Weblog entry #203 for ajt

New Desktop
Posted by ajt on Fri 22 Mar 2013 at 21:30
Tags: none.

It's a while since I bought my desktop PC. I tend to keep kit a lot longer than most of the people I know, indeed I still use kit that is older and slower than what some people throw away!

My desktop system is now getting too slow and full. I would never say I'm a good photographer but I do take pictures and the ancient 120 GB drive on my desktop system is full. I've got a lot of that backed up on my home server but even so the drive is just full. It also doesn't have enough memory or CPU grunt to edit a decent sized RAW image in GIMP. It's swapping far too much.

The best thing to do is buy a new box. I think that a 180 GB flash drive for root and a 2 TB hard disk for bulk storage should hold the OS and my pictures for a while. RAM is reasonably cheap so I'll probably go for 16 GiB off the stuff which should allow the system to breath more than it is with just 2 GiB that it has now. Not sure on the CPU, the quad-core AMDs are pretty cheap and come with a decent built in GPU but the twin-core Intels are faster if more expensive.

 

Comments on this Entry

Posted by Steve (90.193.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 10:42
[ Send Message | View Steve's Scratchpad | View Weblogs ]

Sounds nice, especially the RAM.

I'm currently running on an AMD X3 with 4GB RAM and 2 x 500Gb drives. That's just over three years old now, and is called precious.my.flat because it came to me on my birthday.

Steve

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 14:16
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

My current computer was pretty powerful when new, but GIMP in particular eats RAM like it's going out of fashion... While the single core CPU is fine and idle most of the time, when I need it the most it hits 100% and it seems like time runs very slowly... I suppose nearly 8 years old in PC architecture is the equivalent of a decades in human terms...

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Steve (90.193.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 14:20
[ Send Message | View Steve's Scratchpad | View Weblogs ]

I feel the same way about RawTherapee - there are times when it just eats CPU & RAM.

I was actually pleasantly surprised to see my desktop is three years old. I used to buy a new machine every 12-18 months. (Usually just a case, motherboard, & RAM. The rest of the machine would be populated by the machine it replaced)

Steve

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 14:35
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

They replace desktop & laptops at work on about a two year cycle and servers on a three year. I've always thought that was excessive and wasteful of money, it's not like they get repaired if they break or anything these days. In fact if you ignore software bloat from Microsoft the key applications barely change, and as the former Federal Reserve chairman noted, IT doesn't seem to improve productivity at work as much as he expected...

At home even though PCs have got a lot cheaper over time, the first PC I bought with my own money cost USD 3000 (~GBP 2000), I still can't justify to myself the frivolous expenditure every two years. I suppose a new PC about every 7 years is okay, it will at least feel very fast for the first two or three years... Even Debian has some bloat!

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Steve (90.193.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 14:38
[ Send Message | View Steve's Scratchpad | View Weblogs ]

The past three "machines" I've bought have averaged about £250, which isn't too bad considering how thoroughly I use them. Cases + CPU + Motherboard haven't changed too much in price, I just usually make sure I watch the prices of RAM for a while before hitting the button.

This machine is the last I'll have with 4Gb, I think I'll be moving to 8Gb when I look at replacing it, sometime towards December.

Steve

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Mar 2013 at 15:19
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

I know, parts get cheaper all the time...

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rjc (86.22.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 00:40
[ Send Message ]
My iBook G4, from which I'm writing this comment, will turn 8 in a couple of months. Over time I've upgraded RAM to 1.5GB (can't put any more in) and changed 40GB HDD to a 250GB one (could have gone for a smaller and faster one but felt a bit space greedy at the time ;^) - can't upgrade it either now as it is PATA).

I can probably still get a couple of years out of it, at least until the HDD dies. It may even outlive Debian's support for PowerPC, who knows.

For day to day use (web, email, film, music, coding, etc.) it is enough, but then again it depends what your needs are (I don't use it for hi-resolution graphics, 3D games, etc.) and I try not to use any bloat.

Most of my ARM boxes and developer boards, or even my smartphone, are more powerful than the laptop but for years it remained my main machine which I use daily.

My new Google Chromebook (Samsung ARM one) is next in line to replace it, but I left it running Chrome OS for now. Like with the old one (I had Mac OS X on it for a while), Linux support needs to mature before I install Debian on it.

rjc

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (204.193.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 12:13
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

I'm pleased that I'm not the only person who keeps kit well beyond it's normal best before date...

I upgrade my kit too, more RAM on this PC and replaced broken bits when they failed too.

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rjc (86.22.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 18:51
[ Send Message ]
If it wasn't for its size, the volume of noise it generates or the amount of power it drains, I would have still been using my old Netra T1 as a server :^)

Unfortunately due to all of the above it gathers dust in the shed with other bits of Sun kit :^(

rjc

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 21:52
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

I know, there is a trade off between old, noisy and inefficient kit versus newer more efficient kit... I probably err on the side of keeping older kit longer in the hope the the production energy of the new kit is offset by the usage energy of the existing kit...

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rjc (86.22.xx.xx) on Fri 5 Apr 2013 at 14:21
[ Send Message ]
Similar here. I also justify keeping old kit way past its best by the added value of the recycling aspect of it :^)

rjc

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by mcortese (193.78.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 18:24
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

I'm in a very similar condition, with a 10-year-old PC that I can't upgrade any more, having reached its upper limit for RAM (a mere GiB) and being impossible to find a PATA disk these days.

The single, single-core, single-threaded, purely 32-bit CPU and the pathological lack of RAM are annoying, but not as much as the miserable speed of the disk (not sure if I have to blame the medium itself, or the controller, or both).

Even worse than those, however, is the graphic card. Limited by its AGP interface and its own age, it simply cannot keep the pace with the ever demanding requirements of today's composited and 3D-accelerated desktop. I find myself deploying all possible tricks just to avoid triggering the hounting "overlay" that GNOME developers have been so kind as to imposed onto us.

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rjc (86.22.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 19:29
[ Send Message ]

That's one of the reasons why I have given up on desktop environments a while ago and used light WMs ever since.

Don't get me wrong, I do like a bit of eye candy here and there - I use pseudo-transparency in my terminals ;^) but I can't imagine how I would benefit from 3D-accelerating those :^P "Bouncy" windows? Sure they're pretty... but in a tiling WM? ;^)

As you can tell, I'm not a gamer but it is really annoying when you can't even play an odd OpenGL-enabled game which you used to on an old x86 PC... 10 years ago! Have you tried using Radeon (R300) on PowerPC recently? Neither FB nor KMS work properly - good luck!

I got a bit side-racked here. To sum it up: I do like to squeeze as much as possible out of my machines and don't change them willy nilly every couple of years. How bloated everything became - that's a rant for another time ;^)

Regards,

rjc

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 22:10
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

Fair points but we are all stuck with Time and Tide....

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by mcortese (193.78.xx.xx) on Thu 28 Mar 2013 at 08:10
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

Agreed. Except that 3D acceleration is not for optional eye candy like bouncy windows or spinning cubes, it's indeed a requirement for the WM itself — of course I'm referring to Gnome Shell.

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rjc (86.22.xx.xx) on Fri 5 Apr 2013 at 14:54
[ Send Message ]

True - hadn't mentioned Gnome Shell and its insane (IMHO) reliance on 3D acceleration due to my misunderstanding of the, now removed, Fallback Mode.

It's hard for me, I must admit, to comprehend the reasoning behind their decisions. Shouldn't this be done the other way around? Fix the state of open source graphics drivers, and in many cases write them, first... and then write a window or desktop manager which uses them.

Yes, I know there are games, 3D modelling software, etc. which require accelerated drivers... but I am talking about such, seemingly, basic software like WMs or DMs here!

rjc

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by ajt (89.240.xx.xx) on Mon 25 Mar 2013 at 22:07
[ Send Message | View Weblogs ]

My current desktop is a bit younger and so benefits from 2 GiB of DDR RAM an a single core AMD64 CPU and a SATA bus. But like you it's trapped with an AGP graphics sub-system which is really expensive to do anything about - and even then KDE/GNOME are never going to run that fast on them.

I don't need most of the eye candy on the desktop but some would be nice. However the problem is that the full desktop environments don't really come in a light flavour, which means your forced to run one of the light DMs. I've nothing against Fluxbox et al. but I'd rather that using them was a choice not a necessity.

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]