Mail Order Linux Workstations

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Edwin Tisda » Fri, 17 Dec 1993 14:39:51



Since my last posting on the topic, I have received requests from
other mail order Linux workstation vendors to include them in my
postings.  I would be glad to include more vendors in this list
and post it from time to time.  I have not dealt with any of these
vendors except 20/20 Technologies so I cannot recommend them to you.
But I have received numerous glowing testimonials for some of them
so perhaps people who have dealt with them will post a followup
to this article and tell us more about them.

In order to get a feel for the prices these vendors were charging,
I asked each of them to give me a quote for the following configuration:

*       66 MHz 486DX2 with 256 KB cache and VESA Local Bus
*       16 MB 70 ns System Memory
*       32 bit IDE Controller (VLB)
*       340 MB Hard Disk Drive
*       Dual floppy disk drives
*       32 bit 2 MB 1280x1024 Super VGA graphics accelerator (VLB)
*       17" 0.26 mm dot pitch Non-Interlaced color monitor
*       16 bit 10 Base T ethernet card
*       Mini-tower case with 230 Watt power supply
*       Keyboard and Microsoft compatible mouse

All of these vendors install Linux on the machines that they sell
but provide varying amounts of support for it.  You should also
enquire about the exact details of the system that you are getting
including the manufacture of each component or chip set used.


                20/20 Technologies
                1786 Westwood Boulevard
                West Los Angeles, CA 90024
                Tel: (310) 441-8855
                     (800) 486-2020
                Fax: (310) 441-8869

                Price: $2540
                Contact: Moujan Ahouraian

                Field Technology, Inc.
                33 Danbury Road
                Wilton, CT 06897
                Tel: (203) 761-9363
                Fax: (203) 761-9358
                BBS: (203) 761-9368

                     fldtech!linux
                Price: $3300

                K and K Systems
                PO Box 47804
                Plymouth, MN 55447-0804
                Tel: (612) 475-1527
                Fax: (612) 449-0488


                Price: $????
                Contact: Greg Kemnitz

                SW Technology
                251 West Renner Suite 229
                Richardson, TX 75080
                Tel: (214) 907-0871

                Price: $3445
                Contact: Marvin Wu

 
 
 

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Larry Doolitt » Sat, 18 Dec 1993 00:18:13



Quote:(Edwin Tisdale) writes:
> [ Stuff about mail order Linux workstation vendors deleted ]

> In order to get a feel for the prices these vendors were charging,
> I asked each of them to give me a quote for the following configuration:

> *  66 MHz 486DX2 with 256 KB cache and VESA Local Bus
> *  16 MB 70 ns System Memory
> *  32 bit IDE Controller (VLB)
> *  340 MB Hard Disk Drive
> *  Dual floppy disk drives
> *  32 bit 2 MB 1280x1024 Super VGA graphics accelerator (VLB)

                                        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This is a can of worms.  Lots of these boards don't have good support
under XFree86-2.0.  For useful performance *now*, you *must* specify
a supported chipset.  To get 1280x1024x8 with a system like this, what
you want is an S3-928 based board, or maybe one of the ATI cards.
You also have to be careful about the RAMDAC.  Many NumberNine owners
are currently screwed because XFree won't support the double-speed
operation of their BrookTree RAMDAC, and they are therefore stuck at
85 MHz instead of the 130 MHz that their board should be capable of.
I would suggest specifying one of the 110 MHz RAMDACs from AT&T, like
the one used on the Actix GraphicsENGINE Ultra, so it is useful now.
Try reading comp.windows.x.i386unix for a week for more details.

Quote:> *  17" 0.26 mm dot pitch Non-Interlaced color monitor
> *  16 bit 10 Base T ethernet card
> *  Mini-tower case with 230 Watt power supply
> *  Keyboard and Microsoft compatible mouse

                     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
You mean "MouseSystems or Logitech compatible serial mouse".
Microsoft mice have two buttons, nearly useless for X11.

I wish I could afford a 17" monitor and 16M RAM!



 
 
 

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Steve Be » Sat, 18 Dec 1993 05:48:14




>(Edwin Tisdale) writes:
>> *      32 bit 2 MB 1280x1024 Super VGA graphics accelerator (VLB)
>                                        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>This is a can of worms.  Lots of these boards don't have good support
>under XFree86-2.0.  For useful performance *now*, you *must* specify
>a supported chipset.  To get 1280x1024x8 with a system like this, what
>you want is an S3-928 based board, or maybe one of the ATI cards...

Huh?  What about the Cirrus Logic 5428's?  The HOWTO says they're
supported `Accelerated' cards...  Granted there's support and then
there's support, but fact is, them S3-928's aren't at all cheap.

So is there some reason to think that the Cirrus stuff wont' work?
I'm sure the Cirrus chips aren't as good as the 928's, but hell, all
I want out of life is for my friggin' Xterm's to scroll in real time.

                                        - Steve

 
 
 

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Larry Doolitt » Sat, 18 Dec 1993 23:31:24



(Steve Benz) writes:



> >(Edwin Tisdale) writes:
> >> * 32 bit 2 MB 1280x1024 Super VGA graphics accelerator (VLB)
> >                                     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> >This is a can of worms.  Lots of these boards don't have good support
> >under XFree86-2.0.  For useful performance *now*, you *must* specify
> >a supported chipset.  To get 1280x1024x8 with a system like this, what
> >you want is an S3-928 based board, or maybe one of the ATI cards...

> Huh?  What about the Cirrus Logic 5428's?  The HOWTO says they're
> supported `Accelerated' cards...  Granted there's support and then
> there's support, but fact is, them S3-928's aren't at all cheap.

                                     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
True enough.  The lowest price I have seen is an Actix board for US$300.

Quote:> So is there some reason to think that the Cirrus stuff wont' work?
> I'm sure the Cirrus chips aren't as good as the 928's, but hell, all
> I want out of life is for my friggin' Xterm's to scroll in real time.

XFree currently only supports 8-bit pixels (not counting the
monochrome server or the "compatiblity" VGA server which is
limited to 256K memory).  Remember that the original poster
was putting together a high end system with a 17" monitor.
Trying to refresh 1280x1024x8 out of DRAM (all Cirrus parts
use DRAM), if you can do it at all, will leave no bandwidth
for drawing operations.  So the Cirrus parts wouldn't be
suited for that person's needs.

For most people, who don't have 17" monitors, the Cirrus parts
would be fine running at 1024x768; there have been several posts
from satisfied users on the comp.windows.x.i386unix newsgroup.
I feel compelled to add that a better choice (IMHO) in that price
range is the S3-801/S3-805 based boards, currently available for
less than US$150, which xbench about twice as fast as Cirrus.
I have one (STB PowerGraph VL-24) and "my friggin' Xterm's" *do*
scroll in real time - even oversize ones.


 
 
 

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Kelly Murr » Sun, 19 Dec 1993 06:40:07




Quote:|> >(Edwin Tisdale) writes:

|> >> *        32 bit 2 MB 1280x1024 Super VGA graphics accelerator (VLB)
|> >                                        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
|> >This is a can of worms.  Lots of these boards don't have good support
|> >under XFree86-2.0.  For useful performance *now*, you *must* specify
|> >a supported chipset.  To get 1280x1024x8 with a system like this, what
|> >you want is an S3-928 based board, or maybe one of the ATI cards...
|>
|> Huh?  What about the Cirrus Logic 5428's?  The HOWTO says they're
|> supported `Accelerated' cards...  Granted there's support and then
|> there's support, but fact is, them S3-928's aren't at all cheap.
|>
|> So is there some reason to think that the Cirrus stuff wont' work?
|> I'm sure the Cirrus chips aren't as good as the 928's, but hell, all
|> I want out of life is for my friggin' Xterm's to scroll in real time.
|>                                   - Steve

The Cirrus chips should work fine.
Yes, the 928's are not cheap, but the 801's are,
and I would claim are 2-3 times faster than the Cirrus at a small increase
in price.

On the topic of the Mail-Order Linux Workstations, the quality of PC parts
can vary dramatically, such that knowing just a loose specification and
the price tells you very little about what you are getting.  
In particular, 17" Monitors can cost from $500 to $1500,
which obviously will give you vastly different quality.
Video boards also vary alot in price and quality, as can different hard-drive
controllers (from $15 to $400).

Maybe we need a Linux Workstation Quality Control Review Consortium to rate them...
 just kidding! No please.. I didn't say that ...   :-))))

--

University of Florida Parallel Research Lab  :: 96-node KSR1, 64-node nCUBE

ISA Actix GE32 1mb: $129, GE32+2mb: $179, Ultra+2mbVram: $299
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

Mail Order Linux Workstations

Post by Steve DuChe » Fri, 24 Dec 1993 16:04:54


        I must protest the statement that Microsoft mice are nearly
        useless in X. I am using on of the newer (teardrop shape)
        two button mice on my system (Gateway 486DX2-66v, Linux
        0.99pl12, XFree 1.3) since I installed it and I am quite
        happy with the feel and action of it. The middle button is
        emulated by cording both buttons. So far I have not found
        this to be troublesome or a disadvantage in X-windows.
        Just my two cents worth!

--

Computer Science        Youngstown State University

A pre-determined amount of chaos is a natural occurance.