Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Upgrading In Linux Land

I mentioned a while ago that my eMac power supply burned out, and I ended up replacing that machine with a Mac Mini. While I am satisfied, even pleased with that little desktop box, there has been some disappointment, too.

I had been planning on upgrading my network of ancient Linux boxen this spring. I have a Pentium II that I bought new in 1998, and an Intel 1 GHz Celeron box I'd salvaged from Spare Parts Hell. The newest parts of that machine are probably from 2000. While these machines let me connect to the Internet and run Emacs happily enough, the processors are just too slow for photo management programs like F-Spot or for the bloatware that OpenOffice has become. My spreadsheets crashed all the time, and the Gimp was slow as molasses.

For months I had been keeping a wish list of what I wanted in a Linux box, and I was following the prices on several cheap PC's, waiting for a sale. I was very disappointed to spend the money earmarked for that project on a new Mac product when the old eMac had been doing exactly what I wanted. Of course, once the money was spent, the desired cheap PC went on sale for a deeper than expected discount.

I eventually went ahead, blew the budget, and bought a cheap PC with Windows Vista Home Edition, and a new monitor too. I thought I'd play with Vista a little bit before installing Linux, but that lasted less than 15 minutes. I'm not exaggerating. The first thing Vista did when I fired it up was freeze and crash. I tried it again, and it crashed faster. Was the machine underpowered for Vista, or is the Home Edition too crippled to use? I didn't have the desire to find out.

I installed the AMD64 port of Debian Etch (stable) right away. (It works for Intel dual core 64-bit processors too.) I was really pleased at how fast installation went, and all my hardware was accurately detected without intervention from me. (Much easier and faster than a Windows Installation!)

It didn't take much time to transfer my data and get the new machine running all the software I'm accustomed to using. According to the system monitor, the programs that used to peg my old processor hardly exercise these new processors at all. I feel guilty, as if I must edit movies to justify all this processing power. I haven't changed my computer activities yet, but the Gimp works much better, and I'm busy assessing the relative merits of photo management programs DigiKam and F-Spot.

1 comment:

Larry said...

It's worth a lot (to me, at least) to be able to run the Gimp without uncomfortably-long waits for responsiveness to return. The program likes a lot of RAM and a fast processor.

The only photo-management tool I use is a file manager, Emelfm, which isn't really maintained anymore. I create a date-based directory-structure and I can usually find a photo when I need to.

Write about your opinions of the two photo-management programs you mentioned!