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I am trying to convert a old desktop into ubuntu (or Debian) machine. I have already looked up the supported hardware list but still have following questions. In order to provide details, here is all the info I have collected on the current hardware on this machine:
- Dell Dimension 3100/E310 with BIOS version A03
- CPU : Processor 80547 Pentium 4 Prescott DT 2.8GHz 800 MHz bus, Hyperthreading capable Intel EM64T (Processor ID 0F49)
- RAM : 1.25GB 533MHz DDR2. I have found reports of others successfully running 4GB, and according to 915G specs at http://ark.intel.com/products/27733/Intel-915G-Graphics-and-Memory-Controller this can take upto 8GB RAM. But, I am not sure if 915G refers to what i find in BIOS as Intel 82915G/GV/910GL Express chipset. Would like confirmation from someone knowledgable about intel chipsets.
- The above link also shows couple of things that I do not understand. It says Supported FSBs:: 533/800MHz, but also says Memory Types:: DDR 333/400, DDR2 400/533. Since I am planning to upgrade RAM, can i buy DDR2 800MHz ? I see DDR3 is selling for even lower prices now a days, but I am not sure if i can use a DDR3 on this.
- The above intel link also says under memory specs, Physical Address Extensions:: 32-bit and I was wondering if this means that I CAN NOT run ubuntu/debian 64 bit versions. I need the 64 bit version of one of these OS installed because I plan to run mongoDB server on this machine, and mongoDB supports only 64 bit versions of these two OS. My understanding of PAE makes me guess that "32-bit" means that it supports more than 4GB memory space and 64 bit architectures.
- Hard Drive: Currently Hitachi 7200rpm SATA 80GB. Under Windows 7 control panel I see that SATA Controller is Intel 82801FB Ultra ATA 2652(and Ultra ATA 266F). Come thanksgiving, I want to get a SSD, but since I do not see AHCI listed anywhere in BIOS, i wonder if this hardware will support SSD.
- Wireless: I currently have 2 wireless N adapters, but not sure if either of them will work under Ubuntu or Debian. First is a Zonet ZEW1642D model PCI card that has RaLink chip RT3062F. Second is a Linksys N300 USB adapter that has been certified for Windows 7, but i do not see linux listed on the box. Do i need to buy a wireless card for this machine and if so, where can i find compatible cards for this hardware ?
- Ubuntu version: I have already looked up the supported hardware list but it says only older versions of Ubuntu were tested on this hardware. Will i be ok with installation of latest Ubuntu/Debian ?
- Goal is to run this machine as a learning machine at home and run simple apps. MongoDB server would be installed but only for learning purposes. Which flavour of linux is recommended - Ubuntu or Debian ? I am mentioning Debian because i read a webpage that said Debian is more suited for server machines. But this is not a industry server, but home machine.
- Video upgrade : Will i get better performance on this, if i upgrade to a PCI video card ? No gaming on this machine, but potentially internet streaming maybe done for Netflix or Hulu movies. Currently my plan is to upgrade to 8GB RAM and SSD as the basics. In today's market prices, this is going to cost me about $150. I am guessing that if Wireless card is needed that would cost another $25 for Ubuntu. So, if i add $50 for a video card, that would bring upgrade costs to about $225. But a newer laptop with SSD+4GB ram is about $350, here in bay area (Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 L15W-B1120, Pentium N3540, 11.6" Convertible Laptop With 4GB, Memory, 128GB SSD, Windows 8.1). I only have to add a wireless card and reformat it for Ubuntu. The only sacrifice here would be the lower 4GB RAM on the laptop. As i finish writing the question, i am starting to wonder if this machine is worth upgrading, but would like to find answers to my questions anyways. This would become the 5th PC i have at home, and wife would object if she saw me getting yet another new laptop :-)
Thanks a bunch for reading my long post.