Linux preinstalled on new computer purchase


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markjensen

It's been a while (years?) since I have posted.  And even longer since I have purchased a new PC.  But my old rig is showing her age and it is time to retire her.

Intel Core2 Duo (4600) CPU, released October 2007

4GB RAM

My Load Averages, reported by top, just having this browser open, and a terminal window running top reports:  1.80, 1.99, 1.99

 

So, yeah... A bit sluggish.

 

Because I am not into maximizing hardware configuration minutae, nor do I require top-end hardware, so I went to the Dell website and looked at their options with Linux pre-installed.  Years ago, they offered this option with NO price break for deselecting Windows.  Not much of a deal, right?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now remove $100 and change for electing Ubuntu preinstalled.  Nice!  I really thought Dell did themselves and their customers a disservice by keeping the same price for Linux as the Windows cost.

I chose a cost-effective replacement, going with an i5 9500 CPU and 8GB RAM (one stick, so I can upgrade with a second in dual configuration if I need a small boost in the future).

 

The three and a half week delivery isn't something I am thrilled about, but choosing the free shipping option, you take what you get, right?  This old beast will chug along for this last month of service until that time.  It will be nice to get the performance boost of a CPU released more recently than a decade ago!

Current CPU on left, new one on right.

CPU_benchmarks.png

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margrave

System76.com maybe?

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markjensen
3 minutes ago, margrave said:

System76.com maybe?

To configure hardware there that got away from integrated graphics on their lowest end setup, and lowest CPU, matching memory size, it is two and a half times the cost.  Maybe you can argue specs will be better for the GEForce RTX 8GB video card I selected (it is!, but that is the only nVidia option they permitted me on the cheapest Thelio), but I don't have that sort of budget.

I am just looking for basic browsing, for the most part.

Have to admit, their cases are VERY nice looking!  Definitely have appeal!

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ThaCrip

How long have you had that setup? ; since 2007-2008?

 

because my previous computer I had in March 2006, which was a single core CPU (AMD Athlon 3500+ 2.2Ghz) at the time, which currently has a dual core (AMD Athlon X2 3600+ 2.0Ghz (which I put it in back in the year 2010 so I could play Mafia II)) and that thing, while it still works okay in some ways, is definitely outdated. your CPU should be a bit better than that, but if it's in that ball park, I could definitely see a upgrade happening for you.

 

in June 2020 I upgraded my main PC's CPU from a i3-2120 (which I had since May 2012 (CPU itself is released in 2011)) to a i5-3550 (says 3.3Ghz but Linux shows (i.e. 'watch lscpu') it running @ 3.5ghz when under full load) and it gave me a rather solid boost for only $20 (it was actually $19.xx) as I just used the heatsink from the i3-2120 CPU, which is worse than the official stock i5 heatsinks, since it's lacking the copper connection, but I had a work around to combat the increased CPU temp by lowering CPU voltage by -0.130v which shaved 13c off peak temps (basically lowers temps by 1c per 0.010v drop in voltage) and now it's at a safe enough level (I fairly recently tried -0.160v but it has issues booting etc. -0.150v is basically THE limit for me but I went with -0.130v and things are stable and my max temps under a normal 100% load should still be just within the Intel specs on their website etc). I suspect I can easily get quite a few more years out of this setup before ill need a upgrade now since, in some ways, I basically doubled my CPU performance for only $20 which I am sure ill mainly notice for gaming which is primarily why I got it in the first place. it seems I have got a small bump for general use performance though as it seems that way, but it might be placebo effect. NOTE: this system still has the original RAM I put in it which is 8GB (2x 4GB) which is still decent even today although I am looking into getting 16GB of RAM but the RAM prices are still a little higher than I would like to pay, so I am probably going to wait until I can get the price down a bit etc.

 

but anyways, given your setup you will see a rather solid boost in performance with any decent i5 CPU. hell, even a i3 will be noticeable if it's anything like my old AMD Athlon X2 3600+ vs i3-2120. but with your CPU load appearing a bit high, that's basically similar to my old AMD Athlon X2 3600+ (socket 939) CPU as it does not take much to tax the CPU (as I think general YouTube stuff is taxing it pretty well already). it's not total crap yet, as it's still usable in some ways, but you can see it's probably not going to be all that much longer into the future (my guess is 5-10 years max) before even basic internet will be pushing it or just not cutting it. but I only have this computer as a backup computer to my primary PC currently which is the i5-3550 (which was i3-2120 from May 2012 to June 2020). to bad your motherboard is likely pretty old as a CPU upgrade might have been a cheap way to give it more life. even now, off the top of my head, if you can get a quad core CPU for that setup, if it's cheap enough(say $10-20), which I suspect it is, it might be worth getting especially if your trying to squeeze more time out of it. but at the same time it's probably not worth it especially given your setup only has 4GB of RAM which is pushing it for a main computer as even for basic web browsing, 4GB is pushing it nowadays as a web browser can burn through that fairly quick especially if you leave your browser running for days and load up a fair amount of tabs as even 8GB is starting to show it's age in fairly recent memory but is not a obvious issue yet. but if you could somehow get a quad core CPU along with a total of 8GB of RAM for that setup for very cheap it might be worth considering but I would easily understand if you just said screw it and moved on and put that $ towards a new setup since it seems like anything prior to the i3/i5 generation of CPU's is pretty old.

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goretsky

Hello,

Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo have had Linux preloaded at various times (I think the HP systems came with DOS-preinstalled and a DVD for RHEL installation).  I am unsure if HP currently does it that way, though; optical drives have been on their way out for a while.  You don't see them in notebooks anymore, and they typically are an add-on for workstations.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

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+InsaneNutter

Always nice to see someone making good use of a PC and holding on to it so long.


I built a similar spec Core2Duo PC in 2007 with 4gb of ram that my parents are still using today. I upgraded the hard drive to an SSD and later upgraded the GPU to a Geforce 1030 which allowed them to run a 4K monitor at 60hz.


Someone on here was adamant such a PC wouldn’t be of any use today, however for general desktop use, photo viewing, internet, email and watching 4K video it works great and is really responsive today in 2020.

 

I’m sure you will certainly enjoy a new machine after all this time, hopefully you can keep it just as long.

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ThaCrip

 

On 8/19/2020 at 6:52 AM, InsaneNutter said:

Always nice to see someone making good use of a PC and holding on to it so long.

 

Yeah, unless someone has money to burn, upgrading computers fairly often (say once every few years-ish or sooner) is largely a waste of $ simply because the performance boost is not enough to justify the costs as it's probably not all that much better than their previous PC and does not give much of a overall improvement vs their previous computer. because even today, quad core CPU's from say 8 years or so ago are still more than good enough even today for general use and gaming etc (like more good then not for sure). so, off the top of my head, I would imagine anything around i3 or better is still easily good enough for general use but much slower than those I would imagine will really be starting to show it's age to where, while it might be okay in some ways, a upgrade would give them a solid all around boost. like where they can get a solid performance boost for fairly minimal $.

 

on a side note... my current primary computer is the one I have had the longest in terms of the basic motherboard as it's 8 years and 3 months old (i.e. May 2012 to date) and counting where as my previous record, which was my previous main PC, the motherboard was 6 years and 2 months (March 2006 til May 2012). but since I upgraded that i3-2120 to i5-3550 in June that should easily extend the life of my PC by years as I would imagine ill be able to get at least another 3-5 years out of it. even on a gaming level (I don't game much anymore but I do a little here and there(but mostly replaying games I liked in the past)) I probably extended the life of my setup noticeably just from that simple $20 CPU upgrade(i5-3550) since prior to that the CPU(i3-2120) was easily the bottleneck where as now it's almost certainly the GPU and even my 1050 Ti 4GB should be good enough @ 1080p for at least the near future (say a few years or something).

 

On 8/19/2020 at 6:52 AM, InsaneNutter said:

Someone on here was adamant such a PC wouldn’t be of any use today, however for general desktop use, photo viewing, internet, email and watching 4K video it works great and is really responsive today in 2020.

 

A moment ago I loaded up my old AMD Athlon X2 3600+ (socket 939) computer with Linux Mint v19.3-Xfce on it (in short... Win 10 won't work on that board, so Linux is my only option at this point on that system), and loaded a basic YouTube video on the Firefox browser, and without any hardware acceleration (it has a Radeon 5670 512MB GPU in it), the CPU usage is floating around a minimum of 55-60% during 480p video playback and during initial load of the page, without any browser cache, CPU seemed to peak in the 90 something (or at least mid-80's) percent range (so you can see it's age a bit here). I tried that same video on YouTube at 720p and CPU usage seems to be in the low 70's %. but once things are loaded it seems 'good enough' I guess one could say as some basic scrolling etc still seems to be good enough performance (even tested IMDb's website which is a bit more graphics heavy on the main page and that's still passable even though it's a little sluggish here and there). so I would imagine a 'Core2Duo' will be a bit better than that.

 

but I suspect where you especially benefit over my setup with a CPU that's worse than your Core2Duo is I am assuming your on Windows 10 and given your example with the Nvidia 1030 GPU, that likely means your video playback has hardware acceleration and is not strictly using the CPU, which makes it all that more likely that setup will appear noticeably better because of it. so all-in-all, I am sure that setup will appear good enough to some people today since it does the basics without things being too sluggish and will see a clear benefit with the GPU assisted video playback since your CPU usage is likely quite low due to that.

 

but the RAM thing could be a issue on older PC's... 4GB, while is passable for some people I am sure, if a person tends to leave their browser open for days with many tabs open, 4GB is not cutting it. but if they just turn on their computer and browse a few websites and keep open tabs to a minimum, then 4GB is probably good enough as I would imagine even 2GB systems can be okay for some people, especially if they are on Linux. NOTE: the AMD Athlon X2 3600+ CPU also has 4GB which is the max the motherboard supports (4x 1GB chips) as that I upgraded in I think it was Jan 2019 since the price was dirt cheap-ish(I think around $10) and went from 2GB to 4GB. but I don't really use this computer as it's strictly a backup as I might turn it on from time to time and run system updates on it.

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Nick H.
On 8/19/2020 at 1:27 AM, markjensen said:

Current CPU on left, new one on right.

CPU_benchmarks.png

A decent purchase. But I'm not sure I saw a particular question. Are you asking for some advice on which distro to use? Or is it more of a "here's what I've done" thread? There's no malice intended, I just want to know if there is something to answer. As a big fan of Linux I'm happy to offer suggestions! ;)

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markjensen
6 hours ago, Nick H. said:

A decent purchase. But I'm not sure I saw a particular question. Are you asking for some advice on which distro to use? Or is it more of a "here's what I've done" thread? There's no malice intended, I just want to know if there is something to answer. As a big fan of Linux I'm happy to offer suggestions! ;)

There was no question to be found.  🙂

Just observing that years ago, when Dell announced their "preloaded" Linux option, there was zero price difference.  It is nice to see that things have changed.

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+InsaneNutter
7 hours ago, ThaCrip said:

but I suspect where you especially benefit over my setup with a CPU that's worse than your Core2Duo is I am assuming your on Windows 10 and given your example with the Nvidia 1030 GPU, that likely means your video playback has hardware acceleration and is not strictly using the CPU, which makes it all that more likely that setup will appear noticeably better because of it. so all-in-all, I am sure that setup will appear good enough to some people today since it does the basics without things being too sluggish and will see a clear benefit with the GPU assisted video playback since your CPU usage is likely quite low due to that.

 

but the RAM thing could be a issue on older PC's... 4GB, while is passable for some people I am sure, if a person tends to leave their browser open for days with many tabs open, 4GB is not cutting it. but if they just turn on their computer and browse a few websites and keep open tabs to a minimum, then 4GB is probably good enough as I would imagine even 2GB systems can be okay for some people, especially if they are on Linux. NOTE: the AMD Athlon X2 3600+ CPU also has 4GB which is the max the motherboard supports (4x 1GB chips) as that I upgraded in I think it was Jan 2019 since the price was dirt cheap-ish(I think around $10) and went from 2GB to 4GB. but I don't really use this computer as it's strictly a backup as I might turn it on from time to time and run system updates on it.

Yup you are correct, that machine is on Windows 10 and making use of GPU accelerated playback on both the web browser and for any videos files that exist on that machine with VLC. Installing an SSD made the most significant difference by far, however I do agree without GPU acceleration I suspect much more than 720p YouTube wouldn't be possible. Flash not really been a thing anymore has probably contributed to a much better web experience also.

 

I do have an Acer Revo r3600 I purchased in January 2010 which is still my main media device today, that consists of an Atom N230, 2gb ram and an Nvidia ION GPU. I dont think i'd want to use any sort of desktop environment on that today, however as a single purpose device running Kodi controlled by a remote that's still perfect and probably the best £130ish I ever spent on some hardware with the amount of use its got. I used XBMCbuntu for many years on that device, when that was discontinued I moved over to LibreELEC, no problem with GPU accelerated 1080p x264 playback.

 

At some point I do want to go 4K so I'll obviously need to purchase newer hardware then, but for now i'm content with my current media setup.

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Nick H.
2 hours ago, markjensen said:

There was no question to be found.  🙂

Just observing that years ago, when Dell announced their "preloaded" Linux option, there was zero price difference.  It is nice to see that things have changed.

Oh right!

 

Yeah, it's good to see them recognizing that an open source OS doesn't have a price tag attached to it. I haven't checked the website for a while, do they offer different distos or just Ubuntu?

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adrynalyne
7 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

Oh right!

 

Yeah, it's good to see them recognizing that an open source OS doesn't have a price tag attached to it. I haven't checked the website for a while, do they offer different distos or just Ubuntu?

Actually the price attached is the support. 😉

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Nick H.
2 minutes ago, adrynalyne said:

Actually the price attached is the support. 😉

Jokes aside, I've provided plenty of people - not all of them tech-savvy - with a Linux distribution and they've never had a problem. One or two didn't even know that I switched it from Windows despite me telling them. It's wrong to think that Linux is the geek's OS, it works just the same as Apple or Microsoft's.

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markjensen
18 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

Oh right!

 

Yeah, it's good to see them recognizing that an open source OS doesn't have a price tag attached to it. I haven't checked the website for a while, do they offer different distos or just Ubuntu?

I recall seeing at least one other option.  It wasn't anything like Mint or Slack.  I just don't recall what it was.

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adrynalyne
6 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

Jokes aside, I've provided plenty of people - not all of them tech-savvy - with a Linux distribution and they've never had a problem. One or two didn't even know that I switched it from Windows despite me telling them. It's wrong to think that Linux is the geek's OS, it works just the same as Apple or Microsoft's.

I've seen both. Tech savvy people don't often see that consumers call the OEMs for software support, but they totally do and that has to be paid for from something. Tech support is a money sink.

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ThaCrip
4 hours ago, InsaneNutter said:

At some point I do want to go 4K so I'll obviously need to purchase newer hardware then, but for now i'm content with my current media setup.

Personally I am in no rush for 4k as I am of the mindset that 720p (or 1080p) is easily good enough. 720p tends to be the sweet spot of file size/image quality if you ask me. I doubt ill be dumping standard HD for the foreseeable future and I am sure there are plenty of people who feel similar.

 

plus, not only that, but we all are not getting any younger 😉 ; so in this sense, as we get older I tend to assume TV size becomes more important than straight image quality and I think since one can get rather large TV's nowadays for very reasonable prices, a lot of the increases in TV's (like all around size/image quality) have really slowed down (like even in terms of TV size, unless a person has a massive sized home, once a person reaches a certain TV size (say something around 60-70"), going bigger is more or less a bit overkill for the average persons home/room and it's not like someone sits super far from their TV in general as I would guess most people sit within 10-20' of their TV). because prior to my current TV (which I had since May 2016) I was using the old heavy ones (so I got a rather large increase in size and image quality for minimal $). so just going to my current TV was a rather large upgrade as those kinds of upgrades are pretty much finished and now it's just a bunch of little increases as the years pass as, off the top of my head, it probably takes quite a few years AT LEAST just to see a small increase and, even then, if the price is not quite cheap ill just wait as it seems to be mainly small tweaks to color/lighting etc. because even comparing my LG 43" TV which I had since May 2016 (mfg date is Jan 2016 (I got it refurbished for $222)) to a Samsung 65" 4k HDR (although it's just using a 1080p connection for the general TV(she paid $500 for it)), which was made this year in 2020, while I like it more than mine, it's largely due to the sheer size of the size of the TV more than just straight image quality as while the colors etc are a bit different, which is typical from random TV brands etc, it's generally minimal stuff overall even though I definitely appreciate the size difference (but I sit close enough to my 43" for it not to be any obvious issue). but I plan on using my current 43" for years to come as I got it connected to my desktop PC (through HDMI. so it's sort of a dual screen setup with my 24" monitor and 43" TV as for general computer use I used the monitor but for video playback I generally drag the videos over to the TV and play full screen) and play movies etc through that.

 

from what I have heard... 4k without HDR is minimal difference but 4k with HDR is supposed to be noticeably better. but even assuming that's roughly true, while I can't comment on this much (since to be honest I have not really seen 4k, if I have (say at a random store like Wal-Mart etc) it did not grab my attention all that much), my guess is there won't be enough of a difference for me to be in a hurry to get it compared to standard HD. so I tend to think just general advancements in technology over the years (like a little here and there and after something like 10+ years things might be a bit more noticeable instead of small differences in color etc) tends to make more of a difference then resolution increases do at this point from what I can tell to ball park it.

 

just some thoughts and have a good day 😉

 

p.s. even in terms of video games... 1080p (or so) seems to be where it's at as it takes much less powerful hardware to run that resolution well (even my 1050 Ti 4GB GPU is still good enough at 1080p and I had this since July 2017) where as going to 4k or thereabouts, the power (CPU/GPU) it takes is a lot more and the price tends to go sky high in comparison. it's just not worth it unless someone has money to burn especially given 1080p is still easily good enough. hell, I have had my current PC monitor, which is 1080p, for over 10 years now (had it since early 2010) and I have no desire to upgrade it, at all. so even if I wanted a higher res for gaming, I would have to buy a new monitor etc and I just don't think it's worth the excess $ for what gains I would get from a higher resolution etc.

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  • 3 weeks later...
markjensen

Dear Dell,

 

###### off. I'll just buy a piece of crap inexpensive PC in a store or through Amazon.  Waiting another month+ (and possibly getting *another* delay message from you).

Screenshot_20200910-181959_Gmail.jpg

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Mindovermaster

Man.. yeah, F you, Dell...

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Jim K
1 hour ago, markjensen said:

Dear Dell,

 

###### off. I'll just buy a piece of crap inexpensive PC in a store or through Amazon.  Waiting another month+ (and possibly getting *another* delay message from you).

Screenshot_20200910-181959_Gmail.jpg

Yea, that is just a little bit excessive.  Yikes

 

Edit:

(To clarify, I'm referring to Dell...not your comment)

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James7
On 22/08/2020 at 11:23, markjensen said:

Just observing that years ago, when Dell announced their "preloaded" Linux option, there was zero price difference.  It is nice to see that things have changed.

Yes, I remember those days. I did buy one of their Ubuntu laptops back then (same price, as you say, as the Windows version of the same laptop). It should have had a price difference. But, well, I bought it for my mother and just wanted something that would work flawlessly with Linux so I didn't have to tweak anything. Other laptops and machines I had in that era often did require me to tweak the Linux install at least a little bit.

It's good they offer them cheaper now, as it should be.

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  • 2 weeks later...
markjensen

Got a less expensive older refurb HP.  Saved 33% off of what I was originally spending new from Dell.

Upgraded RAM from the intended 4GB to 16GB.
Settled for an older Xeon E5-1620 (but still a nice boost from my old Core 2 Duo).
Came with Windows, but repartitioned for Linux and took over the hard drives.
It has a 240GB Solid State drive, which I partitioned as thus:

  • /boot, 940MB
  • efi, 190MB (old PC didn't have EFI, but the installer recommended a small EFI partition)
  • /, all the remainder for the rest of the filesystem (/usr, /var, /etc, etc)

1TB regular rotating magnetic media hard drive

  • swap, 16GB (wasn't sure if I would ever foreseeably need a swap partition at all, but 16GB seemed a small sacrifice if it were never even used)
  • /home (since I figure this and swap will be where most of the daily writes will happen, and wanted to keep that off the SSD)

I transferred my previous 500GB hard drive, so I had access to all my old files

For the price, this seemed like a good upgrade. Much peppier in response to my action, and faster in execution.  Maybe get another 10+ years?

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Mindovermaster

:D Yea, all that sounds right.

 

Every Linux distro (of the last few years) requires a EFI partition, even if you do not use it. Like a standard.

 

Swap is really not a need these days. It was needed back when you had only -1GB of RAM...

/home will be your main center for everything. All it writes to /folders is config files.

 

Glad you got it all sorted. *finger at Dell*

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