The "Linux PC"

I quite like the idea of creating and ‘producing’ a “Linux PC” and providing it pre-installed with an optional Windows Dual Boot.
(and optional Linux remote support, but NO Windows support!)

I’m sure some people will like the idea (and some won’t!) but for those who do, what sort of spec machine / what sort of features / facilities (in terms of hardware) would people find most useful / interesting / commonly requested?

I’m thinking in terms of power, memory, disk space, RAID level, port types, Graphics power, number of screens etc etc … ???
(in the context of what you think ‘people’ might be prepared to pay for please … i.e. no suggestions for Linux ‘mainframes’ please !!)

I would prefer to advocate Linux only machines personally, but you know.

Ok, sure, but what specification ? :slight_smile:

from what i read, you are on about making linux pcs building them and selling them? now i havent been here long, so forgive me if this does not match the question :slight_smile:

what is the maximum linux needs?
also if you made linux only and showed massive benafits you will get from it,
then surely that would start to force other businesses to start accepting linux i.e blizzard and making it possible to use all apps and games here without needed boot dualed

so maybe beat micro price and beef them up to gameing quality , i think high gaming pcs are very desirable atm and linux seems like it would be awsome compared to windows, for gaming or whatever aslong as they was supported,

i have shown 8 friends linux one of which is my motherinlaw whos disabled down to my bro-inlaw whos 15, all of them all ages all want this since i found it,
and im sure would all trade a win pc for a linux everyday and if you can make it affordable too… then why would any 1 buy a windows if linux system was x2 bigger and same price?
i know what i would do id take the linux system, and show that people are converting over to it if its better peopel will buy so companies will have to start makign acceptions

Ok, well I guess from a price/performance POV I guess I’m looking at the following for an entry level system;

AMD Phenom II X4, 2.8G, 2G RAM, 2x500GB+ Disk as RAID1, Relatively high spec Graphics card capable of 5000 fps+ on glxgears.

Then we have the “do we need this?” bits;

a. USB 2.0 or 3.0
b. SATA II or III (or SAS?)
c. HDMI port , or just stick with HDMI/VGA
d. Optical drive type, CD/DVD, ReWriter, BlueRay … ??
e. Multi-screen support (if so, how many?)
f. Additional NIC’s? (assume 1Gb)

I’m thinking maybe a low-end, mid-range and top-end … all similar spec … low end using 2.8G X4, mid range on 3.2G X4, High end on 3.2G X6.
Ditto memory, 2G, 4G, 8G.
Disks … volume or performance … ??
1Tb @7200 rpm/9ms Samsungs SATA II’s are £60 … but performance is mediocre and longevity is dubious.
450Gb WD Velociraptors @ 10k rpm/3.6ms absolutely fly, but they’re £170.

Incidentally, I’ve an X6 on an Asus overclock board … looks like I can squeeze 3.6 to 3.8 GHz out of it (!)

I’m currently running on a 3.2G X4 with 4 screens / Xinerama on 6G of RAM and it absolutely flys on Ubunty 9.10. (or crawls on 10.04)
(no Compiz with Xinerama tho’ , so it’s a choice between multiple screens and special effects …)

Then there’s screens, keyboards and mice … with or without … ??

could have screens and mice as an option you know…
a tick box

+17’ Moniter £75
+moniter 22’ £100
+additional moniter +£80
+wireless key and mouse +£20
desctop speakers 2.1 £20
Speakers surround cinema 7.1 £100

then you can appeal to everyone for simplicity but tht pc lookin sick :stuck_out_tongue:

Mmm, I’m trying to avoid the concept of individual custom-built PC’s … if people want ‘specific’ specifications they can always build their own machines … what I’m looking to do is produce a ‘common’ specification machine, or say a range of 3 depending on budget, so people who are not so clued up on hardware don’t have to ask “so how much do I need?”, but rather we recommend a,b,c depending on pocket / requirements.

The more you limit the variation in specification of hardware, the ‘tighter’ the build you can supply and the better the support you can provide and the more limited the range of potential problems …

well id do it by spec then being key things that most users look out for is ram/hdd/graphic and processor could you have the common 1gig range . as a guy told me on my post get 4 gig for breakin point on game etc, and do the 16gig that somebody was on about building :stuck_out_tongue:

beign for this is i am building a basic pc with 2gig ram etc for my girlfriend
makin this pc 4gig for my mothers gaming Wow etc
then i wana make a biiig one for just me :stuck_out_tongue: cause i want biig, lol wil take me a while addin here and there butim sure i can do it before the years up

so im only going by what 3 pcs we gonna be gettin /doing :S dont know if i helping at all lol no 1 els chattin ? hope i can help ya lol you helpin me :slight_smile:

OK, the monitor question… how often does not knowing the monitors create a problem for Linux support?.. because I too think offering them as an option is the way to go… you could always add that certain resolutions can’t be guaranteed if you use your own monitor, but I think you would be cutting yourself off from a large part of the market if you only sell them with a monitor… the people who want to upgrade, or who have blown their box but Monitor is OK.

KB and mouse… Include those as price is negligible, and it will stop people calling for support on multimedia keyboards wondering why all the special function keys don’t work.

As for spec… I need to put some thought/research into this but at first glance I think the Minimum spec machine is over specified, I think most people are still buying dual core machines, although I need to see if any significant savings could be made by including a dual core CPU etc.

I take it the plan is to keep as much as possible the same (ie. motherboard etc.) so you’ll want to stick with AMD CPU’s

IMO it’s been years since money was to be made building PC’s for home users unless you were talking about high end custom builds, so I’m guessing you’re targeting the work place where support is a bigger issue?
Either way you’re likely to need to keep the price lower than the average Win box that people see in places such as PCworld, or they’re going to think (wrongly) that you are ripping them off, like they do with Dell etc… the “if the OS is free why is this the same price” syndrome.

Anyway, I’ll look into component prices and see if I can make some meaningful suggestions later.

Can you let me know who you are targeting… and why (ie. is this more about support than making money on the actual hardware).

Ok, firstly I’m not looking to sell monitors (!) as these are a generic commodity.
(I was interested in the “number” of monitors someone might want to plug in as this effects the choice of screen card and potentially motherboard and case)

As Linux will pretty much run on “any old PC”, what I was really interested in was a machine people could buy that would run “well”.

Whereas you can buy an Intel Duo box and run Linux on it, in terms of price performance it’s not worth buying less than an X2, and it’s certainly not worth buying Intel in preference to AMD.
(Phenom’s absolutely wipe the floor with Xeon’s before you even get to the price differential …)

So, what I was looking at was a range of higher end PC’s … the sort of thing you might not invest in if Linux wasn’t pre-installed just in case there was something in there that wasn’t really compatible with Linux. I’m also looking at a ‘future proof’ spec, i.e. something that’s not 3 years out of date the minute you open the box. For example a standard 250G WD HDD will give you a throughput of 60Mb / sec with a 9ms ish access time on a SATA II interface. A performance drive will give you 140Mb/sec with a 3.6 ms access time … and if you stick a RAID in there with interleaved access, the speed difference is well, I’ve seen throughputs of 300-400 Mb/sec on a modest workstation.

[ check out your throughput :: hdparm -tT ]

I’m “only” really looking at AMD Phenom II’s, just because given their speed, they are Sooo cheap - I’m not using anything else these days. 3.2GHz X2’s start at £67.55 and even the X6’s (3 times the power!) are only £191.
For anyone who’s looking at the new SSD’s , like the Crucial 60Gb unit for £99, this is like greased lightening, but you need SATA III to really use it - which needs a ‘tidy’ motherboard.

Also, DDR3, OC 2000 or OC 1600, it’s amazing how much the speed of your memory can affect the speed of your system, Dual port memory also helps.

All these things are non-considerations in cheap / commodity PC’s, so once you start to ‘tune’ the performance as above, the difference is staggering, and the price hike isn’t as much as you might think.
(for the top-top spec machine in this bracket, I’m looking to keep within three figures, even with a performance quad-core graphics card and 8G of ram …)

Without going into spec / prices in too much detail, I had a mental picture of models in the £399, £599 and £799 price points …

If anyone wants a cheap machine, check out http://linuxforums.org.uk/the-penguins-second-hand-linux-emporium :wink:

Monitors… low and medium range, I would suggest multi monitor is probably overkill but high end should be at least dual monitor capable.

I agree with everything you are saying, but that’s because I understand system components/builds… what I’m trying to say is that for the low end PC I would expect “joe average” to think it a bit expensive, and not to really understand much about component quality, or even performance issues… people buy low end PC’s based on price, I would think something like this:

is more than enough for the budget buyer, and unless a Linux PC has a similar spec but is cheaper, they’re going to think “but I get Windows with that”, they are not going to understand upgrade paths or component quality, drive throughput, or even frames per second, they are just going to wonder why it’s not cheaper.

Therefore I think you are going to (at least with the low end PC) have to save every penny you can on every component to keep the price as low as possible.

I think budget buyers tend to worry about how “well” it runs after the purchase, and are usually let down but the criteria for the purchase was price, so to please everyone (impossible) you are going to have to build a low end system that is both cheaper than what’s available and performs quite well… OK, starting to get your point… so why bother with budget… but people who buy higher end PC’s tend to have a bit of savvy, at least the ones who are considering Linux (I would think), although I can see some thinking why self-build if the price is right and I’ll get some kind of support/guarantee.

It’s a tough one this…
I don’t know, maybe I don’t give people enough credit :slight_smile:

Again, who are the target… if it’s business then they can be sold the Linux benefits, then price point becomes less important for the low end machine, but if you are thinking of the ‘home’ market…

There certainly seems to be a market for Linux PC’s, at least in the US… it may be an idea to see what people like Zareason, or System76, etc. sell over there. (and then obviously factor in that ALL the components are going to be more expensive over here… as is everything :frowning: )

I don’t know, just thinking out loud… maybe price points of as close as possible to, say:
£300 - Low end… although hard to see any money in this, except maybe in support.
£500 - Mid range
£800 - High end
and try to build PC’s to suit the price points

Of all the system I’ve built for people over the years, nearly ALL came to me with a price point and said “build the best you can for ‘X’ amount”… even when told the best way of building is “what do you want its capabilities to be”, then I’ll tell you how much, and give you some options.

It was once pointed out to me that when I asked “What do you plan on using it for?”, most people didn’t even understand the question, and just thought “I want it to do everything a normal PC does”, so I was confusing them with the question, and had to keep it simple, like “do you plan on playing the latest games/how much have I got to play with?”.

nearly ALL came to me with a price point and said "build the best you can for 'X' amount"...

Ok, this is exactly what I’m aiming at … or rather, exactly the opposite. If people have some money and want a computer that costs that amount, that’s fine, any self-build PC shop can do that … what I’m aiming to produce something that does Linux justice, that can then be slotted it into a price bracket.

What I want to get away from is people saying "yes, but if you use single port memory I can save 30 quid … " , something you are also bound to have come across … :wink:

There is an expression “do not spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar” …

Example of my thinking; one of the strengths of Apple machines is that they are a fixed spec, set by Apple, known to run apple’s software well, specifically with no option for the customer to pay less by taking bits out … a function which would decrease the overall performance of the machine thus impacting on Apple’s market reputation.

“What do you plan on using it for?”

Indeed, until you start using it, often users’s won’t even know what the possibilities are which makes it a non-question … :slight_smile:

So the aim is to build a “competent” machine based on some feedback re; what a number of people think they might use it for … :slight_smile:

Also (!) second hand values for “PC” kit tend to be quite low as you never know exactly what’s going to be in the box, and indeed how old each of the components is as it’s likely to have been tweaked in some way. Using Apple as an example again, they’re much more of a known quantity hence tend to hold a much higher second hand value. A second hand value (and/or a decent partX trade-up price) is also be something I’m looking at here …

OK, I get what you’re aiming for, not too sure how the market will respond though, but I guess there’s only one way to find out… Ask :slight_smile: (as you are)
And I suppose a “Quality” PC build has it’s merits and market.

Any ideas on a name… I think all the fruit has been cornered… well maybe not Lemon, but Lemon Computers… Maybe not :wink:

people saying "yes, but if you use single port memory I can save 30 quid … " , something you are also bound to have come across …

Oh yes and many other “brilliant money saving” suggestions :slight_smile:
£15 PSU’s being a firm favorite :slight_smile: or worse £20 cases including Chinese PSU with pidgin s*&t soldering paired with high end kit, and PCchips or similar cheapo mobos with terrible voltage regulation, components, etc. paired with high end CPU’s/Memory that they then want you to OC… Yup seen em all.

I like the idea of maintaining second hand value, and can see the value of that to a customer, but Apple make it nearly impossible to upgrade by making them impossible to open and impossible (or very hard) to get drivers for after-market modifications, I suppose a sealed case could have a similar effect, although how many people send a Packard-Bell back to them when they decide to upgrade the memory/graphics card… one of the up/downsides of modular design, cheap to build, worthless second hand… not that an Apple is anything more than that now, just in a pretty package.

I’ll shut up now as I’m probably the wrong person to answer your questions… on the whole I self build unless a bargain comes along, though it will be interesting to see what people would want out of a Linux PC.

Mmm, but most people can’t self build a quality PC … for a kick off, until you’ve built a few, you don’t know the best parts to use and the pitfalls … and this can be an expensive skill to acquire. I’ve spent about £12k so far this year getting up to speed on Phenom’s and associated kit … (!)

This is true… I haven’t really put together what I’d consider a “Quality” system for a while now (good but not quality), so I suppose I’d make a few mistakes again too, though research can help it rarely gives you all the answers… just too much kit to choose from, so yes I can see the benefits of someone else doing the leg work of ‘what works best with what’ for you… I’m just a stubborn old git who likes to do things himself :slight_smile:
Actually… thinking about it… if I could trust that a company only chose components that had all been matched for performance and tested for reliability/longevity, and there was a clearly defined upgrade path, then you are right, I probably would be willing to pay for that, as long as they weren’t stupidly overpriced like Alienware, or limited and overpriced like Apple.

Ok, this is what I’m looking at atm;

Base System - Case, PSU, Motherboard, DVD, Card reader ~ £275.
(v. high quality case, multiple fans (good airflow) transparent side window, LED illumination)
(DVD+CD R/W, Card reader for MiniSD etc etc …)

Options;
CPU, all 3.2G Phenoms, X2 £70, X4 £110, X6 £190
Memory, 2G £45, 4G £75, 6G £110, 8G £150
Disk, 74G high performance 4.2ms, £60, 1Tb Desktop performance, £50, up to 7 drives, any combination.

Sample entry level system, Base + X2 + 2G + 74Gb Disk = £275+£70+£45+£60 = £450.

Comparison to PC World;
Base + X2 + 4G + 1Tb Disk = £275+£70+£75+£50 = £470
PC World Advent 1401 is a similar spec and look with slower CPU and smaller disk, £699 (and not quoted as supporting Linux)
(PC World machines comes with Keyboard + Mouse, so there’s a tenner off the difference … :slight_smile: )

I guess a key difference would also be that these boxes would come with some sort of ongoing Linux support … which I don’t think PC World do … :wink:

Ahh… Now that’s the bit that could make the difference, and would make them an ideal business workstation solution or SMB server.

Ok, I can now announce the top-end model will produce over 44,000 Bogomips …

(cat /proc/cpuinfo to see what you have now!)

And I’m estimating 400Mb/sec disk IO, but I’ll confirm that later in the week … :slight_smile:

:open_mouth: lol i run at 4150 at the min :stuck_out_tongue: lol