I have been wanting to blog about this for ages. So in November last year I decided that my old trusty Athlon XP that has served me for years was really due for replacement. It was still fast enough to run vim and Firefox and such, but the machine became annoying as soon as I switched to Gmail last Summer. The machine could just not keep up with me typing e-mail in the browser. For a very long time I have been wanting to buy a Mac Pro (or Powermac G5 before), in the end I chose for a different solution.
So I ended up buying components for a Intel Core 2 Quad, 4G RAM and RAID1 on pretty fast SATA2 disks. I bought the cheapest PCI-e video card available to drive my dual Iiyama displays. After assembling the machine myself, I loaded it with the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. Figuring out the partitions (software RAID and LVM) took a while (apparently I needed another install DVD image for this) but after that the installation process was fantastic. Completely flawless, everything worked out of the box.
The end result: my own self-built “Mac”. Everything works in Ubuntu, also suspend (what I would buy a desktop Mac for). The configuration I have right now would be impossible to get from Apple for 500 euros, and works as flawless as the Macs I have. Plus, it runs Linux which I still prefer over Mac OS X for programming tasks.
Really, really glad that I ended up getting this as my new desktop machine. I am pretty sure that my next desktop machine (which I will get in 4 years or so :) will again be a Linux machine and not a Mac. Though for laptops I still prefer Macs, sorry ;)
Oh yea, what I did learn was that I could also just have upgraded the browser to Firefox 3 on the old Athlon. Oh well, it is still amazing to watch a Quad core compile GTK+.