This is my main computer at home, used for all sorts of tasks. It's a commodity midi-tower with a 200W power supply.
The CPU is a Cyrix 6x86L clocked at 150 MHz (2 x 75 MHz host bus), mounted on an ECS P5VX-Be motherboard, with 256Kb of pipelined burst cache memory. There are 32Mb of 60 ns EDO DRAM mounted on two SIMM slots. This motherboard has a PnP Crystal 4237B sound chip, which I never managed to configure under Linux.
Hard disk is an EIDE IBM 4.2Gb Capricorn series, 9.5 ms random access time, 5400 rpm and 96Kb buffer model. It is silent and has a low power consumption, so cooling is not a problem.
The CD-ROM drive is an older Teac 6X ATAPI drive, which I once had to open to put back a tiny screw that had got loose somehow. It has performed flawlessly ever since.
Video card is an OEM S3 Trio64 V2 card with 2Mb of EDO DRAM. It drives a Diamond (an OEM brand that sells under various names in Europe) 17-inch monitor at a resolution of 1152 x 864 x 16 bits per pixel @ 70 Hz refresh rate. This resolution is quite common on some workstations, and I find it ideal for a 17-inch monitor. At 70 Hz refresh rate I don't have any flicker, and the image is very bright.
On top of my monitor I have a Connectix B/W QuickCam video camera, connected to the first parallel port on the CPU.
The keyboard is a cheap IBM membrane keyboard, with poor tactile feedback. I will purchase the excellent IBM mechanical keyboard someday, though.
The mouse is an OEM PS/2 Logitech three-button mouse. It's not very accurate, but the three buttons are a must under X Window.
I was using a US-Robotics external Sportster Voice 33.6 Faxmodem to surf the Web these days, but now I got my ISDN board back from Creatix Germany, the manufacturer; this ISA PnP board failed while automatically reconfiguring its PnP settings, but Creatix repaired it under warranty. Plus they were extremely educated. I like that: honesty and respect for the consumer. If you buy a Creatix ISDN modem, I recommend the new PCI model.
I also have an EPSON Stylus Color II ink-jet printer connected to the second parallel port in the CPU. This is the first and only time I will ever buy an EPSON ink-jet. Print quality degrades rapidly and after a single year of moderate use, this printer provides output that I would be ashamed to compare to its dot-matrix cousins.
Finally, I have a cheap Realtek RTL8129/8140 based PCI network card. This card provides a full-duplex, 100BaseTX link to the other machine. Although it is supposed to be a DMA bus mastering card, the basic chip design presents serious flaws that prevent it from reaching the same efficiency as the Digital 2114x cards (see Donald Becker's pages at CESDIS for more information).
This machine does not have a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. I rlogin or telnet into it and use it as my private Web, News and DNS server. Again, it's a commodity midi-tower with a 200W power supply.
The CPU is a Cyrix 6x86MX Rev. 1.3 clocked at 166 MHz (2 x 83 MHz host bus), mounted on an ASUS P55T2P4 Rev 3.10 HX-based motherboard, with 512Kb of pipelined burst cache memory and 32Mb of 60 ns EDO DRAM mounted on two SIMM slots. This CPU is much faster on most Linux tasks than the 6x86L @ 150MHz on Machine 1.
Hard disk is the same EIDE IBM 4.2Gb Capricorn series screamer as above. The CD-ROM drive is a Hitachi 12X/16X ATAPI model. Video card is a Cirrus SVGA board with 1Mb of DRAM. In this case it never gets used for anything more than occasionally checking BIOS settings.
For benchmarking purposes I have installed three network cards successively in this machine:
I have Linux 2.0.29 kernels slightly patched on both machines. Machine 1 is based on a RedHat 4.1 distribution, while Machine 2 is based on RedHat 4.2. Machine 1 dedicates about one third of its hard disk space to Windows95, and lilo makes the choice available at boot time.
Putting these machines together was an interesting experience, and it allowed me to save a nice amount of money. They are also extremely upgradeable, since I am using only standard hardware.
Last updated on November 9, 1997.
Copyright 1997 Andrew D. Balsa