Hardware Notes – Dells and Home-Brews

Over on Slashdot there is a note that reminds us of the fact that Dell will sell desktop machines without an Windows operating system. These are called the ‘n’ series. They’ve actually been doing this for a long time; maybe in fits and starts; but my three-year old workstation was also an ‘n’.

For non-profits, this may be something to look into. If you run Windows, and you are already eligible for discounted Windows licenses thorough Tech Soup or you can get academic licenses, do a quote with and without Windows, and see if you can save a hundred bucks on a machine.
Of course, if you are running any of the Linux operating systems, (current favorite is Kubuntu) then this might also be the way to go.

Robert Bruce Thompson, and Barbara Fritchman Thompson’s Building the Perfect PC has come out in a second edition as of December 2006. It is also available for reading online on Safari. The second edition is another fascinating building-block appoach for putting together a variety of desktop and server computers from parts. The range goes from a $350.00 email-reading machine, to a full-blown server, to a no-holds-barred gaming workstation. Virtually all the hardware suggestions from the first edition (circa 2004) have been superceded by new motherboards, processors, memory and cases.

I built a “pizza box” “Pundit” machine using an ASUS case and motherboard and ideas from their first edition, and it came out very well. The box is in constant use as a terminal server and testing platform for both Windows and Linux. Details are in the TFNP archives.

Jeff Dunteman has just posted an update about the Dell SX-270 that he (and I) was enthusiastic about. Seems like there is a capacitor problem. Dunteman is the author of the Degunking Windows series.

Finally David Pogue has found a possible solution for lack of eye contact when desktop videoconferencing.

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