Ubuntu Forums Re: How to build a PC that is 100% compatible with Ubuntu

[Update 09/10/2007: I have just posted a longer report on my experiences building this machine. See Building your own Linux Ubuntu computer using the ECS GeForce 6100SM-M motherboard]

A few minutes ago I came across a post in the Ubuntu Forums from someone interested in building their own machine just to run Ubuntu, in the thread How to build a PC that is 100% compatible with Ubuntu.

As it happens I recently built a machine for just that purpose, and have been planning to write about it soon in this blog. But then I realized that I had information at hand of value to the person who asked that question — a list of components of reasonable cost that I knew could be assembled to run Ubuntu — and so why wait to share that information?

Either I should write the blog post or provide something immediately to the thread, so I wrote up a quick note with the essential points and posted it. I’m also copying it at the end of this note.

This is an example of one of the key ideas behind open-source: release early, and release often. It is better to share sooner than to labor away in isolation. You don’t have to wait until a work is “done” or “perfect.” It can be better to release it in pieces or in multiple versions.

If may also make sense to release it to multiple audiences in different places. For example, I have put part of this experience in the Ubuntu thread, do plan to write it up later, and also should at some point add the appropriate parts to the “User Comments” section at newegg for some of the components mentioned.


On building your own machine to run Ubuntu:

My experience is that the motherboard does matter. For example, I recently upgraded one of my boxes to use the BIOSTAR TFORCE 550 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD . It was a disaster, and I wasted lots of hours until I figured out I needed to install a BIOS update. Then it proved to be a champ running Ubuntu.

The motherboard determines which processor and memory you must use, as well as the available kinds of connections for external devices.

I built a machine from scratch a couple of weeks ago. I was aiming for low cost, with adequate performance for a desktop, aiming to spend about $50-$60 for each of the key parts (I had display, cd/dvd drive, mouse and keyboard at hand). I built the machine with parts from http://newegg.com. Read the user comments to find mention of “Linux” or “Ubuntu,” and pay particular attention to *negative* comments.

I used the following:

Rosewill R604TSB-N 120mm Fan ATX Mid Tower Computer Case+450W Power Supply. I picked this because it came with power supply.

ECS GeForce6100SM-M (1.0) Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100S Micro ATX AMD Motherboard. This motherboard has the advantage of builtin graphics that is adequate for 1280×1024 resolution, so you don’t need to buy a separate video card if you are just doing basic text processing.

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Orleans 1.8GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADA3000CNBOX – Retail. The “retail” part is important. It means that it comes with a fan. If you buy “OEM” then you will have to buy a fan separately.

Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory Model KVR667D2N5/1G

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

I was able to install Ubuntu 7.04 the first time I booted up the system.

Note that many recent motherboards have only one IDE connector and so can support at most two IDE devices. The supplied cable may not allow connecting both a cdrom/dvd drive and a hard disk drive. For example, when I upgraded another box to use a a new motherboard, I found it necessary to buy a SATA cdrom drive so I could use an IDE-type hard disk. If you are starting from scratch then I would recommend using SATA technology.

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4 Comments

  1. Pat
    Posted November 4, 2007 at 12:11 | Permalink | Reply

    I just skimmed this article. I appreciate you posting something that may seem like a simple annual event for most, because it is difficult to find something so current. I see you recommend using SATA from the start. Did you have any config problems with Ubuntu and SATA? I have been running ubuntu for sometime and am looking to install my first SATA device. Anything I need to know about or will Ubtu just recognize it no prob.

    Thanks and feel free to email me,
    RJ

  2. Posted November 4, 2007 at 23:07 | Permalink | Reply

    Pat,

    Thanks for taking some of your valuable time to comment.

    I see no reason you will encounter any problems using a SATA device. SATA is more recent than IDE, and offers the promise of better performance, though I think current achieved performance is not that much greater than that of IDE.

    The SATA cables are much smaller, and thus your your box will be neater.

  3. Tom
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 19:44 | Permalink | Reply

    I started off building puters back in the early 90’s for myself because I could never afford to buy or have them repaired. My current machine is an ecs A780gm-A mobo with an amd 7750 kuma, 4gigs corsair 800, wd 80 gig hard drive- sata, lg cdrw- sata. All for under 240 dollars US. The mobo is an ATI hybrid cross fire. I got tired of the runaround with the evil empire telling me what to add to make XP work. I found Ubuntu and installed it over a yr ago and haven’t look back. On the outside of learning how to add the ati catalyst I haven’t had any problems what so ever. In fact, it’s been a joy going back to the roots of computing. I look at the ubuntu community as what microhell could have been without the greed!! A community more in touch with the original mandate of the web— the free flow of ideals of people helping people. 🙂

  4. Posted April 11, 2010 at 09:06 | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for posting this.

    I’ve planned to run Ubuntu as my main operating system on a new computer and have been looking for information on compatible graphics cards.

    You’ve pointed out a few god points for me to consider which I hadn’t before.

    Appreciated 🙂

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