Building a Computer – An Introduction

For those of you who have read some of my recent blogs, you'll know that, at present, I am not a big Microsoft fan.  I find Microsoft software products are overly complicated, and over priced.  Their technical products are always changing technologies, so you constantly have to learn new technologies, and a lot of time, move your application to the new technology.  This is done on purpose by Microsoft to keep ahead of all the other software companies and application builders in the industry.  While your busy learning the new techology and porting your application to the new technology, Microsoft is busy coming out with new products.  The result is you don't have the time to design any new products to compete with Microsoft.  Very clever on their part.

I grew tired of the constant technology change about 7 or 8 years ago with the advent of C#, and then .net.  I decided to go a more sane route, and join the java and open source community, which also meant embracing the Linux operating system.  The good news to this approach is that technology for open source gradually gets better without relearning a lot of new technology, and the sad news is Linux has not been ready for prime time.  I got away from Microsoft application products about 5 years ago, but have never been able to get away from the Microsoft operating system.  After all, developers always write new applications for Microsoft, because they have the lions share of the market.  It's a chicken or egg dilemma.

Another problem with the Linux operating system is, because it is open source, developers of products like video cards, for example, drag their feet on making drivers for their video cards for Linux, because they do not want to give away their source code.  As a result Linux has lagged behind Windows, for as long as I can remember, and still is not up to snuff with drivers for all the peripherals.  The video card drivers being the biggest culprit.  However, some of the popular Linux distros are getting close.  Immediately Ubuntu comes to mind, and there's SUSE and Fedora, to name a couple more.

With the knowledge that Ubuntu is coming out with a new release on October 29th, and my recent run-in with Microsoft licensing policies, I decided to build a computer based on one concept.  No Microsoft products allowed, and at the same time, have the same functionality with software  applications that you get with Microsoft products.  You may think this is a tall order, but I believe it is feasible, and intend to prove it.

I ordered the parts for the computer, and was getting ready to put the system together, when I had a thought that perhaps other people would like to build a non-Microsoft computer from the ground up.  Thus, I set aside this section of the blog, and intend to write a series of articles to guide you along the way.

I will take you through the entire process from how to order parts, how to assemble parts, and how to install and configure the software that will make your system work and have compatible application software that will allow you to work with Microsoft products.  Yes, you'll be able to write a Word document, and send it to other people who will open the application and read it with Microsoft Word.  There will be some quirks along the way, but in the end you'll have another computer in your home, be proud of yourself that you built the computer from scratch, and most important, not have spent a penny on computer software, unless you donate some funds to help developers of open-source software create better products.

As an aside, if you absolutely can not give up your addiction to Microsoft Windows or the Microsoft applications, you can always spend the extra money,  buy their products, and load them, instead of the open-source products.

A word about cost, in the old days, don't ask me how long ago that was, in the old days, you could build a computer from parts for less money than you could order the computer from someone like Dell or Gateway.  Those days are long gone.  The Dell or Gateway are going to be less expensive, and take less time to get up and running, than any computer you build yourself.  Your doing this to learn, have a nice hobby, and take control of your computer destiny.  The cost will not be that much more than if you ordered a computer from Dell.

What benefits do you get from building your own.  The computer maufacturers buy in bulk and usually not the latest hot products. They have tight margins and buy what they can get a price break on, usually one back from the new technology.  You tend to get cpu's that are not as fast as the latest technology, and in general, I don't want to say inferior, lets just say less then the best or most up-to-date parts.  To some, its not important, you want to flip the power switch on and go to work.

For those of you who want the best video card, more memory, and the latest cpu chip technology, the only way to do that is build your own.  If you'd like to learn as you go, follow along with the blog, and learn some pointers I've picked up over the years.  Spend a little extra money for the parts of your choice, and know you'll have a kick butt computer when your done.  Enjoy.

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