Starting from scratch

Carl Johnson

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My employer is about to auction off some surplus computer hardware. The catch is that that the hard drives will be wiped of any and all software. What would I have to buy to get one of these systems up and running? While pricing new copies of Windows XP they all seem to have a disclaimer stating that they are intended to be used to upgrade an older version of Windows.
 

SethH

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There are two different types of retail XP discs. One is the upgrade . . . this is probably the more common. The other is the full install. The full install usually runs about $100 more.

How computer savvy are you? You might look into some of the more user-friendly versions of linux out there. These are likely to do better on older computers anyway since they don't hog resources like XP. Another option would be to turn it into a server. There was a great guide on Tom's Networking recently on how to make a very nice file server for your home (if you have a need for such a thing).
 

Greg*go

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Can you provide a link Seth? I think Tom's Hardware is too confusing to even know where to begin looking.
 

Rommel_L

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First off do you know what are the 'stats' of the PC (cpu speed, ram size, hd size, etc)? If these are really old PCs (4 years or older), think about looking at budget desktops for they cost as little as $350 nowadays...

But if you can get that PC for a much (much) lower price, a full version of WinXP is the way to go or as Seth has stated, linux (I'm an Ubuntu fan myself)...
 

SethH

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Here's the link: http://tomsnetworking.com/2006/08/01...iy_raid_5_nas/


This is how to build a RAID-5 server. It would require you to spend some money, but RAID-5 is probably the most reliable storage solution anyone would use in their home.

This implementation uses Linux and a hardware RAID card with 4 drives. You could modify this configuration to use software RAID (cheaper, but less efficient) and you could uses smaller or larger drives depending on your needs.
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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Let's not run away and start talking RAID right out of the box. Carl isn't even slightly Linux savvy yet, so a nice basic install should be step one, right?


I'd recommend going with OpenSuse. There are other good ones, but I like it. It is a very complete Linux distribution with excellent (and graphical) administration applications built-in. Patching and updating etc can even be automated, and if not automated it's just a few mouse clicks away.

It detects PC hardware very well on install, and it really is no more difficult to install - or use - than any Windows variant.

Just go to http://www.opensuse.org (or directly to http://en.opensuse.org/Released_Version) and download CD images, burn those to CD's (or one DVD image and burn that to a DVD) and then just boot from the CD's and follow the prompts. It's ridiculously simple.

I'd recommend selecting the KDE graphical environment, it is superior to Gnome in my personal opinion (others feel the opposite is true, so you may want to go ahead and install both and try them out, you can easily select which one to use when you want to log in and start using the computer.)

That will give you a complete, useful computer with browsing and office application capabilities for exactly $0 in software investments. Not too shabby.
 

Carl Johnson

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No I don't. On Monday I can ask some of the tech savvy guys at work who've been around long enough to know what kind of computers the company was using before the most recent upgrade but I have no idea. My five year old Windows ME equipped cpu is showing it's age so I would like to swap it out with something else. This talk of Linux is the kind of expert advice I was looking for. If I can get one of the computers cheap and install free software that will let me surf the net without having to reboot on a regular basis I'll be fully satisfied
 

Rommel_L

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What are the stats of your 5yr old PC? What do you use it for (internet, word processing, etc)?
 

Bryan X

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As for Windows, the less expensive 'Upgrade' disc contains the exact same thing as the 'Full' version which costs more. As long as you have a prior version of windows available on disc you can do a 'Full' install of Windows XP from the 'Upgrade' disc.

When you install the upgrade it won't detect a previous version of Windows so it will ask you to insert a disc of a previous version just to check that you do in fact own a version of Windows. Once it verifies that with the old disc, you put the XP Upgrade disc back in and continue with the Full install from scratch.
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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Of course, buying an XP version that doesn't give you a valid license is pretty much an excercise in futility. If you do have a Windows variant from which the XP upgrade is valid, then you get a valid license, but if you go borrow somebodys old Windows disc and install "upgrade-XP" using that, you are essentially still running a pirated copy of XP.

Same thing with the OEM XP license. If you buy it with a new computer, it is a valid license, but if you get somebody to sell you an OEM license without a computer, then it won't be valid anyway.

If you're going to buy a non-valid XP license for your setup, you may as well just go to isohunt.com and find a pirated copy right off the bat, otherwise buy the proper license and be in compliance.

Just the fact that a piece of software will install and run on your computer doesn't give you a valid license, not even if you install from original non-burned CD media.
 

Carl Johnson

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My current PC was made by Hewlett Packard and is running Windows ME. It has 128MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and an AMD Athalon processor. With the exception of streaming audio, Microsoft Money and checking my email via Outlook all I use the system for is surfing the net. I don't have a printer at home and the word processor isn't compatible with the computers I use at work and at school so I do my word processing elsewhere.
I can do without the bells and whistles. Although I'm hesitant to start from scratch with my current CPU if there is a reasonably stable alternative to ME that I can get for free then I am all ears.........
 

Rommel_L

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What's the model no. of the HP? Get back to me and I'll post some options...
 

Kimmo Jaskari

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128MB of RAM is the really bad part. If you could upgrade that to 512MB or even 1GB (but 512MB would be fine) you could most likely easily run Windows XP, for example, on it quite enjoyably.

Linux would work too, of course, but then you'd have to give up Outlook - which probably wouldn't be so bad as there are really good Linux alternatives for it like Evolution, which are quite similar in functionality - but running Microsoft Money on anything but a Microsoft OS is not going to happen.

Now, there are ways (like downloading VMware Server for free and running Windows in a "virtual machine" on your computer) to do it, but they are not exactly plug and play and you'd still need a Windows license to run in the virtual machine, so I don't think that will be what you want to do...
 

Carl Johnson

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I'm not sure that my current computer is worth salvaging. It also has a failing integrated video card. Upgrading the RAM and the OS would get me half way toward getting another computer, and I don't even know if it's possible to do anything about the video card.

I've been floating possibilities as what my next step should be. I could work on repairing and upgrading my current CPU, I could try to get one of the surplus computers from work up and running, I could use my student discount to get a new Dell, or I could attempt a DIY project.
 

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