Mast Kalandar

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Sun, 24 Jun 2007

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Buying and configuring systems for IMSc


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Basic Premise: Let us grant that there are three types of users.

  1. Geeks. Those who are willing to fight bugs as and when they arise by filing bug reports and sifting through various (possibly inflammatory) responses.

  2. Lusers. Those who want a working system for real jobs that need to be done. Bugs that arise should be fixed without too much work on their part.

  3. Windoze. Those who are willing to live with a frequently crashing system in order to have the latest and greatest experience.

Second Premise: The Basic premise is partially false as each of us is a mixture of 1-3.

None the less we will look at how to configure systems for each of the three.

  1. For geeks we can buy the latest and greatest hardware and install some system like Debian testing/unstable or Fedora Core. While the "geeks" are not usually classified as developers they should be since they belong to the erstwhile category of "beta-testers". The difficult job with these users is to keep them working on hardware and software that will eventually become useful for (2). Unfortunately, some of these users will start using nVidia-type cutting edge hardware with Gentoo-type uber-geek build-from-source software.

  2. The mass of users is clearly in the luser category. For them the best hardware is one that is tried-and-tested; this rules out the latest and greatest chipset. Use the hardware that was released last year and is still around this year. It has survived the test of time and is cheaper. Use a stable Debian or Red Hat. It might not play the latest MPEG5 movie or streaming video from ImaginaryPlayer. It might not be able to generate/display PDF files that have features that will make your presentation really dynamic. However, it does its job (which was decided last year) really well.

  3. For this category of users you could make the same installation as you did for (1) but it won't last. You shouldn't bother to configure the system much since type (3) will be upgrading a lot to get all kinds of new features. The ideal distribution is Mandrake or (why not?) Windows XP.


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