Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Building a $200 Linux PC

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the cost-of-a-cheap-tux dept.

Hardware 300

WesternActor writes "Computers are getting cheaper to buy every year, but there are still sometimes advantages to building them yourself. ExtremeTech has a story about how they sought out the parts for a $200 computer that (of course) runs Linux as a way of breaking the budget barrier. They even test it against a commercially available eMachines nettop to see how it compares in terms of performance. This probably isn't something everyone will want to do, but it's an interesting example of something you can do on the cheap if you put your mind to it."

cancel ×

300 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What about atom? (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33021046)

For the price they paid for CPU+mobo they could have got a mobo with an Atom CPU soldered in. That socket doesn't come for free and, after all, when was the last time you had a CPU upgrade? By the time you want more performance you will most likely get a whole new system.

Re:What about atom? (4, Interesting)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#33021090)

I think there's a market for a cheap Atom-based Linux box used for internet browsing, but the Athlon II X2 245 is literally at least four times faster at everything. The prices for dual Atom-based boards are also a little bit high for what you get, so from a value proposition what they've done makes sense.

For what it's worth, I upgraded my CPU about two months ago - from a 2.6 GHz Athlon64 X2 to a 3 GHz Athlon II X2 - and it's been decently peppy. More importantly, it let me take the old CPU and pop it into a cheap Linux box of my own. :)

Re:What about atom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021106)

They could have got a dual core atom [newegg.com] for $79.99, vs the $98.98 their system cost, but then it would be an Intel system and the article specifies that "there was never much question that this build would be AMD-based". They paid $18.99 for not questioning the well-known fact that AMD offers a better price.

Re:What about atom? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021158)

No, they spent $20 to get a system that's five to ten times faster than the Atom would be yet still be within the $200 budget. Even if they could use the diff to get another meg of memory it'd never make up for it in practice.

Re:What about atom? (1, Redundant)

Smallpond (221300) | about 4 years ago | (#33021336)

He set these two constraints:

  • The CPU had to be dual-core
  • it just needed to fulfill the basic everyday requirements ...Web browsing, e-mail, file creation and manipulation

So immediately we know the author is clueless.

Re:What about atom? (2, Informative)

ZosX (517789) | about 4 years ago | (#33021594)

Why? Dual core cpus give a quite noticeable increase in system responsiveness. Even if you are only writing e-mail or browsing the web. Sure mozilla isn't going to run any faster (actually with multi-threading this is changing too), but how windows (or linux in this case) responds to you will be certainly improved.

Re:What about atom? (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33021754)

Nah, no one ever accomplished those simple tasks before multicore processors were available.

    </sarcasm>

    Really, if they wanted a basic machine, as they indicated, they'd go with the cheapest processor, 128Mb RAM, etc, etc. You can set up most Linux distros to work in very tight constraints, and going with the slowest cheapest processor available new, and the smallest stick of ram available, may have come out cheaper.

    Quite a while ago, when 133Mhz Pentiums were the norm, I was looking at an old machine that someone had given to me. It was an old 386 server. I was pondering "what will I do with this piece of shit", and finally put Linux on it and took it out for a test drive. It was pathetically slow, but it did the bare minimum that he specified. I didn't use it for much, since I had a blazing fast 200Mhz machine for my normal use. Who'd ever need anything faster. :) Eventually, it made it's way to the dumpster.

Re:What about atom? (2, Informative)

cynyr (703126) | about 4 years ago | (#33021816)

why's that? dual core is nice even for that, so that you can run a flash app(farmville) and skype at the same time. simply unloading system processes to the second core is a huge gain in the way the system feels.

Re:What about atom? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021110)

One of their requirements was the ability to upgrade later. BIG PENIS.

Re:What about atom? (1)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#33021126)

That socket doesn't come for free and, after all, when was the last time you had a CPU upgrade? By the time you want more performance you will most likely get a whole new system.

Why? The only things they've really cut corners on here are graphics, memory, and CPU. All of these are upgradable without losing the rest of the system, so why would you get a whole new system when you didn't need to?

The motherboard may be cheap, but it's not lacking in power and can support a much better system than the one they've put together here.

Re:What about atom? (2, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#33021228)

All the times I really wanted an upgrade (about every 3-4 years) the new CPUs needed a new mobo, as the slots of the new ones where different. In the end a new system was just easier then to hod on to the old outdated hardware. At least then I would have a complete system to give away.

Re:What about atom? (5, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 years ago | (#33021322)

Were you only upgrading with Intel processors?

The AMD AM3 processors are backwards compatible with AM2/AM2+ sockets and AM2+ processors are backwards compatible with AM2 sockets.

AM2 came out in May, 2006.

Re:What about atom? (4, Informative)

maugle (1369813) | about 4 years ago | (#33021744)

No, AMD's AM3 processors are potentially backwards compatible with AM2/AM2+ sockets and AM2+ processors are potentially backwards compatible with AM2 sockets. Getting a newer processor to work in an older motherboard may require the motherboard vendor to release an updated BIOS, and they might not do that.

I found this out the hard way.
Fuck you, Gigabyte.

Re:What about atom? (2, Interesting)

Cylix (55374) | about 4 years ago | (#33021790)

My last rig was an AM2 system and it's a bit simplified to say that you need to only upgrade the processor.

The only time in my life in which I have purposefully upgraded the processes was when I used the planned obsolesce due to budget algorithm. This algorithm works on the basis of monetary limitations which directly limit the capabilities of the equipment available. ie, I could not afford the shiniest of the shiny.

The general philosophy was to build a new system with something borrowed, something stolen and then some things new. Using the planned obsolesce algorithm I would under spec the processor to something very affordable.

This meant I was on a purpose set upgrade cycle of 4-6 months. It was hoped that during this time I could accomplish two things. My wallet would grow over time and through sheer of will I would force market prices to fall. Invariably, within 4 - 6 months prices would dramatically shift and I could upgrade my rig to it's full potential.

Since those dark times my build strategy has changed and I usually just build the rig as I wish. This means that generally upgrading the processor will not yield that much performance. Even worse is that purchasing a new processor that has greater support for faster memory and newer board designs means I would under utilize it's capabilities. In essence, it's a bit wasteful to purchase just a processor because there is more under the hood then simply cycles.

There are other areas to eek out performance or substantially increase beyond the proc. There are bus speeds, memory speeds and even faster IO ports. To the extent that one waits to upgrade the divide usually widens proportionally. Sometimes they even make a fancy new DMA channel and slap on a new name.

So yes, while I could have upgraded my AM2 system to an AM3 there were substantial improvements in the design. Most notably in my case were memory speeds had doubled from my installed module. There were several other improvements, but let us just say things had improved.

Re:What about atom? (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33021622)

The problem with upgrading just the cpu is that you're throwing out a cpu. Most people will upgrade both the cpu and motherboard, and keep the old ones as a spare, or make them into a headless file server, or give away the whole thing.

Also, most people would be better off buying a cheap dual-core laptop $479 - 3 gig ram, dual core, 320 gig hd), refusing the MS install (-$55) and getting a refund on Windows, and they also won't have to buy a monitor (-$100), keyboard and mouse (-$25) mouse, ups (-$40), or wireless networking to steal wifi since they're so cheap ($25). So, laptop $479-$245=$234 vs their machine ($192) = $42 (and you don't have to pay shipping on the laptop or assemple it), for twice the hd space and 3x the ram - or you can sell the 2 gigs of ram to someone else and you're ahead of the game.

Re:What about atom? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33021638)

Oh, almost forgot - the laptop also has a dvd burner - their el cheapo box has NO optical drive. So, a cheap optical drive is $25, so the laptop purchase is a no-brainer instead of their cheap POS.

Re:What about atom? (2, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 4 years ago | (#33021132)

I somewhat agree, however the performance difference is massive between an Athalon and an Atom. For a fully featured computer, you really want a proper processor.

I've looked down both paths a lot in the past, and you pay for flexibility. That being said, it's about the same price, so why not go with a decent processor?

Re:What about atom? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021290)

It's ATHLON, damnit! ATHLON! Not "Athalon".

Re:What about atom? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#33021134)

By the time you want more performance you will most likely get a whole new system.

Which, with an atom, will be a whole lot sooner than with a more powerful chip. If you're building your own system, then it's likely a desktop and that means it has to be able to handle desktop tasks and not just netbook ones (perhaps even act as a MythTV box, etc).

But you're right, I almost never upgrade the CPU. I go for ram first, and I found a good, small SSD is worth much more in perceived speed than incremental CPU upgrades. An atom is 32 bit only IIRC, so there is no upgrading beyond 4GB ram at most (Windows 32 it's 3GB, not sure how Linux handles it on 32 bit systems).

Re:What about atom? (2, Insightful)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#33021160)

Newer Atoms fully support x86_64, but will not be quick.

Re:What about atom? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 4 years ago | (#33021308)

An atom is 32 bit only IIRC, so there is no upgrading beyond 4GB ram at most (Windows 32 it's 3GB, not sure how Linux handles it on 32 bit systems).

Not that it matters much, this being a budget PC and all.

Re:What about atom? (1)

XanC (644172) | about 4 years ago | (#33021434)

Actually the Atom, when bundled with the Nvidia ION, is capable of being a high-def Myth box. I've set up a number of the $200 Acer Aspire Revos for this purpose. Was even able to get a Windows refund too (although I haven't actually received the check yet, so I don't know how much of one).

Re:What about atom? (2, Informative)

BagOBones (574735) | about 4 years ago | (#33021268)

ATOM processors are VERY slow compared to the dual Core they chose, unless you pair the ATOM with an integrated GPU on an ION board you would easily go over budget trying to cram in a GPU.. Then you are also stuck trying to use GPU accelerated applications or you suffer horrid performance for multi-media..

Other than physical size they system they built vastly out performs a ATOM solution.

Re:What about atom? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021284)

The problem with buying an Atom is you will want to upgrade it straight away because they are so fucking slow.

Re:What about atom? (1)

bami (1376931) | about 4 years ago | (#33021394)

The only reason I'm considering upgrading my Atom HTPC (from where I am typing this post) is so that slashdot doesn't freeze my whole browser while loading a story in a tab. Sure, I've fixed it now by setting it to the old no-javascript page, but it's account tied so now it's both crap on my HTPC as well as my laptop.

For the rest, I can play 1080p with intel onboard graphics, can browse the internet and listen to music, all for under 50 watts, and the system was 300 euro 2 years ago , when the atom 330 was launched. The only problems are youtube in fullscreen mode, or slashdot.

Re:What about atom? (2, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 4 years ago | (#33021502)

I've got one of these Atom 330's too. 4GB RAM (can only use 3.5GB though... Meh) Anyway, do you use Windows or Linux. I used it for a while as a primary desktop running Ubuntu 9.04 (I think, it was around September 2009, so it sounds correct). It was unbearably slow... Slower that many dumpster-sourced machines I've used and I'm a proud dumpster diver. My brother currently uses it, but I dumped XP on it. No speed complaints at all. I think the NVidia driver for Linux was really bad for the ION GeForce 9400M that was included.

Compared to a Atom D410 based motherboard (Intel D410PT), I used for building a new desktop for my mother in law. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (was out by then) runs beautifully on it and the thing is just a single-core machine. Including DVD-RW, 250GB HD, 2GB RAM and a very sweet design case (only thing my MiL cared about) it came in around 250€.

I'll be getting back my Atom 330 system soon, as I found a nice laptop in the dumpster for my brother (P-IV Mobile 1.6GHz) and he'll get that instead. Comes with a Windows XP Pro license too. ;-) So, if you run Linux on you Atom 330, I'll be glad to hear what you did to get it running decently.

Back a few years, I did give me the same challenge....Or at least similar: 500€ [slashdot.org] If I could do it, my I'd build my sister a new PC and gift it to her. I did manage. The machine still works, but she now uses a Core2Duo desktop I found at a liquidation sale (store got bankrupt). I offered 300€ for all their computer hardware and this included that fully working E6600-based machine. Sweet :-)

Re:What about atom? (1)

bami (1376931) | about 4 years ago | (#33021636)

Not linux I'm afraid.

I'm using it as a samba box/torrent client/htpc, and I didn't want to wad through the "omg only patent-free" dickwadery that is linux (Yeah I know, get them from some repository, but I'd rather just install one codec pack and be done with it).

Windows XP Professional, with 2 GB of ram, but with Intel Extreme Slideshow, instead of the ION board (that came out a couple of months after I purchased mine). Everything else on it flies (XP boots in what, 14 seconds or something)

Re:What about atom? (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33021674)

    In skimming the article, they wanted to have flexibility to upgrade. You could go from something like an 2.9Ghz Athlon II x2 (which they used), to a 3.2Ghz Phenom II x6 That's a pretty decent upgrade.

    I built my new desktop for Christmas (subsidized by friends and family as their presents to me). I went with an Asus motherboard with a AM3 socket, and an Athlon II x4. I actually intended to grab a Phenom II x4, but grabbed the wrong one. Oops. In some quick digging online, before taking a drive back to the store, it seems this CPU is can be overclocked to be rather comparable to the Phenom II x4, except it saved $100. I've been very happy with it, but will buy a good Phenom II eventually, as prices come down.

Are we still on this?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021064)

Are we still on this topic? Why would anyone want to do this? Linux PCs are just about worthless, it's even hard to run FLASH in a browser. Give up! This will never be mainstream, it's not worth saving the $150.

Re:Are we still on this?! (1, Funny)

blai (1380673) | about 4 years ago | (#33021072)

No, Linux is nothing like iOS

Re:Are we still on this?! (1)

tgatliff (311583) | about 4 years ago | (#33021124)

Ummm.... It depends what you are doing. Yes, if you want a basic browser with flash, go down to walmart and buy a computer. If you are building a group of opencv (computer vision) frame processing servers, then linux is the only way to go.

Overall, though, I agree with you that the thought of pushing linux desktop PCs is a little puzzling. It is not really what they are best at, and the only reason I ever use one for browsing is because I vertigo anytime I look at a Vista / Windows 7 desktop.

$200??? (5, Informative)

dskoll (99328) | about 4 years ago | (#33021078)

That's crazy-expensive. We recently bought 6 second-hand little HP desktops for $69 each. They only came with 512MB of RAM, so another $15 each upgraded them to 1GB, and they are perfectly serviceable desktops for our sales and admin team.

The CPU is slower than in the story (single-core Athlon 64 at 1GHz), but performance is just fine.

Re:$200??? (2, Insightful)

tgatliff (311583) | about 4 years ago | (#33021098)

I think you would agree that performance no longer is a problem is most cases... Meaning, those HP desktops most likely will perform just as well (and long) as the new ones of today. Pretty sad if you think about it...

Re:$200??? (2, Interesting)

Doctor Memory (6336) | about 4 years ago | (#33021222)

Yep, my wife's machine is a 5yo Gateway laptop with a 3GHz P4 and 1.5G of memory. For lots of stuff, it runs faster than my 2.2GHz dual-core machine at work. Lots of stuff is still single-threaded, and even though that's changing, there's often a critical path that can't be partitioned. Faster CPUs still == win much of the time.

Re:$200??? (2, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 years ago | (#33021448)

A 3 GHz P4 is slower on single-threaded applications than most 2.2GHz single/dual core processors (AMD Athalon/Core2) simply because P4's had high clocks but a poorly designed and underperforming architecture that made instructions take more cycles and memory accesses more frequent than on the Athalon/Core2's.

What you see as "faster" is probably a combination of perception, dependencies on networked software, and background software overhead (anti-virus, outlook, etc) that tends to bog down business computers.

I say this, because a company I work for bought a set of Dell XPS computers a year ago (small project was required to spend around 6k/computer for the amount to be high enough to justify procurement), each with Core2Quads, 8gb+ of ram, bunch of other toys with massive screens, blah blah...

Anyhow, the XPS's run about like a 3 GHz P4 desktop-replacement-laptop my mother bought back in 2005.

*Both* feel like they have a small fraction of the power of an AMD 64 X2 4400+ (2.2ghz) based desktop that I built back in 2007.

What I'm trying to say is that your claim doesn't make any sense from an architectural standpoint if you're familiar with the P4 architectures, and for good reason, since what you perceive as speed has to do with many other factors than the processor and thread handling behavior.

Re:$200??? (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | about 4 years ago | (#33021666)

The only real numbers I took are for repaginating a Word document I was working on. My work machine took ~34 seconds, my wife's machine took 30. Not a hard-core profiling job, but both machines were similarly loaded (no heavy background tasks). My work machine has 4G of memory, my wife's has 1.5G, both were using about 800M before I launched Word.

I was surprised my wife's machine seemed faster, as it has a 5400RPM drive and my work machine has a 7200. So I assumed the difference must have been due to CPU speed, since if any significant swapping had happened, the disk speed advantage would have kicked in. (The document I was working on was on a USB drive in both cases.)

Re:$200??? (5, Informative)

pinkj (521155) | about 4 years ago | (#33021194)

They explained that they wanted to create a box for $200, but still be able to upgrade. The mobo is AM3 with DDR3 support, so they could skimp on the CPU and RAM for now with the intention to upgrade with recent technology in the future. They didn't mention it, but it seems they wanted to build a box with new parts as oppose to second hand ones.

Re:$200??? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33021240)

That's a fairly standard way of doing a $X build while writing an article on the web.

Re:$200??? (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 years ago | (#33021562)

..and considering that the AM3 will hold both the Phenom II 1055T and 1090T, which are both 6 core enthusiast monsters.. I've got to give them +++CREDIT TO TEAM+++ .. the machine is upgradeable all the way to the current bleeding edge.

Re:$200??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021470)

Wait, you can buy a significantly slower and crappier used PC for less than it would cost to build a new, better one? That's both insightful and informative. Thanks dskoll.

This has always been a plus for Linux, so? (4, Insightful)

adosch (1397357) | about 4 years ago | (#33021096)

Linux has always had the extreme flexibility to run on a wide range of processors types not to mention still get a nominal amount of performance and use out of something that is deemed 'obsolete' by Moore's Law. That's why I don't do bleeding edge hardware at home unless I have an absolute need for it (e.g. gaming, or some bloatware application that needs that type of horsepower) and it works great to be a bargain-basement shopper. Do I find this article surprising? Not at all.

Re:This has always been a plus for Linux, so? (2, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | about 4 years ago | (#33021232)

Do I find this article surprising? Not at all.

I'd generally agree, but it's nice to see an article like this. The biggest mistake attributable to new users is making uninformed hardware choices. If the hardware is fully supported, and there's an write-up somewhere on the web confirming that, then the rest is easy.

That said, what's missing from the article is the dmesg output. A quick search suggests that the motherboard has onboard Realtek RTL8111B NICs, and those NICs aren't supported by FreeBSD. Whether that's the case, or whether it matters, I don't know, but it does underscore the need to know what it is you're buying before you buy it.

Supported Hardware (3, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 4 years ago | (#33021102)

With the right hardware Linux is perfect for old hardware. You can customize and tune it quite a bit better than most other OSes. However, the caveat is that the hardware must be decently supported. For example, I have an old laptop with an ATI Mobility 7500 on which I installed Centos 5.5. Normally I'd just grab the FGLRX installer from ATI and remake a module, but in this case, the modules don't work properly. As a result, I'm using a non-accelerated video driver which is painfully slow even for non-intensive graphics such as scrolling a terminal window. I'm not conceding defeat yet. It might be a matter of putting the correct hardware ID into the source and re-compiling or it might be something else entirely. Luckily I know how to do that, but sometimes it's a chore. Not difficult to do, certainly, but a PITA.

On the other hand I have some old single-core AMD Athlons running some virtual machines via Xen and KVM. Even after years of service, they still do a very good job. On a nightly basis they run some software rebuilds in some VMs and in others run DNS, LDAP, fileservers and mail. I have imported the VMs into a newer quad-core system, but until they die, they use less power than the modern machine.

Re:Supported Hardware (2, Informative)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#33021130)

If I remember correctly the Mobility 7500 was never supported by the fglrx driver. It's a mobile derivative of the original Radeon core, so you're probably stuck with using the 'radeon' driver in X.org. Adding the PCI ID to the source, recompiling, and keeping two fingers crossed should do the trick; if it doesn't, get in touch with the developers. Good luck!

Re:Supported Hardware (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | about 4 years ago | (#33021272)

When we moved, I put my old Sun workstation (single core 2.4GHz Opteron) in storage. It took longer to find a house than I expected, so I wound up building a quad-core box. When we finally got moved in, I was quite surprised to notice that my old box actually felt faster than my new one. I put it down to OpenSolaris being tuned for the Sun hardware, plus having a proper graphics card (nVidia Quadro vs the on-board Radeon 4200 on my quad-core box). So now I'm working on setting up my new box to use as a compile/compute server and doing all my editing/surfing/etc on my old one.

Re:Supported Hardware (1)

jmknsd (1184359) | about 4 years ago | (#33021584)

Wasn't the 7000 series the last card ATI released the source code for?

I would imagine that it would work very well.

Cheap Building can be quite demanding (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021150)

Last winter I put together a 100 euro (~130 dollar) gaming(!) rig.
Took a oc-friendly last-generation graphics card, (~30e), low-end Intel core2 CPU (~25e), random used LGA775 Board (~25e) and 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM (~20e). All 3 off ebay.

I got a IDE-Harddrive, CD-drive and PSU with IDE-style connectors laying around (who uses IDE these days anyway?) and repurposed an old case.

With the graphics card and CPU oc'ed (CPU stable at around twice the stock frequency with boxed cooler) it's a quite veritable rig. Though not every setting can be maxed out, it performs well with any new game.

Re:Cheap Building can be quite demanding (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 4 years ago | (#33021654)

PSU with IDE-style connectors

I think the term you're looking for is "molex" connector.

How much disk space do they need...? (1)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#33021152)

[160GB] would give us more than enough room for the OS, and still leave us lots of space for files--no, we wouldn't be able to store our entire photo or MP3 collections, but we wouldn't be hurting for space either.

How many photos/MP3s do they have? I mean, jesus. I maintain a server here for a 3-person software development company where we also have all the personal data of all 3 employees, and we haven't come close to filling our 400GB RAID array. We have

OS install = about 4GB.
MP3 collections for three people = about 60GB, representing nearly 11,000 tracks.
10 years' worth of digital photos for two people (the other doesn't have a camera) = about 10GB.

When they say "photo collection", they're actually talking about porn collections, aren't they?

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (3, Interesting)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | about 4 years ago | (#33021184)

Well my "mp3" collection is over 400GB - though that includes quite a lot of FLAC and WMA-lossless... just saying... (And that represents over 30,000 tracks)

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021226)

MP3 collections for three people = about 60GB, representing nearly 11,000 tracks.

Wow, that's $5k worth of music on it. That company sure pays its employees a lot of money! And how is work, Jules [mailto] ?

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (2, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#33021330)

"10 years' worth of digital photos for two people (the other doesn't have a camera) = about 10GB."

Depends on what sort of photos you take. Da spouse has over 100GB of painted bunting photos alone (RAW images mostly).

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 4 years ago | (#33021438)

Buntings as in birds or buntings as in flag materials?

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021698)

Buntings as in baseball hits!

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 4 years ago | (#33021708)

I have an mp3 collection approaching over 350 gigs. That's over 40,000 MP3s, OGGs, and FLACs. 20,000 raw photographs on a drive: 150 gigs (and that's just this past year). Heck the 140gb partition I have for my system barely holds windows, CS4 and a few (admittedly large) games. Its only got 40 gigs free right now. Heck I have about 100gigs of PSX ISOs alone, whereas all the 8-bit and 16-bit roms ever released fits somewhere inside the space of like 10 gigs. I never got into collecting PS2 and XBOX ISOs thank god!

Re:How much disk space do they need...? (1)

timmans (1288762) | about 4 years ago | (#33021746)

10 years' worth of digital photos for two people (the other doesn't have a camera) = about 10GB.

I currently have 12.5GB of photos of my 13 month old son...

Is this news? (0)

Neoprofin (871029) | about 4 years ago | (#33021188)

Did anyone else notice that they forgot to mention in their final summary the possibility of buying the pre-fab eMachine for $100 more then installing Ubuntu on it and having a system with:

Much better performance
Much smaller form factor
Wireless keyboard and mouse
1 year warranty
I also don't like the "higher transfer speed" was attributed to Ubuntu not to the eMachine running a 5400 drive vs. a 7200, or the face that building your own cheap computer and putting Linux on it is even news to begin with.

Iz you reals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021242)

The budget was $200, how is mentioning the possibility of spending $300 on some non-solution even remotely worthwhile? They also didn't mention the possibility of getting a free computer from someone.

Re:Is this news? (1)

xs650 (741277) | about 4 years ago | (#33021450)

Yes, but...then they would have had to change the title of the article to Buying a $300 Linux PC.

It's one thing to disagree with someone's answer, it's another thing to say they asked the wrong question.

Re:Is this news? (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 4 years ago | (#33021770)

Actually if you had paid attention in the article you would have learned that the e-machine was vastly outperformed by the cheap budget box.

Is the form factor worth the extra $100? I guess that's for the reader to decide. This is news in a way because previously it was nearly impossible to build a decent box with case and power supply for $200. Barebones systems used to bottom out at $300 without a drive and memory. Prices have really drastically fallen on low end goods. People should put their P3s away and start building some decent, usable systems for $100 or so plus some spare parts.

not much of a challenge, how about $150 computer? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#33021202)

assuming all new components, with motherboards available for under $40, should be able to build $150 PC (monitor not included though)

Re:not much of a challenge, how about $150 compute (2, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | about 4 years ago | (#33021424)

Motherboard with video and sound integrated - 40$ , CPU - 37$ , case + psu - 30$, memory 20$

We're at 127$ right now, well maybe at 135$ if we include mouse+keyboard

The hard drive is what would push us over the edge, so how about we just replace it with a 8GB memory stick that's 13-15$ ? 2 GB for the OS should be enough (you would install a Linux in much less space if you want to) and you still have 6 GB left for documents and files.

If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021206)

Since Windows 7 Home Premium retains for $199.99 it obviously has to run Linux otherwise it would be a $400 PC.

I remember reading an article about 15 years ago that said the operating system used to account for 2% of the cost of a PC but by then it was 10% of the cost. It seems that thanks to falling hardware prices and rising prices from Microsoft we've now hit the point where the operating system can be 50% of the cost of the PC.

For purely economical reasons children should use Linux exclusively in schools. As things stand the education system is just generating customers for Microsoft which allows Microsoft to charge whatever they want for the products. I say this as somebody who uses Windows exclusively and who's pissed off at the prices Microsoft charge for their retail software. If I'd grown up using Linux I'd have saved myself a lot of money.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (2, Informative)

DAldredge (2353) | about 4 years ago | (#33021286)

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 4 years ago | (#33021396)

Better yet, if you have (or have a friend/family) with a .edu email address, Win7 Pro for $30! http://www.microsoft.com/student/en/us/windows/buynow/default.aspx [microsoft.com] I got one copy & it works, upgrading from XP.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 4 years ago | (#33021618)

What's the point of not pirating if you're going to violate the license anyway?

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 4 years ago | (#33021588)

So it would have been a $300 PC, with a full 1/3rd of the cost going to the OS alone.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021306)

Since Windows 7 Home Premium retains for $199.99 it obviously has to run Linux otherwise it would be a $400 PC.

I remember reading an article about 15 years ago that said the operating system used to account for 2% of the cost of a PC but by then it was 10% of the cost. It seems that thanks to falling hardware prices and rising prices from Microsoft we've now hit the point where the operating system can be 50% of the cost of the PC.

For purely economical reasons children should use Linux exclusively in schools. As things stand the education system is just generating customers for Microsoft which allows Microsoft to charge whatever they want for the products. I say this as somebody who uses Windows exclusively and who's pissed off at the prices Microsoft charge for their retail software. If I'd grown up using Linux I'd have saved myself a lot of money.

Well, here's the thing. That 199 price you mention? School systems don't pay that because...none of them are buying retail boxes off the shelf. Most would probably have a volume license through a support contract from some vendor, which may be somebody like Dell that covers them top to bottom, or it may be a mix of providers for hardware and software. To demonstrate an economical advantage, you have to consider their real costs, and no, they can't rely on some geek who knows stuff.

Besides, this whole thing about generating customers? There was a time where Apple owned the education market...it didn't transfer over at all, except I suppose to a few niche segments which Apple had anyway.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021334)

How is it that something that is disproved by another post or a 4 second google search modded up like this?

Keep drinking the kool-aid fanbois but your lies are showing.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 years ago | (#33021540)

It's Slashdot and he said something anti-Microsoft, of course.

Mod parent down (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 years ago | (#33021382)

If you're putting together a system anyway, you can use MS's OEM pricing, which is about half of the $200 parent quotes.

I can get it cheaper yet because the university I work for has a licensing agreement that, among other things, lets me download a copy of Win7 Pro for $66, or Ultimate for $90.

Re:Mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021518)

So what kind of computer can you put together with the remaining $134.00, that's just as zippy as a Linux box? Still waiting for that answer smarty pants.

Re:Mod parent down (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 years ago | (#33021530)

Of course it still costs more than free, but it's not quite so bad as claimed.

Re:But it's not cheaper is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021632)

You can get a cheaper deal because the University has a licensing agreement, which means that the University subsidized your cost. Soooo, I have to ask is it really cheaper if you're offloading the cost to another entity? Any way you play it, Microsoft is going to get their money, all that's going on here is yet another marketing scheme of pretending something is cheaper when it's not.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (0, Troll)

westlake (615356) | about 4 years ago | (#33021578)

Since Windows 7 Home Premium retains for $199.99 it obviously has to run Linux otherwise it would be a $400 PC. It seems that thanks to falling hardware prices and rising prices from Microsoft we've now hit the point where the operating system can be 50% of the cost of the PC.

The AMD Acer Aspire [walmart.com] notebook with 15" screen, Radeon 4250 graphics and 64 Bit Win 7 Home Premium is $300 at Walmart.com

Someday, the geek may fathom the mysteries of volume licensing, wholesale versus retail pricing, and the OEM system bundle.

That day can't come too soon, IMHO.

Or you can go refurb (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 4 years ago | (#33021630)

I ended up getting a refurb HP for my wife for $250. I came with an Athlon II X4 620, 3 GB ram, and a 500 GB HD, and Windows 7 Home Premium. I think it would be pretty hard to build it yourself for that price.

BTW, she didn't like Windows 7, so it is running 64bit Kubuntu 10.4. I still left 7 on the machine though.

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#33021792)

Since Windows 7 Home Premium retains for $199.99 it obviously has to run Linux otherwise it would be a $400 PC.

Of course, nobody pays $199. That's some bullshit marketing number that everyone gets huge rebates on, it's 50% off at Newegg and probably 70-80% off if you're Dell or HP or Lenovo. Then they bundle it up with various trialware that the trialware makers pay for to make the net contribution more like $0-50 somewhere. I recently bought be a netbook with the XP netbook edition, which I can swear Microsoft sells for almost nothing to sell Windows, not Linux. Of course I wiped it and installed Linux anyway, but that way they don't need to support it, they don't need to stock another SKU and all in all I don't think I could have gotten it much cheaper anyway. But Microsoft got to count it as another Windows netbook sale...

Re:If It Didn't Run Linux it would be a $400 PC (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33021824)

Well, the two versions of the retail boxed copy are strange to begin with.

The only apparent difference between the normal retail and Systems Builder editions is that the latter says you can't use it to do an upgrade install... but the thing is, why wouldn't you buy the Upgrade version if you wanted to do an upgrade install?

excluding taxes and shipping? (3, Insightful)

dirtyhippie (259852) | about 4 years ago | (#33021254)

excluding taxes and shipping is pretty ridiculous. they could easily add 1/4 to the budget, and if saving money (not just "ooh, look what i can do") is really a goal, they would have included it.

Re:excluding taxes and shipping? (1, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33021314)

There's this new thing called "teh internets", where it's possible to buy things from out of state, where you don't have to pay any sales tax. Also, I hear that some of the vendors you can find on this internets thing don't charge for shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount. If you're paying 25% for shipping, you're not doing it right.

Re:excluding taxes and shipping? (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | about 4 years ago | (#33021624)

Two things:

1. Here in California, it's hard to bypass the sales tax because most of the major retailers have a local presence. The places that don't aren't necessarily cheaper, and if they are, they tend not to be places I'd trust with my credit card.

2. Most states with sales tax also have use tax that covers out of state purchases. You're supposed to report them when you file your state taxes. As an individual making small purchases, you're unlikely to get caught for it, but it's technically illegal.

Re:excluding taxes and shipping? (1)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 4 years ago | (#33021348)

Unless you live in Ca, Tn, or NJ, Newegg will not collect the sales tax. As of today shipping those parts = $25 which I agree he should of included. However, watching for deals at Newegg, Tiger, Amazon, ect... you can usually get free or discounted shipping.

Re:excluding taxes and shipping? (1)

Fireshadow (632041) | about 4 years ago | (#33021360)

I would disagree. Taxes and shipping are variables withing your control. In the US, buying off the internet means one doesn't pay state taxes usually. On shipping, just shop (on newegg anyway) from the items marked "Free Shipping". One of the cheapest ways to get a case.

Totally Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021262)

How long is it going to take writers and publishers to figure out that putting something on like 5-10 pages instead of a single page will drive people away?

A horrible design choice, fit for some bottom of the barrel PC design story.

That's what my computers always cost (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021304)

Well, 200€ actually, but anyway. This is pretty much how I've built the computers for myself and my family for quite some time now:
- 50€ for Case + Power Supply
- 50€ for Motherboard that has Audio, NIC and GPU integrated
- 50€ for CPU
- 50€ for RAM

Some of the pieces could be a little bit less or more than 50€, but in general that's how it goes. And we've always been perfectly happy with the performance of the machines.

Re:That's what my computers always cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021586)

I guess they all boot from USB sticks?

Re:That's what my computers always cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021702)

I guess they all boot from USB sticks?

For installing the Operating System they do (I can't remember the last time I've used my CD/DVD-drive), but the hard drive is usually taken from the old machine that the new one is replacing, as is mouse/keyboard/monitor.

Used (3, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 4 years ago | (#33021310)

I get computers for the school staff for $90 apiece at http://www.techcentercomputers.com/ [techcentercomputers.com] P4, 512MB, 80GB, XP.

Re:Used (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 years ago | (#33021728)

I'd pay an extra $110 to build a server system that would be many times faster and use far less electricity. The latter alone would make the return on investment worthwhile.

A 200$ PC makes news in slashdot? Is this '95? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021346)

Really, the mind boggles.

Getting hardware for 200$ that is very able to run all sorts of non-flashy game things does not even strike me as special.

It's just a matter of going to your favourite online shop and click the parts together. Hardware is cheap these days, wow, the authors there and the guy who put it on slashdot just learned something new.

The rest of the crowd just shrugs and says "Tell me if you make that below 50. Today, not in two years!"

But really... why is this news? It would have been 1997 or so.

Re:A 200$ PC makes news in slashdot? Is this '95? (1)

grandmasterlee (1055426) | about 4 years ago | (#33021536)

It wouldn't be slashdot without an irrelevant story every now and then for people to sharpen their contempt on.

this is news? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021408)

Cmon.

I built a PC with specs good enough for gaming for $150 back in 2003.
I shudder to think of the murky depths of lo/no money I could sink to if
I 'put my mind to it' in 2010. Hmmm, actually I don't. I build PC's for zero dollars and zero
cents these days because Dual Core Athlon 64's are now regarded as curbable.

Why not just buy a used $200 PC? (3, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | about 4 years ago | (#33021414)

I don't see the point of this entire article. Why not just buy a used $200 PC and install Linux on it? Or just keep the Windows and install Linux as a dual-boot (If possible)? There are millions of used $200 PCs available. Nearly all will last another five years at least with normal use.

Re:Why not a used $200 PC? answer: Video (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33021646)

An old $200 pc might not be able to play any high-def video with an underpowered graphics card, ditto flash as well.

Where's the monitor/etc.? (3, Interesting)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 4 years ago | (#33021554)

This system is not useful as a desktop if it doesn't include a monitor, keyboard and mouse. The cheapest monitor I see on Newegg is a $99 Hanns-G HW-173ABB 17" LCD monitor, so that would push the price up to $300. The cheapest keyboard and mouse set is about $10. Speakers are about $5. New total is $315 excluding shipping. There's also no mention of whether the integrated sound works in Linux, and whether the integrated video works well (or if Ubuntu resorts to safe graphics mode). I would not be complaining if they had mentioned any of these things in the article.

Re:Where's the monitor/etc.? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 years ago | (#33021762)

This system is not useful as a desktop if it doesn't include a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Do you typically replace old systems (so that you can reuse their peripherals), or do you just keep adding to your basement desktop cluster over the decades? I wouldn't normally ask, but this is Slashdot.

Re:Where's the monitor/etc.? (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 4 years ago | (#33021830)

Do you typically replace old systems (so that you can reuse their peripherals), or do you just keep adding to your basement desktop cluster over the decades? I wouldn't normally ask, but this is Slashdot.

Neither... I used to stockpile old cables, monitors, etc. but eventually gave them all away on Craigslist. My complaints above were mainly to raise awareness of folks in my situation (who no longer keep spare parts lying around), or those who are starting from scratch.

on the curb / dumpster Yes you can find CRT there (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#33021774)

on the curb / dumpster Yes you can find CRT there or just use a old one you have laying around.

Re:Where's the monitor/etc.? (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 4 years ago | (#33021796)

That was kind of my thought as well. It didn't seem like they spent any time looking at the actual linux compatibility of the hardware they were sourcing.

cheap hardware == problems down the road (2, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 years ago | (#33021608)

foxconn branded boards look good on paper, but they fail in about year. Like everyone keeps saying, just buy a well built Intel Atom based system.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>