Skip to main content

Flexibility, with Dell and Ubuntu

I know I wax rhapsodic about Ubuntu and the general power and wonderfulness that is Linux but I've just had an experience that adds another ingredient to the mix. I have a bit of penchant for older hardware - I maintain a gaming system that is generally no more than a year old before I upgrade it's innards but apart from that system, all my hardware is old stuff. Why bother to buy a new machine to run Linux on it, when a two or three year old box will do exactly what I want it to?

I recently picked up a Dell Precision 380 and an Optiplex GX280. Sweet machines - I'm particularly impressed with the Precision and it makes me wonder what a brand new one would be like. Perhaps I'll have to break with tradition and invest in a new one :-) The Optiplex was purchased on a bit of a whim - only $100 and it's a P4 3.2GHz box with DDR2 RAM etc (I'm using it right now actually). Not bad and it's also a mini desktop (or whatever you call them). Very small, quiet and easy to tuck away. It's the same as the two GX240's I've got. The only bad thing I've found is the CDROM appears to be faulty in some fashion. At any rate, installing Ubuntu 8.10 wasn't happening - disk errors abounded and although the CD itself checked out, it was failing on this system. Rather than piss and moan about it, I pulled the 160GB SATA disk out and popped it into the Precision - all the disk mounting stuff is the same, the cables reached perfectly etc etc and after a short interval I shut the box down, retrieved the disk and threw it into the GX280 again. An hour and a half later, I've customised the hell out of my Ubuntu install (mmm pretty) and it's going great guns - no hardware issues nothing. Sweet!

This is kind of a review of Ubuntu 8.10 too - I really like the new DarkRoom theme and as usual the upgrade process (that I performed on another box) went very smoothly. It runs quite nicely and although I've read elsewhere that 8.10 is slower than other iterations of Ubuntu it appears to run quite snappily for me. Earlier I transferred about 10GB of data over my gigabit network and that gave it a real push - the load hit about 8 at one point :-) But the old hardware and the new operating system pushed on quite happily - although I do hear the fan complaining a bit. With the ambient air temperature around the 28 degrees C plus the work it's doing, it's no wonder really.

Back to the Dell PCs I've got now - I have 6 and many of the parts are interchangeable. Naturally there are exceptions to the rule - the power supplies vary somewhat between the little PCs and the Precision has almost unique innards compared to the others. This is quite alright. I'm very pleased with all of them. I've actually got a reasonably good working installation of Windows Server 2008 Standard on the Precision - Microsoft's TechNet Direct is a terrific resource if you want to stay on top of all the Microsoft software out there. The Precision runs it quite happily and it's gratifying to note that nVidia even has drivers for the Quadro network card that work happily under 64 bit Server 2008. It's a happy little family of Dell PCs, Ubuntu Linux, Windows Server 2008 and my lone Windows Vista/XP gaming box. The cousins in the lounge room - the Xbox (modded naturally) and it's younger brother the 360 talk happily to these machines too and combined it forms a nice little network. If only my power bill wasn't quite so large.....


Popular posts from this blog

Windows 10 Enterprise Eval - gotchas

After an annoying turn of events where my Windows 10 Enterprise USB drive failed, attempts to install Win10 onto a computer failed miserably. I turned to the net and managed to get my hands on Microsoft's Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation. I have an enterprise key so I thought - cool! Here's the opportunity to get it going and to then upgrade the license later. Full install, patched etc and all is swell. Except when I try to upgrade. I straight up tried changing the licence key only to get a variety of errors, most of which are pertaining to the activation system being unavailable. The I try this: but it doesn't work either. Next I'll try this: h ttp:// And if all else fails, in goes the bootable USB I've now created. If only I'd had this in the first instance I would not be writing t

Fixing a black screen after doing a Kali Linux update

Kali Linux is a rolling Linux distribution designed for security and penetration work. You can find details on it here: . We run this excellent product for a range of different security work and it's been great. I built the image in VMplayer, then shared it to the team and we've all been at it since. A recent update broke it though - black screen, no network and completely unresponsive. There are lots of posts about similar things - mostly to do with graphics adaptors, however, we found that executing the following at a root prompt fixed it. But how to get to the root prompt from a blank screen? Linux has a number of terminals available to the user - most of us use the graphical one to do our day to day, but you can access a command line prompt without much trouble. Simply hold CTRL-ALT and then F2 or F3 down at the same time and it drops you to a command line login. BOOM. Time to fix it up. For me, and for the other fellas in the team, all it too was to

Plone - the open source Content Management System - a review

One of my clients, a non-profit, has a lot of files on it's clients. They need a way to digitally store these files, securely and with availability for certain people. They also need these files to expire and be deleted after a given length of time - usually about 7 years. These were the parameters I was given to search for a Document Management System (DMS) or more commonly a Content Management System (CMS). There are quite a lot of them, but most are designed for front facing information delivery - that is, to write something, put it up for review, have it reviewed and then published. We do not want this data published ever - and some CMS's make that a bit tricky to manage. So at the end of the day, I looked into several CMS systems that looked like they could be useful. The first one to be reviewed was OpenKM ( ). It looked OK, was open source which is preferable and seemed to have solid security and publishing options. Backing up the database and upgradin