Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


No New PCs

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I think I may not ever buy a new PC again.

Notice, I didn’t write that I’d never buy another computer, but, rather not another PC. Hear me out. With prices the way they are, laptops are so cheap that I could easily find one in whatever price range that I might set for myself, within reason. I mean, MicroCenter always has laptops in their sale fliers. Not to mention every one else who sells them. And, what’s more, in recent years, laptops have come configured to replace similarly priced PCs from the year previous. Now, I know you’d think that a super-powered IT geek like me would be working on the latest, greatest hardware at work and at home, but, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s just not so. Everyone else gets new equipment before I do. I end up working on last year’s model, at best! And, upgrades? Forget about it! The last time I did an upgrade of any value, I might as well have just gotten a new PC anyway. Besides, now I have a LinkStation Live 500Mb Network Attached Storage device to use as a backup before upgrading, so I shouldn’t have to worry about losing data. In fact, I should be able to use this little toy to backup my servers, my workstations, my router configurations and even my one Linux laptop.

So, to recap, the only things I really upgrade on a machine are memory and diskspace. Laptops, which are adequately configured most of the time anyway, are priced well enough to be affordable and can easily take my normal, preferred upgrades. Laptops take up less space and are, obviously, more portable in case of emergency, but still can handle all my peripherals, thanks to USB. And, furthermore, I can still get laptops that have docking stations, if I want to have them hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse most of the time.

Pretty much, I can’t see a reason to buy a regular PC ever again. If I need something special, like a server or a firewall, I can get a specially configured machine, or build one myself specifically for that purpose.
So, what do you all think, is the desktop dead?

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."
   --Alphonse Karr


  1. This is great, we did the same thing a few years back! In fact here’s an extension to that idea. I bought an upgradeable notebook back in 1999 – souped up, expensive. Rather than recycling it once it was too slow to be used as my machine, we turned it into a Linux server. It has 512MB of RAM and maybe 20GB hard drive. More than enough for what we do with it. In fact now we are going to do that to all our ‘old’ notebooks.

    We have been looking for another $300-$400 cheap notebook that has more horsepower than the same one we bought 2 years ago (aka the Kids notebook). We will turn the old kids notebook into another server.

    What’s also great in addition to portability of our ‘server’ is the “built-in UPS” with better “battery run time” than an UPS costing as much if not more! The only downside is the power leaching the power bricks (transformers) on notebooks. Someone suggested putting the transformers on timers. Which would probably work if we can get a timer that can handle 5 or more schedules so the notebook doesn’t shut off or hibernate when low on power.

    Have you heard about a proposed green power supply (pod/hub) for all devices? It is designed to automatically shut off power to unused devices not in use and is programmable. It works like a pod/hub so you connect one plug to the wall and all your devices to it. It requires some firmware in the connected devices so they can talk to the pod/hub – so I would hope that it would include the ability to sense low battery and charge to full to stop hibernation from occurring, or at least set schedules for when power is provided to the specifically connected device.

    Comment by linlu — 4/24/2008 @ 10:56 am

  2. You know, this all seems so obvious to me that I’m surprised more people aren’t doing it. Between what’s built into laptops now, and the expandability of USB and PCMCIA slots, they’re almost as upgradable as the average PC.

    For timers with multiple schedules, try salt-water aquarium catalogs or reptile supply catalogs. They often require exotic timers and schedules for things like heat lamps and pumps and stuff.

    Comment by the Network Geek — 4/24/2008 @ 11:15 am

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