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BRAINSTORM! What would you do with a completely functional but underused desktop?

floobiefloobie Registered User regular
Ever since I got my Macbook in late 2008, my desktop has basically been relegated to gaming duty. It's still pretty good at that (3.0ghz e8400, radeon 4850, 2gb ddr2ram), but since getting a PS3, I've also found my gaming being shifted very much towards that. Pretty much all I still expect to play on a computer these days is any new release from Valve or Blizzard. Anything else works great on the PS3, at least for me. I'm generally not into the more "mainstream" crop of shooters (COD et al.), and the only RTS game I enjoy consistently is SC2.

It currently contains one hard drive running a very minimal install of Windows 7. The only programs I have installed are Steam and other games, and some geophysical interpretation software that I'll need for a class in a few weeks. So, that hard drive won't be going anywhere. This case has room for several additional hard drives (Antec P180). I've been toying with the idea of installing Ubuntu on it on another hard drive, just for the sake of fiddling. But, I have no idea what I'd use it for beyond that. Understand this: I use my Macbook for almost everything, and I ADORE OSX. It feels like it was made for me. All the software I use these days is on this thing. So, any other OS I use secondary to it needs to bring something pretty big to the table. Windows 7 has gaming, and that's really all I like about it. What does Linux have? I've considered putting another drive in and using it as a file server... but I definitely can't do that alone. I'd need to get some friends who are geekier than I am to help me out with that.

So, I'm sort of stuck on what to do with this thing. I've pretty much accepted that I won't be able to sell it for as much as I want to, so I think I'd better just hold onto it and try to put it to some use. But... what? That's where you come in. What would you do with it if you were in my position? Brainstorm!

floobie on


  • DratatooDratatoo Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    If your PC isn't too loud you could use it as media box. Either as server for - "serving" files / video / music for your PS3 and the big screen (I assume you use a TV with your console), or as seperate media center - if it isn't to loud and if the placement of TV / your PC allow it.

    The Xbox media center application (XBMC) is perfect for that sort of thing and available for nearly all operating systems, so you don't even need to install another OS.


    I use Linux out of necessity. It is free and I don't want to spend money on a Windows license for every PC I have.

    Most of the major distributions nowadays are really easy to maintain and upgrate. I start the packet manager in Ubuntu, tell it to download the latest versions of the software and -bam- all of my programs which are installed via repertories are up to date. Well it took Linux a long way to get there (I still remember the circular dependency hell from early SUSE and Readhat distros).

    I often use SSH for remote control of my Linux box and pipe the X11 Applications I need to my Mac Desktop. (Its great that Apple decided to include a X11 server with their OS) The Linux application itself is still being run on the PC, the Interface and Windows appear on the OSX Desktop. OSX also has the best virtualisation software for private customers - Its awesome to have Linux apps, Windows apps and OSX programs running side by side. (For example, testing a Website layout in Konqueror, Having the picure files open in Photoshop, while running 3DS Max on the guest Windows OS)

    Dratatoo on
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    floobie wrote:
    PC... PS3... no mainstream shooters... Valve... Steam...

    If you buy the PS3 version of Portal 2 you'll get a PC Steam version for free. I haven't been paying attention to the details, but it may mean you'd be able to play co-op with one of your on the PS3 and one of you on the PC after only buying one copy of the game.

    Other than that, you've got the perfect setup to throw another hard drive in there and dick around with Linux, or throw another hard drive in there and use it as a media server to stream movies/TV shows/music to your PS3/TV/Home Theater System.

    Or you could use it as a torrent box, if that's your thing.

    Or you could use it for one of the many distributed computing projects (Seti@Home, Folding@Home, etc), if you don't mind dropping a couple extra bucks on your power bill every month as well as putting more hours on your CPU/GPU for the potential betterment of mankind.

    Or you could use it as a webserver and host your own website.

    SmokeStacks on
  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'll definitely pick up Portal 2, and I guess the PS3 version. I assume that'll enable me to play it on my PS3, PC, and Macbook... pretty solid deal. Thanks for the tip!

    I gave Ubuntu 10.10 a whirl over the weekend. I got the fundamentals working within an hour or two. Ultimately, though, I'm not convinced it brings anything to the table that I don't have elsewhere. As far as software goes, I use Office 2011, iWork 09, and Adobe CS5 on my Macbook. I've used a lot, and I can comfortably say it isn't my preference. Ditto with Gimp and Inkscape. And in terms of media, I'm not that convinced either. I wasn't able to get iTunes running in WINE. I tried Rhythmbox, and it seemed nice enough, but I still prefer iTunes. And, as far as I know, Rhythmbox won't exactly be syncing with iTunes on my Macbook. And I'll still be using Windows for games, so there isn't much left for Ubuntu to do. So, I've left it on the hard drive, but I doubt I'll be using it much.

    It did occur to me that, while I might not have much use for this PC right now, I probably will in the future when I move out. As you said, it would make a nice HTPC. Right now, I don't have a TV to call my own. I play my PS3 through my computer monitor. But, once I do move out and have a TV, I can put this thing to really good use. I watch all my TV on my computer (usually my Macbook, for some reason), through various methods (torrents, iTunes, would love to use Hulu, but it isn't available in Canada), so having a PC hooked up to my future TV would definitely be the way to go for that. And I can stream whatever I need to my laptop over the network anyway. And I can use it to store all that stuff as well... something I'll set in motion soon in the form of a new hard drive. And I'll give the Seti/folding thing a whirl. Might as well.

    Any other suggestions?

    floobie on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Get Hackintosh up and running on it, and see if the hardware performance + OSX is to your taste.

    ronya on
  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    Get Hackintosh up and running on it, and see if the hardware performance + OSX is to your taste.

    OSX requires very specific hardware - I'm not sure if his processor has ever been used in a Mac before, but it is important to note that it won't run on just any computer, and even if it does Hackintoshes usually don't function 100% (I've heard of webcams and the such not working properly.) Just don't expect everything to 'just work.'

    There is also the issue of breaking the EULA...

    Wezoin on
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