PC build advice for linux beginner

Henrryparth

Newbie
2 0
I'm looking to put together a pc meeting the following requirements:
1 Small size. The smaller the better. I don't want to see too much clutter beyond the monitor and keyboard, if possible. So maybe a mini computer?
2 Will be running linux exclusively. I have a laptop for other purposes. I am not very experienced with linux, but I do use it on a chromebook through crouton. I don't want another laptop right now, or else I'd try the used thinkpad route so often recommended.
3 Will be used for word processing, light internet searching, and occasional video watching (youtube, netflix, etc.) But mostly dedicated to heavy document work within libreoffice.
4 movies download movies at forum Would like this to be as cheap as possible, the minimum for lag-free use for the above purposes.
Can anyone help me figure out what options would meet my needs, preferably within a budget of about $300-$600? And something that someone relatively inexperienced could put together?
 
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Trader333

Moderator
8,492 881
I am guessing you are based in the US. Here in the UK there are places that will build a pc to order and advise on what is best to meet your needs. Even in the UK with a budget that you have and where we have a 20% additional sales tax (called VAT) you could easily spec a pc to meet the above. I suggest you search for "build to order pc" and take it from there. Which linux distro and you using ?
 

Sharky

Admin
5,542 289
I'd agree with Trader333, and you can even try searching for "build to order mini pc". I've got Ubuntu 18.04 running dual boat with Win 10 on an Asus laptop. It works great, although not all laptops are compatible with linux (I have a dell xps 13 and it just won't play ball with linux). You're right that used thinkpads are a good bet, I just find them too clunky, and would prefer something smaller and lighter. If I could justify the purchase (which I can't) I'd get one of these: https://starlabs.systems/products/star-lite but the self-build route is definitely more satisfying, I used to do that 20 years ago.
 

0007

Senior member
2,260 578
I'm looking to put together a pc meeting the following requirements:
1 Small size. The smaller the better. I don't want to see too much clutter beyond the monitor and keyboard, if possible. So maybe a mini computer?
2 Will be running linux exclusively. I have a laptop for other purposes. I am not very experienced with linux, but I do use it on a chromebook through crouton. I don't want another laptop right now, or else I'd try the used thinkpad route so often recommended.
3 Will be used for word processing, light internet searching, and occasional video watching (youtube, netflix, etc.) But mostly dedicated to heavy document work within libreoffice.
4 movies download movies at forum Would like this to be as cheap as possible, the minimum for lag-free use for the above purposes.
Can anyone help me figure out what options would meet my needs, preferably within a budget of about $300-$600? And something that someone relatively inexperienced could put together?
A few suggestions from my experience:

Linux is a good route to go down – I have it on several machines and my main desktop PC is dual boot Linux and Windows 10. Linux comes in all sorts of flavours to suit different requirements but if you are looking for a geek-free existence that's very similar to Windows (and in my opinion nice to use) I would suggest taking a look at Linux-Lite. You can try it out without installing it, by running it from a USB memory stick. It's a very lightweight distribution that makes little hardware demand in comparison to Windows and has a simple Windows type interface which means you don't have to get involved with the command line unless you wish to. It's especially good for reviving old hardware that doesn't like latest Windows (e.g. it's completely transformed my old Windows XP Atom CPU netbook possessing minimal RAM). It's a very cheap solution because it's free and it comes with a complete suite of software (including libre office) which will easily cope with your stated requirements.

In terms of minimalism I like "Trading Spaces" post at #4 – it's a very elegant but potentially expensive solution and if no expense is spared that's what I'd look at - (though bear in mind that its small form factor will impose some hardware limitations).

Your stated uses don't sound very hardware intensive so you shouldn't need a very high spec (i.e. expensive) set up. In fact, you could easily use an old second-hand or free "hand-me-down" PC with Linux Lite (and there are other Linux distributions that purport to do a similar thing but I found Linux Lite to be excellent and well supported) to do what you want at very low cost.

One area where Linux is weak is in Voice Recognition Software – there just isn't anything that comes within a million miles of Nuance's Dragon Speaking Naturally: that's the main reason I still keep Windows going because it's an indispensable facility as far as I'm concerned . You can of course run specialist programmes like that on a Linux machine by using a virtual Windows PC but you're now entering geek territory + inconvenience which may not appeal to you.

In summary, you could try Linux without necessarily installing it and see what you like best. Then decide how much you want to spend - from basically zero up to your max budget - and then provision your hardware accordingly. It's unlikely that you will save money by building it yourself but you will have control over the quality of your components - ever wondered why your branded PC sometimes doesn't conform to supposed standards - eg it won't upgrade when it ought to do so? It's also quite good fun to DIY build if you're that way inclined and when it goes wrong (as all PCs do eventually) you will know your way around it and be able to fix it yourself. One thing to be aware of when building your own PC is to ensure compatibility and suitability of component integration – that can make a difference in performance but for low-end use it's probably not so important.
 
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Tytus_Barnowl

Member
92 7
One thing to be aware of is that whatever charting and execution platform you are using you may have difficulty getting support from your brokerage IT using Linux. Basically without being too derogatory, 95% are Microsoft dedicated and any Unix derivative will produce a guesswork attitude rather than a structured approach to solving software problems. I have 25 years general Computer Industry experience , I know what it is like. Let me know how you get on.
 

nnash

Junior member
15 4
All you need to worry about is getting a network adapter that has no problems with ubuntu. KDE Neon with Plasma is just a vastly superior version of Windows that is easier to use than Windows 10. Windows 10 is just so ridiculously bad.
Basically any modern PC hardware is blindingly fast when it is not running so much in the background like Windows 10.
There is no reason not to dual boot though to still have access to the fantastic software for windows.

I always build the best bang for the buck Intel processor with a nice MSI board.
 
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