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Computer to just research on the internet

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June 28, 2010 4:50:41 AM

Okay, so long story short, I'm a middle school teacher and because all of the standardized tests kids take in Minnesota (8 during 9 months of school for my eighth graders, all performance tests not my class tests) both of our computer labs are pretty much booked for the year and even our library is closed for part of the day each day now. I am kicking around the idea of putting four of five computers in my own room. The challenge will be setting up my own wireless network in my room without the tech department catching wind I'm guessing, but I'm also wondering if you guys can help me with the hardware side.

I have put my last two computers together from scratch, so I have some basic building knowledge. Because they will just be for surfing the web to research topics all day, I'm wondering what basic hardware I'd need. I'm hoping I can use facebook to gather five or six computers from friends that have one they aren't using, or the old one they used before they bought their current new one etc. I'm guessing each would take some minor upgrading but for surfing the web to research, they aren't going to need hexacores and fermis.

What do I need to have, to have machines that will surf the net?

Thanks.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 28, 2010 6:21:13 AM

If you just need computers to search the internet then here's what I recommend:

CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 - I would normally suggest a Sempron for a budget build, but a dual core would be more appropriate for future-proofing.
Motherboard: Any AMD 880G chipset based motherboard, handles AM3 CPUs and has integrated graphics so no need for a graphic card.
RAM: 2 GB should be more than sufficient.
HDD: If they're not going to store much, on the network instead for example then a 250 GB should be good more than enough. Otherwise if all you need is bootup, a 30 GB SSD would be pretty cool.
PSU: 300W? Less? Doubt these setups use much energy at all.
Case: Anything cheap, but make sure it's sturdy.

If you're talking about just purely upgraded computers, then this is what I would upgrade to, if needed:

- Dual core CPU
- 2 GB RAM
- 250 GB HDD
- 300W PSU
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June 28, 2010 6:48:54 AM

Sounds like you gonna be getting whatever computer hand me downs you can get. If your looking at purely buying computers take a look at the Aspire Revos...they are cheap at around 200 a piece are low power and take up very little space....think two regular paperback books set spine to spine. Pick up whatever monitors you can from your friends/relatives/local freecycle etc. If your gonna be using whatever you can procure from friends/relatives/etc then its just a matter of nuking the hard drives/reinstall the os/lock them down as much as you can to prevent virus/etc. Then use them for what you think the kids might for a bit and see how they compare to the computer lab computers. The tricky part is getting computer access in your room. I would try talking to the IT department they might even be able to help you out with software etc. The only surefire way to hide the internet use is using something like a wireless mobile hotspot or something similar.
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June 28, 2010 5:31:17 PM

is there software to nuke the hard drives? I was actually thinking i'd end up watching newegg and tigerdirect for deals and just get small drives on sale for less than $50.

problem with the it department is that i asked them for a wireless connection in my room a few years go. told them i'd pay for all of the hardware (my desk was no where near the only hard line) and they said no way. Maybe i'll try to go through my principal.
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June 28, 2010 5:32:23 PM

i suppose a new hard drive or a nuked hard drive is probably going to require me to purchase an os, and that's going to be expensive. hmmm...
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 28, 2010 6:36:47 PM

freeware to nuke a HDD:
http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Hard-Disk-Utils/Swi...

If you have the install disk, you can reload the OS legally.

A full option on the cheap:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Overstock/overs...

For just a net browser, you don't much horsepower at all. My old HP 433mhz Cerleron laptop still surfs the net just fine with XP and 256mb or ram and 4gb HDD. So don't go overboard for a netbox. I'd say with XP, 1 gb ram is enough. Vista can get by on 1, but 1.5 is better.

As far as the IT department axing the idea of a wireless router, probably has more to do with security protocols and properly locking down the access point than the actual router. I by no means know about your user agreements, but working in local gov't myself, accountability is big and they find it harder to monitor wireless, so we don't have any either. But if I were to install one myself, I'd be in HOT water.
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July 8, 2010 1:44:40 AM

how about if i just add a router and run some long cat six around the room then? could i be sneaky about that in ways that i couldn't be sneaky about a wireless connection?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 8, 2010 1:59:39 AM

ITX, atom processor 1.6ghz, 2gigs of ram, ION video, 80gb 2.5" hard drive, and download ubuntu it's free and comes with opera browser I think. You can just install firefox if you want too. You can get all that for 300 bucks easy. You might also want to look into a netbook.

You do not need anything better than that to browse the internet. Don't let these people con you into needing an ssd or a core 2 duo that's overkill.

axlrose said:
Okay, so long story short, I'm a middle school teacher and because all of the standardized tests kids take in

Minnesota (8 during 9 months of school for my eighth graders, all performance tests not my class tests) both of our computer labs are pretty much booked for the year and even our library is closed for part of the day each day now. I am kicking around the idea of putting four of five computers in my own room. The challenge will be setting up my own wireless network in my room without the tech department catching wind I'm guessing, but I'm also wondering if you guys can help me with the hardware side.

I have put my last two computers together from scratch, so I have some basic building knowledge. Because they will just be for surfing the web to research topics all day, I'm wondering what basic hardware I'd need. I'm hoping I can use facebook to gather five or six computers from friends that have one they aren't using, or the old one they used before they bought their current new one etc. I'm guessing each would take some minor upgrading but for surfing the web to research, they aren't going to need hexacores and fermis.

What do I need to have, to have machines that will surf the net?

Thanks.

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a b B Homebuilt system
July 8, 2010 2:13:23 AM

this is pretty nice. http://www.amazon.com/Asus-1005HA-PU17-BK-10-1-Inch-Net...

Now windows 7 starter has some limitations so you might wanna do some research and see if that's for you.

good luck!

axlrose said:
Okay, so long story short, I'm a middle school teacher and because all of the standardized tests kids take in Minnesota (8 during 9 months of school for my eighth graders, all performance tests not my class tests) both of our computer labs are pretty much booked for the year and even our library is closed for part of the day each day now. I am kicking around the idea of putting four of five computers in my own room. The challenge will be setting up my own wireless network in my room without the tech department catching wind I'm guessing, but I'm also wondering if you guys can help me with the hardware side.

I have put my last two computers together from scratch, so I have some basic building knowledge. Because they will just be for surfing the web to research topics all day, I'm wondering what basic hardware I'd need. I'm hoping I can use facebook to gather five or six computers from friends that have one they aren't using, or the old one they used before they bought their current new one etc. I'm guessing each would take some minor upgrading but for surfing the web to research, they aren't going to need hexacores and fermis.

What do I need to have, to have machines that will surf the net?

Thanks.

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a b B Homebuilt system
July 8, 2010 2:15:38 AM

axlrose said:
i suppose a new hard drive or a nuked hard drive is probably going to require me to purchase an os, and that's going to be expensive. hmmm...


If it's just going to be surfing the net, theres no reason not to use Linux imo. For webbrowsing there is very little set up and it comes pre-loaded with Firefox.

I would recommend doing some light research on Linux as it can be quite the culture shock moving from Windows.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 8, 2010 2:57:52 AM

Ubuntu is nice and free! I'd use it if all i needed to do was browse the web or watch hulu.

cmcghee358 said:
If it's just going to be surfing the net, theres no reason not to use Linux imo. For webbrowsing there is very little set up and it comes pre-loaded with Firefox.

I would recommend doing some light research on Linux as it can be quite the culture shock moving from Windows.

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July 8, 2010 6:22:03 AM

Just a thought. If axlrose is in a school I'm guessing he/she is going to have to connect to that school network. Which is going to require information from the IT guys, correct? There is not really any way to be sneaky about this I think. But correct me if I am wrong. I'm sure somewhere here will get what I'm saying. Also if your in a school you can get really good discounts (students/teachers) on most if not all the OS. There's a website for it that I cannot remember right now, and there are probably others like it.
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July 15, 2010 12:32:38 AM

I think we are moving to windows seven over the summer. i don't know exactly what it means, but it sounds like they are 're-imaging' all of our computers at school during summer vacation. I guess i'm hoping i can just put together two or three mishmashed computers from whatever i can get and repair and install windows 7 on them (seems like I can get copies for about $90 a piece at newegg or tigerdirect etc.) and then set up a router to the current connection I have (probably going to have to go through it to set that up though i suppose?).

then i'd continue to watch for deals and get new mice, keyboards, monitors etc. when i could.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 2:03:39 AM

If you get automatic access by just plugging into that hard connection then the wired router should be fine. (and or a switch) I don't really think there'd be any other way to do it. If you need to use a password of some kind to log in, it may be harder.

If you can't get old comps from ppl you know, then I'd literally hit up craigslist for that. You should be able to find 2+ gigahertz computers for not much. Considering the source they may or may not have hard drives, may or may not have an OS installed, and even then only some of them might be fresh installs. But for what you want them for pretty much anything will do, and that shouldn't be too much more than $100 per most less.

And you could even use much weaker computers than even those, and run something like puppy linux on them. I'd probably run regular ubuntu on some of the other personally, no reason to have to spend money on win7 for web surfing.

Actually I even have an extra computer or two. One is a single core 3500+ with (currently) 1 gig of RAM and a 250 gig drive. When I got it the guy had recently installed win7 but he wanted me to build him a new comp so I did, and he just left it with me.

For monitors hit up the free or pay side of criagslist, there will be plenty of CRT ones whenever you look and they should do the job fine. There's also ebay for the mice and stuff for much less than you'd pay for the standard fare. (potentially used or just what came with something but never used) At my microcenter there's mice and keyboards for $5 each.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 3:32:29 AM

I'm in agreement with the above, there's no reason to put Win 7 on computers for this purpose. You're actually likely to have fewer problems if you load Ubuntu on them, as it comes with free antivirus (ClamAV), and there are a LOT fewer threats directed at Linux builds.

Good disk-wiping software that I've used is DBAN. Put the disk in, type "autonuke" and it wipes the drive to DoD standards.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 3:45:16 AM

You should qualify for the cheap license for most MS products. Definitely cheaper than $90.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/default.aspx

I'll say it again though, you're in difficult waters bypassing IT unless you have the blessing from a bigger fish up the food chain.
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July 22, 2010 1:29:48 AM

so let me clear up a few things here.

if i plug in a router or switch (not entirely sure of the difference) can i have different computers connect to that and sign in with different passwords? I know it depends on the it probably, but your best guess?

if all of the computers are being switched over to windows seven this summer, i need to install windows 7 on these computers as well yes?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 22, 2010 3:29:07 AM

A router handles basically the internet or whatever. If one can somehow sign into the network itself then it might be more useful since the rest would have regular passwordless entry to the internet/network. But that depends on the way that's set up. A switch would just send signals where they need to go, and would more likely be what you need.

Different passwords? Definitely depends on them. They'd have to provide you more than one password. But probably would.

That just means that all the standard stuff (network drives, etc.) will be accessible from win7. But for just internet access? It matters not at all what OS you use. Unless of course the way that you need to sign into the network is platform dependent.
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