An interesting revelation further to my “Confused” post

I came to an interesting epiphany when discussing my little whining session regarding the computers being sold at a relatively wild range of prices with my brother (at least, wild given the ranges, from $230 to $700, all fabulous deals to begin with) and apparently being sold principally by the metrics of clock cycles, memory, and price tag. Oh of course the other things are there too, but we all know what’s really important, don’t we? πŸ™‚

The realisation was that perhaps I should be using Gentoo linux instead of what I happen to be using, CentOS 4.5. Or really, Gentoo (or any of the other source-based linux distros) instead of any of the others. More about what appears to make Gentoo so special in a moment. Suffice it to say right now that Gentoo is not for the faint of heart, and I have a faint heart. πŸ™‚ Gentoo is *very* difficult and complex to set up. And can take days in some cases, even assuming that it all goes well.

My brother decided to take his AMD 2.8 with plenty of memory and convert a movie to DVD format; possibly under Windows, possibly under CentOS 5.1, he didn’t tell me which. He decided, for the fun of it, to convert the same movie, at the same time, with a dual-core 1.3, I believe under Windows. AMD’s have faster performance per clock cycle than Pentiums, so an AMD 2.8 is purportedly similar in performance to a P4 3.8.

We were both surprised: The dual core 1.3 won the race.

Apparently, the video conversion software was optimized for dual cores on said machine, so between the software, its clock cycles, and all the other metrics (bus speeds, memory, etc.) it was able to beat out the other machine just using brute processing force.

Gentoo is a linux distro that is distributed as source code which must be compiled at the time of installation, and which figures out what kind of hardware you have, then compiles the source into binary code using settings and tweakings specific to your computer. This way, you see slight to noticeable to (occasionally) fabulous improvements in speed and performance over installing standard binary ISO’s of another distro built from exactly the same sources, on the same machine. In principle, if you were to make a binary ISO of every Gentoo install, no two would be quite identical; nor would the binary ISO from one install on a given machine necessarily give the same performance on a comparable but slightly different machine.

The word “Gentoo” is the proper name for a type of penguin that happens to be the fastest swimming penguin; the Linux mascot, Tux, is a penguin. Hence the name Gentoo for a Linux distro.

Hmmm, now I understand the raison d’Γͺtre for Gentoo. And an appreciation for things in general. And, maybe I’m a bit more confused. πŸ™‚

And no, I have never tried Gentoo, nor am I likely to in the near future.:) This is neither an endorsement nor critique about Gentoo or any other linux distro; it is an observation further to previous observations that there are many, many, many metrics by which to compare two or more computers and that software, including the “mere” (yet very involved) compiling of the source code as a function of the hardware, is yet another very important metric in deciding how to purchase a new computer. One which I suspect the mass consumer such as myself is not likely to comprehend — or at least properly evaluate on the street — when pulling out their credit card.preteen lover
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I’ve got a computer catalog … and I’m confused.

I have been oggling over the computers in the catalog recently sent by a well-known Canadian discount supplier of computers and electronics. After all it is the Christmas season. (But my PIII 550 desktop and PIII 450 laptop are just fine, thank you.)

I’m confused. I only know that the reconditionned P4s 2.0GHz with 128megs of RAM are worth the $230 or whatever they are asking give the market these days. Actually sounds like a great deal, although I think the first thing I’d do is pop in a few memory sticks were I to buy it.

There are Celeron D 3.46GHz units with 512megs for $300.

A Pentium D 2.8GHz with a gig of memory for $488.

An Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz with 2gigs of memory for $670.

An Intel P4 3.0GHz with 512megs of memory for $250 .

I could go on.

The “disparities” for the laptops are much more confusing.

Now I’ve been dealing with computers for about 25 years. I’m by no means an expert; in fact, I don’t really know what’s going on under the hood. But I do understand is that AMD Athlod 2.6GHZ with a gig of memory for $549 might be a good idea; I hear that the AMD chips are way faster than Intel chips with the same cycle speeds. I don’t know why, but I believe my source. And I know that a Celeron is an intentionally crippled Pentium to respond to “market pressures” for a cheaper PC.

I think I got screwed a few years ago when I was sold a Celeron 533 for about $2000, monitor, keyboard, etc., etc., etc., included (no OS though.) Now I know that prices have dropped a lot since the year 2000; that’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is the thought that allegedly my PIII 550 desktop is self-appropriate — that is, the memory speed, bus speed, on-board processor cache memory, processor speed, and so on are more or less appropriate to each other, and that it’s the first computer I’ve had that is. No Ferrari parts in a jalopy, or Yugo transmissions in a Kenworth tractor. Well okay, nowadays it would be nice if it had USB 2.0 instead of USB 1.25 or whatever, but that’s a generational thing, not technological propriety. I’m not certain about the Celeron 533. It still runs XP and is even slower than when I abandonned it and gave it to my mother.

I think that said discount supplier is trying to confuse me the same way; I think that they have assembled a bunch of parts left and right depending on what they bought at a rock bottom price yesterday, called it a computer, and are hoping that dumb ol’ me can’t tell the difference between them. I figure that they are betting that the processor cycles in bold type and a cheap price tag will get me to pull out my credit card, figuring that these two metrics, possibly with a mention of how much memory is there, will clinch the deal. Of course today’s rock bottom prices are for different parts, so of course the computers they slap together tomorrow will have a similar price but different specs.

I could be wrong.

But I like my conspiracy theory. And I like the PIII 550 I have, that a few lifetimes ago was an online casino server. Seems about half as much faster running CentOS 4.5 (that’s a flavour of Linux) than the Celeron 533 running XP.