The PhoneBoy Blog

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Rebuilding Computers

In addition to some errands I ran today, I decided that, initially, I was going to allow my son to “participate” in building a computer with me. We got as far as screwing in the hard drive into the bare-bones case, but my daughter was being too helpful. My wife thought it was “too much” for him to be doing, which after thinking about it more, I disagree with that. Between what he’s done in Montessori and the fact he wants to play every game under the sun–he already plays Monopoly, Checkers, Backgammon, and his grandpa tried teaching him chess today–assembling a computer isn’t a whole lot harder than those things.

Anyway, I decided rather than argue with my wife about it, I’d just get the job finished myself. The basic goal was to give my son the beefier hardware and put a slower, VIA C3 Mini-ITX motherboard into what was my desktop but has essentially turned into a server. I decided I’d take the opportunity to expand the hard drive space–it is a server, after all–which meant installing a new OS on it. Since I really didn’t feel like going through the installation process for Gentoo again, I went with Kubuntu Dapper Drake (Ubuntu with KDE instead of Gnome).

While I originally wasn’t going to start loading the OS on the second computer, I decided it was fairly straightforward to at least start the process now. Dapper Drake installs fairly painlessly. It boots up via a Live CD, you click on the Install icon on the desktop, answer about five screens of information–the most complex screen is that where you define your initial user and machine name–and the rest is pretty straightforward. The initial installation takes about a half-hour, applying the updates another few minutes after the first reboot. And that includes a plethora of useful applications. Compare that to a Windows XP installation where you get a large number of questions spread out over several minutes, wait an hour or more for everything to load, and that’s just the OS. The security updates take many more hours to download, install, reboot, download, install, reboot again, etc. Then there’s the applications.

All in all, it takes me about 2-3 hours to get a Dapper Drake box up and mostly usable. whereas it takes me 2-3 days to get a bare Windows XP box up with the same amount of functionality.

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