Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 10th Apr 2006 21:20 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes There are so many ways to boot alternative OSes to common PCs these days. What's your prefered way? Read for a quick introduction to the most common methods and then let us know about your prefered way of booting alternative OSes to your PC by taking the poll.
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Cheap used secondary machines.
by Quag7 on Tue 11th Apr 2006 02:49 UTC
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What I've done is scoured ebay for bulk-buyers and sellers. These are sellers that buy lots of systems off-lease or from companies that are upgrading and getting rid of their old systems. Often they will have a lot of, say, 50 of the same machine. Sometimes these are refurbished, which can be a good deal since most refurbished machines have been looked at and tested (in order to refurbish them!)

Often you can get fantastic deals on these machines. I feel better about buying ebay boxes from these dealers since one assumes that, first of all, the machines are probably coming from a business environment, and secondly, because often they are certified to work (checked in a cursory way). Bigger bulk sellers will have short warranties (usually 30 days) so this further takes the risk out of it.

Buy a few of these for $100-$200, put whatever OS you want on, and then hook everything together to one monitor via a KVM switch and, as in my case, NFS and Samba.

I have:

(1) Windows machine I built myself a few years ago. This is for Windows apps I need to run like Adobe Premiere or Microsoft Streets & Trips

(2) TigerDirect kit I assembled which is my Gentoo Linux desktop - what I'm typing on now and my "main" machine.

(3) Router running Debian. This is a Compaq Deskpro I bought from ebay for $100.00 from a bulk seller. It still has its Enron inventory sticker on it (and is, by extension, a nice conversation piece).

(4) File server / dev server. This is a Compaq Deskpro EN which I bought for $125.00 from ebay. This has 4 hard drives in it and, like the router, has been completely reliable.

(5) A Dell compact desktop unit which I have FreeBSD installed on. This was $150.00, again from a bulk sale.

(6) An old IBM Thinkpad, I bought for $225.00 a few years back. This runs Debian Linux now but has also run Gentoo in the past.

If you add up the numbers here, that's not bad for a full spectrum of machines. None of them have been DOA or had any problem because, again, I bought from a bulk dealer (many of whom had thousands of comments/ratings from previous customers) rather than individuals.

I find this solution to be ultimately more satisfying than re-partitioning (Rebooting is a pain because every one of my systems serves *something* which becomes unavailable if I shut down the OS). Occasionally I will run a VNC client to work with the Windows machines, and usually just use ssh to work on the other machines, but can also flip around on the cheapy Linksys KVM switch if I want.

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