pc vendors

pc vendors

Post by vano0.. » Sat, 06 Jun 1998 04:00:00



There have got to be plenty of opinions on this but I haven't heard the
prevailing wisdom. Who (Dell, NEC, Gateway, Micron...) has the most
linux friendly systems in general or is the vendor largely unimportant?
Would there be any basic problems installing linux on a 350 or 400 mhz
system? Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Frank Sweetse » Sat, 06 Jun 1998 04:00:00



> There have got to be plenty of opinions on this but I haven't heard the
> prevailing wisdom. Who (Dell, NEC, Gateway, Micron...) has the most
> linux friendly systems in general or is the vendor largely unimportant?
> Would there be any basic problems installing linux on a 350 or 400 mhz
> system? Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
> Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

if you're looking for a linux-friendly hardware vendor, dump those big-name
ones and go for someone who actualy says they're linux friendly.  linux
journal lists a few - VA Research seems to have quite a few high end intel
systems, and aspen systems and DCG both seem to have some really nice alpha
systems.

--
Frank Sweetser rasmusin at wpi.edu fsweetser at blee.net | PGP key available
paramount.res.wpi.net RedHat 5.1 kernel 2.1.104p1  i586  | at public servers
Fatal Error: Found [MS-Windows] System -> Repartitioning Disk for Linux...


 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Donovan Rebbech » Sun, 07 Jun 1998 04:00:00


[ snipped ]

I agree with Frank. The problem with buying from a big name is that if
you wind up with some piece of hardware that's linux-unfriendly, these
big-name *s like Dell, Gateway et al will take your money, then
leave you in the cold, and feeling very stupid.

Another problem is that you can get two pieces of hardware from the
same vendor and one will be supported and one will be very closed
(classic examples: HP 500 series VS HP 800 series printers ; US
Robotics Sportster vs USR Winmodem ... etc  )

 I'd buy it from some-one who is prepared to firmly stand behind their
sales, and don't go with the "we don't support linux" crowd.

Check out these guys :

http://www.veryComputer.com/#systems

SW Technology and Advanced System Labs seem to have reasonably priced
machines. VAResearch look like a good place to shop for a high end
system.

-- Donovan

--
_____________________________________________
^[Dd]ono(va[nN])? *[Rr]ebbechi *$
        \*\*\* (WW)?Web-(WW)?Weaver \\
Project Independence -- Linux for the Masses
http://www.veryComputer.com/

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Christopher B. Brow » Sun, 07 Jun 1998 04:00:00




Quote:>There have got to be plenty of opinions on this but I haven't heard the
>prevailing wisdom. Who (Dell, NEC, Gateway, Micron...) has the most
>linux friendly systems in general or is the vendor largely unimportant?
>Would there be any basic problems installing linux on a 350 or 400 mhz
>system? Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
>Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

There is a *stack* of vendors that sell preconfigured systems with Linux.
See: <http://www.hex.net/~cbbrowne/linux.html> and look for Linux VARS.
I've got roughly fifty such vendors listed.  

I've dealt with one (www.atipa.com), and have heard reasonable reports about
VA Research, HDS, Apache, SWT.

My suspicion is that anyone competent enough to think of selling a
Linux-based system is likely to be more competent than the average PC
vendor.  

To go along with that, there's a monthly meeting at a local conference
centre here in Dallas where many small PC vendors collect to sell their
wares.  One fellow stocks a table with various Windows and Linux software.
(ApplixWare was seen there long before CompUSA started thinking about
selling it...)

Reports are that this vendor seems relatively willing to accept cheques from
"Linux people," his comments being that "Linux people haven't tended to pass
bad cheques."  Certainly far fewer than he indicated that he gets from the
Windows population...

Which is encouraging, at least at this point.  If Linux starts to attract
the "drones" that are presently mindlessly attracted to "Windoze," this will
no doubt change.

--
Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.  
-- Henry Spencer          <http://www.hex.net/~cbbrowne/lsf.html>

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Rod Smi » Sun, 07 Jun 1998 04:00:00


[Posted and mailed]



Quote:> There have got to be plenty of opinions on this but I haven't heard the
> prevailing wisdom. Who (Dell, NEC, Gateway, Micron...) has the most
> linux friendly systems in general or is the vendor largely unimportant?
> Would there be any basic problems installing linux on a 350 or 400 mhz
> system? Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
> Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

If you're buying a new PC for use with Linux, I'd recommend doing one of
three things:

1) Buy from a vendor that advertizes 100% compatibility with Linux, and
   that will preferably pre-load Linux for you.  There are lots that will
   do this.  I believe that http://www.linux.org has a list with links.
   This more-or-less guarantees hardware compatibility, which is most
   definitely NOT guaranteed with most of the "big names."
2) Do the research on each and every component of the system, from the
   motherboard to the video card to the floppy drive, and draw up a list.
   Present it to the various build-it-to-specs outfits that advertize in
   _Computer Shopper_ and get quotes.  They may beat the vendors that
   pre-install Linux on price by a bit, because they tend to cater to a
   more price-conscious crowd; but you'll also get worse support.  They
   may also make undesirable substitutions unless you watch them with an
   eagle eye.
3) Draw up the same list as in #2, then buy the components and assemble
   the system yourself.

Options 2 and 3 are obviously very time-consuming unless you're already
very well-informed about PC hardware.  They also open the door for you to
make an error because of lack of information.  You might be able to find
some ground between any of these, like buying a "bare-bones" system
without certain components and then adding them, or by specifying certain
key components (but not all of them) to a vendor that will install Linux.

In any event, it's essentially impossible to rate the "big names" like
Dell, Gateway, etc., because their designs (like all other vendors'
designs) change so quickly; what may have been a wonderful Linux PC last
month might ship this month with WinModems and "bleeding edge" video
cards that won't work with XFree86.  Even specific models may change in
"minor" ways that could break Linux, without those changes being
advertized.

Of course, unless you're buying a very top-of-the-line system (that's
likely to have an unsupported video card), Linux will PROBABLY run on most
machines from most major vendors.  I just don't see the point in
supporting them when alternatives exist which will do the job more
reliably, even if your friends or co-workers may not recognize the label
on the machine.

--
Rod Smith                                 Author of:

http://www.users.fast.net/~rodsmith       "OS/2 Soundcard Summary"
NOTE: Remove the digit and following word from my address to mail me

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by tcklnbr » Sun, 07 Jun 1998 04:00:00


Quote:> Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
> Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

Here's one more strong caveat to add to the discussion:

If the vendor says it requires Windows '95, Win3.1 or DOS
---BELIEVE IT!

/********/
Windows '95, and DOS, etc., allows certain types of
direct access to hardware that any self-respecting
Unix cannot and would not.  

These el-cheapo Win-junk, Win only
devices leave off critical pieces of their own hardware---
(for instance the UART chip in a Win-modem!)
making them cheaper to build, and expect to off-load
the functionality to the CPU, system clock, or other basic hardware by
using a "real-mode", hardware-direct device driver.  

These types of device drivers
---necessary to run the deficient hard-ware---really can't be
ported to any Unix and usually not to NT either.  Hence,
you really can't make them run on any Unix---in any reliable,
realistic, way.  (Hardware gurus are welcomed to give
a better explanation of how this works.)
/***************/

Actually, you really don't want any of the Win-only hardware
EVEN FOR WINDOWS! since it is guaranteed to be missing basic,
hardware-level functionality.

The best advice you could give anyone about buying hardware is to
buy components that are well supported by as wide a variety of software
and OS's as possible.  

Best Wishes,

Ann Tecklenburg.

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Rod Smi » Mon, 08 Jun 1998 04:00:00




Quote:>> Dell also claims that their DVD-ROM is only compatible with
>> Windows95. Is there any other b.s. like this that should be known?

> Here's one more strong caveat to add to the discussion:

> If the vendor says it requires Windows '95, Win3.1 or DOS
> ---BELIEVE IT!

While I agree with much of your [snipped] rant, it's unfortunate that
manufacturers often do say that their products "require" Win95 (or some
other Microsoft OS) when in fact they don't.

As a general rule, internal modems and printers that are marked "requires
Windows 95" often do, but external modems and most other "common" hardware
components (video cards, CD-ROM drives, sound cards, etc.) may not.  None
of these are hard-and-fast rules, though; I would be stunned if you
couldn't find a printer marked "requires Win95" that could be used with
Linux, for instance.  The bottom line is that, when using any OS other
than Windows, it's VITAL that the buyer do some research to find out how
much of this "requires Windows" stuff is real and how much is there just
because the manufacturer is ignorant or unwilling to provide support.
This is especially the case for Linux, which relies upon drivers that
generally don't originate with the hardware manufacturer.

--
Rod Smith                                 Author of:

http://www.users.fast.net/~rodsmith       "OS/2 Soundcard Summary"
NOTE: Remove the digit and following word from my address to mail me

 
 
 

pc vendors

Post by Dave Bro » Fri, 12 Jun 1998 04:00:00



Quote:

>...
>components (video cards, CD-ROM drives, sound cards, etc.) may not.  None
>of these are hard-and-fast rules, though; I would be stunned if you
>couldn't find a printer marked "requires Win95" that could be used with
>Linux, for instance.  The bottom line is that, when using any OS other
>--
>Rod Smith    

Actually, I believe Lexmark put out some inkjet printers a year or 2 ago
which did require MS Windows.  Kinda like the Winmodem junk.  (Not to
disparage Lexmark... I'm still using their laser printer I bought in 1987,
and I chunk out a lot of paper!)

--
Dave Brown   Austin, TX

 
 
 

1. PC vendors for PCs to run Unix (Linux, Solaris, etc.)

I'm looking for PC vendors who know how to configure Intel-based PCs for
multiple Unix operating systems. Does anyone know of any vendors that can
configure PCs compatible with (a) Linux, (b) Solaris x86, and (c) Openstep
for Mach? If they can do these three, they'll probably also be able to do
FreeBSD/NetBSD, but I only actually care about those three. One that I
happened to notice is http://www.apache.com/ . Are there others? Is there a
list somewhere? Better yet, are there any articles comparing them, like the
many comparisons in the popular magazines for normal PC vendors (who usually
don't know anything about these OSes)?

Apache seems to know their stuff, and their web-based system configuration
is much more detailed than that offered by the big 3 direct-market vendors
(Gateway, Dell, Micron, who know nothing about component selection for
compatibility with the above OSes), allowing you to choose different kinds
of memory, specific motherboards, many SCSI controllers, etc. Still, their
prices for a similarly equiped 200MHz Pentium Pro / SCSI system seemed on
cursory glance about 40% higher than Gateway (~ $3500 vs. ~ $2500), which is
too high a premium, especially when you consider that the components used by
these big vendors usually become so common that drivers are soon written for
them for just about every OS.

-Karl

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