Looking for a good Linux certified desktop PC?

August 13, 2007

Hi Adrian,

Thank you for making your experience available to others through the article: Thank you, openSUSE (from a FreeBSD guy)

This time around it helped me to make my FreeBSD 6.2 with xorg 6.9 recognize the onboard NVIDIA GeForce 6150 card.

Here is, by the way, briefly my story about buying a new desktop PC on which I could run Linux or FreeBSD, with KDE. In two words “Too painful!”

Installation, attempt #1

First, I ordered “SHUTTLE SS21T SIS 761GX CHIPSET AMD ATHLON 64 BARE SYSTEM”, which kind of looked nice and compact. Somehow I made an assumption that it was quite unlikely I would have problems installing my favorite FreeBSD on it. I was so wrong and I blame myself for wasting my own time. Neither i383 nor amd64 version would boot. The only way I manged to boot and install it was “safe-mode”, which was also kind of slow. After reading a few forums and trying a few things (like upgrading to FreeBSD 7.x, recompiling the kernel, disabling APIC, …) I gave up. I just could not afford to spend any more time on this.

After that, I seriously looked at Ubuntu, which with their nice looking web-site and a claim for being one of the “hottest” and easiest to install Linux’es around, I thought could work for me. Here I go, burn an installation CD for Ubuntu and Kubuntu (I needed a KDE based Quanta Plus environment after all). Kubuntu installation hangs (could not start kdeinit), Ubuntu hangs when installing LAMP server. I am just out of luck! So I return the barebone.

How about Linux certified?

Next step was to look for Linux certified destop PC’s. The only ones officially certified that I found were Dell ones (open-source or Ubuntu versions). HP ones looked really nice, but not Linux certified. i did not want to risk again. And I actually would prefer a nice looking barebone system because I still wanted to re-use my old IDE disks. How come all these new desktops are coming only with SATA interfaces?

Anyway, not completely satisfied with either available options for HDD interfaces, or Linux capability, or the price, or exterior design I went back to looking for a barebone (on newegg.com and tigerdirect.com), this time reading through all comments which included words Linux or Ubuntu. I finally found a good looking system where I could still plug-in my old IDE disks and that people successfully installed Ubuntu on – “ASUS T3-M2NC51PV nVIDIA C51PV CHIPSET AMD ATHLON 64 X2 BARE SYSTEM”. I thought, “With NVIDIA you can not miss”. This article really helped too, ASUS T3-M2NC51PV AMD Socket AM2 Barebone.

Installation, attemp #2

First choice was to try installing Kubuntu, as I was still under Ubuntu’s spell and I needed a KDE flavor. Oops, the installation errors out the same about not able to start kdeinit and hangs. Ok, lets try Ubuntu even though I want KDE. If it is as easy to install as it claims may be I will live with GNOME. At this point I have just spent so much time on all this c*&#p I can not wait to get a working desktop with X on it. All right, Ubuntu was easy to install and quick but after re-booting it takes me to Unux prompt and I still have to configure X11/Xorg myself. All that hype of ease of installation and the best desktop Linux and it brings me to regular Unix prompt. 😦 May be I did not follow instructions properly or missed something but I did not want to continue.
Well, after this I thought “If I still have to configure X11/Xorg manually I might as well install my favourite FreeBSD which is much better than any Linux in terms of security and networking, plus I am more proficient with it”.

So here we go, insert FreeBSD 6.2 (amd64) boot CD and install the whole system over ftp. Not a single glitch! Rebooted and back to the prompt of FreeBSD, with more comfortable environment (talking about myself only here). Well, not so fast, X11 does not want to configure 😦 That is where I figure out that my GeForce 6150 card was not supported by xorg6.9 (amd64 version). Nevertheless at this point somehow I knew I was going to make it work. Come on, this is an NVIDIA card!

Again, thanks to Adrian’s article, I followed his suggested steps and Xorg’s nvidia driver started recognizing my graphics card and X11 and KDE are up and running! What a relief.

I still have an issue with my onboard audio ADI AD 1888-B not being recognized, but it is not so critical for now. I have lost so much time by now. Please do not tell me about the opportunity cost of all this. Hopefully in 7.x there will be support for the card and will be able to run Skype again on this box.

Can it be any more painfull?

Honestly, this experience is not something I want to go through again. Why is finding Linux certified desktop systems so hard? Ubuntu and Dell partnership, in my opinion, is a great move. I wish they had more choices for us though (cheaper barebones for example). I also wish other Unix OS’s partner with desktop manufacturer’s. Is there no market for Linux desktop systems?

2 Responses to “Looking for a good Linux certified desktop PC?”

  1. Alexey Says:

    I must say that I am pretty happy with my ASUS T3-M2NC51PV nVIDIA C51PV CHIPSET barebone. FreeBSD 6.2 amd64 is working pretty well on it. Xorg 7.2 now supports the nvidia GeForce 6150 card, so no need to hack any source code.

    The only issue is the built in audio – ADI AD 1888-B. Hopefully FreeBSD 7.x will support it. If you have successfully managed to make FreeBSD 6.2 recognize it, please let me know.

  2. PeterS Says:

    Ditto here…..Barebone from Tigerdirect.
    Nice AMD64X2,1GB Ram,BioStar Motherboard,ATI Radeon X1050.
    Insatlled and failed Sabayon, Suse_64 10.3, Fedora…. All of them has some issues, both the 64 and i386. The worst was Sabayon. Ubuntu i386 works but slow. Suse works, hangs once in a while, very annoying.
    Installed XPPro on the same system, works like a charm and at least 4 times faster.
    Windows? It sucks and expensive but it works….
    I guess it depends what you do on your PC, having fun or you actually have to do some work. You are not going get paid for the installation experience. I am a consultant charging around $100/hr, if I waste 5 hours playing with linux..I can buy almost 5 copies of Windows.

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