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.

4 thoughts on “Cheap upgrades

  • October 1, 2008 at 7:44 am

    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.

    • October 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm

      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.

      • October 2, 2008 at 8:04 am

        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…)

        • October 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm

          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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