The Ubuntu Experiment

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The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby BigDXLT » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:14 pm

So about a week ago I cleaned up my old computer (literally), wiped the harddrive, and reinstalled a fresh copy of Ubuntu on it. I then packed it up in the same boxes that it came shipped in back in 2001 and had travelled back and forth to college over the years. I then kicked an old celeron 600 somethin out of the way and set it up in its new home.

See, a good friend of mine has been doing all the work rebuilding my old snowmobile motor, it's something he enjoys doing (and even insisted on doing), so I bought the parts and he does the work. I've probably saved a good $1-2000 thanks to him. At any rate, he also needed a lot of work done on his old computer. It was slow, his monitor was slowly getting darker and darker and it sounded like it was on the verge of dying a horrible death. Then one day around christmas I thought, hell, I just got a new computer, other than playing around with linux stuffs and file server stuff I wasn't really using the old girl much now. So I figured what the hell, as much of an antique it was to me, it'd be a helluva upgrade for him.

Now the only thing was that I didn't have a copy of Windows to throw on it. Oh, I guess I could have got a copy from somewhere but I figured, Ubuntu just seemed to work so good for me for everything except gaming, that it might work that good for him and his wife since the most graphically intense thing it would be used for is youtubes and facebook (and reading Snowest).

So after a bit of warning that it was going to be quite different, I set it up. First under the default Gnome environment. The browns and all around weirdness of gnome came with a bit of a lukewarm reaction, so I loaded up KDE and right away they felt more comfortable with it. In fact, I sort of kicked myself for not using KDE while I had it since it just seemed way nicer than Gnome (I had liked KDE on the linux machines in college but had heard that Ubuntu's version wasn't very good. Probably not as polished as Gnome, but the extra customization and brighter feel make it much more appealing.

Anyway.

A week later, I get a phone call from him. In the background I can hear the infamous sound of a baby triple idling away. Saa-weeet, it lives again! Might get some real riding in here yet this winter. And by the sound of it, other than a couple of plugins being needed, the computer has been working good for them and they're loving how much faster it is. I'll try to update this thread as we go along. Worse case scenario, I could get windows and install it for them, but hell, may as well try this in the mean time.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:00 am

Let me know how it works out for them! I'll be 'acquiring' a bunch of computer equipment today on the cheap - thank you, CraigsList! - for the sole purpose of experimentation and one of those experiments will be various Linux distros. I love Ubuntu but, like you, keep Windows around for gaming. I have several friends that are Linux converts and I love to hear about people getting into Open Source computing.

edit
I'd never looked at KDE before, despite hearing good things, and I finally took a quick gander at it. It looks cool! Kind of like they took the best of Windows and Mac OS and slapped 'em together in the wonderful world of Linux. How does its functionality compare to GNOME?
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby BigDXLT » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:58 pm

Well, I know it's a lot more customizable. I suspect that one would be hard pressed to find something Gnome can do that KDE can't do. I haven't put enough time into it though to make a fair assesment either way though yet. I've been sort of waiting for KDE4 to be smoothed out before getting a dual boot going on my new machine, but by the sound of it I may be waiting a while. (The recent 4.0 release as I understand is pretty buggy, but I still see a lot of potential in the new stuff, hence why I've waited.)
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:13 pm

I prefer Ubuntu/Gnome, but that's just a preference.

I'm running that exclusively on my laptop, with a dual boot on my desktop.

I'm sure your friend will be fine with Ubuntu. I taught my mom all she needs to know about PCs and the Internet on a Ubuntu/KDE setup. If a techno-luddite like her can comprehend it, I'm sure your friend will do fine hehe. I've got her box set up for remote administration too through VNC.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:55 am

Not to jack your thread, D, but I picked up my 'acquisition' yesterday and it was more than I had bargained for. For 50$ (U.S. kthx) some guy on the other side of town let me have the following:

    7 Monitors
    6 Desktops
    6 Keyboards
    Various other bitz

Now all of the PCs are 486 and Pentium I/II but I thought this was a steal. I've only had time to dump them in the garage and will tag 'em this weekend. I figure if at least one set of computers/monitors works then I've made a fair deal. The guy seemed legit and as much as I wanted to question how he got all this crap and why he was selling it so cheap, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and took him at his word when he said his office closed and he was just trying to get rid of the stuff. At this point the question is what to do?

Of course I need to figure out what each machine can do and what works and then I suspect I'll just toy around with them, try out different Linux distros (let the Ubuntu Experiment continue!), mod some cases, set up a crappy old network just for the sake of.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby BigDXLT » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:39 pm

You might want to look into one one of those mini-distros, or at least xubuntu... :o
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:01 pm

You can run m0n0wall or IPCop on the 486 box. IPCop is based on on RHL, so it'll run ok on a 386 (the unpacked image is something like 33MB although there is a "mini" version that's less than 16MB.). m0n0wall is based on FreeBSD, and is quite fast on very old hardware like the 486. It's not as expandable as IPCop though and is a very basic router... if I was running m0n0wall, I prefer the pfSense fork of it, which expands the capabilities quite a bit. Both m0n0wall and pfSense sense can be run from straight from the CD-ROM (saves the logs/settings onto a floppy), or you can install it to a hard drive. All three of those can do flash drive installs. I have my friend running pfSense from a 8MB CF card on a Cyrix 6x86.

The Penitum and Pentium II's, imagine a Beowulf cluster with these!

No seriously though lol, Ubuntu might be a bit top heavy for such an old machine. I'd recommend DamnSmallLinux instead.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:36 am

Yeah I was looking into making one a DOS box for old games, for the rest I was thinking DSL, PuppyLinux, SLAX, or Vector Linux.

So many distros, so little time. I sure do like Ubuntu, though, and I've already got the disc.

And if you end up moving to the East Coast you can come build me a Beowulf cluster :wink:. I just wouldn't know what to do with it besides...take over the world!!

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pr0phy got my hearts in a whirl tonight!
I found this little guide and it got me pumped up about getting a little network set up, especially since I planned on setting up a web server.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:32 pm

There are ways to make Ubuntu smaller to run on older machines, but in terms of Linux distros, Ubuntu is probably the chunkiest (and nicest looking). I've never really bothered with running any flavor of Ubuntu on any machine slower than a Pentium 200MHz (MMX BOOYAH!) with 64MB of RAM... But running the CL-only version is more than fine.

I like PuppyLinux and SLAX too, never worked with Vector Linux before. For olddd machines I just use DSL or a custom Gentoo build (it takes quite a while to compile Gentoo on an old machine ;)). DSL is fine for most purposes. When I didn't have a lot of faster machines to go around I played around with junked old boxes a lot. I had Folding@Home on all of them... my mini team of "under 300MHz" machines took like a month to accomplish what one sub-1.5GHz machine did in a week :D :D I think [H]Forum has a specific "slow" team just for kicks, but I don't remember lol.

As a tech, I take home so many old machines that people throw out, now I don't really know what to do with them hehe. I think I've got like about ~10 Pentium 133-266MHz boxes sitting around, and quite a few spare mobos and CPUs. It seems like the Pentium boxes are really easy to get ahold of for free or super cheap.. I wonder why people even still have them nowadays. I have a few other boxes.. a Pentium-III 850MHz, Duron 1.2Ghz, Athlon XP 1.4Ghz, Pentium4 2Ghz, and an Athlon MP dual 1.8Ghz. These were all given to me, or I got from Craigslist under the "free" section, or I picked up from clients who wanted them disposed of. I have a few Macs too (mostly G3 and G4).. but those are really fruity and I haven't really done anything with them yet.

My IPCop started out on a 386 w/ a 120MB 5.25" 3,600RPM hard drive and 32MB of EDO RAM lol. It went through a few iterations... first a Pentium 200MHz MMX w/ 128MB of RAM... then a Pentium-II 333MHz w/ 256MB... now it's on a my old "work" box which is a dual Pentium-III Xeon 550MHz w/ a 5,400RPM 15GB drive and 512MB of PC133. I kept upgrading the IPCop because I was using more advanced features, like some gnarly traffic shaping, Squid proxy, separate NICs for the LAN, Wireless, Servers (DMZ), Intrusion detection, some advanced filtering, and a buncha things I can't remember. Traffic shaping especially takes up a lot of CPU cycles if you're really aggressive on the profiles, and the Squid proxy cache goes nuts on the RAM + HDD space. My current IPCop is probably overkill though... I'd probably do OK with a 400MHz Pentium-II but yeah, my IPCop runs Folding@Home with the spare cycles lol. IPCop is GREAT since it's super customizable with mods and stuff you can tweak in it.. although I think its built in traffic shaper and lack of load balancing to be the major bummers. You can fix the traffic shaping with a mod, but the load balancing hasn't been implemented in a good way yet. Observe --> http://mhaddons.tk/ Markus Hoffmann is simply the IPCop god of addons.. you'll find a lot of interesting stuff on his site hehe.

You should also think about making a MAME box (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAME) out of the slightly faster boxes (about 300MHz+). A friend of mine has a nice SEGA arcade controller connected to hers, and she rocks out with all the old fighting games (Street Fighter, Xmen, Mortal Kombat)... Then there's Metal Slug!! For NES/SNES/SEGA Genesis games I prefer to use a Windows based emulator... not withholding Game Boy, where the NoCa$h one for DOS is the best (the Windows version is a bit buggy).

About Beowulf clusters, my previous comment was more of a Slashdot type joke hehe. You can make on though, out of similarly clocked boxes.. though it works best when the hardware is as similar as possible. In all honesty, I haven't made a Beowulf cluster for a few years, and my experience with them has only been with 3 clusters. 1 I built in high school out of spare parts in the lab, the other two I built for friends who had small engineering firms and needed data crunching ability. The last one I built was about 4 years ago I think? It was a stacked mATX system w/ like 1.4Ghz Athlons... 8 nodes, I believe. The slaves booted from CF cards, and the master had the main hard drive. Each node was pretty cheap... combo deals at Fry's Electronics :D
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:41 am

pr0phetik_dreamz wrote:You should also think about making a MAME box (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAME) out of the slightly faster boxes (about 300MHz+).


This is a terrific (a word I recently learned was created by John Milton) idea. I've got a great deal of MAME roms and I had this same thought. What I'd really like to do is build a cabinet and just have a dedicated arcade emulator in my house. Too bad I'm not a carpenter. I guess I could buy the book.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby pr0phetik_dreamz » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:18 am

Hehe, I'm sort of handy with woodworking. My dad taught me a lot of basic skills as a kid so I know my way around sort of. Too bad I only applied my skills to make mischievous things like rubber band guns lol.

Haha, I can't believe they have an actual book to build a MAME cabinet though... really it shouldn't be too hard. Actually, if you are going on the cheap, I'm sure you can pick up a vintage audio cabinet at a garage sale or at Goodwill (the kinds that were for tape decks, record players, and equalizers) for pretty cheap. Most of them are 19" in width, and that'll fit most computer cases.. especially since older Baby AT cases are smaller than ATX.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:31 am

Word. There are lots of cool guides about how to do it. I think the best looking one is AvanceCD since there's really nothing for you to set up, just plug in a USB drive or CD/DVD and it starts up with a nice, graphic menu for ROMs to be chosen from. It's Linux based too.

Also, http://www.pharaohweb.com/pacman/pacman.html
http://www.mameroom.com/webstore/productinfo_UAI.asp
http://www.linuxtoys.net

And, uh, sorry there BigD. We definitely jacked your thread :wink:.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby Niteowl » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:50 pm

PANCAKES!
God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby Beasty » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:36 pm

I just built a $390 box to play around with a linux server. I think its rather nice for the price.

4000+ AMD/2GIGS Rams/500GB HDD

I mainly got it because my other spair box is REALLY loud.

I really should get another 500 and do a RAID, but currently Im just playing around with it and trying to learn to setup a LAMP (with Virtual Hosts), DNS server, Samba, SVN and anything else I can get my hands dirty in :)

Lots of fun stuff to do with linux.
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Re: The Ubuntu Experiment

Postby shipwreck » Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:51 am

Beasty wrote:I just built a $390 box to play around with a linux server. I think its rather nice for the price.

4000+ AMD/2GIGS Rams/500GB HDD


Ye gods. Three years ago I got a computer with half the cpu, half the ram, and five-times less HD space. Of course it has a decent gpu but that just goes to show you how hardware comes down the creek so quickly - and why I didn't bother to post my 'gaming rig' on the appropriate thread :wink:.

Good luck with your Linux experiment. Let me know how it goes.
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