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Building a box

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September 17, 2007 8:46:19 PM

Hi-

I'm a semi-noob looking to build my first Linux machine. I've been a Mac OS X power-user (I guess) for a while, and use Red Hat at work, so I'm pretty comfortable with Unixy command-line stuff. I've also assembled Linux machines from parts before, though only in situations where I wasn't the one selecting the components. Hence the "semi-noob" part.

So I come here seeking advice, comments, and/or recommendations (have been lurking a little and seems like good place with friendly, helpful people). And I've got a bunch of questions, so please bear with me here.

My plans for the machine in question are some light-duty serving (NFS, probably httpd, maybe FTP), general dinking around with Linux, and possibly becoming my day-to-day computer (my G4 Powerbook's getting a little old). I've downloaded and burned install discs for four distributions (Ubuntu Feisty, Fedora 7, CentOS 5, and openSUSE 10.2) that I plan on trying out and hopefully settling on one I prefer. (And after reading some posts here I'm in the process of adding Knoppix to that list.)

Currently (tentatively) planned hardware is as follows:
Antec Sonata III case (with Antec Earthwatts 500W PSU)
Intel E6750 Core 2 Duo
Asus P5KC motherboard (P35 chipset)
2 x 1GB OCZ PC2-6400 DDR2-800 RAM
EVGA E-Geforce 8500GT 450MHz 256MB
2 x 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA drives
1 x 80GB Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 SATA drive
Pioneer DVR-212D SATA DVD burner

Any obvious compatibility problems with any of that? I think I've read online the P35 chipset is OK with Linux, but further
confirmation would be nice.

As might be easily guessable, my graphics requirements for this thing aren't real high. A motherboard with built-in graphics would
probably do fine for me, aside from one concern. I've got a 1680x1050 22" widescreen monitor - would built-in graphics be able to
drive that kind of resolution? Unsureness of this made me think it might be a good idea to get a dedicated (but cheap) graphics card.
As for that particular EVGA, it's just one a friend recommended as a good cheap one. Might there be driver problems with it?

I plan to use the 80GB drive a system drive, and RAID 1 the two 320GB together drives for general storage. The P5KC motherboard says it supports SATA RAID 1, I assume this would be via a hardware RAID controller? Would this be configurable OS-independently in the BIOS, and easily recognized under Linux?

And as for trying out the different distros, any problems with partitioning the system drive five ways (one for each) so I can
select any one of them to boot from? And then once I've decided on one, will it be easy to merge the other four partitions back onto
the one I choose to keep?

Okay, guess that's all. Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any and all help.

More about : building box

September 17, 2007 9:39:21 PM

Antec Sonata III case (with Antec Earthwatts 500W PSU) :) 
Intel E6750 Core 2 Duo :/ 
Asus P5KC motherboard (P35 chipset) :/ 
2 x 1GB OCZ PC2-6400 DDR2-800 RAM :) 
EVGA E-Geforce 8500GT 450MHz 256MB :/  I would recommend a 8600GT or better
2 x 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA drives :) 
1 x 80GB Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 SATA drive :) 
Pioneer DVR-212D SATA DVD burner :) 


Check out phoronix

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=home



Ubuntu Feisty, Fedora 7, CentOS 5, and openSUSE 10.2 and Knoppix are all fine distributions.


CentOS is mostly for servers.

On the desktop I usually recommend Ubuntu and Fedora 7

GL and keep the questions coming :) 
September 17, 2007 9:40:39 PM

Knoppix is excellent as a Live CD and DVD but not so much when you install it.

:) 
Related resources
September 18, 2007 6:58:44 AM

linux_0 said:

GL and keep the questions coming :) 


Count on it (heh)...and thanks for the response.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the components you thought weren't so good? Alternatives perhaps?

And about the graphics card - do you think the 8500GT wouldn't handle 1680x1050 very well? I looked at some 8600GT cards, and they seem significantly more expensive (and I am trying to keep costs down on this if I can).

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=695&num=6 seems to indicate that the NVidia 8500GT is a reasonably decent card, and they're talking about running some real games on it, even at 1680x1050 (something I don't plan on doing - not really a gamer). Why wouldn't something like this be sufficient?

(And re: the distros - yeah, I figured it would probably come down to Ubuntu and Fedora, and possibly openSUSE.)

Thanks.

September 18, 2007 2:44:11 PM

Well the P5KC has some bad reviews on newegg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and you should avoid boards with the JMicron controller at all cost.


The 8500GT shouldn't be bad for light Beryl / Compiz and maybe some very light gaming, but if you can afford an 8600GT by all means go for it!

There should be a price drop when the AMD Desktop Quad Cores are released, so if you can wait a bit you should be able to get a less expensive Dual Core fairly soon :) 

I would also encourage you to compare AMD and Intel and pick whatever you think is better for your needs after you consult some Linux benchmarks.

If an $80 or $100 motherboard if going to work for you there is no need to spend $150 or more on a board.

Also the E6750 is rather expensive you can always get something less expensive or closer to the sweet spot in price performance or an AMD and save yourself $100 or more :) 

You can always upgrade the CPU later on when prices drop.

For example the 4200+ AM2 is only $74.99 vs. $220

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

you could save quite a bit by getting one or a comparable Intel near the $75 price point.

So you get a $75-$100 CPU now and you upgrade later to a better dual core or even Quad as they get cheaper.

Keep in mind the AMD Socket F ( 1207 ) Opteron 2344 HE Quad Core sells for about $209 and the 2346 HE for $255 so it will eventually put pressure on Dual Core prices from both AMD and Intel.

This is a server CPU or course but when the desktop version is released we should see some more healthy competition hopefully :) 

GL :) 
September 19, 2007 8:36:47 AM

linux_0 said:
Well the P5KC has some bad reviews on newegg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and you should avoid boards with the JMicron controller at all cost.


The 8500GT shouldn't be bad for light Beryl / Compiz and maybe some very light gaming, but if you can afford an 8600GT by all means go for it!


Ah, thanks for that newegg link - hadn't seen those, and those RAID problems especially seem like something I'd want to avoid. Being in Canada, I don't check newegg that often, as they don't ship here.

I imagine some light Beryl/Compiz is probably the most graphics intensive thing this machine will ever run, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it goes its entire life without running a game any more demanding than Pac-man...so I think I'll stay with the 8500GT (seems NVidia has good Linux driver support). Is there much/any difference between different brands with the same (8500GT) chipset? I guess I'd prefer a passively-cooled one to keep the noise down...

As for the CPU - I read around on some forums and hardware review sites, and I think I'll probably stick with the E6750. Why? All the comparisons I saw showed it significantly outpacing AMDs at comparable price points (and often higher ones). I considered the "wait for Penryn" (or other next-gen procs) approach, but I think a desktop Penryn (Wolfdale, I think?) is further off than I want to wait, and I don't really feel like buying a cheap CPU now only to spend another $x00 to upgrade it in six months. So I figure I'll buy a pretty good current one and stick with it.

I am definitely going to look around for a different motherboard though, glad I saw those reviews before buying one. On that topic, I hunted around newegg for some other boards with similar specs (LGA775, 1333 FSB, DDR2-800, SATA RAID 1), and found quite a few. Though it was kinda tough to tell what exact SATA RAID controller each one had, in my somewhat cursory hunting around I didn't see any mention of the dreaded JMicron on any the ones I filtered it down to, though I may well have missed something. Any opinions on these?

EVGA 122-CK-NF66-T1
XFX MB-N650-IUL9
Intel BOXDQ35JOE
Gigabyte GA-N650SLI-DS4
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
Gigabyte GA-G33M-DS2R
MSI P6N SLI Platinum

Amongst those, the cheaper EVGA and XFX are pretty tempting - the biggest disadvantage I can see to them is that their 4 SATA ports would all be occupied by my planned configuration...getting a little SATA "headroom" with the 6 or 8 ports on the more expensive boards might be nice, but I'm not sure how likely it is I'll ever actually need it. I'm pretty sure the N650i and P35 chipsets are OK, though it seems the G33 may still be in the process of getting compatibilified with the Linux kernel...the Q35 I'm unsure of.

Thoughts?



September 23, 2007 4:55:52 AM

Update...

Bought the case (Sonata III), video card (Gigabyte GeForce 8500GT), DVD burner (Pioneer DVR-212D), and a couple hard drives (Seagate 7200.10 SATA, decided to upgrade to 500GB each) today, leaving RAM, a system drive, motherboard and CPU yet to be purchased.

Anyone have any opinions on the motherboards in my last post?

September 23, 2007 9:26:38 PM

nvidia is pretty good.

Intel chipsets tend to be expensive and usually underperform.

If the phoronix and newegg reviews are good then get the board :) 
October 12, 2007 3:47:25 PM

You DO know that G4s can run linux too, Right?
October 13, 2007 4:44:54 AM

Of course it does!

Quote:


Although originally developed first for 32-bit x86-based PCs (386 or higher), today Linux also runs on (at least) the Alpha AXP, Sun SPARC, Motorola 68000, PowerPC, ARM, Hitachi SuperH, IBM S/390, MIPS, HP PA-RISC, Intel IA-64, AMD x86-64, AXIS CRIS, Renesas M32R, Atmel AVR32, Renesas H8/300, NEC V850, Tensilica Xtensa, and Analog Devices Blackfin architectures; for many of these architectures in both 32- and 64-bit variants.

Linux is easily portable to most general-purpose 32- or 64-bit architectures as long as they have a paged memory management unit (PMMU) and a port of the GNU C compiler (gcc) (part of The GNU Compiler Collection, GCC). Linux has also been ported to a number of architectures without a PMMU, although functionality is then obviously somewhat limited. See the µClinux project for more info.

October 15, 2007 2:24:28 PM

1amzave said:
Ah, thanks for that newegg link - hadn't seen those, and those RAID problems especially seem like something I'd want to avoid. Being in Canada, I don't check newegg that often, as they don't ship here.
Any opinions on these?

EVGA 122-CK-NF66-T1
XFX MB-N650-IUL9
Intel BOXDQ35JOE
Gigabyte GA-N650SLI-DS4
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
Gigabyte GA-G33M-DS2R
MSI P6N SLI Platinum


Thoughts?

I don't bother with newegg much either except to read reviews by customers of what they bought. They don't ship to Canada so the reviews are the only part of the site that is useful for Canadians.

Anyway, phoronix reviewed the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3P and it was an acceptable board for Linux so I assume all the P35 boards should work. I think the Abit IP35 series could work, too, but the eSATA (JMicron 363) might be an issue. I doubt I'd use that so for me, I'm debating the IP35 Pro v.s. the DS3R/DS3P or DS4. The D3P and DS4 only have 2 PCI expansion slots, though, which is a low point. The DS3R is still stuck at the 1.1* version in Canada, unforunately. (*1.1 or 1.0?).
October 28, 2007 6:06:32 PM

Hi you guys.

I'm actually on Intel's side. Geforce 8 series does not have good driver support yet, I would recommend an integrated Intel X3100 or a Geforce 7900gtx.

For the chipset, it's ok, but you need a recent kernel to be able to use it fully. I doubt Ubuntu Feisty and OpenSuse 10.2 are up to it, Ubuntu Gutsy might be.

Integrated graphics can usually manage 1680x1050 - especially the newer ones.

For
Quote:
Intel chipsets tend to be expensive and usually underperform.
I strongly disagree. They have the best driver support, Intel's the only company properly supporting Linux.
October 28, 2007 6:08:07 PM

Yeah, you do know Linux has excellent software RAID?

There's absolutely no need for the mobo to have a raid controller
October 29, 2007 1:23:18 AM

If it was between Geforce 8600GT/S and 7900GS, which would you get? Is Nvidia progressing towards better drivers with the G84 series?
The 7900GS isn't HDCP capable and I think they are expensive considering that. I know they are better for gaming but that is probably another issue for Linux (using WINE or?) anyway?
October 29, 2007 4:28:22 PM

I'm also not a gamer; I usually think from video playing point of view.

Nvidia's drivers get better all the time, and the open source nv driver recently added GF8 support too. But they both are still not using the full capability of the card.

If you're a Linux user, why would you give a crap about HDCP?
I don't. It doesn't touch me at all.
We (the users of the better OS) do not need any of that copy protection crap. We can watch any res video, on any kind of display :) 

For now, I would go with 7900gs. From the video perspective, removing of 2d units in the 8 series was a big mistake, as the 3d chips aren't as good in decoding 2d video. Xvmc support was also dropped on the 8 series, due to no hw to drive it.

It still depends on what you will do; if you're a gamer/want Compiz Fusion with full effects, you could wait and get the 8600gt. (7900 is also perfectly good for Compiz Fusion full effects XD)
November 5, 2007 12:53:24 AM

linux_0 said:
Antec Sonata III case (with Antec Earthwatts 500W PSU) :) 
Intel E6750 Core 2 Duo :/ 
Asus P5KC motherboard (P35 chipset) :/ 
2 x 1GB OCZ PC2-6400 DDR2-800 RAM :) 
EVGA E-Geforce 8500GT 450MHz 256MB :/  I would recommend a 8600GT or better
2 x 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA drives :) 
1 x 80GB Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 SATA drive :) 
Pioneer DVR-212D SATA DVD burner :) 



1. Intel Core 2 Duo E6750: not bad for the money, but I have to ask why a higher-end dual-core? If you need a fast chip, I suggest the Q6600 over the E6750 and the Q6600 isn't much more expensive but can be much faster. If you're not doing that much to stress the computer (FTP/httpd/NFS isn't stressing), I'd suggest a less-expensive chip like a Core 2 Duo E4000 series or an Athlon 64 X2.

2. Motherboard: The P35 should work all right. I personally am an abit fan, but ASUS makes a good board too. Motherboards for Intel CPUs are more expensive than those for AMD CPUs. Performance of the motherboard should be fine and so is compatibility. I've never had problems with Intel's gear and I've used quite a bit, but I haven't had problem with AMD or NVIDIA stuff either.

3. RAM: Eh, take it or leave it. With that 1333 MHz FSB CPU, all you really need is 2 sticks of DDR2-667. You won't see much of an improvement with DDR2-800, so don't pay much more for it.

4. GPU: The GPU is plenty to run dual monitors and all of the XGL/Compiz stuff. You basically just need any basic discrete GPU to do that kind of stuff. I'd also say to consider the ATi HD 2400 as ATi's Linux drivers and performance is better than that of NVIDIA's stuff.

5. Data HDDs: Those are decent HDDs, but I'd suggest RAID 5 over RAID 1 and bigger units. Trust me, you might think that you have plenty of space at first but you won't later. I'd suggest at least 500 GB if not 750s. RAID 5 gives you a better utilization ratio of your total drive capacity (67%+ vs. 50%) and much better read performance.

6. OS HDD: I'd suggest a WD 740ADFD Raptor for the OS HDD over the 7K80. It's faster and you'll get better performance.

7. DVD burner: Sounds fine to me.

One more thing: if you run RAID, set up Linux md RAID instead of using motherboard-based RAID [shudders]. Remember that most motherboard southbridges suck at handling a lot of disk I/O and bog down easily, so I'd be looking at an add-in SATA controller card. I use a HighPoint RocketRAID 2310 4-port unit that sits on a nice, fast PCIe x4 bus to get around it. The HighPoint cards have good Linux drivers (sata_mv) and are inexpensive and fast. I use it in "dumb" mode and use md RAID to handle my arrays and it works very, very well.
March 5, 2009 3:32:36 PM

if you just want a lightweight server then get an EEE Box, it runs linux too, upgrade it to 500g hdd and 2gig ram and it rocks, serves all the things you listed easy and uses way less power
March 5, 2009 3:34:55 PM

if you just want a lightweight server then get an EEE Box, it runs linux too, upgrade it to 500g hdd and 2gig ram and it rocks, serves all the things you listed easy and uses way less power
March 5, 2009 9:45:52 PM

Google searches strike again.
March 7, 2009 2:57:13 AM

*sigh* necro!
!