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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?
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I'm looking at building a cheap PC to use as a test machine, as I currently can't commit my main "fast" pc to linux, but want to be able to benefit from all that linux has to offer; a feat not particularly achievable by a compaq PIII-450 with PC100 ram that is upgraded as far as it can be!
The budget is stretched, and I dont want bleeding edge. I've listed below what I have been looking at and, including a case and all the p&p, it comes out at about £230. Any comments / suggestions?
------- Motherboard -------
I've looked through ebuyer and come across the "PC Chips" range of motherboards, particularly w w w.pcchips.com.tw/product/M848Av21.html
Has anyone got any ideas as to how well supported the SiS748/963L chipset, VIA VT6103L LAN controller and C-Media CMI9739A audio chipset are? I've googled around but haven't found any particular mention of this board.
Now, I realise people will say PC Chips are cheap & nasty etc, but the reviews found at ebuyer (w w w.ebuyer.com/customer/products/index.html?action=c2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X3Jldmlld3M=&product_uid=51760) tend to state success stories rather than failures. Maybe a change in manufacturing for the cheap PC Chips?
------- CPU -------
Most likely to be a AMD Athlon XP2500 333FSB 512kb L2 Cache Barton, as would like some speed and hence a quickish FSB and reasonable L2 cache
------- RAM -------
2 lots of Samsung 256 DDR333 PC2700 - samsung provide ram for a lot of other suppliers, as well as graphics cards, so why pay more for crucial? 2 sticks will hopefully take advantage of the dual channel of the chipset whilst giving a reasonable amount of RAM.
------- Hard Disk -------
I'll use an existing 20Gb ATA100/133 from the drawer of components...!
------- Graphics -------
Sapphire Radeon 9200SE 128MB DDR simply because it is a) cheap, b) fanless and hence silent and c) reasonable when compared to the other option, the matrox G200 in that aforementioned components drawer!
What sort of ati compatability can I expect? I've only ever worked with nvidia cards under linux.
As I said before, I've never used a relatively cheap components (motherboard in particular) system under linux, so would appreciate any feedback. With regards to the graphics card, any pointers are also appreciated. This PC will become a hand-me-down to a non computer-literate sister when I eventually get the opportunity to use linux full time!
I suppose a good idea would be to go for something higher than a 9200, because it seems that ATI doesn't support cards that low. However, another idea would be to go for the card that I use (which displays UT2004 very nicely although it's old. However, that might have to do with me using an AMD Athlon XP 2800+). Anyway, I have a Geforce 3 Ti200 which is NVIDIA, yes, but the Linux NVIDIA drivers have much better support for the cards and I think they even have better 3D performance. They also just recently updated them the 26th of January.
Distribution: Free yourself from distributions! Source is where it's at
From your post, it looks like this might be your first foray into Linux - if it isn't, ignore this
As a simple note, you don't actually need the PIII 450 to experience Linux. Whenever Microsoft rolls out a new version of Windows, the system requirements just keep going up and up. However, on the other side of the fence the inverse tends to be true. The Linux kernels themselves (to the best of my knowledge) never truly escalate in resource use or requirements; you should still be able to pick up the 2.6.4 kernel and place it onto a 386. When KDE released 3.2, they claimed speed increases from 3.1 and less memory utilisation. I'm using an old 133mhz Pentium right now as a _very_ serviceable gateway/router/firewall in a high traffic environment, and it's doing fine. Unless you want to pick up the UT2004 demo, the extra hardware won't have too big an impact on the things that will make Linux stand apart from Windows - like the bash shell, gcc, the choice of Gnome and KDE, and the ability to customize your kernel.
I would advise you to first try out Linux on that old box of yours (assuming it isn't doing anything else) Then try to spend the money to make another system for Linux when you actually have things that would justify the extra hardware goodies - like say, watching DVDs, intensive multi-tasking, playing 3D intensive games, and things of that nature.
That's just my $0.02 - but it could save you some money, and help you appreciate how well Linux can run on even some of the slowest hardware around.