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Thread: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

  1. #1
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    Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    I'm a longtime Mac user ready to give Linux a chance. I'm a Drupal developer that uses Linux servers every day and I'm comfortable at the command line. I use MacOS X Terminal a lot. But controlling a server is different than using it as a desktop. But I'm ready to give it a try.

    I'm also testing on behalf of the local high school which can no longer afford Macs. They are ready to jump in to Windows and I'm yelling and screaming "No! Linux/Ubuntu is what you want." But when people ask me if I've ever used it and I sheepishly say "No" they role their eyes. I need some cred here.

    Yes, I know I can try out Linux on my Mac but I don't want to. This Linux adventure is enough of a distraction from work as it is and I don't want to duel boot my work computer or otherwise fuss with a work environment that is working OK.

    If I ultimately make the move to Linux, I'll get a desktop and I'll get one with decent specs. But in testing mode, I want to see, for the school, if the cheepo ones can pull their weight, and I don't want to lay down a lot of cash if I decide to stick with my Mac for work.

    So do advise on hardware. What do you think of this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Acer-C710-2847...dp/B00AG0BLWU/

    It's a Chromebook; I'd wipe the chrome and install Linux. I've read about Crouton, but I don't like the lack of security. Other ideas?

    Shai

  2. #2
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    Recommended hardware: A USB stick.

    Boot your Mac from the USB without any change to OSX, and no risk: http://www.ubuntu.com/download/deskt...ick-on-mac-osx
    The instructions tell you how to boot from the USB when it's ready.
    Simply use it for the live environment, don't install onto your Mac's hard drive.

  3. #3
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    You can always run Ubuntu from a live USB drive (Not sure if you're aware of this already, so sorry if you are). That would allow you to get a feeling for it without messing up your current setup. Go to http://www.pendrivelinux.com and get the Universal USB Installer. This will let you create a bootable USB drive that you can use to either install Ubuntu or just run it like a normal OS from the drive. It may not be the ideal solution for testing performance, but you should be able to get a hang of the using Ubuntu just fine and it's a lot cheaper than buying a new computer! As for performance, any modern PC should be able to run it just fine. I recently installed Ubuntu on my old 2008 Toshiba and it ran much faster than Windows 7. Just my two cents, but I'd give this a try before buying any new hardware.

  4. #4
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    Go through the school district's computer trash pile--you can probably piece together several machines to test different distros on.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    Thanks everyone! Great ideas! I've got an unused partition on an USB2 external HDD with plenty of space. I think I'll use that to get started.

  6. #6
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    I don't like any of those options. The USB stick will be horribly slow, and the cheap hardware is cheap. You're getting a deal on the operating system, don't skimp on hardware or it will just be obsolete that much faster. Edit: If a school that's scrapped for money threw out a computer, there's probably a good reason for that. A full-scale Ubuntu is not really any faster than Windows would be, and depending on special effects and any other junk you put on it it could be considerably slower.

    I'd recommend a virtual machine on your mac. I use Parallels on my mac, but VMware has free software for the mac I understand. Either one will let you install a VM on hardware you consider to be current, give it significant RAM and disk space and go full screen so it's pretty much like running it on your mac, only you can switch to your mac apps and back without rebooting.
    Last edited by 1clue; November 16th, 2013 at 06:07 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    +1 for finding some discarded (or cheap used) hardware, Install Lubuntu 13.10 and get some experience. New hardware is likely overkill, and support is often best for semi-old gear (say 4-8 years).

    I assume you don't need fast gaming-class graphics.
    About problems due to upgrading
    Bringing old hardware back to life.
    Please visit Quick Links -> Unanswered Posts

  8. #8
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    Quote Originally Posted by 1clue View Post
    If a school that's scrapped for money threw out a computer, there's probably a good reason for that.
    Yes, the reason is usually a Windows install falling apart and grinding to a halt, not hardware itself.
    About problems due to upgrading
    Bringing old hardware back to life.
    Please visit Quick Links -> Unanswered Posts

  9. #9
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    If you draw up any plans to discuss, you might look at pricing RaspberryPi thin clients running Edubuntu, Skolelinux, K12LTSP, or LTSP. Even if you go with the old hardware, it can be interesting to look at what it will cost when they wear out.

  10. #10
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    Re: Recommend Inexpensive Hardware for trying Linux

    Quote Originally Posted by shai3 View Post
    Thanks everyone! Great ideas! I've got an unused partition on an USB2 external HDD with plenty of space. I think I'll use that to get started.
    I would not recommend using that, you may lose any data that is on the HDD.
    Do you have any SD cards lying around? I use Unetbootin to make a 1GB card bootable and it works fine for trying or installing Ubuntu.
    http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

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