Thanks Craigslist! – Desktop Upgrade and a Choice

So, I was browsing my local Craigslist Sunday afternoon, and I came across someone offering Free Computer parts. After investigating the posting and calling the guy who posted it, turns out he had just bought a new PC and wanted to get rid of the remnants of his old ones. This included two partially-cannibalized towers and two monitors, all chords and cables included.

Now, the specs on these parts may not excite most people, but this definitely tweaked my geek for two reasons:

  • My Desktop wasn’t anything spectacular, and I figured I could at least use the hard drives to get some more space.
  • It’d help me self-educate myself on the hardware aspect of PCs. (Experience beforehand = None)
  • So, I agreed to drive out and pick the stuff up yesterday around noon. After a nice conversation with his wife, I came home and pulled out the screwdrivers and needlenose pliers.

    Surprisingly, hardly anything was missing from the two towers (reference to LotR not intentional). One tower was missing a harddrive, but the other had two, so I could have honestly had three towers running if I felt like it. But what was the use if I wanted to learn more about the guts of computers, eh?

    So I began taking them apart, piece by piece. I located the part numbers of the drives, RAM Chips, etc. and began doing some statistics work, comparing the parts I’d gained to the parts in my already-running desktop. Turns out, I had enough parts to significantly upgrade my desktop PC! One tower was a modified Compaq Presario that was distributed with Windows XP at Wal-mart only a few years ago. This tower offered front audio jacks (hurray for my headset!), a front USB port (yay for portable storage!), and more drive bays than any other tower at my disposal. It also housed a motherboard with a 2.7 GHz Processor (an upgrade from my 1.3 GHz in my desktop). I was also able to acquire a second 512mb RAM chip to go with the one I already had, upgrading my RAM from 733 MB to a full Gig. After figuring out the best desktop I could build, it came to my attention I could actually build a SECOND PC from the parts I had left.

    This excited me even more, because I had two options for the second PC:

  • Give it to my Girlfriend so she’d have her own computer (as opposed to sharing one with a very virus-ignorant father)
  • -OR-

  • If she didn’t really want it, I could use it to begin tinkering with some Linux Distro of choice.
  • Needless to say, my inner timmy wanted to toy with the Linux, but it didn’t really matter to me which one of the two happened. However, it wasn’t meant to be.

    Unfortunately, both of the power supplies that the man from craigslist supplied me with were…retarded at best. I even managed to electrocute myself on one where the connector for the power chord was loose (who knew there’d be a live wire in there?). This left me with just the power supply from my desktop. Oh the horror.

    So, all in all, I’ve only got one Desktop PC for the moment. However, for being made from all free parts (even the ones from my original system), I think it’s pretty nifty.

    Processor: Celeron 2.7 GHz
    HDD: 70 GB (One 30gb, One 40gb, Master and Slave Respectively. **See Note Below.)
    CD Drives: 2x CD-RW (Sony, Philips. M and S Respectively due to age/abilities)
    RAM: 1024MB SDRAM (2x 512)
    Audio, Gaming, Dial-up Modem: Conexant Combo Card (Includes Audio with Mic, Game Port, and a sub-card for the modem)
    Other Media: Front 9-in-1 Card Reader + USB Port
    Rear USB Ports: 4
    Video: Radeon 128mb PCI (** See below for a note on this), Onboard Graphics.

    The dual-hard drive situation is actually sort of funny, and another perk of picking up two towers. The Compaq tower I decided to use actually was only supposed to hold one hard drive. This took me aback at first, as EVERY PC I’d ever seen could have at least supported a second hard drive. Even the IDE cable only plugged into one drive, whereas most would have one connector for the master and another for the slave. Luckily, the HP Pavilion tower came with a dual-drive IDE cable. After a bit of searching, I actually found a plate that I could…ahem…”forcibly remove” so that the second hard drive would fit into the bay. Add a couple screws and voila, two hard drives!

    The graphics card, however, was a bit of a bummer. In my original desktop, I actually had two copies of the same Graphics card, a Radeon 128mb to be precise. The difference? One was PCI, while the other was AGP. Unfortunately, the Compaq tower had no slots for AGP cards, leaving me to take the PCI for my own use while leaving the AGP for the other tower.

    So, after getting shocked by the bum power supplies and redecorating my room a bit, I’ve got the new and improved Desktop up and running. There’s just one problem:

    Bad Sectors. (*cue the Psycho music*)

    So…with a grunt and a sigh, I popped in my DBAN cd and went to fix dinner. At the time of this writing, DBAN is running a quick erase on both hard drives. The 30Gb is sitting at 16% while the 40Gb is just under 13%. Too bad for my second monitor. Looks like you can’t play until later on today.

    So now, I turn it over to you, the reader. I’m actually going to install TWO operating systems onto this new desktop. One OS will be Windows XP Pro. The second one, I’ve decided, will be some sort of Linux Distribution. However, my knowledge of Linux is little at best, and I’m not sure which once I should install. Incase you couldn’t guess, I enjoy games. I’m also a web nut, and like my torrents. However, I’m not so technically inclined to want a text-based distro. I like my bells and whistles too. Not to mention my girlfriend and other friends might end up on the thing as well, so I don’t want it to be TOO easy to mess up.

    I’ve currently got an ISO of Xubuntu. I’ve also considered Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and OpenSuSE. The Distro I choose MUST be completely free.

    My question to you is: Which one should I choose? Of course I’ll continue to do my own research, but I’d like your input. You’ve got until probably 1:00 PM Central Time to throw your 2 cents in until I make my choice. Feel free to leave a comment on this post, or Hit me Up on Twitter with an @ reply or a direct message! If you use Twitter, please follow me! I like to use the trending topics, and I even tweet when I post here! So what have you got to lose?

    Wow…1166 words. Think I’ll stop here. Remember, tell me something! I want to know! Later days.

    EDIT: P.S. If anyone has a link to a tutorial for installing Windows XP Pro and a Linux Distro in a dual-boot system, drop it on me please!


    ~ by chadanthony07 on July 14, 2009.

    4 Responses to “Thanks Craigslist! – Desktop Upgrade and a Choice”

    1. […] This post was Twitted by c_anthony07 […]

    2. […] Original post:  Thanks Craigslist! – Desktop Upgrade and a Choice […]

    3. What was it like before figuring out the best desktop you could build it came to your attention you could actually build a SECOND PC from the parts you had left ?

      • It was really cool. Cause I’ve always wanted a second desktop, even a low end one, just to experiment with without fearing blowing something up and not having a desktop.

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