[Cialug] Buying a new PC

Brandon Griffis brandongriffis at gmail.com
Mon Oct 1 10:40:56 CDT 2007

On 9/30/07, Jason Warden <jason at benalto.com> wrote:

1) This new SATA transport for drives - Linux doesn't have a problem with
> this, does it? Anything I should know?

Linux has been great with SATA for a long time.  Actually the spot you'll
run into the most trouble (in my experience) is during an XP install.  XP is
so old that it doesn't know what the SATA controller is and won't see the
drives without additional drivers during install (which can only be loaded
from floppy disk - XP limitation).  In my experience Vista is terribly
bloated memory-wise, but otherwise works fine and the built in driver
support is finally catching up.

2) One desktop I really liked on tigerdirect is actually a 64 bit. I know
> Linux has had 64 bit support for years, but I've heard iffy things about
> using XP with 64 bit systems (and I don't trust Vista yet) Would it be
> possible to put a 32 bit XP and a 64 bit *nix on the same computer? Are
> those 64 bits backwards compatible to the OS level?? I don't think this is
> possible because I think the RAM you buy commits you to your bitrate; is
> that correct?

*nearly* all consumer level 64 bit processors available presently are
completely backwards compatible to 32-bit OSes (AMD 64, 64 x2, and core2
duo).  32-bit OSes have a 4 gig memory limit by nature (that has already
been discussed).  The speed of your memory should have more to do with your
FSB and proc, the OS shouldn't come into it.

3) In the past (I was a hardcore Linux user from about '97 to '03) I've
> always preferred the easy-on-the-user stuff like SuSE and Mandrake/Mandriva.
> My biggest issues have been with the crazy package management systems
> (apt-get on SusE 9 worked pretty well but then 'broke'...) What is the
> easiest distribution in terms of package management going these days? I know
> this question may start a flamewar, sorry.

Mepis has been, hands down, the best "desktop linux" I've ever come across.
And they're very close to releasing version 7.  They use synaptic as a GUI
front end for apt-get, that works brilliantly.  They do a lot of extra
script writing for hardware detection and configuration.  I have not touched
an xorg config, or downloaded a single driver and I have 3d, Beryl, and
wireless all going at first boot.  It *just works*.  However, it it not
designed to be a server nor would I recommend it for one (though arguably
any linux can be configred as one).

FYI: I've run SuSE, Fedora, Red Hat, Debian (various flavors), Ubuntu
(various flavors), Gentoo, Slackware, freespire, Xandros, Mandriva, and
others besides Mepis.

4) Nvdia are still the Linux friendly graphics people, right?

As was said.  Intel currently provides the best support.  However, they also
don't have a common comparable card to nVidia or ATI (IMO).  nVidia still
writes propritary drivers for their cards, and they *mostly* work (some
cards still report the wrong refresh rate to xorg).  I have all nVidia and
until 2 weeks ago would have said nVidia hands down, but I have also heard
that ATI is planning to completely open their spec (which could lead to much
better open source drivers for their cards in the near future).  Honestly
though, until that actually happens I'd probably still recommend nVidia.

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