Jamie Bennett Speaks

Thoughts from Jamie Bennett

New Development Machine

Written by Jamie Bennett on September 23rd, 2009 at 1:40 pm in Uncategorized

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Recently I decided to build a new PC which was to become my main development machine. Before I started looking at the price and performance of all the major parts I had a good idea what I wanted, fast CPU, lots of RAM, fairly large hard drive e.t.c. but what I ended up with wasn’t exactly what I first imagined.

I know what I want

I first thought that one of the new i7 CPU’s from Intel would be way to go but on careful consideration I found that the price for the chip itself is at a premium and a motherboard to support it is also expensive. I settled on a nice quad core instead.

Another thing on my wish list was lots of RAM. Again my initial assumptions were wrong. I thought either 6GB or 8GB would be the right way to go but after doing a lot of research online it seems that anything over 4GB isn’t really worth it unless you have a special use case, which I don’t. I settled on 4GB.

What I actually got

The full list of parts was:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz (Retail 775)
ASRock G43Twins-FullHD 775 DDR3 Micro ATX Motherboard
Corsair 4GB TwinX DDR3 PC3-10600 1333Mhz Dual Channel DHX DDR3 (2x2GB)
1.5TB Samsung EcoGreen F2 SATA-2 Hard Drive
LG GGW-H20L Blu-ray Disc Rewriter & HD DVD ROM Retail Kit
Thermaltake TTM5 Midi Case
OCZ 400W StealthXStream Power Supply PSU

Bought later (see below)
Gainward nVidia 8400GS 256MB Fanless Graphics Card, TV/DVI/HDTV

So as you can see, the PC isn’t a screaming, bleeding edge computer but it is a great example of price vs performance. If you take out the Bluray burner which was an indulgence of mine, the above parts came in at just over £400. Not too bad for a very over-clockable quad core CPU, a good amount of RAM and hard drive space and a recent motherboard.

Problems

The only part of the list which I was a little concerned with was the motherboard. Traditionally motherboards can cause problems with Linux, especially new ones but my fears were seemingly unfounded as there were examples of it working fine. But it seems I was right to be concerned.

With the add-on graphics card that came with the board, Karmic wouldn’t even boot to the installer Launchpad Bug:429908. Jaunty would install but gave a lot of problems with the X server. The on-board graphics worked with Jaunty but performed terribly so my only answer was to purchase another graphics card. Fortunately the Geforce 8400GS was less that £25 delivered and works flawlessly with the Nvidia proprietary drivers.

Conclusion

So I now have a fast PC running Jaunty. I really want to upgrade it to Karmic but my experience with Karmic isn’t great at the moment. Alpha 4 on my laptop ran great but a ‘sudo apt-get upgrade’ a couple of days ago resulted in a non-booting machine. I suspect its something to do with the change to upstart that Karmic is doing at the moment but I’m not sure. I’ve also had a lot of trouble initially trying to installing Karmic on the PC. Maybe now the Geforce 8400GS is there instead of the add-on card it will work but I can’t afford to risk it yet.

All in all I’m happy with the machine. Bluray movies work (although I have to rip them under a Windows XP virtual machine) and the speed is great, I’ve even tried some overclocking; I’ve had it at 3.2GHz stable.

Now if only I could get Karmic working.

Update

I bit the bullet and did an “update-manager -d“. Everything is working as far as I can see, yeah!

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