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Building a Cheapo-Old Person PC

WhirloWhirlo Registered User regular
edited September 2008 in Moe's Stupid Technology Tavern
My mother in law's computer is on its last legs and basically dead, and she's asked me to build a new one for her.

She's a social worker and her funds are incredibly limited because of it.

I built my own computer with an eye on gaming and it worked amazingly, I saved a ton of money and I got a great sense of accomplishment doing that. But this computer is going to be used to surf the web, check email, and upload pictures from her digital camera.

Talk me out of buying one of these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856167023

To get it started. Since performance isn't a huge issue I figured this is the best money-saving option.

What do you guys think?

Whirlo on

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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Dude, you're getting (her) a Dell.

    At least you should be - for $300, it's worth it to have a legit OS, warranty coverage, and most importantly, you not on the speed dial for support and/or service.

    PeregrineFalcon on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Yeah a Dell or similar is going to be your best option, especially if you'll get a new monitor, etc with it. If you're set on building your own I would go with an AMD setup instead of Intel - dual-core with plenty of RAM and Windows XP.

    Processor: $70
    Motherboard: $70
    RAM: $35

    Reuse whatever you can from her other computer. The OS is what's going to cost the most (though if she has XP discs you can use those I think) and of course you are tech support.

    tsmvengy on
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    FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    For the operating system, I'd probably go with Linux.

    I mean, it's free (as in your time), you won't have to worry about viruses, it works just fine for word processing, email, and web browsing, and you can set it up so you can SSH in and install stuff or fix things if they break.

    Of course, Linux is also my answer for anything even remotely computer related. If you don't have any experience with it, disregard if this post.

    Frem on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Second Linux with the addendum of being able to probably use the very same computer that is supposedly on its last legs. What is it, a Pentium 2? 3?

    theSquid on
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    SilvoculousSilvoculous Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    theSquid wrote: »
    Second Linux with the addendum of being able to probably use the very same computer that is supposedly on its last legs. What is it, a Pentium 2? 3?

    If it's "basically dead" it could be more of a hardware issue. Which happens.

    Go with a Linux if you're absolutely sure that she won't be needing anything Windows-related whatsoever. People don't always appreciate a totally alien OS being foistered on them.

    Silvoculous on
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    contrabandcontraband Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    People don't always appreciate a totally alien OS being foistered on them.

    word. i know my mom would flip if i "fixed her computer" by installing linux on it.

    contraband on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Well that's just it. She's not asking for it to be fixed, she's asked for something new.

    I'm just saying that given what you say she's doing with it, it's likely (in fact probable) that the standard slowdowns are mostly due to Windows' inevitable slowdown.

    Also, you don't just bust into a house through the wall with the same dinky comp and say "Tada! By the way, you use Linux now. Enjoy!" then bust out the other wall. You just talk to them and say "Hey, would you like to give Linux a go? As a result of this, you could spend as much as $0" Then give them a try with a LiveCD, see if they like, and go ahead with it or not afterwards.

    theSquid on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I'll third Dell. Last I checked the cheapest desktop they offer goes for a little under $300, which is probably cheaper than you could build a reliable PC with Windows. You can always add another gig of RAM yourself to speed things up a bit, I doubt it voids the warranty (though you should check first of course).

    OremLK on
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    FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Just a thought to add.

    I recently set my 85 year old Grandfather up with a laptop and wireless network - this isnt so much a money issue, but he likes vista.

    The same shit that annoyed me when I was setting it up for him - he loves. He see's on the news all this stuff about hackers, viruses etc and so it actually gives him a senseof control to have Vista tell him every time he tries to do something that it wants his 'OK'

    Just a thought.

    Fallingman on
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    1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    1ddqd on
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    1ddqd wrote: »
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    "Okay Grandma, now type 'xfcfg --res:1024x768 --hsync:315 --vsync:600 --colordepth:32 --ati --useshittydrivers --lolcommandline --epicfail --roflcopter --lol'"

    Yeah, no. $300 Dell. Go buy.

    PeregrineFalcon on
    Looking for a DX:HR OnLive code for my kid brother.
    Can trade TF2 items or whatever else you're interested in. PM me.
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    1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    1ddqd wrote: »
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    "Okay Grandma, now type 'xfcfg --res:1024x768 --hsync:315 --vsync:600 --colordepth:32 --ati --useshittydrivers --lolcommandline --epicfail --roflcopter --lol'"

    Yeah, no. $300 Dell. Go buy.
    I just built a box using that EXACT barebones. It's running Ubuntu with NO additional driver installation. I installed Ubuntu, as soon as the OS loaded, I could browse the internet and play video. Desktop res was 1024x768 (old 15" LCD), but it worked with no lag at all. There was no additional configuration. All I did was show the subject where to find programs and delete things.

    1ddqd on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    1ddqd wrote: »
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    "Okay Grandma, now type 'xfcfg --res:1024x768 --hsync:315 --vsync:600 --colordepth:32 --ati --useshittydrivers --lolcommandline --epicfail --roflcopter --lol'"

    Yeah, no. $300 Dell. Go buy.

    Yeah fuck off. If you don't know anything about Linux then keep your mouth shut and just talk up what you think he should do instead of retarded decade old arguments.

    theSquid on
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    1ddqd wrote: »
    1ddqd wrote: »
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    "Okay Grandma, now type 'xfcfg --res:1024x768 --hsync:315 --vsync:600 --colordepth:32 --ati --useshittydrivers --lolcommandline --epicfail --roflcopter --lol'"

    Yeah, no. $300 Dell. Go buy.
    I just built a box using that EXACT barebones. It's running Ubuntu with NO additional driver installation. I installed Ubuntu, as soon as the OS loaded, I could browse the internet and play video. Desktop res was 1024x768 (old 15" LCD), but it worked with no lag at all. There was no additional configuration. All I did was show the subject where to find programs and delete things.

    Congratulations, you're the support line, help desk, and the repair crew if anything ever goes wrong.

    Linux = great for servers and embedded devices. Not so great for desktops.

    PeregrineFalcon on
    Looking for a DX:HR OnLive code for my kid brother.
    Can trade TF2 items or whatever else you're interested in. PM me.
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    theSquid wrote: »
    1ddqd wrote: »
    $66.00 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz
    $10.99 Kingston 512MB DDR2 800
    $41.99 Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    $23.99 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA
    $99.99 MSI MBOX K9VGM-V AMD
    $242.96 Subtotal

    Use Linux, train her on how to do the BASICS. Ubuntu or Gnome would be a good start, I think.

    "Okay Grandma, now type 'xfcfg --res:1024x768 --hsync:315 --vsync:600 --colordepth:32 --ati --useshittydrivers --lolcommandline --epicfail --roflcopter --lol'"

    Yeah, no. $300 Dell. Go buy.

    Yeah fuck off. If you don't know anything about Linux then keep your mouth shut and just talk up what you think he should do instead of retarded decade old arguments.

    Nice assumption, let me just minimize a couple of these AIX Xterm sessions and/or SSH windows to reply.

    Linux on desktop for people who aren't willing to get their hands dirty if there's a problem = NO.

    PeregrineFalcon on
    Looking for a DX:HR OnLive code for my kid brother.
    Can trade TF2 items or whatever else you're interested in. PM me.
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I honestly don't know if I should bother continuing this argument, but can I just say that

    1) He's gonna be the support line, help desk, and the repair crew if something goes wrong anyway, and
    2) Congrats then, fine, you use Linux and terminals and shit. I already said try the LiveCD and see what works, and if it doesn't, fuck it, and installing the latest graphics drivers aren't really necessary, particularly on old computers that aren't going to run Compiz or games anyway. So apart from that, an Ubuntu 8.04 install as opposed to Gentoo or something is going to be remarkably low maintenance. You ever tried using it without touching a terminal? It's surprisingly possible.

    Not to mention if he doesn't want to try Linux, then he's not going to do it anyway despite what I say.

    theSquid on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    You don't push Linux on people. You ask them if they want to try it. When they say no, almost all usually do, don't bring it up again. I've tried it and within a month I've had to install Windows for people.

    I also throw my support in for getting a dell. I built my sister a Core 2 Duo Vista PC at Vista's launch. Every time something goes wrong I get called. It's not worth the trouble. And none of the problems have been from Vista since I made sure all the hardware was Vista ready. I get less calls now with Vista than I did with XP.

    Dark Shroud on
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    DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    Daedalus on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    "I just tried to install <software> that I bought, why isn't it working?"

    "My son wants to play a game I bought him, what's wrong?"

    I can go on, and no WINE doesn't cut it for everything. I'm just glad DOSBox works on Linux native.

    Dark Shroud on
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    DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    "I just tried to install <software> that I bought, why isn't it working?"

    "My son wants to play a game I bought him, what's wrong?"

    I can go on, and no WINE doesn't cut it for everything. I'm just glad DOSBox works on Linux native.

    Oh, please. Do you go into Mac threads and say that MacOS is useless because you can't install Windows programs on it?

    Daedalus on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    "I just tried to install <software> that I bought, why isn't it working?"

    "My son wants to play a game I bought him, what's wrong?"

    I can go on, and no WINE doesn't cut it for everything. I'm just glad DOSBox works on Linux native.

    Oh, please. Do you go into Mac threads and say that MacOS is useless because you can't install Windows programs on it?

    No, because Mac has 2 specific places. 1) Audio Video editing. 2) Shiny box for people that couldn't use Windows PCs. The big difference between OSX & Linux is that OSX has comparable software.

    You're trying to make a case for Linux. The problem is PCs don't say the way you left them. People get curious and poke around in the computer because it's "their" computer. And when it breaks usually their fault it's now your fault because you touched it last and now you're supposed to fix it for free.

    Linux is a hell of a lot easier to break and harder to trouble shoot. And don't even try saying don't give them root access. The one thing the non tech savvy can tell is when they're locked out, remember it's their computer. They're doing you a favor letting you fix it for a can of soda and maybe a few dollars if they're in a good mood.

    Dark Shroud on
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    "I just tried to install <software> that I bought, why isn't it working?"

    "My son wants to play a game I bought him, what's wrong?"

    I can go on, and no WINE doesn't cut it for everything. I'm just glad DOSBox works on Linux native.
    Oh, please. Do you go into Mac threads and say that MacOS is useless because you can't install Windows programs on it?

    That's more of a problem of perception: When someone has a Mac they're told "Only things that say 'Macintosh' on the box will work." What's the first thing most people are told about Linux? "It's just like Windows, only it looks different." And it doesn't run the software. Whoops.

    Yes, repositories and opensource, but that doesn't help the fact that Auntie Dearest just shelled out $Texas for some software that she can't return because it's opened now.

    PeregrineFalcon on
    Looking for a DX:HR OnLive code for my kid brother.
    Can trade TF2 items or whatever else you're interested in. PM me.
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Really, once everything is set up, Linux should be fine for even the most novice of users.

    It's just the setting up part that's difficult. (And, to be fair, it's difficult under Windows, too, it's just that most of it is done for you by the manufacturer).

    But that whole "okay, now type [multi-kilobyte terminal command]" is something you do, once, when setting up.

    but on the same token, it's good to remember that you're setting up someone else's computer, so do what they want.

    "I just tried to install <software> that I bought, why isn't it working?"

    "My son wants to play a game I bought him, what's wrong?"

    I can go on, and no WINE doesn't cut it for everything. I'm just glad DOSBox works on Linux native.
    Oh, please. Do you go into Mac threads and say that MacOS is useless because you can't install Windows programs on it?

    That's more of a problem of perception: When someone has a Mac they're told "Only things that say 'Macintosh' on the box will work." What's the first thing most people are told about Linux? "It's just like Windows, only it looks different." And it doesn't run the software. Whoops.

    Yes, repositories and opensource, but that doesn't help the fact that Auntie Dearest just shelled out $Texas for some software that she can't return because it's opened now.

    I don't tell them that. Nobody fucking tells them that. In fact I tell them its just as different from Windows as Mac is.

    theSquid on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    theSquid wrote: »
    That's more of a problem of perception: When someone has a Mac they're told "Only things that say 'Macintosh' on the box will work." What's the first thing most people are told about Linux? "It's just like Windows, only it looks different." And it doesn't run the software. Whoops.

    Yes, repositories and opensource, but that doesn't help the fact that Auntie Dearest just shelled out $Texas for some software that she can't return because it's opened now.

    I don't tell them that. Nobody fucking tells them that. In fact I tell them its just as different from Windows as Mac is.

    Maybe not like that but that leaves some issues. If you tell them it's different from Windows like Mac is, they either catch on immediately that Windows software doesn't work on it, or not at all. If they do not realize this fact they find out in two ways, hopefully they ask you. My experience, it's when they've bought something and tried to install/run it.

    Dark Shroud on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    However user-friendly it is, I don't buy that a middle-aged, non-tech saavy woman is going to want to re-learn how to do everything because it's a different operating system and doesn't run any of the software she's used to using.

    Plus, the whole tech support issue people have been mentioning. At least with a Dell, you can say "hey Mom, I'm a little busy at the moment, but I can grab Dell's customer support number for you and they can take care of it right now if you want".

    OremLK on
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    theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    OremLK wrote: »
    However user-friendly it is, I don't buy that a middle-aged, non-tech saavy woman is going to want to re-learn how to do everything because it's a different operating system and doesn't run any of the software she's used to using.

    Plus, the whole tech support issue people have been mentioning. At least with a Dell, you can say "hey Mom, I'm a little busy at the moment, but I can grab Dell's customer support number for you and they can take care of it right now if you want".

    Thank you, an actual reason not to pick Linux.

    Personally I think it depends on whether she's the kind of terrified one-finger-at-a-time user that can't install a single thing on her own and gets terrified upon every anti-virus warning, or a power user that utilises little things like hot-keys, can install and patch software and generally knows her shit.

    If it's the former the Linux option is still open, as she still hasn't really invested in technology at all anyway, if its the latter then Linux would be an incredible nuisance to her.

    theSquid on
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    1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Just to point out, I wasn't trying to incite anything. I was just saying the driver support is there. From a human standpoint, if she's like 100% of the computer using population, she wants something that is easy to use (if you want something difficult to use, go fuck yourself and stop screwing up my statistics :P)

    1ddqd on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Even getting my immediate family to start using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer was a bloody uphill battle--and this is after they trashed their family PC with viruses 5+ times. Maybe that just says something about me or my family, but I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "PUT IT BACK THE WAY IT WAS" from siblings or my mother. I can't imagine getting them to learn Linux, even if it was twice as easy to learn as Windows.

    OremLK on
    My zombie survival life simulator They Don't Sleep is out now on Steam if you want to check it out.
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    OremLK wrote: »
    Even getting my immediate family to start using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer was a bloody uphill battle--and this is after they trashed their family PC with viruses 5+ times. Maybe that just says something about me or my family, but I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "PUT IT BACK THE WAY IT WAS" from siblings or my mother. I can't imagine getting them to learn Linux, even if it was twice as easy to learn as Windows.

    Opera + IE6 skin +setting desktop Icon to IE's. I only do this on older OSs that can't get IE7/IE8. I don't bother trying to convert people anymore. I just tweak some of the security settings in IE and make sure the anti-virus is set to scan everything.

    "I couldn't use that Mozilla thingy." "I don't know what that Opera is, I couldn't use it." It's just not worth the trouble.

    Dark Shroud on
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    maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Mac Mini.

    $600, and she can use all her existing stuff.

    maximumzero on
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    jackaljackal Fuck Yes. That is an orderly anal warehouse. Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    It is good to see that Linux users still have exposed nerves even after all these years.

    jackal on
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    FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Geez, I'm sorry I mentioned it. So, get her the $300 Dell. Problem solved. No Linux involvement. Woo.

    Also, thread needs more OP participation.

    Frem on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Frem wrote: »
    Geez, I'm sorry I mentioned it. So, get her the $300 Dell. Problem solved. No Linux involvement. Woo.
    There is nothing wrong with mentioning Linux. You just have think about whose going to be using the PC, the requirements, and then dealing with the Linux users.
    Frem wrote: »
    Also, thread needs more OP participation.
    Agreed. I'd like an update after this discussion. :)

    Dark Shroud on
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    StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Dells are cheap, reliable and COME WITH WINDOWS. Stop pushing Linux here, people, don't be fucking zealots, if there's one situation where linux is not the solution, is this. With a Dell, you open the box, plug the cables and press "power". There, you're set.

    Stormwatcher on
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    WhirloWhirlo Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    holy....crap...

    didn't expect this much action with the post! i like it though.

    you guys are nuts if you think i'm giving a 55 year old computer cripple Linux. just nuts.

    I looked into it and as much as I hate it, i think Dell is the way to go. Its the $100 for the windows license that really screws the pooch on making it myself.

    thanks for the advice though.

    linux! i got a laugh out of that. riiiiiiight

    Whirlo on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited September 2008
    Whirlo wrote: »
    didn't expect this much action with the post! i like it though.

    The internets are serious business. Especially when you talk of operating systems and browsers.

    Dark Shroud on
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    DixonDixon Screwed...possibly doomed CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited September 2008
    I think you should put linux on there and then change all your numbers and let the hilarity follow. Yes I'm a terrible person

    Dixon on
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