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Tech update: the system that FTB built

On the PC thread below this one, boy, did I get a great response in comments and via email! I’m leaning toward going with this CPU and this MoBo that I linked last night, and scavenging the rest as I can. It would be good for me to catch up on technology, plus I have some nephews now that are old enough that they need to learn how to put a basic box together lest the tech world forever intimidate them.

I’m open on the OS, no religion either way there, but I’m kinda leaning toward at least trying Linux. Reason being it’s ummm, free, I’ve never tried it before, I can always start over and load Windows later if need be, yes? And if it comes to that, absolutely agreed on the Win7, I’ve supported it on my company’s software and am familiar with the basics and resolving the usual Win7 screw ups, whereas Win8 is a bit of convoluted unknown to me still.

It just doesn’t seem like there’s much downside on trying Linux, if purely for an experiment in open source OS. But while we’re on the topic, there’s also no need for anyone to crow or be bummed about my tentative curiosity over it. It’s just like Jacob vs Edward or Xbox vs PS — and let’s face it, this is really about you and me getting Xboxes, the rest of them are just here to help us get in the door first …

Two things: One, I’d to have a restore point, there’s a comment on the other thread that looks like it has the info on how to do that. Two, let’s say hypothetically, in addition to having multiple tabs open on dual screens while writing, every now and then I wanted to play WoW at way low quality, everything in player opts turned down all the way, really low frame rate and res. Knowing there might be occasional locks ups and crashes mid game anyway, would any of that not be possible sticking only with Linix and the onboard video of that motherboard? On the latter, would it be worthwhile to start scrounging for a video card now? I’m pretty sure I can find an older model Nvidia for free or close to it … If so, what would be a decent mid-range card that wouldn’t give me any power probs and would render at a higher, or rather moderate-ish setting by crazy obsessed perfectionist gamer standards, on an MMO like WoW?

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    I’m kinda leaning toward at least trying Linux.

    Give yourself to the Dark Side.

    Reason being it’s free

    Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

  2. says

    You’ll get a lot of advice concerning which Linux* distribution to try, so I won’t offer advice on that** (the mainstream distros are all pretty good). But if you go with the proprietary drivers for the 4250, you should be fine. It might take a little bit of tweaking, but that seems to be a decent card with good support.

    If you’re going to do a lot of group activities (raiding and whatnot) you might consider a slightly beefier GPU, but I’d expect it to work acceptably even then (just a few dropped frames here and there).

    Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve played an MMO, so I’m not sure what the current state of the WoW client is. I’d say give it a shot, and see if it’s acceptable to you.

     

    * Definitely the best OS in the entire universe, except for Mac OS 9, which can bring down heavily-armed alien space armadas.

    ** I use Debian, for what it’s worth.

  3. says

    Yeah I’m using onboard video on an old Vista laptop and def getting lag and some DC’s on high level dungeons and raids. If it’s likely to be better than that, that would be good enough. Paupers can’t be choosers anyway.

  4. hjhornbeck says

    I’m open on the OS, but I’m kinda leaning toward at least trying Linux. Reason being it’s ummm, free, I’ve never tried it before, I can always start over and load Windows later if need be, yes?

    You forget stability, too: I’ve had it on my primary desktop, without a reinstall for … six years now? Eight? I can’t remember anymore. No signs of slowdown, no troubles over virii or worms, and everything is kept up-to-date and bug-fixed. There’s a reason it’s used on routers and supercomputers.

    Also, Valve ported Steam to Linux recently. That should help in the games department.

    For a first-time user, I’d recommend Ubuntu. Their default UI has taken a lot of flack (I’m cool with it, FWIW), but that can be handled by swapping in an alternate version, like Kubuntu. Mint has more bells and whistles out-of-the-box, but there’s no official push-button upgrades, which will have you cursing in six months.

  5. cag says

    I use Ubuntu because it is easy for the non geek to use. OK, you got me, I initially got Ubuntu 6.06 as a free offering by mail (5 CD’s) and haven’t been bothered (haven’t had a reason) to change to another distro. Currently running 13.10, but the LTS (Long Time Support) version is 12.04 which will be supported until 2017. The interim versions are a bit more problematic than the LTS as they are on the bleeding edge.

    On my own machine I have not set up for automatic updates (so I can see what’s happening) but on machines for non techies I set up for automatic updates. Ubuntu does not update on a schedule, if an update is ready then it gets updated. Updates can happen multiple times a month. A Linux install includes most programs you will need, for others there is an extensive library of free and fee software. I have never used any of the “for a fee” software, just the free.

    I have no experience with WoW so cannot comment. From Google, it looks as if it has to be run through an emulator.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    What your nephews need: Raspberry Pi.
    A hobby-oriented single board computer, the deluxe version with ethernet is $35. Throw in a plastic case, a power supply and a memory card and you could have a functioning computer for < US$60.
    It can run a variety of OSes, mostly version of Linux. Before you know it, you can be calling your nephews for Linux help.

    The RPi is intended for people who want to learn about computers, rather than just play games and surf the web. Lots of hobby ideas posted regularly on their front page and in their forum.

    It's a tiny little ARM processor, so I don't think it would be ideal for a primary desktop, otherwise I would have recommended it to you.

  7. mck9 says

    WoW is designed for Windows and Macs, though there are rumors of a Linux version that was never released. To run it on a Linux box you’ll need to do one of the following:

    1. Install Windows, either in dual boot mode or in a virtual machine, and use it to run WoW. Of course this approach involves paying for Windows, thus eliminating a major reason for running Linux in the first place.

    2. Run Wow under a compatibility layer such as Wine (free), Cedega (a proprietary fork of Wine), or Crossover (a proprietary product). The compatibility layer replaces the Windows system calls with equivalent Linux calls, so that the application thinks it’s still running on Windows.

    You can also use Wine etc. to run other Windows-specific applications like Photoshop, with varying degrees of success. There will likely be a noticeable performance hit due to the extra layers of translation. For gaming I suspect that the performance hit will be much reduced if you get an appropriate video card, but I’m only guessing.

    If you manage to get WoW running under Wine etc. with acceptable performance, I know of no reason why you couldn’t keep it up in one window while you’re doing other things. With KDE (I don’t know about Gnome and the others) you can generally maintain two or more desktops, and jump back and forth among them by clicking on the right buttons on the task bar. I don’t know how that works when you have two monitors — I only have one (sniff).

    Disclaimer: I’m not a gamer and have no experience with Wine. My main purpose is to suggest the right search terms for Googling. For questions specific to WoW on Linux you’ll better off asking in a WoW forum. Getting it to work at all will probably not be simple or intuitive.

  8. lochaber says

    A bit over two years ago, the video card on my Mac got fried. Just out of warranty, and not one of the serial numbers subject to recall. I couldn’t afford a new Mac, on top of feeling their quality has dropped somewhat, and not liking how they were handling almost anything related to the iPhone, I figured I’d get an affordable PC laptop and try linux (mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money on Windows).

    I ended up running linux mint, mostly because that was the first distro that worked on my machine without any tweaking/whatever right off the disk. I’ve been fairly happy with it – I don’t game much, and most of the stuff I do is on the web anyways, and that works about the same on any machine. Actually, I think that for the casual user, most OS are fairly intuitive, and work about the same.

    I’ve had no problem with virii/malware etc., I think Linux tends to be a bit more resistant, on top of just being a much smaller target (like how macs used to be) -plus I use a noscript plugin for firefox, which seems to keep out a lot of the more annoying stuff on the web. About the only issue is that sometimes I have issues playing some DVDs. it’s pretty rare, but if it’s something I want to see, I’ll open up my 12 year old mac (which still works, but is too slow to do much with currently outside of play music or watch dvds). I also miss the ical plugin for itunes, which would let you know when any artist in your playlist had a new release or nearby concert in the near future.

    Anyways, I’m pretty unskilled with computer stuff, but I’ve been pretty happy with Linux as a casual user, and I haven’t had to spend any money on it either. It’s easy enough to download a distro onto a cd/dvd (or even a usb drive), and give it a try to see how things work, or even do a split windows/linux install and switch back and forth as you need one or the other (I initially did a split, but after not touching the windows partition for over a year, I got rid of it).

  9. lanir says

    I ran WoW under Crossover for a short bit. I had a video card that could handle fairly high settings but wine kneecapped it a bit at the low or medium range. So I absolutely wouldn’t recommend getting a fast modern graphics card. Something from a year or two ago is going to perform the same.

    When you run linux, probably the most important thing to know is it’s going to take a fair bit of patience. Browsing the web and getting email are generally easy (with a few caveates but most things just work). The rest may take some work. If your current system still works fine I’d actually suggest keeping it nearby and hookekd up and just see if you can just swap a monitor over or change which input it’s displaying. You may end up bouncing back to windows a fair bit at first to do things the way you’re used to.

  10. Holms says

    Two, let’s say hypothetically, in addition to having multiple tabs open on dual screens while writing, every now and then I wanted to play WoW at way low quality, everything in player opts turned down all the way, really low frame rate and res. Knowing there might be occasional locks ups and crashes mid game anyway, would any of that not be possible sticking only with Linix and the onboard video of that motherboard? On the latter, would it be worthwhile to start scrounging for a video card now? I’m pretty sure I can find an older model Nvidia for free or close to it … If so, what would be a decent mid-range card that wouldn’t give me any power probs and would render at a higher, or rather moderate-ish setting by crazy obsessed perfectionist gamer standards, on an MMO like WoW?

    I have identified a great money saving change you make in the quoted text. Only half in jest – WoW is the only mmo I know of that has all fee models running at once: up-front purchase, subscription and micro-transactions. There are multiple mmos out there that have no subscription or optional subscription that unlocks stuff, that are free to download and play. Rift and SWTOR come to mind, though I have not been in the mmo scene for near two years now.

    More seriously, at you can at least try without a graphics card to see how the system handles your desired graphical demand. If the onboard chip is enough, then the card is superfluous, but also has the option to upgrade into it later.

  11. Nentuaby says

    I can tell you that I am one person who has, personally, run WoW on Linux. I used Cedega. It costs a bit but was worth it in my opinions; technically I probably didn’t do anything w/ Cedega I couldn’t have done with Wine, but I’m a professional programmer and the configuration for Wine daunted me. That was about four years ago, mind, so you might try the latest edition of Wine and see if it’s gotten a lot easier to use.

    And yeah, getting that older Nvidia is probably a good idea. Onboard cards just tend to be weaksauce compared to even elderly offboard cards, and Nvidia cards are considerably less problematic on Linux than Intel or AMD/ATI. (With proprietary drivers, unfortunately, but I’m guessing you’re not a Debian type purist.)

  12. says

    Under Ubuntu, the standard Wine package in the repository will now play WoW without any tweaking or config crap. Used to be you’d have to install a patch to be able to click target things. Since the real 1.0 release, it’s been built-in.

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