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Old 12-21-2006, 09:10 AM   #1
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Building a Linux box.

Alright guys, time to ask for some advice. I wasn't sure where to put this thread because it can relate to multiple topics (hardware, software, distro, programming, etc.) so I decided this was the best place.

First off, let me state my case. I am a Computer Science student and I'm looking to build the ultimate Linux box. What hardware would you recommend I put into the box? Obviously, I don't need a lean mean gaming machine. The PC I'm using right now is a Dual Slot 1 Pentium III 500Mhz, which I'm looking to drop in a better video card (2x agp are quite cheap!). However, I may just retire it to the server line for a new one.

So that system will do just fine, but what would you guys recommend?

CPU: Intel Core Duo or AMD Dual Core? I've seen some great progress with the Core Duo which could mean something. What clock speed would be good?

Motherboard: Okay, don't need the latest greatest, but how cheap is too cheap? Mid-range motherboards with all the features but not lacking in the performance department.

Graphics: Subjective right? Game programming and model rendering is quite extensive on the GPU, but would on-board video suffice or should I invest in a mid-range PCI Express card? And lastly, ATI or nVidia? I hear many people raving about how nVidia cards are easier to install then ATI ones. I've only had ATI and Intel and they've gotten me by. Though I felt like murdering my last PC when I had to deal with ATI drivers the last time.

Sound: Just like many others here, coding for hours at a time is expected - going to need to listen to some tunes. On-board or no on-board? Got any specific sound cards you like? Could include what headphones or speakers you recommend.

RAM: Anything special or something to fit in the slot?

Case: Nothing big! Carrying cases around campus is not what I had in mind. Whats a good decent mid-size case that doesn't look horrible or destroy my hands on the inside?

Distribution: What distro would be the most lean and mean, yet up to date and reliable? I was thinking of going with xubuntu (seems to run pretty good on my current PC). Of course I could go with just a simple WM and be done with it, but XGL should be an option. If it is a Linux box, it should use whatever is available for Linux.

Accessories: I see alot of little USB goodies from sites like thinkgeek. What do you have lying around your PC that's a great addition? This PC is for work and play, and it shouldn't be boring!

And what should a good Linux box cost? I'm aiming for somewhere between $500 - $1000. I've done some research on what I would build for a Windows gaming box, but would you say would be the best setup for Linux? Let me know! Any input is appreciated!
Old 12-21-2006, 09:28 AM   #2
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Old 12-21-2006, 09:31 AM   #3
Registered: Oct 2006
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I don't understand why you want "the ultimate linux box" as you call it. One of linux' key features is that you don't need a very powerful pc to use it. You didn't even mention what you are going to use the box for, so answering the above questions is kind of a moot point.

What do you mean with 'ultimate'? Do you want to run powerful graphic applications. Do you want a powerful server with large I/O throughput? Or do you just want a "bitchin' rig" just for the sake of it?
Old 12-21-2006, 09:41 AM   #4
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Thanks for the link! Good information there. After looking over the site, I've noticed that the system they put together is quite overkill. "Video cards: matched pair of eVGA GF 7900GT 256 (NVIDIA SLI)" that right there will bump me over the budget! lol


Well it's going to be used at school, for doing programming mostly. Obviously I don't need a powerful rig but something modern in the current decade would be nice. Definitely don't need a 'bitchin' rig. The question is more of a hypothetical one, what would you put together to run Linux on? What hardware would you use? I guess I didn't make my purpose clear enough.

Thanks for the replies guys.

Last edited by Abomb; 12-21-2006 at 09:54 AM.
Old 12-21-2006, 02:27 PM   #5
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One thing I would watch out for is the built-in NIC. I have built several Linux boxes at my work and one motherboard I ordered, an ASUS VM-1394, has a built-in NIC. After several attempts of installing Ubuntu 6.06, 6.10, and CentOS4.4, I could not get the NIC to be recognized. I just put in a spare 10/100Mbps NIC I had laying around. That was most annoying.


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