Why Running a Linux PC is a Lot Like Owning a Classic Car: Page 2

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Get Behind the Wheel

But if you want the whole classic car experience with a PC, then here’s the recipe. Find an old PC, preferably one that wasn’t very good to begin with (maybe an old Dell that was never that hot) and install Linux on that. There’s a popular myth going around that Linux is ideally suited to old hardware. I’m not sure where this myth came from but my experience suggests that while Linux has lower hardware requirements than Windows Vista, you still have to be realistic as to the performance that you can expect from old hardware.

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A software upgrade, even changing the OS, is no substitute for having the right hardware. If a system is struggling under the weight of Windows 98, installing one of the Linux distro onto it is clutching at a straw. There’s a good reason that you can’t still buy a 2001 era Pentium III system – they weren’t that good in the first place, and compared to even a cheap modern PC, they’re effectively prehistoric. Spend some time working with (and trying to get some work done) on an old system, and you start to appreciate the snappy performance and improved reliability that a modern system offers.

But the main reason why I feel that running a Linux PC is a lot like owning a classic car is because the community make it feel that way. Linux users seem to be tinkering with their rigs endlessly. Not only do they seem to be jumping from one distro to another trying to find the ultimate setup, but new distros are also coming out with astounding regularity. One of the cornerstones of the Linux community is continual improvement, and this means that things are always in a state of flux. Just as most classic cars end up being projects on wheels, Linux-based PCs seem to be projects on desks.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having a project, it’s just that projects don’t make it practical to get from A to B, or to get any work done.

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