Hardware to try linux

JayJ

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Hi all. I'm re-training as a web developer and want to try linux.
I need to buy a desktop machine and I'm not that much of a techie so I'd like some advice.
The budget is fairly low for this one, I'll probably upgrade in a year or two.

  • Is running linux on a virtual machine the way to go here? Will I be able to do everything I want as a beginner web dev building a basic portfolio ?
  • I'm looking at a late 2015 imac with plenty of RAM (32G) and SSD hard drive. Does that sound sensible? What else should I consider? Thanks
 


Hi all. I'm re-training as a web developer and want to try linux.
I need to buy a desktop machine and I'm not that much of a techie so I'd like some advice.
The budget is fairly low for this one, I'll probably upgrade in a year or two.

  • Is running linux on a virtual machine the way to go here? Will I be able to do everything I want as a beginner web dev building a basic portfolio ?
  • I'm looking at a late 2015 imac with plenty of RAM (32G) and SSD hard drive. Does that sound sensible? What else should I consider? Thanks
Hello @JayJ,
Welcome to the linux.org forum, our own @Jarret B posted a thread dealing the linux install on Mac's it may be of help to your in choosing. I know that most dells and lenovos work well with Linux also.
The article is a few years old so someone else may have more up to day info.
 
Please do not choose Chromebook! It looks like a real challenge from what I read here and in other forums, although that is a rather small amount.

Anything with Intel Atom processor could also be problematic.

Macintoshes tend to be really expensive, an "economical" once went for 1500USD before taxes a few years ago when I went to Best Buy. For "desktop" computers I suggest you do a general online search bringing you to Debian User Forums, technical forums for Arch-based distros and places like that. Because many people build their own systems and encounter some problems, not necessarily because they get fancy.

Some computer manufacturers (A__S, L____o) look like they got into a close association with Microsoft so that Linux is harder to use on those computers than others. But I know less about that than do a couple of the long-term members of this site.
 
You can get a cheap $100 refurb Dell with 16 gigs of RAM and an SSD - with Windows even but that's not important. The hardware will likely work out of the box with Linux. You won't have to mess around and you can get right to learning and enjoying Linux.

I know this to be reasonably true because I just tried it not more than a few months ago. I just grabbed a cheap refurb off NewEgg and didn't even have to do anything except swap my SSD into that device.
 
I agree with @KGIII

While you easily run Linux on a virtual machine, the main issue I end up having is primarily around rendering issues. That isn't to say I don't use it, but if you're depending on it for your career. I would step carefully. I do some development on a virtualized Linux desktop, but in a pinch if I'm running into rendering issues. I can easily switch to a physical machine.

Some apps don't render as well in a virtualized desktop. For instance, my BitWarden password management application sometimes starts up, but is invisible lol. I have to shut it down and restart it just to be able to see it.

Just remember, while Linux can render with most major graphics chips. There drivers generally do not have the same polish as the Windows versions of them. Not to mention, Linux can have many different Windows managers among other things that make supporting virtualized versions of Linux desktops more touch and go on a per-app basis.
 
For learning Linux, any second hand machine in reasonable condition with an Athlon x2 or Intel Core duo [machines age around 2008] will do but may be a bit slow, depending on finances a 3 to 7 year old laptop/desktop will be fine, it will be new enough to run at reasonable speeds and old enough so that component drivers should be easy to install.
Del and Lenovo are particularly good with Linux, Apple can be challenging to install Linux in a multi-boot or bare mettle installation, although most chromebooks can be used again they can be extremely challenging to convert,

 
Awesome, thanks everyone. I'll get started on a VM, then get another machine for a physical install if/when the issues get too annoying. Hopefully that won't be for a while.

I want something that runs macOS or Windows while I get used to Linux. I mentioned the late 2015 imac because there's a good deal on one near me.
For the hardware you get, those older imacs seem pretty similar in price to pcs? Here in New Zealand at least. Maybe we just don't love macs here, or maybe I don't know how to find a cheap PC..
But I'm guessing there's more risk of the hardware failing, being older? Plus they only run the older macOS versions that won't be supported much longer.
(if this is getting off topic feel free to point me to a better forum, if you know one :)
 
G'day @JayJ and welcome to linux.org, I am from across the pond/ditch. ;)

(if this is getting off topic feel free to point me to a better forum, if you know one
We call our differnet areas subforums here. As for forums, you'll be hard pressed to find a better forum than you have just found.

I'll leave my friends to help with the hardware.

Cheers

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz
 
Plus they only run the older macOS versions that won't be supported much longer.
Apple only fully support a release for 3 years then usually a further 3 years for security updates [ Microsoft a little longer], and that is why there are so many people using out of date operating systems
I'm guessing there's more risk of the hardware failing,
Not nesasaraly, I have a very slow 32 bit laptop that still works using Linux which is now 23 yrs old, if your looking at a desktop or full size laptop, they are fairly robust [but nothing is safe from clumsy users] the only components that would normally suffer wear and tear are the battery and Hard-drive, both usually easy to swap out.

Another antipodean !!!!!!!! Have a good night's sleep and then make your decision
 
I buy pre used computers nowadays, most MSWindows users have to upgrade their machines every time they release a new version, so there's plenty of good quality machines out there perfectly suitable for Linux/BSD, & not too expensive either. :)
 
For the hardware you get, those older imacs seem pretty similar in price to pcs? Here in New Zealand at least.

So, I had a hunch about the availability of refurbished computers in New Zealand.

They're not as cheap as they are here in the US, and then you have shipping (+VAT, I believe).

But, I enabled my handy dandy VPN and opened an incognito tab. Amazon is seemingly the answer for this one. The NZ$ is about 60% of the USD, so it looks like you can expect to pay close to twice what I paid and that's before shipping and taxes.

So, that's something to factor into this.
 
Thanks again all. I took the plunge and got me a 2015 imac (32 GB Ram, 1TB SATA SSD, runs great).

Followed youtube videos to set up a Virtualbox VM with 8GB RAM/100GB storage, and installed Linux Mint (Cinnamon edition) on that without many problems. (the VM froze halfway through the first attempted install, but it worked second time).

Mint seems to work ok but it's a bit slow. Not terrible, but a few seconds to open a terminal, few more to open Firefox, little delays with keyboard and mouse input. I'm guessing that's pretty normal on a virtual machine?

I doubt I'll end up using it for work unless I can speed it up a bit. Don't know what to try except a more lightweight linux... (I am too cheap to pay for better VM software, and not up for trying a hardware install just yet!)

But it's fine for getting a feel of how the system works so that's great for now :D
 
I doubt I'll end up using it for work unless I can speed it up a bit. Don't know what to try except a more lightweight linux... (I am too cheap to pay for better VM software, and not up for trying a hardware install just yet!)
VM's are not as fast as bare mettle installations, you have more than enough ram and SSD space to do a duel-boot retaining the Mac OS and running another distribution alongside [you choose which to use at the boot stage]
 
Personally, I have no experience of Macs (my last experience of Apple hardware was of a very balky Apple Lisa in the late 1980's; an experience that put me off Cupertino's products for life.)

I also don't like Apple's obsession with controlling every aspect of the MacOS "experience" with an iron fist.....the hardware, the software, telling you where you have to go to get repairs/spare parts, even dictating what software their OS will run, right down to controlling where you can obtain it from.

Computing should be about the freedom to do what you, the user, wants to do.....but the majority of Apple fans are more concerned with ease-of-use, everything connecting & syncing and just "working" to realise that they're basically being taken for mugs. The "brand-name" is such an important "status symbol" to so many people, and they're prepared to pay through the nose to get it in order to be seen as a part of the "in-crowd".

I include my own younger brother in this category.....

And ONLY in the US of A could a single company achieve the near-unassailable, dominant status that Apple has.....to the point where they even thumb their nose at organisations like the NSA over aspects like their insistence on end-to-end message encryption (which they refuse to compromise on to anyone, even the highest office in the land).

Not for me, thanks. I'd far sooner take a pre-owned Windows machine and do with it what I want to do (and pay a lot less in the process).


Mike. ;)
 
I also don't like Apple's obsession with controlling every aspect of the MacOS "experience" with an iron fist.....the hardware, the software, telling you where you have to go to get repairs/spare parts, even dictating what software their OS will run, right down to controlling where you can obtain it from.
Yep, the protectionist bs is why I'm looking at Linux. I don't mind macOS - except that the d***heads release new OS's that don't run on their old hardware, then stop supporting the older OS's. Mine has one more year of support I think. Luckily we have a solution... :D
Computing should be about the freedom to do what you, the user, wants to do.....but the majority of Apple fans are more concerned with ease-of-use, everything connecting & syncing and just "working" to realise that they're basically being taken for mugs. The "brand-name" is such an important "status symbol" to so many people, and they're prepared to pay through the nose to get it in order to be seen as a part of the "in-crowd".
There will always be a market that will pay extra for what's fashionable, but yeah it's a shame people don't value a more open industry. Making Linux easy and awesome is probably a good way to fix that
And ONLY in the US of A could a single company achieve the near-unassailable, dominant status that Apple has.....to the point where they even thumb their nose at organisations like the NSA over aspects like their insistence on end-to-end message encryption (which they refuse to compromise on to anyone, even the highest office in the land).
Yep, my take would be that the US has slightly different values around freedom than the other rich democracies which is theoretically fine, but the politics there is so non-functional that they can't even solve those obvious problems, and they're in pretty bad shape if they can't fix that.
(I'd argue there are plenty of non-democracies where that stuff is just as bad or worse... but I just read the rules. No more politics, promise. #plsnoonevoteforanydictatorshipsthx) J
 
So, I had a hunch about the availability of refurbished computers in New Zealand.

They're not as cheap as they are here in the US, and then you have shipping (+VAT, I believe).

But, I enabled my handy dandy VPN and opened an incognito tab. Amazon is seemingly the answer for this one. The NZ$ is about 60% of the USD, so it looks like you can expect to pay close to twice what I paid and that's before shipping and taxes.
Yeah shipping from the US is a killer here. You can pay it yourself or buy from someone who already paid it, but I guess you’re paying either way. The labour cost for the people doing the refurb is probably a bit higher here too. I got the imac for $840NZ (just over $500US) including apple keyboard & mouse. I wanted good RAM & storage and needed a decent screen as well (also expensive here) so I decided trying to find a better deal wouldn't be worth the effort. Was probably lucky with the timing, the college year has just ended here. Second-hand desktop machines everywhere. Only problem is no warranty, but it should last a good while.
 


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