20140214

Linux on a Modest Budget (satire)

Originally, this article began as a post I might have posted on the Linux Community on GooglePlus but decided against posting because of my nonchalant attitude after writing it.

However, rather than face the prospect of apologizing to the many Linux users who invest a lot of money in their machines, I decided to write this article on my blog instead.

This article is not for them. It is for the people of modest means who want Linux on a used PC that may or may not run an old copy of Windows.

To make a long story short, I decided to use a screensaver on my Linux PC and picked Slidescreen.

After using the screensaver for a couple weeks, I noticed what appeared to be screen burn-in on my monitor. Actually, it is image persistence. Given that this is an LCD monitor made in 2006, I can accept image persistence, since it will go away in about two weeks.

To help my monitor recover, I changed the screensaver preferences to Blank Screen Only and left it at the default settings.

I am not overly concerned since it cost me under $100, and as a rule I buy according to my modest income from work.

My PC is worth under $300 used and I'm proud of the fact that Linux runs on it.

First starters, the 250GB Seagate hard drive came from an old Buffalo external hard drive I bought for $50 used. The motherboard is an old HP dc5000 SFF(PB480A) made after HP was merged with Compaq.

Originally made in desktop slim form factor (approximately 4" x 13" x 15"), the original maximum specifications state 3 GHz Pentium 4, Intel 865 graphics, 4GB, and 40 GB hard drive. The Intel 865 graphics chip supports 2048 x 1536 pixels.

Thus, the motherboard is capable of supporting a 1280 x 1024 monitor, 2 GB and 250 GB hard drive. To give it plenty of flow space due to the 2 GHz CPU, it fits into a spacious mid-tower case that's 7" wide x 15" high x 17" depth. On eBay, I've seen the motherboard being sold for $35 and the tower case, being so old it doesn't have any front mounted USB ports, probably could be picked up used less than $20. A matched pair of 2 GB RAM is available on ebay for $20.

In total that comes to under $221. After labour costs, the total cost is $400.

Most systems today give a bigger bang for the buck but usually cost $600 to 700 before taxes from a local dealer. Some places even will not supply an operating system on request. Best Buy only offers name-brand PCs from Dell and other PC manufacturers but their suppliers are locked in the Microsoft deal.

The only time Dell sells a Linux system is when they sell one of their high-end laptops with it. However, there are businesses around the world that sell Linux systems if you wish to go that route. If you're local to the continental US, then there are the five top Linux desktop vendors, according to ZDnet as of 2011.
LA Computers appears to have the best prices but Eight Virtues lets you choose from eight different flavors of Linux. Although they seem more expensive than comparable Windows systems, their expert support service is built into the price. Overall, these dealers are more knowledgeable about Linux than the average PC reseller.

However, I didn't need a dual core CPU or even a single core hyperthreading P4. Nor was I interested in a larger hard drive. If I wanted to upgrade my memory, then the maximum I'd pay would be $50 for 2 GB to fill it to its 4 GB capacity.

In the past, I've ran Linux on everything from full towers to tiny HP slim PC's made circa 2003-2005. All of these computers were used, being either computers that computer technicians threw away after giving up on them or a computer I bought because the price was right.

That's because my first rule for Linux on a modest budget is buy according to your budget, not what everyone else considers top of the line, preferably used and locally.

My best moment regarding Linux was getting a computer that could not run XP to run Linux. This is why I like Linux. My second-best moment was when I noticed my Linux computer was always faster than than my friend's computer, even though he had a Windows PC running at 3.0 GHz but I only had a 2.0 GHz PC running Linux.

Of course, his computer had collected malware which I usually had to delete on visits to his place. Once I even found that his Internet Explorer had not one but three toolbars due to installing new games and other unnecessary gadgets.

In exchange for getting rid of his malware, I got his significant other to cook me a meal that would cost upwards of $20 at a good restaurant.

That is my second rule: when living on a modest budget, helping other people I know on a modest budget means compromising.

Finally, my third rule is do not rely on Linux and your knowledge of computers to be your only source of income. My reason here is because most clients tend to abuse the fact that without certification, your expertise isn't worth $50 an hour or more. So if you can afford the cost, get Linux certification. Otherwise, find a career that you grow into.

In this way, I follow my Less is More philosophy. In the case of Linux, this translates into buying a used computer for less than new and add more value to it by upgrading to the only alternative to Windows 8 and XP, Linux.

Reference:

Image persistence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_persistence

HP: The 2000s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hewlett-Packard#The_2000s

HP/Compaq Desktop System Board 368427 Motherboard DC5000 Series Rev 0G: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Compaq-Desktop-System-Board-368427-Motherboard-DC5000-Series-Rev-0G-/261381597830?pt=Motherboards&hash=item3cdb8eaa86

Businesses that sell Linux pre-installed: http://linuxpreloaded.com/

ZDnet's Top Five Linux Desktop Vendors: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/the-top-five-linux-desktop-vendors/9313

Unix and Linux Certification: http://www.itcertificationmaster.com/it-certifications/unix-and-linux-certifications/

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