with integrated graphics of the mid 2000s and I want the option to stick in a cheap video card without worrying about low profile brackets and airflow. This pretty much means I look for some sort of PCI-e slot on the motherboard.
  • No laptops. By definition a 7-8 year old laptop is pretty much fried and the ones I see were cheap to begin with. Maybe  a Latitude or Thinkpad can be fixed up but I never see those in the wild.
As an example this is what I'm fixing up now. It belongs to a friend who got a new Windows 10 machine. It's a full size HP desktop ca 2010. Its hard drive failed so I replaced it, installed Linux Mint, got an old VGA Dell monitor and a used wifi USB dongle. It has a Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor, SATA cabling all the way, DDR2 memory (6GB). My friend can use it as a jukebox or backup machine in his workshop. It'll connect nicely to his wifi network. A fine unit that probably has another 7 years of life in it. :thumbup:
Come to think of it, I had pretty much an 8 year window on age when I started ten years ago and I have the same 8 year window now. Of course, an 8 year old machine will still give you another 3-4 years with Linux so it isn't impossible to see a 10 year old desktop still functioning well. And I always upgrade my own stuff so they could in theory run even longer.
I have cleaned out some of my computer museum over the past couple of years and now the oldest functional desktop I have is a Dell Optiplex 620 from 2005. It was a state of the art screamer when new and has a very capable Pentium D 840 in it with 3 GB of RAM. Right now it's gathering dust but it's handy as a backup and doesn't take up a lot of space. I can plug in a wifi "dongle" install something new and cool I guess. Maybe I will someday - after my afternoon nap. :clap:

Edited by raymac46, 09 January 2016 - 09:30 PM.

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#2 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 09:49 PM

I haven't bought a new desktop computer (build my own starting with a motherboard) in over 5 years, I think. Most of the older computers I deal with at work are going on 7 years now. That being said I don't often install Linux on physical hardware these days. 99% of my Linux installs are in virtual machines in VirtualBox, VMware Workstation or VMware vSphere. If I do inherit computers I draw the line at anything older than a Core 2 Duo or DDR2 and SATA.

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#3 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 12:46 AM

I've never bought a store-bought new computer system or laptop of any kind. I've been running with hand-me-downs, refurbs, custom new builds, or my current Frankenputer (made from dead parts from the computer graveyard out in my shop). As for laptops, the ones I have (all Dells) are pretty old: a Latitude 1521, two D610s, and an old Dell Netbook. Everything runs on Slackware w/ no tribbles at all. :)

Personally, I'm not picky about what I utilize because I don't have many choices. Lack of funds makes me a non-choosey beggar. It is what it is.

#4 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 02:53 AM

Hello,

If anything, I've become more open to trying new distros of Linux (downloading Linux Mint 17.3 KDE and XFCE now), but I run them almost exclusively in virtual machines these days.  A few colo'd machines at my web hosting provider run Linux natively, but those are maintained by the staff over there.

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#5 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 11:33 AM

The biggest slowdown I have found when messing with older machines, is the amount of or lack of ram. Even with a slower processor, maxing out the ram can make a huge difference.

View Postgoretsky, on 10 January 2016 - 02:53 AM, said:

Hello,

If anything, I've become more open to trying new distros of Linux (downloading Linux Mint 17.3 KDE and XFCE now), but I run them almost exclusively in virtual machines these dayss

That's basically the same thing I do. Currently I have about 15 distros/OSs in Virtualbox but most of them only get run maybe once or twice.
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#6 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 11:56 AM

@Eric as far as I can see you managed to get some business grade Dells (built like tanks) and you'll look after them so no problems. Most of the lappies people want to give me are real cheap old Acers or HP Pavilions with minimum specs. Not worth the effort to refurb. Especially when you hear clanks and grinds from the fans. The last laptop offered me didn't even have wifi.
I agree with Aryeh and Josh about VirtualBox. A great way to get a feel for a distro - especially now with all the Secure Boot stuff going on.
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#7 OFFLINE   ebrke

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 12:43 PM

I know what you mean by "business grade Dells (built like tanks)". I still have an ancient (2003) Dell Optiplex 260 running OpenSuSE 13.1 using xfce. It's still fine for internet or email and just keeps chugging along (knock wood). It's nice to have around for emergencies--it'll be a sad day when it finally dies.
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#8 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 04:10 PM

Yes my I got my 2005 Optiplex 620 in 2008 when it came off lease. It ran XP Pro and I used it as my primary Windows computer until I got my present industrial grade Acer Veriton (another tank) in 2012. My son-in-law used it for a bit after that. When XP finally died I installed Linux and used it as a testbed. I can plug in a wifi USB adapter so I can connect in the basement.
It'll run 64 bit operating systems but it's a little old for Virtual Computing. What I don't like about it is that it's a desktop model - very little room to add a video card and it has to be low profile. Right now I have an old Nvidia 8400GS in it. Believe it or not Nvidia still supports a proprietary driver for this card in Linux.
A strange machine. Still too good to throw away but I have better ones in service so it molders away next to an old 17 inch monitor. I often wonder what its original owner did with it in 2005. Back then it had Intel's top processor, 3 GB of RAM, but no specialized video card. Obviously not used for graphics work. But it sure was a powerful unit back then.

Edited by raymac46, 10 January 2016 - 04:17 PM.

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#9 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 09:45 PM

View Postraymac46, on 10 January 2016 - 11:56 AM, said:

@Eric as far as I can see you managed to get some business grade Dells (built like tanks) and you'll look after them so no problems.

Yup! Love those Dells. Josh (securitybreach) gave me that Latitude 1521 a few years ago. It still runs fine and dandy, but the display has issues. I have to run it on an external monitor. The two Dell 610s are a pair bought the same day by my niece and her mother. They are little tanks. One just had an hdd carp out on it, but that's no biggie. I bought a brand new Samsung replacement for $15.90 with free shipping direct from China. Gotta' love those little Chinamen. ;) The other Dell 610 is running Ubuntu flawlessly whilst sitting on the kitchen table at my brother's house. The Dell netbook (can't remember the model at the moment) was one that I refurb'd and set up with Linux Mint for a friend a few years ago. He recently bought a new lappy and tablet and gave this old one back to me. I put... wait for it... Slackware on that baby, too. It runs like a little game rooster. It has some display artifacts on the upper portion of the screen; probably from being slammed closed in frustration a few times in the past. That's no problem, though. A new display from Dell is only about $35. I might fix it one day just for funzies.









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Edited by V.T. Eric Layton, 11 January 2016 - 01:44 AM.


#10 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 09:46 PM

I hate to hear that the display went out on the dell I gave you but at least you are still able to get some use out of it.
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#11 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 09:57 PM

Myeh... nothing is forever but forever.




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