What's the cheapest way to setup Linux box?

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Wed Dec 11 11:56:17 MST 2013


On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 7:35 AM, Nicholas Stewart <nicholas4 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm running an Ubuntu VM on my macbook but I want more cpu/ram and so
> I am going to buy/build a linux desktop/server.
>
> My minimum requirements are:  4 cores, 8 GB RAM, 2 TB HardDrive.  My
> plan is to put it in my basement (so I don't mind if it's noisy) and
> ssh into it from my macbook.
>
> I'm open to getting a refurbished box.  A friend of mine got a really
> good deal on a refurbished server but the place he bought it from
> closed their doors.
>
> What's the cheapest way to get this kind of setup?

Computer hardware is so cheap now that to really compare the price,
you really need to factor in power usage.  Yes, a refurbished
server-class machine will be pretty reliable, but part of the way
Moore's law works is that you can get the *same* performance in new
the process for *less* power.  The low-power parts are generally
cheaper as well.  And a low-powered machine that runs cool will be
more reliable as well, assuming you get a well-constructed board.
Heat is the enemy of electronic components.

To restate my point a bit more clearly, buying a refurbished top-spec
machine with a bunch of noisy fans for a low up-front purchase price
means that you've probably bought a power-hog of a machine and over
its remaining lifetime the power budget is likely to play a
significant part in its ownership costs.

Anyway, you might try plugging the minimum specs you're interested in
into newegg and building your own with an eye to the power rating of
the CPU and efficiency of the power supply.  And you might even
consider supplementing an always-on ARM-based fileserver with a
Wake-on-LAN development server that you can shut down when you're not
using it.  Although it's not particularly visible, I would bet that
the power savings gained that way would more than make up for a bit of
additional up-front purchase cost.

     --Levi


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