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lovesrugers
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 3:34pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

For the last few weeks I have been working around the house moving my son's stuff from his first/baby room to his new room that is larger and has windows. The wife and he decided that now that he was a big boy that was attending school he was ready for this move.

As part of this move the wife and I decided he was ready for his own desk and computer to go on it to assist in his learning and so he would have something to do his homework on. Yes even in Kindergarten he has homework and some of it does involve using the computer. How times have changed.

Now it was time to supply the computer. This was the easy part since I like to build computers from scratch. As part of this hobby I built my dad a pc back in April of 2002. Since that time my dad has purchased a few new computers or had me build him new ones. For some unknown reason this one stuck around his house even though other pc's that he had were either given away, or just recycled. This was the situation up till last summer when I built my dad his current computer. At that time he decided he wanted me to configure this old computer of his into a media pc that would interface with his home entertainment center. This is something I have already done with one of my computers and he loved the idea, unfortunately my mom was not so hot on the idea and stated that huge old computer was not sitting anywhere in her living room and it was time for it to go. This is where I stepped in and offered to take it so I could one day maybe reconfigure it for my son.

At this point I had an extra pc around, but no where to put it and no accessories that are necessary for it to run such as a keyboard, monitor etc.

Now it was time to start figuring out what to do with this computer and where I was going to get the stuff to make it work for my son. Since it was just for my son I didn't want to spend a lot of money making it work since he wouldn't need any high end stuff. Originally my idea for coming up with a monitor for it was to give him my old one and buy myself a new one. To bad before I could do that my old one broke so that plan didn't work. Luckily for me every holiday season my wife's work does an auction to raise funds for charity. One of the items that came up was an old small lcd monitor that no one wanted. My wife snagged it up for fifteen bucks.

At this point my son was elated because he had the two major parts of his own computer but still no room to put them in. This put us into high gear to refinish his new room and get all his stuff moved to it. Finally last week we did just that. Now it was time to go after his computer.

In order to make it run I had to purchase a set of speakers, a mouse, keyboard, wireless card, a sound card and a desk to put it all on. Of course I also needed an operating system for him.

For the operating system I went with a version of Linux called Kubuntu 9.10. I choose this because it was free, safe from viruses and trojans, and pretty much a set it and forget it operating system. Also since my son just wants the computer to watch internet videos on, play flash games, listen to music, play games, do word processing, surf the net, and to watch dvd's on Linux was perfect. I thought about installing one of my older versions of Windows, maybe even XP but I decided against it because Linux is far more secure and doesn't require anti virus software and constant updates. I just wanted to set this computer up for him and not have to worry about maintaining it with such things as virus scans, disk defrags etc.

After months of waiting my son finally got to help me put together his own computer and new desk this weekend. Yesterday we finally completed everything and he is now loving it.

Time for a cost tally, keep in mind I didn't purchase all the parts at one time, I spread them out over the last month or so.

1 Recycled computer, free.
2 Computer desk: $24.99
3 Mouse and Keyboard:$15
4 Second hand monitor:$15
5 Wireless card:$24.99
6 Speakers:$6.99
7 Used Soundblaster Live 5.1 soundcard:$10
8 Operating system, free.
Total cost:$96.97
My wife is really impress that we were able to come out under one hundred dollars including the desk and loves the set up. My son just loves it and has been having a blast using his new desk and playing games.

For those that are wondering here are some specs of his new monster system, hey it all still works and performs far better than I thought it would.
Msi K7266 Pro2 mainboard.
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ processor
120 gig hard drive
256 meg ram, maybe more I didn't check what it has currently.
ATI graphics card, either a 32 or 64 meg.

To end my rambling here are some pictures of the under $100 setup and my son enjoying it.
His new setup. Everything pictured cost less than $100

My son's new desktop that he helped configure and choose the pictures for

My son enjoying his new toy


          

Edited by lovesrugers on February 02 2010 at 3:35pm
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joed
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 5:33pm | IP Logged Quote joed

You guys are making me sick with the price of your PC's.   

Have to admit that I still want to try Linux though. I didn't get very far last
time.

Good choice on the OS!   I wish there were another serious contender in the
OS business. I think that would get MS to clean up their act.

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Desert Eagle41
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 7:01pm | IP Logged Quote Desert Eagle41

I use Kubuntu on a LAMP server I am running at home. I also run Ubunto on a desktop. I use Puppy linux on 5 or 6 laptops. Didn't pay anything for any OS or software. I am also running a website from my house on the LAMP server all free of course. Your boy will grow up with Linux and use it his whole life at no charge. Some of us grew up with Windows and are still paying the price. Congrats on a cool project.

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WiskyT
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 7:19pm | IP Logged Quote WiskyT

I've been real happy with Ubuntu thanks to Rig and Jerry. It has couple of minor issues like it won't wake up properly after hibernate or sleep or whatever it is, so I have to shut the computer off when I'm done. XP had other issues and they charge money for it. I could probably find a fix for the hibernate thing, but I played around with some of the "fixes" for it and it didn't help. The computer itslef wakes up, but it won't wake up the moniter.

I had to tinker a bit with Ubuntu, but then I have been tinkering with MS for the last 10 years too. So from a user firendly standpoint they are equal from my standpoint. I think it borders on criminal the way you have to tinker with MS stuff that you pay for. Ubuntu is free so I don't get agitated over any of it's shortcomings.

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lovesrugers
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 7:34pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

Thanks guys, my son is still loving his new toy. Tonight I put him on Hulu and let him watch an episode of Knight Rider classic. My wife still can't believe how much he likes his computer.

Joe, remember I originally built this computer back in 2002 and the cost then was over $600. My dad payed for all the parts I just put it together and put an OS on it at the time. Since it outlived its usefulness around his house I took it instead of it heading to the local electronics recycler. I did discover a new computer shop in my neighborhood that sells new and used parts. That is where I got the soundcard for great price. It is a far better card than the generic 2 channel $15 new card. The guy also had used parts enough to build a complete computer at minimal cost.

Not to mention almost every time I go into goodwill I see an older computer or two. Most are priced at ten bucks or so and I imagine could easily be resuscitated without to much cost or effort.

Jerry     
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lovesrugers
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 7:46pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

Darn it now you guys got me thinking. How cheap could I build a working computer for out of used parts? It wouldn't have to be a powerhouse computer or anything, nor would the cost even have to include speakers and a desk like mine above. All it would have to do is be capable of internet surfing and word processing. If you add some speakers on it should also be capable of playing music and movies. All you would need is the main computer, a monitor, a keyboard and mouse. I am really thinking I could do it for well under $100 with buying all the parts. I may have to hit Goodwill tomorrow and see if it would be possible to do or not. Sounds like it could be an interesting challenge.

Jerry
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Paul5388
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 9:04pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

My #2 son-in-law and his family (his dad was an electronic engineer with TI in Dallas) are all into Linux, so they take all of my old computers and make servers out of them to host our various websites.

It seems that Linux can operate just fine on what we would call slower computers, maybe all the way to X386 types (an 8086 might be going just a bit too far).

They have all come a good ways since the early 1980s when Basic was a viable OS.

BTW Jerry, why don't you give the boy your desk chair?

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lovesrugers
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 11:10pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

Paul, a better chair is actually on the list. My son actually fell in love with a different desk that came with a chair. We almost went with it but we were not impressed with the quality of the chair. So for now he gets to make do with my reloading chair. Umm wait a sec, my reloading chair... why don't I just buy myself a new chair for reloading and give him that one. Heck that chair is part of a set of chairs I got from someone else and repainted. It was one of my dining room table chairs from back in college. Darn am I frugal or what? Of course my wife uses a slightly different term to describe me, something along the lines of cheap a$$ bastard or so.    

Jerry
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Paul5388
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Posted: February 02 2010 at 11:19pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

I think my next reloading chair, since the Chinese piece of junk rolling stool from Sam's broke, will be a "secretary's" chair. That's the ones without arms, but they're height adjustable.

I've "rolled" all of the finish off on my floor, so that indicates rollers are pretty much a necessity for me too.

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Desert Eagle41
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Posted: February 03 2010 at 7:58am | IP Logged Quote Desert Eagle41

I am running Linux on a Pentium 3 600 laptop no problem and that's a real old machine. On a p3 900 I am triple booting either windows 2000, DSL linux or Ubunto with a grub menu to select which ever one I want. I had it running on a p2 233 but because it was my slowest machine I got rid of it. LOL Linux runs as fast as windows on older hardware. It's just better that's all. Craig

PS I do have to say I like Access in ms Office better than Base in Open Office in Linux. Ah...each to his own.

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joed
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Posted: February 03 2010 at 9:02am | IP Logged Quote joed

I still have 2 computers in the basement that are P3's.
I can't bring myself to set them in the trash when
someone will take them and sell them.    

When I build or buy a new computer the one thing I always
do is buy memory till it hurts.   Friends ask me how to
buy a computer and I tell them the same thing, "buy
memory till it hurts".   With a ton of memory it takes
longer for the computer to go obsolete.   

One of the things I've had a recent laugh at was they had
Bill Gates biggest fear in the news.   His fear is that a
dumb terminal will be able to connect to a cluster of
servers. They are doing this in Japan already.   What
this means is your PC will not have to be replaced, it
will connect to Servers that have all the brains. No more
obsolete PC for you, no more new OS, the server will
handle everything.

The funny thing in all this is that was the logic behind
the mainframe.    We've gone full circle. And I've
watched it for 30+ years.


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Desert Eagle41
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Posted: February 03 2010 at 10:04am | IP Logged Quote Desert Eagle41

Joe
      You have it exactly correct. I grew up on data base by Texas Instruments, the new kid on the block, dumb terminals and a mainframe that was it's own room. We connected with T1 phone lines that cost 600.00 a month in 1983 dollars. The idea with PC's was first a "Personal Computer" to be used by itself and then someone said "lets connect them all and share a printer". The rest is history. We now connect our PC to a network with the idea that we will only have to update the server and then no one does that. LOL Craig

PS You are also correct with the memory. Windows has to have it but Linux runs better with it also.

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Posted: February 03 2010 at 5:41pm | IP Logged Quote Buffalogun

Jerry,

My son has built several computers for friends and he usually gets his parts from ZipZoomFly, Newegg and some others.

He'll probably build my next one!

He just finished building a unit for a cousin of mine. This cousin is a deputy sheriff with the Leon County S.O. My son used a case that has one side that is clear and he put in a motherboard that has red and blue flashing lights.

Jason(my son) calls the unit his "Police Special"!


Mike

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Posted: February 03 2010 at 6:04pm | IP Logged Quote joed

I used to build my own systems but gave that up. Found that it was cheaper
to buy a ready system then build one, pay for the software and have no
support.

My last system built is sitting here running MS Server 2003. I had so many
problems with drivers and all that it was my last attempt.   The Gateway I
bought is a nicer computer.



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Posted: February 03 2010 at 6:45pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

After 40 years of working on computer hardware repair, I won't buy a ready made system.....

BTW, there will/are a lot of Dell Gx 270 systems for sale.
There junk, have replaced up to 5 mother boards in just one system over a 4 year time span.
At least 1 MB in every system at my Target stores.
Blown Cap's....

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Posted: February 05 2010 at 5:27am | IP Logged Quote winwun

My first one was a 128K Mac -- I was told it was the third one off the line, and it cost almost $3,500 and my wife and I were tickled pink with it, and still reminisce about things it would do tht the "super screamers" we now use will not . . .

Apple showed the world that a "fancy/complex/hard to use OS was NOT the way to go . . .

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2soon2old
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Posted: February 07 2010 at 9:32pm | IP Logged Quote 2soon2old

Jerry - Did you take a look at edubuntu? Dick
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lovesrugers
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Posted: February 07 2010 at 9:42pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

2soon2old wrote:
Jerry - Did you take a look at edubuntu? Dick

You know I looked at it before this and it completely slipped my mind that it existed when I put this together for my son. Time to take a second look.

Jerry
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Posted: August 18 2010 at 7:19pm | IP Logged Quote lovesrugers

Well here is an update. After six months of hard use by my son his computer died last Friday. He called me into his room saying that his mouse wouldn't move and that it was stuck. Sure enough it was stuck so I went ahead and rebooted it. This got me nowhere. The computer wouldn't even Power On Self Test(POST). Ugg a hardware issue. Time to start testing each component. After a few days of testing I finally narrowed it down to the motherboard or processor. Once again off to the computer parts store to see if they had anything used that I could make work. Sure enough they did. Thirty five bucks later saw me walking out of the store with a used motherboard, processor and graphics card that was thrown in for free just because it was already mounted to the motherboard.

Once I got home I quickly changed out the two boards and proceeded to try booting the computer. Sure enough it fired right up. After some quick bios tweaks I had it booting into Kubuntu. Much to my surprise Kubuntu seemed to shrug off the motherboard change and quickly reconfigured itself to the new setup with no fuss or me having to do anything. I was shocked about this.

So looks like his computer now cost over a hundred dollars, but once again my son is a happy camper. Oh yeah I guess I could just consider this an upgrade because the new motherboard has SATA support, built in LAN, and other value add ons. Also the new processor is nearly twice as fast as what was in there, AMD 1700+ before to AMD 2600+. To bad they didn't have any use 512 meg ram chips today or I would have bought one and upgraded the memory to over a gig.

Jerry
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