I work for a FreeCode Oslo, one of the Norwegian offices of the free software company FreeCode. We are about to invest in a longue area where customers can try out different linux systems, read about FOSS and such. For this I need some advice on what hardware to include in the demo computers.
Important things are:
* Linux compatability (naturally)
* Noise level.
* Availability of components
For instance: Are ATI graphic cards the way to go as of now? Or is it a thing for the future when driver support is better?
The only things we need are the computer itself. We have keyboards, mice and monitors.
If you're just going to demonstrate desktop effects (and not any games), you might want to opt for a decent Core 2 Duo system with an Intel-built mainboard with onboard (IGP) graphics.
I'd recommend somethink like the following:
Intel Media Series DG33BUC Mainboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler
2*1024MB PC2-6400U DDR2-SDRAM
Samsung S250 250GB SATA2 Harddisk
SeaSonic S12II 330W ATX Power Supply Unit
any generic SATA or EIDE DVD+-RW-Drive
any generic case from Coolermaster or Lian Li (looks matter)
you've forgotten to mention a wireless card (now are available N compatible standard chipsets) with a ralink or atheros chipset included. they work very well with linux (a complete chipset list are available at the madwifi site - atheros, or at the ralink site - http://www.ralinktech.com/ralink/Hom...ort/Linux.html )
also i'd go up with the ram to at least 4gb (now the ram doesn't cost much). and i'd say that the best buy for hard drives in terms of cost per megabyte is with 500gb hd. a medium range raid controller might increase well the office stability (i'd suggest not to use the integrated low cost raid controllers).
as for data protection i'd suggest you to start from the following example as a partitioning scheme:
/ on primary reiser3 fs without tail, with r5 hash and 3.6 revision filesystem and with noatime mount option (usually is enough a 5gb root filesystem)
/boot on a 100megabyte partition with the same partitioning as the root, with the same mount options but without mounting it at boot
/var /usr /opt /home each on a lvm2 container with /home and /opt ciphered with dm. this would ensure the following:
1. resize volume if needed
2. security for personal data and non free software (which usually goes in /opt).
almost any linux distro is able to handle this configuration without any problems.
as for distros i'd advice you to chose among the following:
- kubuntu/ubuntu and opensuse
- novell linux enterprise desktop/red hat enterprise desktop
the first list would be for user that don't want a hardened system, but still very stable, simple and intuitive to use, while the second group is very good for enterprises.
as for the x-window environments i'd suggest kde for 2 reasons:
1. a very high presence of high quality applications integrated with kde
2. kde 3.5.9 has reached a very high quality level
3. i've found out kdevelop to be a very good developing suite
4. familiarity for windows users (it is more similar to windows desktops with respect of gnome)
of course this changes if the customer focuses on mono/.net developing, in which case gnome is more indicated. also if this is the case i'd also suggest opting for a novell release.
of course i'd advise you to make the choice after the 24th of april when hardy heron would be out (it should be a long term supported kubuntu/ubuntu). i'd try out both versions (don't use kde4 for now since it's not ready for enterprise use, but only for personal use) and decide for the one that fits more the company views.
Nvidia is not really lagging behind. For current chips ATI offers no real 3d accelleration in free and basically every OSS driver misses features that would allow to run current games. Also ATI has absolutely no Crossfire support, but Nvidia has SLI and MultiGPU support in the drivers for years. Until you want to show of a very lowend graphics solution then Nvidia is the way to go. Midrange 9600 GT, better 8800 GTS 512 or 9800 GTX.