I'm planning to assemble a server / workstation in 2 - 3 months (finally have a buyer for our old house!). Right now I am assessing my needs and reading about how to accomplish them. I was originally looking at used Sun equipment, but as a hobbyist photographer I want to be able to run a virtual Windows 7 session for Adobe products while transitioning to open source tools. I want my system housed in a full tower rather than a nU server case, but it looks like the Sun workstations (specifically Ultra 40 M2) do not support third generation Opteron CPUs which have better hardware virtualization support. First needs / desires assessment: 1) affordability - I'll be looking at 3 - 5 year old equipment. My start-up budget is about $1,000 - I might start with the video card I have and upgrade to a proper SLI setup later. Part of long-term affordability is that I want enough system resources so that I do not feel the need to upgrade for several years. 2) reliability - Part of the reason I'm assembling the new machine is to replace my current desktop which is built from used consumer grade equipment and is dumping power periodically. There is probably an easy fix, but I also have other goals. 3) virtualization - As mentioned, I would like access to a Windows system, but I do not believe Windows to be incredibly reliable for the day to day OS. While researching Sun equipment I was nonplussed by their current licensing scheme. I have used mostly OpenSUSE in the past and will use some flavor of Linux as the host / dom0 OS. I may want to play the odd Windows game, but my gaming tends not to graphically ridiculous. As an example, Skyrim is probably the most graphically intensive game I am interested in at the moment. Dwarf Fortress is always good for amusement and requires far fewer graphical resources (but this is a bad example as a native Linux version, albeit not as recent as Windows for accessory programs, exists.) 4) cloud - I am an industrial hygienist by profession and when I am conducting full shift sampling (air and/or noise) for clients I have a certain amount of down time. I would like to invest in a tablet from which to work on reports while in the field. I am aware of the Google Docs app, but have concerns regarding confidentiality of client information on someone else's cloud. If I accomplish OS virtualization, I should be able to accomplish a virtual desktop and simply provide my own cloud service. I need to read more about this type of virtualization and about whether there even exists an X terminal / thin client app for Android from which I can access my personal cloud server on my tablet. 5) learning - When I was in grad school I maintained a personal 3 node dual CPU Opteron cluster used for computational chemistry. I'd like to refresh my admin skills as well as learn some parallel programming skills. Eventually, I want to be able to teach my daughter programming and basic admin skills (she is now 2 1/2).