I’m building a new PC, and running Linux on it — Part 1

First things first: This is going to be super-niche. This post is for developers, who run Linux, who also want to build their own computer. So if you stop reading right now, I totally get it. Most of you aren’t going to be interested in the process of building a Linux PC. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and the end result is something 99% of you won’t care about. In other words, it’s a bit like scrolling through Facebook and reading tremendously unfunny anecdotes about your kids eating apple slices, Derek.

But whatever. I’m writing this anyway, because that’s the way open source people are supposed to do things. We share our experiences with each other.

I’m going to build a new PC for my work, and I’m going to be running Ubuntu 16.04 on it, because I have been using Ubuntu since 2011 now, and it suits my needs perfectly.

Documenting this build just seems like something important, because when I was researching the process, there just aren’t many people out there who build Ubuntu workstations. There are plenty of people out there building the baddest-sickest-most-whoa-Windows-gaming-rigs-bro, but not many people are trying to build a Linux workstation for developers. I have nothing against the PC Master Race gamers… I’m just a casual PS4 gamer, so let me live, okay?

Here are a couple notes on why I’m going this angle…

  1. I primarily use Ubuntu for work.
    When I’m not being the internet’s outspoken uncle, I am a fullstack developer, and most of what I do happens with Ubuntu. (If you’re not already hip, services like Ubuntu Make allow you to deploy 30+ development environments with ease.) Open source software keeps me running, and I haven’t found it limiting. In fact, I prefer the open source community. You meet people, improve code, and become friends. It’s a better way, and yeah — it leans more towards developers, but I converted my sister to Ubuntu, and she’s a nurse, so it’s not all nerds. (Her laptop also has a touch screen, and I got it fully working, so I’m proud of myself.)
  2. I don’t use programs that only run on Microsoft or Apple.
    If I was doing something like video editing, I’d probably want a full Adobe Suite, but from where I sit, GIMP and Darktable are just fine for editing photos, and I can get by with Lightworks if I really need to quickly chop together a video for a client. (I don’t usually do this. In fact, my little brother Max is the best editor I know, so anything I do in that realm goes to him anyway.)
  3. I like Ubuntu. It works well, it’s stable, doesn’t* get viruses, and is a capable work companion.
    This is just one of those personal taste things, but… it really does everything I need. I have Chrome, Spotify, Atom, Filezilla, Franz (for Slack), GIMP, and Darktable. That’s really my whole work repertoire.
  4. I want a high quality machine.
    I looked at System 76 and a few other places, and they appear to make some excellent Ubuntu workstations. There’s just one caveat: I’m cheap, and I don’t want to pay someone else for something I can do myself. Labor costs money.
  5. I like building things myself.
    When I was a kid, I was the type to take apart a lawnmower, just to see what was inside it. The same goes for computers. I like to know how things work.

So where am I right now? I have a box of parts sitting my office, and the only items I’m still waiting on are coming from NewEgg. (If I had to order everything again, I would have just ordered it all from Amazon, and spent the extra $25 or whatever. Everything came in two days from Prime, while I’m still waiting on my case and motherboard from NewEgg.) You can see my full part list here.

Alright, that’s it. That’s the update. It wasn’t very exciting for you, but I’m excited about it, so… yeah.