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Thread: New vs. Old hardware

  1. #1
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    New vs. Old hardware

    I was looking at some computers on the System76 website a couple of days, and I really liked what I saw. They have some sweet looking machines, for a price that is isn't entirely unreasonable (considering what you get and who you're supporting). But it got me thinking...

    For me at least, despite the pure awesome-ness of owning a System76 computer, it is eclipsed by something else deeper within me. One of the things that drew me to Linux, and to ultimately grow into a Linux Enthusiast, was the ability that Linux has to breathe new life into older machines. I'm not a tree-hugging eco-warrior but I am a firm advocate of reducing waste and one's carbon footprint, as much as possible, especially in light of the planet's dwindling resources, space, environment, economy and exploding human population. Having said that, I really take great pride in tinkering away with a slightly older machine and bringing it as close to current specs as possible. It gives me great satisfaction to know there is one less computer sitting in a mile-high, third world garbage heap, and perhaps a few less dollars in the pockets of an Asian slave labor factory.

    Now don't get me wrong I still appreciate, and salivate over, those shiny new System76 machines.

    Does anyone else empathize?

  2. #2
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    Yes! New software on old hardware.
    It's fun to tinker with and it saves money.
    About problems due to upgrading
    Bringing old hardware back to life.
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  3. #3
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    Depends on your situation.

    I haven't acquired an old machine with some other OS on it and installed linux on it since ... whenever a p6 came out. I typically buy components and build something.

    If you're setting up a server for a real business purpose, it make almost no sense to buy old hardware unless it's an auction for a company that just got dissolved. Usually anything you buy used is past whatever expected lifespan the system had, which means it could fail at any moment. I've had bad luck transporting old hardware, it seems that just moving it can cause a failure.

    That said, for my recreational and workstation type machines, I'll re-install on the same box dozens of times in its lifespan. I bought it new (as components) and play till it breaks or until it no longer has enough "go" to do anything I want to do.

  4. #4
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    I've really liked the ability to (legally) install Linux on any hardware I get.

    I bought my wife a laptop a couple of years ago, but that was with what she needed (Window). Before that, the only computer I have bought (new) was in 2000!

    All of my other computers have been "toss-aways", usually from some corporation that has since replaced the computers for its employees.

    My current laptop is 9+ years old: an IBM Thinkpad, not Lenovo which bought IBM's PC product line 2003 or 2004.

    The family desktop is from the most recent company raffle, a core 2 duo running Ubuntu 12.04.

    Other than that, I have a number of P4s in the house. I had to get rid of my P3s because they took up too much space.
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  5. #5
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    I use my 9 years old Sony Viao (1,6 Ghz single core with 2 gigs of ram) running Xubuntu 12.04 daily at work. Does everything I need and quite fast. At home I use my brand new lenovo Thinkpad X230 (i7 cpu 2,9 Ghz, 16 gigs of ram and very fast Samsung 840 pro SSd) running Ubuntu 13.10. Did not realy need the new machine but my old Sony will not run the newest software (not supported by the cpu) and anyway I figured after 9 years I deserve a new laptop. I could not bear to part with the Sony so I kept it as my "taking to work machine". It still serves me well. Nothing wrong with using old machines. Same holds true for my cars. My Toyota Celica is 21 years old and my Honda Accord is 17 years old and both are rust and trouble free. And hey, I am 62 and also rust and trouble free. So old does not have to mean "not usable" anymore.

  6. #6
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    Until earlier this year I was sure I would stick with my old AMD Sempron 2400+ with (upgraded) 2GB of ram from 2005 or 2006, which had been running gnome ubuntu 10.04 brilliantly, but when 10.04 lost support I installed Xubuntu 12.04, which also ran brilliantly. Then suddenly the mobo went pop and the machine would not even get to the BIOS screen. Time for a replacement!

    I now run a very quick (by my standards) i5-3570K with 8GB ram, but having got very used to Xubuntu, I have now stuck with Xubuntu 12.04 64bit. It runs like a dream on this hardware, but I admit I am not certain it is would have been worth paying the price of the new machine if the old one had not done the dirty on me. The speed is now great on the new machine, but it never seemed to me that the old one was slow, and I'm sure I would have carried on with that old one if it had continued to work.
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  7. #7
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    I really should resurrect my old netbook that was running Win7 on and throw Fedora on it and see what happens.

    The last time I tried that, wifi didn't work.
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  8. #8
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    Quote Originally Posted by ajgreeny View Post
    ...I now run a very quick (by my standards) i5-3570K with 8GB ram...
    Now see that's the heart of it. Is old hardware good enough for what you do?

    I'm running a laptop that's very close to this right now, and I'm cramped beyond belief. It won't upgrade past 8g and I need more. I have several VMs running simultaneously, plus a development environment. It's just not enough. The only thing it has going for it is a 17" monitor.

    I'm looking at replacements, and frankly new laptops aren't that much better IMO. Somebody decided that laptops don't need kick-@$$ processors or big screens. I need 16g RAM pretty much right away, and refuse to buy something that can't be upgraded to 32. And I want two to four big monitors.

    I think I'm going to get some sort of a small desktop next and lug it. Sandwich a couple 1080p screens together, throw it in a suitcase and drag that around. I don't actually take it anywhere very often and almost never use it while moving.

    I'll continue to use the laptop, but it won't be my main workstation anymore.

    I'll acknowledge that my scenario is uncommon, but frankly I just can't see where used equipment will do it for me. It's been that way for a lot of years.

    I know and appreciate that most people don't use computers for their jobs, and if they do, then most people could get by with an atom processor. My wife has something pretty mainstream, and she's happy with it. These people can have used hardware and not see any problems. I started Linux with used hardware, and used it for quite a few years. I still regularly scrape off systems and re-install Linux on them, it's just that these systems never had a previous owner, and they never had Windows.

  9. #9
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    If people keep pushing the line "runs great on older hardware!", then that's where Linux will remain...as a hobby OS that's relegated to "tinkering".

    Linux (and Ubuntu specifally) needs to be presented as the only OS you need on your brand-spanking-new 8-core, 32GB RAM monster.


    I'm all for dual-booting, VM's, persistant USB installs, but until you commit to a dedicated Ubuntu workstation on your latest-and-greatest, you're only casting Microsoft and Apple products as the standard to which you should strive to replicate.

  10. #10
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    Re: New vs. Old hardware

    I run Debian on my server (i7, 16GB RAM) and VPSes, does that count?

    I could probably run Ubuntu, but I wanted OpenVZ support.
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