My Computer Gear

Linux & WindowsI see that a lot of bloggers put up a post about their computer gear. I gotta admit, I’ll check the specs of those bloggers…just to see what they’ve got under the hood. If you could care less about my uber-geekdom…well, there’s plenty else to see that’s far more interesting to read & you can just move right along.

When I was younger, one of my first jobs was building computers. Ever since then, I’ve been building my own computers by hand selecting each component and getting it all to work. Anymore, this is not the cheaper way to go if you just want a computer – in fact, it often costs more than a pre-built Dell or the like, even with the labor & profits involved. I just like knowing what I’ve got and the freedom of making hardware decisions.

I run three computers with two being “on” full-time…I’ve junked my older gear as it really was a waste of space. The first is my primary machine that sees the day-to-day. The second is my Linux-based Asterisk PBX that runs my telephone communications. Third, I run a file server (read: expensive network storage device) that is used to backup critical files as well as a secure backup of my extensive digital photography collection.

I’ve been resisting the urge to go quad core. I think I’m going to wait for octo-core (or whatever they come up with when they can put 8 cores on a CPU) as that’s gonna be one bad-a$$ CPU. Screw the gigahertz, I want multi-threaded, simultaneous, precision calculation. That’s gonna be like having your own freakin’ super-computer at your finger tips.

On with the specs…

Primary Computer:

This is my primary machine where I spend most of my computer time. It runs Windows XP Professional and has turned out to be a solid machine. It runs sweet & with the way I use computers (extreme multitasking), the dual monitors & dual core CPU have been an amazing plus for me. The hard drive space is seemingly infinite as well…clocking in at a massive 2.2 terabytes, storage is not a problem for me. It’s also a decent DVD duplicator with three DVD writers, which it can barely squeak by running all at once. This machine will likely be retired in a year or two and will become a dedicated Linux-based VMWare machine, thus the need for beefing up the RAM to 4GB and a configuration primed for hardware or software RAID.

(1) AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.3GHz Dual Core CPU
(1) ABIT AN8 32X Socket 939 nForce4 SLI Motherboard
(4) OCZ 1GB DDR400 (PC3200) RAM (Total 4GB)
(1) XFX GeForce 256MB 7300GT Video Card
(1) Western Digital 250GB SATA2 Hard Drive (OS & Programs)
(2) Seagate 500GB SATA2 Hard Drives
(1) Seagate 120GB USB Hard Drive
(1) Iomega 320GB USB Hard Drive
(1) Iomega 500GB USB Hard Drive
(1) Lite-On 16X IDE DVD Burner
(2) Lite-On 20X SATA2 DVD Burners
(1) Mitsumi 1.44MB Internal Floppy Drive
(1) Thermaltake Tsunami ATX Mid Tower Case
(1) Windows XP Professional
(2) Viewsonic 19″ Widescreen LCD Flatscreen Monitors (VA1912wb)

Future: Pretty much content with it now that all my upgrades are complete. Likely in it’s final configuration, minus an OS changeout for Linux when it’s repurposed as a VMWare server upon retirement.

Asterisk PBX Server:

This machine, retired from primary rather early due to a motherboard issue with running more than one stick of RAM, quietly runs full-time and provides me with mind-boggling communication capabilities. It’s seen several upgrades & changes to what is now it’s final configuration. It runs the open-source Asterisk “Voice Over IP” PBX software on top of CentOS Linux. Seeing as how I work with PBX’s (phone systems) for a living, it’s suitable that I would run one in my home & subject my friends to an auto attendant (IVR) with multiple options when they call me. It’s also paid for itself – for about $12 a month, I have four telephone numbers in three states, an 800 number, unlimited telephone lines, multiple telephone carriers for redundancy and the ability to control some ultra-cool phones. It’s been a sweet journey & Asterisk is just freakin’ kewl.

(1) AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.2Ghz Single Core CPU
(1) MSI K7T266 Pro2 Socket A Motherboard
(1) 1GB DDR266 (PC2100) RAM
(1) EVGA NVidia TNT2 32MB AGP Video Card
(1) Linksys 10/100 Network Card
(2) Seagate 80GB ATA133 IDE Hard Drives (Software RAID1)
(2) Lite-On 52X IDE CD-ROM Writers
(1) Mitsumi 1.44MB Internal Floppy Drive
(1) Beige ATX Mid-Tower Case w/ extra 80mm fans
(1) CentOS Linux 4.5 (Server style, no GUI)
(1) ProView 19″ Widescreen LCD Flatscreen Monitor (KVM switched w/ Backup Box)

Future: It’ll probably be replaced with an ultra cheap build using newer hardware when the motherboard or CPU dies. It suits it’s purpose just fine for now with the recent RAM upgrade to 1GB from 256MB and the configuration of software RAID with high-quality Seagate drives.

Backup Computer:

This machine, my “old” primary and original Asterisk server, is running Ubuntu Linux and acts as secure network storage for my sensitive, unreproducable files as well as the secure backup of my growing digital photography collection. After reading “The Dam Book” by Peter Krough (BTW, DAM is Digital Asset Management or, in layman’s terms, understanding a massive digital photography collection), I was fully sold on protecting my collection of photos that I’ve accumulated (over 16,000 images at last count) since entering digital photography several years ago. The 250GB RAID configuration is enough to securely store my entire collection of photos as well as providing peace of mind protection for any other files I couldn’t bear losing in the event of a hard drive crash. With the operating system & critical files on seperate hard drives for ease of OS changes, this machine has seen several flavors of Linux over it’s life span, including Ubuntu, CentOS, Mandrake, SuSe and FedoraCore.

(1) AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.2Ghz Single Core CPU
(1) MSI KT3 Ultra Socket A Motherboard
(2) 1GB DDR333 (PC2700) RAM (Total 2GB)
(1) MSI NVidia GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB Video Card
(1) Seagate 80GB Hard Drive
(2) Seagate 250GB Hard Drives (Software RAID1)
(1) NEC 12X IDE DVD Burner
(1) Mitsumi 1.44MB Internal Floppy Drive
(1) ProView 19″ Widescreen LCD Flatscreen Monitor (KVM switched w/ Asterisk Box)
(1) Antec Black ATX Mid-Tower Case w/ extra 80mm fans
(1) Ubuntu Linux running Gnome GUI

Future: I’m going to do something far more sensible & purchase a multi-drive eSATA tower with RAID capabilities. They’re spendy now ($300-$500 without any drives) and I’d prefer a unit that’ll take 8 drives, providing four separate RAID1 configurations. We’ll see if the price of those puppies come down at all…then I’ll think about it.

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