Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mepis based Computers

Recently the subject of supporting Linux based computers came up again on MepisLovers, and I mentioned once again that I sell custom computers. Well, a couple items about why I don't have a store-front yet. Warren, the creator behind Mepis, doesn't want a store directly attached to the Guide site, and has expressed that he does not want the computers to be branded with the Mepis name either. Similar to the books that I'm working on, they can't be branded with Mepis.

So, I don't have a storefront because I want to put it on my own server, which as I stated on MepisLovers, keeps getting pushed back for one reason or another. While someone else has offered me server space to build up a store on... I'm extremely hesitant to do so for personal reasons... Not many of the them logical...

The result is that outside of an admittedly hard to read blurb on the page I don't have a clear posting of what exactly it is I sell. I do most of the hard-details in email or personal messages when somebody wants to buy.

Essentially I sell two different types of computers; custom used and custom new.

Custom Used:

One example of the custom used is the Abit NF7-S 2.0 system that is still up for sale. It's a computer that has been in heavy use for a long while, and I finally got the parts together to replace it with a new system. My target with custom used systems is to be priced at $500 or lower.

Another example of the custom used system is the Athlon64 2800 I listed a while back. It's actually going back up for sale when I complete a hardware report for the system, but it has an open-boxed BioStar Motherboard now, so items like the connector cables are from my stock rather than from the board itself. It also lacks a backplate for the motherboard itself.

Custom Used systems then are older solid boxes, intending to be a bit cheaper.

Custom Built:

The other type of computers I sell are custom built units. These are the ones I explicitly mentioned on While the custom used computers can come in any number of chassis designs, the custom built systems come in Apevia X-Qpack designs only, both the X-QPack and X-QPack2.

While I like the chassis themselves, I can't say that I'm fond of the power supplies they ship with, so all custom built computers come with Thermaltake power supplies equipped with a single 120mm fan.

From there customers have a choice of either an Intel Processor or an AMD processor, and a choice of an Nvidia graphics card or an ATi graphics card. I will state though, and sorry this is not up for argument, an Intel system is not going to be as fast as an AMD processor at the same pricepoint. I've also stated multiple times before that Intel is open-source hostile and AMD is not. So, if you want a system I am going to heavily push AMD processors.

However, if you really want to have an Intel processor, I'll build one in.

Custom Systems used to ship with Chaintech's AV-710 Sound card. However Walton-Chaintech has seen fit to remove this card from the market, and Hercules Guillemot has declined to release their version of the card, the Gamesurround Fortissimo 4, I've had to find a new add-in card. Right now I'm looking at Diamond's XtremeSound XS71 7.1 as the add-in sound card of choice.

Each system also generally ships with a wired keyboard and mouse combo from Apevia, generally because I can get the keyboards and mice in the same colors as the Apevia chassis. As an optional extra then for $30 on top of the base price, the systems will ship with either Ideazone's MERC Keyboard and Mouse combo, or a set from Gear Head.

From there the specifications for each computer system are changed depending on model.

$600 / Melody Class: Melody class computers are the cheapest custom systems, and focus on being extremely quite. Melody systems include replacement fans for the stock Apevia fans, mostly using Scythe quite fans. Melody systems also swap out the stock processor for a 120 MM Zalman heatsink to cut down on the noise.

If an add-in graphics card is desired, fan-less cards will generally be used.

Melody class systems can ship with single core processors since the current cheapest Intel Dual-Core Conroe costs around $175, but the Single cored Conroe-L can be had at 2ghz for around $65.

Melody class systems also only ship with 1 gig of ram.

$800 / Symphonic Class: Symphonic class systems start at $800 and a dual-core minimum processor. They also start with a mid-range graphics card and two gigs of RAM.

However, Symphonic systems do not include replacement fans by default on the Apevia Chassis, which are going to be extra.

$1200 / Orchestra: Orchestra class systems start at $1200 with a quad-core processor and 2gigs of RAM. They also ship with replaced fans, and a higher-ranged graphics card.


Okay, now for the caveats.

Monitors: I generally don't ship or bundle monitors with each system. While I generally recommend buying most computer parts from online retailers, printers and monitors are two components that it's better to shop local retail. You'll generally get a better warranty from an Office Max or Best Buy than you will from an online vendor. You'll also be able to have eyes on contact with the monitor before you shell out money. Technical Specs are one thing... how the monitor actually looks is another.

However, if you want a monitor, I will note that Scepter Monitors are generally a good low-cost choice to buy, and I can add one in to the orders I place.

Credit Cards: Thanks to the help of one very patient customer, I've had an opportunity to go through a direct credit-card system and not paypal or a direct check. Well, if you do want to pay by credit card... yes. I can take it. However, there is going to be a surcharge of 5% of the system cost, and it's going to add a week to the processing time. Sorry, but I don't move enough units to be considered "priority" by the people handling the credit cards.

Warrenty: While I fully expect each computer I make to run years without any problems, all I can really offer is a six month parts warranty.


Extended Services.

I generally do this locally to my area, but I do offer a wider range of extended services involved with custom case building.

Remounting: $50 + price of parts If you have older beige case, and you'd like to move into something that isn't as atrocious to look at, I do offer a remounting service. All of your existing equipment will be transferred over into the new case, and a back up provided for the existing drive.

Cooling: $50 + price of parts: OEM's such as Dell are famous for providing inadequate cooling for their chassis. The idea is that many of their systems are designed to last only a couple of years. Proper case ventilation and processor cooling can go a long ways towards turning a 2 year Dell into a 5 year workhorse.

Limited Hard-drive recovery: I do have a limited ability to recover hard-drives : more information on request, as well as pricing.

Operating System Conversion - Single Drive: $50 : If you want to have a Linux installed on your computer and don't care what happens to the Windows installation, I do offer a service to back up all existing data and convert to Mepis Linux or OpenSuse Linux.

Operating System Addition: Additional Drive: $50 + cost of hard-drive: If you want to have Linux installed on your computer on a separate drive, I do offer this service and either Mepis Linux or OpenSuse Linux will be installed on the second drive.

Operating System Addition - Single Drive: $75 : If you want to have a Linux installed on your computer while retaining your existing Windows Installation on a single drive, I do offer a service to install the Debian based Mepis Linux, or Novell OpenSuse Linux and leave your existing Windows installation relatively intact. Relatively intact is defined as the Microsoft Installation disks should be on hand.

Microsoft Cleanup: $75: If you have a computer running Microsoft Windows as it's primary Operating System, I can clean it up for you. Clean-up procedures include removal of Norton, McAfee, or other less than desirable security products, and installation of tools that are proven to work, such as AVG anti-virus and Spybot Search and Destroy.

Hardware Repairs: $75: If you need hardware repaired or replaced, I can do that as well. Repair includes stress testing of new parts.



I generally don't deal in Laptops because I'm not large enough to have an OEM contract with a major supplier such as Clevo or Asus. However, if you WANT to buy a Notebook with a Linux installed, I do offer something of a consulting and conversion service.

Laptop Conversion: $100: laptop conversions include converting an existing laptop to Mepis Linux or OpenSuse Linux, and 3 day shipping back to the client.

Laptop Addition: $150: Laptop additions include adding an installation of Mepis Linux or OpenSuse Linux to the drive, and 3 day shipping back to the client.

The idea then is that if you want a notebook, simply give me a price-range that you are looking to spend, what kind of screen size you are looking at, what processor type you'd like to have, and what type of graphics card you'd like to have. If you don't know, or really don't care, just give me a price point and I can tell you what's available.

For the charges listed over the price of the laptop + it's initial shipping I will convert it to a Linux base.

I will also do the same for Macintosh computers at the same price points as Laptops.

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