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April 08, 2008

Computer woes (updated again IV)

This entry was posted in the following categories: Technology

This is a followup to this post

Trying to decide what to do about my computers. I have a little money courtesy* of Uncle Sam (*money from the gov't is typically in the form of "we steal money from you and may give some of it back. But I digress), but priorities above computing, so I do want to be somewhat careful.

First, here's what I have now:

1: A 1.3GHz, 512MB SDRAM PC running Linux, acting as my server, working great.

2: A 2.4GHz, 256MB DDR PC running ubuntu, to be my regular desktop Linux PC

3, A (unknown sped), 512 MB DRR2 RAM dead PC with a WinXP Pro hard drive.

Now, some caveats. #3 is dead. Power Supply is fine, probably something with the mobo or CPU
(or maybe RAM, but I doubt it). #2 got somewhat fried when I managed to (almost) put it's RAM in backwards. Boots and runs fine, but for some reason (1) the onboard audio doesn't work anymore, and (2) when I try to use a PS/2 keyboard via KVM, it's either unreliable or doesn't even work.

Okay, now what do I need? First, a server, handling email, spam filtering, and other sundries. Next, a ubuntu PC to use as my general PC, and probably a windows PC for occasional use.

Now, I've got half a mind to just swap #1 and #2. Reason: the server doesn't need much in the way of RAM (256MB would be ample), but does have some CPU needs. Downsides: 1, I'm not too confident in #2's mobo. I mean, granted, I can work around the keyboard issues, and I don't need the sound. But this machine really has to work at 100% reliability. And a semi-fried PC doesn't fill me with confidence. 2, while getting enough ram in the ubuntu machine is paramount, I'm not thrilled about it's speed being cut in half.

The other thought to think about is, do I want a mac? If I did, it would probably be a Mac Mini with dual mac/windows boot. On the other hand, there's little, and getting less and less, I need with Windows. So, if I did this, the mini (sudden thought -- I need a monitor anyway, why not just get an iMac?).

More to think (and sleep) about.

UPDATE: I'm seriously considering the Mac Mini, but it is somewhat pricy...

UPDATE II: tried plugging Win XP hard drive into ubuntu machine. Boots more-or-less okay (keyboard works for a while, mouse doesn't). Was able to attempt to log in w/o mouse, but it complained that an administrator was needed to re-authorize it with Microsoft. Given that it's an OEM version, I suspect that given that the mobo/cpu's presumed dead, it's dead too. :( Q for all my readers*: what's the actual part that windows uses to decide if it's been moved? I'd guess it's the CPU, but I don't know.

Also, I'm tracking some good deals on Mac minis on eBay. Looks like I'll buy it there.

UPDATE III: Bought a Mac Mini on eBay. Can't wait to get it. Now need to think about what else I need.

UPDATE IV: Time to think about what I have (or will have), and what I need. I've got a Mac Mini w. 2 GB RAM, and the bootcamp dual-booting software. But I don't have a legit (non-OEM) version of Windows. Q: Do I need windows? Most (non-web) that I use windows for these days is for things like iTunes. And if I'm not mistaken, iTunes has been ported to MacOS. The other issue is the tivo support, and I know that there is a version of tivo for the mac. According to tivo's website, I need to buy Roxio or Toast 8. There's a chance I won't.

There may be some sundry applications on Windows that I'll miss. I can't think of what they are, and I suspect that whatever they are, there'll be some MacOS analog. There may also be some Linux apps that I may want to be able to use. I have the debian server, and the ubuntu machine, although I may try to make those the best of both worlds (not sure what that means yet).

So, what other sundry hardware will I need? I'm getting a monitor with the mac. I have a PS2 keyboard and a presumably functional KVM switch. Problem: I don't have a USB keyboard (well, precisely, I'm typing on a USB keyboard, but it's needed elsewhere. Besides, it's a microsoft keyboard, and I suspect they don't have mac drivers for it). There exists a PS/2 to USB adapter (saw one at MicroCenter). I could use that with the KVM that'll give me the ability to use the PS/2 keyboard. Or I could I suppose just use the USB keyboard, but that'll mean one more keyboard lying around, and I need some way to control the KVM (I'm assuming I'm going to keep the kubuntu around just for old time's sake). Other option is to buy a USB KVM along with the USB keyboard, but I have a glut of PS/2's downstairs, so this seems the best solution. Mouse would be a bit tricky, except that I may be able to use a USB to PS2 mouse adapter for the (USB) mouse I like.

So that's it, I guess. Looks like I have all I need, if I just get a PS/2 to USB adapter. I may need to rethink hard drives. Internally, the mini only has 80GB, but there are plenty of external options (I have an external IDE case I can use with any one hard drive I have). But maybe investing in a nice big external drive might be simpler. I wonder if bootcamp can boot off a USB drive?

UPDATE V: Didn't think to look carefully. The Mac I bought is a Core Duo, not a Core 2 Duo. Apparently that means 32bit, not 64bit.


Posted by mlv at April 8, 2008 11:57 AM

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