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Old 04-08-2007, 11:22 PM   #1
thekclyon
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Smile NEED ADVICE: Linix for Family of 5?


Not only is this the first post I've made on this forum, this is the first step I've taken to switching from my Win/Mac platform to the open-source community. Any advice or ANY answer to my questions is beyond appreciated.

With a large check from work, I'm building 5 machines for my family of 5 and we've all agreed to save our money and use Linux as the primary OS for our network.

Here are my Questions:
1. Any suggestions for a media friendly distribution?
2. Are there any GOOD Windows emulators?
3. How about my games? Will Call of Duty 2 work properly on a Windows emulator?
4. I have not built these machines yet; AMD/INTEL? ATI/NVidia?

Any advice on where to start will be great. I have already recieved great support from the Linux community...

-KC
 
Old 04-09-2007, 12:48 AM   #2
2damncommon
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I would suggest getting one PC completed to test drive Linux. You could also ask more specific questions at that time.
I like AMD (good price) and NVidia (good Linux support).
 
Old 04-09-2007, 01:15 AM   #3
rickh
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2nd to 2damncommon.

I would go even further. Assuming you are already a Windows literate family, I would set up a dual boot WindowsXP/Linux box first. Number one reason is to keep something familiar around as a touchstone. Linux is not Windows, and there is a short, but very steep learning curve before you will be completely comfortable.

Any of the major distributions will fulfill your technical needs, but you'll need to put some time and effort into working out the kinks.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 01:29 AM   #4
cellarlight
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I agree with the above statement about dual booting. IF you are going to play games, expensive games from the store you'll need a win box. I have a sweet tooth for the games myself. When. it comes to multi-media I suggest Ubuntu, but all the distro's will work. If you haven't setup codec yet you will in the future. A small search here or Google will set you on the path. And I hope all goes well with the setup, It sounds like quiet a little adventure.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 08:42 AM   #5
jkirchner
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The windows emulators work to a degree. I have Wine and Cedega both installed but....they are far from perfect as noted for current games. Also, since you would be using emulators you would need to exceed the system requirements listed on the game box to run it and there will be a degradation in performance over just installing and running it on windows. I would definitely agree with those that recommend dual booting. I am doing so my self. I did shrink my windowsxp portion a great deal and it is primarily used for gaming. All other tasks for the most part are done on the Linux side.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 10:50 AM   #6
dickgregory
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Here's my two cents.

Box 1: Linux server. Throw lots of hardware at this one. Fast CPU, lots of memory, and lots of disk. Preferable a Raid disk array. Run NFS to share the disk with all the other computers. Install applications here.

Boxes 2,3,4: Moderate systems with Linux and Xorg. You don't need much disk since most data is on the server. You will want hefty video cards to support local GUI displays.

Box 5: Windows XP with cygwin. You don't necessarily need to dual boot, because you can run Linux applications from the server via cygwin (which runs an X server on Windows). This means you can switch between MS and Linux applications with no reboot.

This will be an ambitious project and you will undoubtedly need help from others who have been there. This forum is an excellent place for that.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 11:00 AM   #7
[KIA]aze
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkirchner
The windows emulators work to a degree. I have Wine and Cedega both installed but....they are far from perfect as noted for current games. Also, since you would be using emulators you would need to exceed the system requirements listed on the game box to run it and there will be a degradation in performance over just installing and running it on windows. I would definitely agree with those that recommend dual booting. I am doing so my self. I did shrink my windowsxp portion a great deal and it is primarily used for gaming. All other tasks for the most part are done on the Linux side.
WINE Is Not an Emulator!
And that's also why games under Wine are not necessarily slower than under Windows.
However, they won't indeed all work perfectly with Wine.

Quote:
Wine is a translation layer (a program loader) capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX compatible operating systems. Windows programs running in Wine act as native programs would, running without the performance or memory usage penalties of an emulator, with a similar look and feel to other applications on your desktop.
http://www.winehq.com/site/about
 
Old 04-09-2007, 01:34 PM   #8
thekclyon
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Thanks guys, you've been a ton of help. I'm going to build 1 machine first and test drive it with Unbuntu. From reading the above posts, it looks like I'll be forced with leaving a windows machine in the house to play games.

Thankies!

-KC
 
Old 04-09-2007, 01:40 PM   #9
rickh
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Quote:
...it looks like I'll be forced with leaving a windows machine in the house
Just don't buy Vista. Hopefully, you still have an XP installation disk around, and it should hold you long enough to make a decision about whether or not to completely dump MS.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 03:43 PM   #10
IsaacKuo
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With five computers, I think dual-booting is an unnecessary complication. I like the above suggestion which keeps every computer more specialized.

It's a pity you aren't already an expert on Linux, because there are some really cool things which are possible for a seasoned Linux user. For example, you can save a LOT of money by going with diskless workstations. I have three diskless workstations and it's awesome. All of the OS files are on the file server, and there's something magical about being able to do a full backup of a workstation OS or update its software or edit configuration files without even turning on the computer.

Another advanced technique is known as "multi-head". This is where a single computer is attached to multiple monitors, keyboards, and mice. Thus, a single computer can be directly used by multiple people at the same time.

Oh well...these are too complicated for a newbie to take on right out of the gate.

One suggestion--you probably want to have six computers, rather than five. It's good to have a centralized file server where all personal files are saved--it makes backups and such MUCH simpler. However, it's best if this file server isn't used for other stuff. Maybe just light web browsing is okay. Otherwise, you don't really want to be experimenting with lots of stuff on your main file server, leaving you with a dilemma:

1. Do you make your workstation the file server, and limit your options for experimenting around?

or

2. Do you make someone else's workstation the file server, and hope (s)he doesn't mess anything up?

With a sixth computer as the file server, you don't have to make that difficult choice.
 
Old 04-09-2007, 04:21 PM   #11
IsaacKuo
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Oh, some suggestions on hardware:

If you can find a good combo deal, get Intel/Intel. While Ati and nVidia get all the attention in graphics cards, Intel integrated graphics has the best out-of-box Linux support. Unlike Ati and nVidia, Intel provides their official drivers in open source form to the Linux community, meaning the best drivers are included in all Linux distributions (no hassle, no fuss, no downloading or installing).

As such, Intel graphics provides you the minimum hassle graphics solution.

For obvious reasons, Intel motherboard chips do NOT support AMD CPUs, so if you want Intel graphics you have to get an Intel processor also. This is unfortunate, because it forces you into a hardware dilemma:

1. The new Core2 Duo chips are absolutely awesome (Intel has leapfrogged AMD), but they are more expensive.

or

2. The older P4 and Dual Core Intel chips are less expensive, but they run HOT, consume lots of power, and thus have cooling requirements which lead to noisy computers. The extra heat may also affect reliability, depending on the rest of the system components.

But if you're on a budget, the latter option may still be the best. There are tons of mobo/CPU combos available.

OTOH, if you are already prepared to buy seperate video cards, you can get a good deal on an Socket 754 AMD combo. Three of my systems use this cheap ECS nForce3-A motherboard/CPU combo: ECS nForce3-A w/Sempron. This isn't the latest and greatest, of course, but it's really cheap and unlike Via CPUs, the Socket 754 Semprons are fast enough for anything but gaming.

(Via CPUs have their uses, but they'll be sluggish for most computing purposes.)

The downside to that ECS nForce3-A combo deal is that it has no integrated graphics. You absolutely need to buy graphics cards for them. At Compuvest.com, they have dirt cheap older graphics cards; I got an old dual head Matrox card for $10 there. Unfortunately, that card had some bizarre compatibility problems with Windows XP. I had originally bought that card for a friend who needed Windows XP on her computer. After hours of frustration and eventually discovering that it was the Matrox video card which was causing the install to fail, I gave her one of my Ati Radeons. This video card works just fine with Linux, but you'll want to keep Windows compatibility in mind because one workstation will run Windows.

Some more hardware advice:

Do NOT scrimp on power supplies. Cheap power supplies die, and when they do they may take other hardware down with them. It's a false economy. You can find some great deals on high quality PSUs, but it's hard to know which ones are the good ones. Here's an awesome deal: Fortron GREEN PS 300 for $32. You're not going to find a cheaper PSU of that fine quality.

For hard drives, stick with all SATA or all PATA. This will make your life easier when you may have to swap hardware around for troubleshooting. I find the best hard drive deals at Fry's Outpost, in their retail hard drive section. These deals change often. Currently, they have 250gig Seagates for $50 and free shipping. That's really hard to beat! You can partition it into a 5-10 gig OS partition and a 1gig swap partition, leaving the rest for data. Personally, I'd put all personal data on a centralized file server and use data partitions on the other workstations for backups. With 250gig drives, this still probably leaves a ton of extra space on the workstations; this can be used for local storage of big media files.
 
Old 04-10-2007, 05:38 AM   #12
jkirchner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [KIA]aze
WINE Is Not an Emulator!
And that's also why games under Wine are not necessarily slower than under Windows.
However, they won't indeed all work perfectly with Wine.


http://www.winehq.com/site/about

Thank you. I indeed misspoke on that one. And I knew that acronymn, dang!! As you can tell I am relatively new to Wine and Cedega. I have played with Linux before and enjoy it but have always kept the dual boot for the games.
 
Old 04-10-2007, 01:32 PM   #13
thekclyon
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IsaccKuo:

Thanks man. I've been building my own machines (gaming rigs) for years now as a hobby and you've confirmed a lot of what I know and brought up some interesting points I wasn't aware of. Rather than 737 though, Socket 939 has dropped price radically (and after the news I read online today, AMD dropped their prices of all procs again!) An Intel/Intel sounds great if Linux supports it so easily, but AMD has such a pretty price tag

And yeah, I've already went a cheap route for power supplies once before and I've sworn to NEVER do that again...

Thank you gentlemen!
 
Old 04-10-2007, 09:28 PM   #14
SlowCoder
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I he in a situation where he might be able to run distributed computing? I don't know much about it, but wouldn't the computers be able to share the total workload, thereby establishing a much higher computation rate?

Or am I just talking out of my rear?
 
Old 04-10-2007, 09:49 PM   #15
rocket357
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowCoder
I he in a situation where he might be able to run distributed computing? I don't know much about it, but wouldn't the computers be able to share the total workload, thereby establishing a much higher computation rate?

Or am I just talking out of my rear?
Check out distcc in case you decide to go with a source-driven distro (perhaps down the line...that's a bit "big" of a project for someone just starting off). I've been meaning to wrangle together all of the PII's and PIII's I have and set up a distcc cluster for my AMD64 (Gentoo Linux), but I haven't gotten around to it yet...

And yes, distributed computing software is available (for purposes other than compilation), but like distcc, it might be a bit much for someone new to Linux.

edit - also, you have to consider the load distributed computing will put on the network...do you dump the cash you saved into a secondary network solely for distributed computing? or do you just take the performance hit and stick to one network?

Last edited by rocket357; 04-10-2007 at 09:51 PM.
 
  


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