Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Getting a new PC...

My sister told me today that the IT department at her employers have a load of old desktop PC's they no longer need, so they're going to be installing Ubuntu on them and selling them on for about £5 each. I'm guessing that they have some kind of licensing deal with Microsoft that means they get to use as many copies of Windows as they like, but if they sell them on they have to remove it, so they probably can't keep Windows on them.

I'm actually quite impressed with this, for several reasons:
  • It means perfectly good hardware can be reused and made available to someone else. In contrast, my own employers, who shall remain nameless, apparently have a deal with a company to break up all their computers and dispose of them, which I think is a staggering waste, and this is a BIG company that's in the FTSE.
  • People can get a working computer that's perfectly good for surfing the web, emailing and basic office tasks, for a pittance. It'd be ideal for people's kids or elderly relatives, neither of whom will care that much whether it runs Windows or not.
  • It's probably actually cheaper to do this as it must cost money to have them disposed of.
  • Plus, it exposes Linux to people who otherwise wouldn't try it.
She's asked if I wanted one, so naturally I said yes! So she'll try and get me one.

I see little point in sticking with the Ubuntu install already with it, as I run Ubuntu on one computer already and Kubuntu on another. So what to run on it? I have several candidates in mind:
  • Sidux
  • Xubuntu
  • Damn Small Linux (I've grown to love DSL in the last few months)
  • Slackware
  • Gentoo
  • Linux From Scratch (it'd be a hell of a challenge though!)
  • PC-BSD
  • FreeBSD
  • Debian
  • Linux Mint Fluxbox CE
  • Or I could use Ubuntu Mini Remix to create my own remaster based on Ubuntu, but using a lightweight window manager. I've done this in the past to try to create something that worked better on my Eee PC (unfortunately it didn't work out too well!), but the end result was perfectly useable. I'm actually very keen on the one I created purely for the fun of making it look as 1337 as possible (it's basically Fluxbox with the Matrix theme, a black GTK theme, and an abstract green-and-black background). I'm also interested in trying out some more window managers - I like IceWM a lot, I also like Fluxbox, I'm interested in trying FVWM, FVWM-Crystal and FVWM-95, and I may give some of the tiling window managers like awesome and Xmonad a try.
I'll have to wait and see how powerful the machine is before I can decide what to put on it, although if it's running Ubuntu OK it should be able to handle most Linux distros. That's assuming they haven't all gone!

I've never actually owned a desktop before. All my computers right now are laptops (a Dell Inspiron, a Philips X58, an Asus Eee PC 2G Surf, and a Santa Rosa MacBook), and much as I love them all, certain things, such as coding, are really better done from a desktop. It's a simple matter of ergonomics. So I'm looking forward to having a desktop computer of my own because I anticipate that it should improve my productivity.

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