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Author Topic: MadTux vector pc: Worth it?  (Read 2686 times)
Will
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Posts: 175


« on: January 21, 2008, 05:53:27 am »

http://store.madtux.org/product_info.php?cPath=57&products_id=311

As I seem to be in a bit of a situation computer-wise, I've been poking around. Its a barebones kit essentially from the looks of things, but I was wantingto know if anyone's had experiance either with this specific model, or madtux in general.
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dawnsboy
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Posts: 135



« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2008, 06:53:48 pm »

I purchased one of these computers for my not so tech-savvy 15 year old daughter recently.  She gets more use from it than I originally imagined she would.  For me it turned out to be a good buy.  My daughters only exposure to the world of computers was windows (naturally) but she took to VL 5.8 SOHO as if she had been using it all her life.  She has figured out how to perform the basic functions such as downloading ring tones and tunes for cell phones and mp3 devices without the benefit of the windows based software or help from the old guy (not even a hint of a question!).  Where is the fun in that  Huh

On the practical side of the equation the $149.00 includes the basic computer without an optical drive.  This can be important depending on your preferences because the default purchase does not include installation of the OS.  You will notice in the drop down selection field that there is a line that reads:  Install OS (no support).  Your options are none or Vector Linux (+ $25.00).  Selecting 'none' means that you will be installing your own OS (a bit of an issue unless you do not mind breaking into your brand new case and installing your own optical drive).  Selecting 'Vector Linux (+$25.00)' ensures the pre-installation of VL SOHO no matter which hardware configuration you choose.  This of course means the actual price of Madtux computer with VL pre-installed is actually $174.00.

One may also add 60 day support by email from Vector Linux for an additional $24.99.  If I understand the deal correctly; the $24.99 is the only monetary benefit that the Vector Linux project will receive from this product purchase.

In my case I went with the default settings for hardware then elected to have the OS pre-installed as it seemed most practical to provide my daughter with the KDE desktop.  I have an external usb cdr/cdrw drive available if she ever needs it. 

Several years ago I purchase a case, an MSI motherboard (the same brand in use with the computer from Madtux) and an AMD Duron 1.2 GHz CPU for $105.00 plus shipping on Ebay.  I assembled it and still needed to add a CD-ROM drive, a hard drive, a video card and RAM.  I then installed the then newly released Vector Linux 4.0 Deluxe and had a great time with it.  I installed a bigger HD than Madtux but opted to only install 128MB RAM initially.  The difference in cost between that computer and the one available on Madtux is negligible.

Good luck.  I hope that you are able to make a choice that you will be happy with.
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Will
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Posts: 175


« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 05:29:52 am »

What worries me isn't so much as the quality, as when you're a (comparitivly) small retail outlet that wants continued business you can't afford the kind of goofs the larger retailers can absorbe as a matter of business, but the lifespan of the parts themselves. I've seen no mention of either PCI-E, or even AGP slots which limits any potential expansion graphicly(which for me isn't all that problematic since I don't plan on gaming), and more importaintly the fact the ram isn't listed as ddr2(which is, from what I've heard, the current technology now).


It looks damned tempting as I have pretty much everything needed that isn't included in the barebone setup(I could even elect to fudge for the dvd drive instead of having the white drive in black case situation with my cd-rom that's in storage) so it just being a bare case wouldn't be all that problematic. I'm just tryingto think on where I'll be with it four years down the line when it comes time for parts.


Oh, and assuming I go for all the bells and whistles they offer other than OS support(well, not all since i'd only be putting in the 80gig drive) the total comes to roughly $395 before shipping/tax. Compared to my other options from newegg and the like, that's a fairly good bargain even with the fact the hardware's possibly on the tail end of its technological cycle.


Edit: Scratch that, thing says it has an 8x agp port, which's good, not pci-e, but good.

Query. It says it has three pci slots, but only two are 32 bit. Can someone explain the distinction here?
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 05:31:30 am by Will » Logged
GrannyGeek
Packager
Vectorian
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Posts: 2567


« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 11:24:12 pm »

>> Scratch that, thing says it has an 8x agp port, which's good, not pci-e, but good. >>

Actually, it doesn't say anything I can find about an AGP slot, just this:
"Full-featured AGP v2.0 compliant 8x transfer mode AGP controller"

To me that sounds like onboard AGP 8x. Does anyone know if there is an AGP slot on the VL-100? I can't imagine buying AGP at this late date. PCIe isn't new. It's now the standard.

I don't know--the VL-100 seems too obsolete to me to spend at least $149 on. The Sempron 3000+ is old and slow and single core. There is no mention of SATA connectors--PATA is on its way out. Some major hard drive manufacturer announced months ago that it would no longer produce IDE hard drives. A VGA port means you can't use a DVI monitor without an adapter that converts a digital signal to analog, with a loss of quality. There is no built-in wireless; wireless is increasingly important today.

I don't like to get locked into old technology if I'm buying new. I'd rather shop around for a barebones system that's not at the trailing edge, or buy a cheap but upgradeable prebuilt system.
--GrannyGeek
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exeterdad
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Vectorian
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Posts: 2046



« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2008, 04:06:53 am »

If I recall correctly.  Reb has one of the Mad Tuxs computers.  It has onboard graphics, AND a pci-e slot.
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Will
Vectorite
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Posts: 175


« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2008, 11:52:47 am »

Well, that answers things Granny-Geek. It might be a cheap barebone, but it if I can't fix it and or upgrade it after four years....no.

Now then, if i can get someone from madtux to answer the question on why they're selling old machines...meh. Not my fight, back to newegg to see what I can build there.
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GrannyGeek
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Posts: 2567


« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2008, 11:11:44 pm »

If I recall correctly.  Reb has one of the Mad Tuxs computers.  It has onboard graphics, AND a pci-e slot.

I know you can get motherboards with onboard AGP and a PCIe graphics slot. It does seem odd that MadTux wouldn't mention this explicitly in the specs for any PCs they sell. "PCIe" is never mentioned.

I guess if you want to know for sure, you'd have to ask MadTux.
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
dawnsboy
Vectorite
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Posts: 135



« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2008, 06:17:51 pm »

The manual for the mother board that came with the Madtux PC that I gave my daughter clearly shows 3 PCI slots and 1 PCIE slot in the motherboard schematic.  It also demonstrates 2 SATA connectors and 2 IDE connectors.  I should point out though that mine came with an Intel Celeron processor (maybe they were out of stock on the AMD SEMPRON processors). The main board also supports DDR memory. The motherboard is designated as P4M890M3-V.  VL 5.8 SOHO runs like a rocket in this environment.  Grin

Not bad for $174.00.

After making a quick tour of the Madtux site it appears that what they sent me is the internal components of the MT-220 lowcost PC mounted in the case designated for the VL-100.  The MT-220 features a 2.66GHz Celeron processor and is described as follows:

A fast 2.66 GHz Intel Celeron D Processor with a 533MHz FSB
512MB DDR 400 RAM with options to add more RAM if you need
13.5GB Hard Disk included at no extra cost
Embedded graphics engine with 64M shared memory
Onboard audio CODEC for uncompromising DVD audio quality
A 10/100 LAN port to connect to your network or broadband connection without having to buy an extra LAN card
One AGPro slot
3 PCI slots, 1 CNR slot
2 available SATA slots (internal)
2 UltraDMA IDE slots supporting UltraDMA/100 devices with 100MB/s transfer rate
4 USB 2.0 ports
300W power supply for expandability

This appears to be very close to the system I received.  While the MT-220 does not come with VL preloaded it is marked down to $179.00 (from $199.00).

This is the url for that model:

http://store.madtux.org/product_info.php?cPath=57&products_id=240

« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 06:29:06 pm by dawnsboy » Logged

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Will
Vectorite
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Posts: 175


« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2008, 10:54:06 am »

Interesting. However as I'm a bit behind the curve to pass judgement I'll wait for more informed oppinions(not to mention my paycheck).
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dawnsboy
Vectorite
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Posts: 135



« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2008, 12:04:28 pm »

Quote
Interesting. However as I'm a bit behind the curve to pass judgment I'll wait for more informed oppinions(not to mention my paycheck).

I can certainly understand that.  You might also consider making a computer purchase locally.  That would save the cost of shipping or allow you to add those funds to the moneys already earmarked for the computer purchase.  One additonal advantage to that is the possibility of getting local warranty service if anything goes wrong with your box.
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GrannyGeek
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Posts: 2567


« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2008, 08:39:07 pm »

Did they send that to you for the $149 price of the VL-100? It seems to be a substantial upgrade over the specs of the VL-100. I looked up the motherboard and the CPU is upgradeable to a Core 2 Duo. That's good--you don't want to be locked into trailing edge technology.

One of the PCI slots is PCI Express x1 and there's a PCI Express x16 for a video card. That's also important--you don't want to be locked into onboard video. That also explains why they say "2 32-bit PCI slots" instead of 3 PCI slots. One is a PCI Express x1.

All in all, I think it's a reasonable value if you think of it as a barebones system to which you could add hardware you have available. That is, if you have a good-sized hard drive and a CD burner you can put in, plus a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers, you have a decent system for $179 out of pocket.

But if you have to buy this stuff, oh-oh. When I configured it with 2 gigs of RAM, a DVD burner, and a 160-gig hard drive, the price ballooned to $444. And that's without a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I can beat that price any week with an off-the-shelf system at a local store. Plus I'd have a copy of Windows that would cost $100+ if I bought it (whether or not I plan to use it) and a full-year warranty instead of 3-month warranty.

I'm glad to hear it's performing well. Even the lowliest machine at MadTux should do well with VL. Considering how old and slow many of the systems are that board members are using, the speed of a new MadTux computer will seem blinding.

Your daughter proves once again that Linux is easy to use. Enjoy!
--GrannyGeek
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Registered Linux User #397786

Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
dawnsboy
Vectorite
***
Posts: 135



« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2008, 10:29:27 pm »

Quote
Did they send that to you for the $149 price of the VL-100? It seems to be a substantial upgrade over the specs of the VL-100. I looked up the motherboard and the CPU is upgradeable to a Core 2 Duo. That's good--you don't want to be locked into trailing edge technology.

They did send this system as I described it for the $149.00 price (and yes that did seem to be a substantial upgrade).  To be honest, I really wasn't concerned about being locked into old technology.  I justed wanted something inexpensive with Linux (preferably VL) onboard that would meet my daughters basic computing needs which are relatively simple.  She will be able to upload/download music, ringtones, photo's, research and complete school projects, watch music videos and web based telivision shows.  It will be relevant to her as is for several years and I doubt that she will be the least bit concerned with state of the art technology.  The computer will probably wear out from consistent use before it has a chance to become sadly irrelevant.

It reminds me of a Packard Bell computer my wife bought me several years ago.  It had a Cyrix MII 266MHz processor, 40MB RAM, a 4.3 Gig Seagate hard drive, a win modem and an el cheapo windows sound card on a daughter board.  It came with Windows 98 First Edition.  She later added a scanner and an external cdrw.  I had not discovered linux yet and had been actively using a Commodore 128 computer with external hard drive and a 2MB expansion cartridge.  The other box was a 486 loaded with DOS and Win 3.1 (which I accessed per application from a DOS menu since I was a dos user).  I had no 32 bit windows experience at that time.  I was using a local internet service with my Commodore.  It had long ago converted to a forunner of the modern ISP but still had a menu system on an apache server that allowed me to surf the net with Lynx. I did research and wrote papers for college courses I had picked up in the evenings.  So at that time my Commodore setup was relevant to me.

There were already Pentium II computers on the store shelves with fantastic cpu speeds of 300 to 450 MHz.  Even so I was able to write essays, learn linux (I installed red hat 5.2 on that box from command line), scan, edit and organize photo's, documents (OCR apps), surf the web, use email and chat applications, build web sites and indulge myself in writing stories.  Clearly it was well behind the state of the art when it was purchased and utilized the cheapest parts possible.  It had extremely limited upgrade possiblities.  Yet I was able to be productive with that computer until the day it died 5 years later (from constant use and abuse).  I even installed zip slack and my first copy of VL on that box.  The internet and most operating systems (even VL) outgrew the old Packard Bell but it served me quite well (and gave me the opportunity to learn to dislike windows altogether).

Quote
Your daughter proves once again that Linux is easy to use. Enjoy!

I think if provided with a linux box with a functional desktop like KDE then most people will figure it out well enough to use it.  My daughter has been exposed to Windows 98 through XP at home and at school yet she did not have the least bit of trouble figuring out VL SOHO.

Oh, by the way I still have a brand new Commodore 64 in the box with rubber bands, twist ties and wrappers in place.  Wink
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 07:42:22 am by dawnsboy » Logged

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sledgehammer
Vectorian
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Posts: 1397



« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2008, 09:07:47 pm »

The MadTux is well worth it. I have two of them and will get more as my other office machines go down.  Only gripe I have is they come loaded with SOHO rather than 5.8 or 5.9.  And GrannyGeek is right.  Compared to my beloved Omnibook, they are FAST. 

John

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