P4 config for Linux

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by agrau, May 29, 2004.

  1. agrau


    Well, I am about to switch over to a new mobo and searched like crazy for some recommendations on which one to choose for my Linux.

    My current wishlist includes:
    - P4C 3.2 GHz with HT
    - 1 GB DDR Ram
    - 40 GB ATA for /
    - 2 x 80 GB S-ATA in Raid-0 for /usr/local
    - eventually another hd as dedicated Windows drive

    I have an old Matrox G-400 Dual-Head which I would want to use, but no must.

    I noticed many experienced hardware people here on the forum, so I wondered if anybody has a proven config at hand for a rocking Linux box that comes near to what I have in mind. I have not yet bought anything, so changes and suggestions to my shopping list are fine for me.

    What would be your ultimate Linux desktop workstation?

    Thanks a ton,
  2. nitro


    You should probably ask people that do this for a living. Try these people:


    Also, the linux magazines have tons of adds for companies that do nothing but linux machines.

    If you want a brand name, Dell will sell you a machine with linux installed instead of windows.

  3. Hi agrau,

    I use an Intel D875PBZ motherboard with a 2.8GHz P4. (use it for 12 months now). I switched off HT as it degrades performance in database and doesn't buy you anything in numerical computation. Please refer to earlier posts on this. I have 1Gb RAM ECC.

    Intel is not the most glamourous gogo board. Over the years I used a lot of boards and I must say that the topline Intel boards gave me far less trouble than the others.

    I have one WD 120GB ATA disk (WD1200JB) with builtin cache.

    Now most important, I can run everything in this configuration. Besides all M$ stuff, I have been running many Linux versions on it: Mandrake, Suse, Fedora, Redhat, Debian. I settled for Gentoo after trying it on and off for about 1.5 years. Gentoo is a rather hard nut to crack but if you keep at it, you can't dream of any better. In fact the Redhats, Fedoras, Mandrakes and Suses all drove me crazy with their poorly working online upgrades. Google around a bit and you will find lots of complaints. Gentoo and to a lesser extent Debian are the only things that work (most of the time). At least with these you can find out what you are doing. Speedwise, Gentoo beats everything around , Debian being the runnerup. I have still to encounter any hardware thast is not supported under the latest Linux kernel (2.6). My latest addition was a usb2 memory stick which ran without any problem.

    You probably will want a big enough HD to have lots of partitions to test different systems. This is part of the breaking in process, at least for me. Booting is a piece of cake with the linux grub loader. No more M$ crap. Grub will boot all M$ as well.

    I have come back from the raid setups. If you badly require true realtime super-emergency security, go for it. Reliability is so high though that I do all my backups to an external 250Gb HD with a usb2 interface. For windoz I use(d) v2i by Powerquest. My main tool is now PartImage. You will find this on several bootable Linux CD's. This enables you to back up all your partitions to the usb2 external drive without running a system of your HD. It always works and you avoid the hassle of "live system" tools that never seem to work when you need them. Compared to the raid solution, I have the advantage to be able to physically remove mu usb2 external HD from the computer room for safekeeping. The probability of theft, fire, disaster is greater than the likelihood of a live HD failure. You don't really need a 'dedicated' windows drive. I prefer everything on the same big drive. Access from Linux to your Windows partitions is a piece of cake - of course it will work with a seperate drive as well.

    As to your video card, I use an (already older) G550. Works perfecly with Linux. Most distributions feature the driver already - if not you can download a working linux driver from Matrox. In fact I setup a three screen 'xinerama' display under Linux - works great.

    As to development, I have tried many things in my urge to get away from the M$ stranglehold. I do most stuff with Python and the eric3 IDE which uses Qt3 and PyQt. Database is MySQL with the administration and GUI access tools.

    Good luck to you agrau.

  4. agrau


    Nitro, thanks for the link. They surely look like they know what they are doing. Will play a little with their configurator to see what combinations they consider useful.

    Nononsense, thanks for your detailed reply. I, too, look at Intel boards for I assume they may have the highest degree of component interoperability. At least this is what I expect from a manufacturer of this caliber. I have found a mobo comparision where the ASUS P4C800 was the fastest board, Intel was average of 5 boards tested. But then we are talking about time differences that are probably not noticable to any extend.

    I am a long-time Linux user myself. Mostly RedHat, don't know why. I never took advantage of their update services, but simply recompiled everything over time. Never had problems with that, other than one time when I thought to recompile libc - I had to re-install everything afterwards. Bad luck, I should have taken the warnings on GNU.org more seriously.

    Regarding RAID, I wanted to go to RAID-0, ie. to stripe the data across two drives to achieve something like load-balancing on the disks. Using Linux, I 100% agree with you on fail-safe behaviour. RAID-1 would be waste of disk space, at least to what I consider reasonable for my needs. (As educated computer users, we do regular and frequent back-ups, don't we :))

    Your comments on Gentoo made me curious. I will certainly give it a try on the next computer. While configuring and experimenting, I already had in mind to test some of the distributions listed on http://www.linux.org/dist/list.html - some of them seem to be pretty advanced, and as I don't need commercial support anyway, I don't care whether this is a distribution hacked together by some speed-freak.

    Best, and thanks again,
  5. nitro



    YW. BTW, if you click on the configurator's "learn more" to the right of motherboards, you will see all the big names including my two favorites, supermicro and tyan:

    "Gigabyte, Intel, Shuttle, Tyan, Asus, Supermicro, Tyan and many other manufacturers supply PSSC Labs with the highest quality products and excellent technical support if necessary. With access to so many Teir 1 motherboard manufacturers PSSC Labs can offer the greastest variety of configurations to meet your specifications. Please find below key details about each of the major motherboard chipsets we supply and some configuration tips. "

  6. Which linux will you install?
    Do you have any previous experience with linux?
    Although linux has come a long way, but it still has dependency problems. If you have you feet wet in a unix-based environment then I'd suggest going for Gentoo.

    As a matter of fact, if you are good with unix/linux go for FreeBSD: stability, performance, efficiency, and the all-famous ports system. What else does a guy need?
  7. agrau


    Thanks for bringing FreeBSD to my attention again. And your recommendation for Gentoo . I am on Linux since the early days with all the grief and the glory.

    My first OS was a System V Rel. 2 back in the early 80s. Back then I worked for ICL, doing some ports of the original AT&T sources onto ICL boxes. All top-secret stuff back then :) And then: SysVr3 ! Wonderful: Many of the famous BSD goodies finally available on SysV - bridging the worlds, bringing together the best of the best. Whoa!

    Having said all this, you'll realized I am more a softie - which is why I have troubles deciding for a mobo: Kernel hacking is no problem, but BIOS settings make me nervous :)

    Thanks to everybody so far.

    Keep it rockin'
  8. agrau


    Funny, I have crossed Super Micro off my list. The "Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO", dated 2004-01-30, marked Super Micro boards as having boot problems with Linux (unless you upgrade to a beta BIOS). Tyan seems to work well, however. The document don't list all boards, but I have a not so good feeling anyway then.

  9. nitro



    That is strange.

  10. Hi bufferman,

    I share your liking for Gentoo. I haven't used BSD since the Unix days, way back now.

    As to your: "Although linux has come a long way, but it still has dependency problems." I would say don't they call this "dll-hell" with windoz?

    Getting back to Gentoo, this is why I mainly stuck with Gentoo. Under their "portage" system everything is well kept in check, as well as is technically possible. You have to be willing to invest some effort to get going with it all though. Part of the problem comes from the astonishingly huge heap of (free) programs available under linux. Look at the gentoo portage catalog. In my experience I encouter amazingly little difficulty in getting to run what I want. If I compare this with the endless struggle to make things (partially) work under windoz, I always feel very happy about my switch to Linux. Unfortunately, I am still stuck with too much windoz crap.

    Be good,

    #10     May 29, 2004