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Cheap upgrades

Yesterday, during my weekly garage sale adventures, I bought some computer equipment. Among the haul: a Biostar Socket A motherboard with an AMD Sempron 2200+ CPU and 512MB of RAM. It’s not state of the art, but can hold its own against some of the stuff still on the market, and it’s a big upgrade over the 450 MHz Pentium II that’s been powering this web site since July 2002.I swapped the board into my 266 MHz Pentium II. That first-generation P2 was a useful machine for me for a while, but mostly it’s just been taking up space. I had to do some slight modifications to get the newer board to bolt in, but it fit without too much trouble and now some of the 11-year-old hardware is useful again. It reminded me a lot of my college days, when I used to drop 486 and Pentium boards into IBM PC/ATs.

Debian installed on the upgraded system with no complaints, but I quickly found my Linux command line skills are rusty. And there have been enough changes in the last six years that I can’t just copy over /var/www and /var/lib/mysql and expect it to run like it used to.

So I’ll apply my 15 minutes per day principle. My chances of finding a block of 2-3 hours to get it all done are near zero, but I should be able to find a few minutes each day. So one day I can move the databases, then I can move the HTML and PHP another day, convert to WordPress still another day, and maybe, just maybe, have a vastly improved site in about a week if it all goes well.

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4 thoughts on “Cheap upgrades”

  1. The AMD Semprons are still at a real nice price point – good bang for the buck. I’ve got Sempron systems both at home (wife & son’s PC) and at work.

    1. Yeah, this chip sure doesn’t seem like a slouch. Of course, I’m the guy who used to put a hot hard drive and video card in a 400 MHz Celeron, tweak out the configuration, and then set it next to a P4 and ask people which one was faster.

      I don’t know if the onboard video will be a drain on performance because of memory bandwidth, and I’m pretty sure I need to find a hard drive that won’t bog the system down, but I have no worries about the CPU itself.

      1. Video cards are so cheap these days that it might be worth buying one. Even something that a gamer would turn their nose up to should boost performance over built-in video. And you probably know you’re hitting a good price point if some l33t gamer dudez snub your choice 😉

        I’ve become more & more fond of nVidia these days, esp. since getting H/W 3-D acceleration to work reliably under Linux is so much more difficult with ATI chipsets (at least the last time I checked about a year ago…)

        1. I’ve used both ATI and Nvidia chipsets for years, depending on who had the best deal at the time. The one thing that gives me pause about Nvidia is there’ve been a number of questions lately about the longevity of the manufacturing process they’re using right now. So given the choice (and assuming I were buying something new rather than used) I’d go ATI right now unless I just couldn’t get an ATI card to work.

          In this case, the Nvidia Riva 128-based card from 1997 that was originally in the computer would be overkill if anything, assuming it’s compatible with the new board’s AGP slot. I can’t remember if I tried it over the weekend when I had the case open or not.

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