I've been lurking (for just a few days, to be honest) and have been really
impressed with how helpful a lot of people are on this list, so here we
I'm quite software and OS knowledgeable, and I built my own PC *ages
ago* (...um, before the Internet,and no, I'm not Al Gore), I have a teenage
son with whom I want to build a PC at home this summer. I was hoping
there would be lots of web sites with very explicit lists "here is exactly
the hardware you need" with suggested suppliers and ranges of options,
but the best I found is the Tom's Hardware $500 gamer PC. Now I don't
particularly want a gamer, but I thought I would simply up the disk space,
add a network card (I don't think there was one, I may be wrong), add a
CD burner, and run from there. But this makes me nervous. Does this
seem like a good idea to you experts? (Note: I'm willing to spend a bit
more than that article suggested, but it would be cool to make a nice
machine for less than $1000.)
I wonder if anyone knows of explicit recommended parts lists that I just
have not run across?
A final wrinkle: I don't intend to put Windoze on this machine. I do fine
with Linux, and I think my son will learn more fiddling with it than simply
kow-towing to Redmond. And if he wants to repartition and install
Windoze himself, well, that will be a learning experience, too. But here
I wonder if you guys have experience with Linux compatibility issues?!?
I've de-loused many a commodity Windows PC and installed Linux for
myself in recent years, but always with the most work going into getting
an oddball piece of hardware to work... is this a problem in the homebuilt
A multi-function printer-scanner-copier might pose some problems for you, even with the latest kernel, so I would suggest consulting that Linux Printer Documentation site. An internal PCI modem presents the problem of just what name the current kernel wants to assign to ttyS4 (ttyS14? ttyS2?), so stick with an external modem for dial-up service to be safe. A USB connection to a cable modem still mystifies me, but an ethernet connection works without a hitch, and I've never had a problem with any USB control device. For chipsets and graphics cards the choice is between ATI and NVIDIA: I don't know anything about ATI, but whatever NVIDIA drivers might be absent from your kernel you can easily acquire and install. SATA works at least as far back as kernel 2.4.31, and pretty much any DVD burner will work with growisofs and cdrecord (and, therefore, K3B). Right now I'm using mostly two distributions, Slackware 10.2 and SUSE 10.1 (I keep XP on the disk for laughs). Even though Slack's installation is a little quirky, those quirks have their reasons, and the web site documentation is unusually well-written; it still uses the 2.4 kernel, though, and for me that required downloading two NVIDIA drivers. SUSE 10.1 installed flawlessly, and both the 32bit Slack and the 64bit SUSE hum on my Athlon. With a $900 budget (so you won't go too far over $1000) shopping for CPUs could well be an erotic experience these days, but let me offer this advice which is totally outside of the Linux context: Don't be afraid to spend $100 on a power supply; that is the foundaton of any system.
I run SuSE on my two boxes while my two sons run WinXP as they are fairly avid gamers. Oddly enough SuSE 10.1 works nicely on my "spare" machine. On it I'm running an X2 3800 with 1GB of Crucial Ballistix and an nVidia 6600GT video card. I use a wirelesws ethernet card that is RT2500 based. Drivers were interesting but it works without a hitch. HP printer is networked on my main machine, which is still running SuSE 10.0 since it just seems more stable on that particular box.
Note that ATI is a booger to install linux drivers for. I 've never been able to do so successfully so I've become an nVidiot by default.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to end up with a really powerful Linux PC. But I must concur with OLDSAW, never scrimp on a PSU as it is as important a component as your CPU!
Any particuar hardware questions? Just ask them. You should get lots of responses.