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The Unix Hardware Buyer HOWTO

Eric Raymond


Revision History
Revision 1.06 February 2001Revised by: esr
Initial revision; but see the history in the introduction.

This is your one-stop resource for information about how to buy and configure Intel hardware for cheap, powerful Unix systems.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
1.1. Purpose and History
1.2. New versions of this document
1.3. Feedback and corrections
1.4. Related resources
1.5. A discreet plug
2. Overview of the Market
3. Buying the Basics
3.1. Getting Down to Cases
3.2. Power Supplies and Fans
3.3. Motherboards
3.4. Memory
3.5. Buying a Video Card
3.6. Selecting a Monitor
3.7. Keyboards
3.8. Floppy Drives
3.9. Printers
3.10. Power Protection
3.11. Radio Frequency Interference
4. Performance Tuning
4.1. How To Pick Your Processor
4.2. Of Memory In...
4.3. Cache Flow
4.4. Suggestions for Buying
4.5. Bus Wars
4.6. Disk Wars: IDE vs. SCSI
4.7. Other Disk Decisions
4.8. Tuning Your I/O Subsystem
4.9. Souping Up X Performance
5. Hardware for Backups
6. Of Mice And Machines
7. Modems
7.1. Overview of the Modem Market
7.2. Internal vs. External
7.3. Pitfalls to Avoid
7.4. A Modem Glossary
8. CD-ROMs and Multimedia Hardware
8.1. CD-ROM Drives
8.2. Sound Cards and Speakers
9. Special considerations when buying laptops
10. How to Buy
10.1. When to Buy
10.2. Where to Buy
10.3. Computer Fairs
10.4. Mail Order
10.5. Computer Superstores
10.6. Other Buying Tips
11. Questions You Should Always Ask Your Vendor
11.1. Minimum Warranty Provisions
11.2. Documentation
11.3. A System Quality Checklist
12. Things to Check when Buying Mail-Order
12.1. Tricks and Traps in Mail-Order Warranties
12.2. Special Questions to Ask Mail-Order Vendors Before Buying
12.3. Payment Method
12.4. Which Clone Vendors to Talk To
13. Software to go with your hardware
14. Other Resources on Building Linux PCs
15. Upgrading Older Machines
15.1. Older Memory Types
15.2. If You Must Buy a 486
15.3. Cache Engineering on 486 Machines