Now that enterprise died (or at least is pretty much sick), I am pointing toward a high-end system. I can understand it is difficult to accept that I don’t just get the cheapest box I can find at the local store, and be done with it.
Why is this? Well the first problem is that in Italy, prices are something very strange. It’s not unexpected for me to find components at half the price, or less, when looking them up in other European shops. In particular, in the local shops a good enough PSU rated 450W like the one I had before would cost me €140. Consider I paid mine €100 two years ago. I could get it from Germany paying less for it, included shipping, that I would get it from Italy, but, I’m not sure it’s the PSU itself, I don’t count on it. Why? Because there is a burning plastic smell when Enterprise is on, and it does not come from the PSU.
So rather than getting a new PSU, waiting to see if it’s the motherboard, or the CPU, or the memory, and then get one of those at a time, paying multiple time the shipment, I’m keen on replacing the box entirely. I was actually already planning on the update, the problem here is the timing: if it wasn’t happening while my health is in this status, I would have had enough availability to just replace Enterprise straight away.
But why am I spending €1300 on a system rather than spending, say, $600 to get the cheapest Intel quadcore available? First is, I don’t think I can get much for such a price, US prices are quite lower, even considering taxes, than the prices in Italy. I checked out newegg before, and the prices were almost half the prices on European shops, so it means a quarter of the prices of Italian suppliers. Unfortunately they don’t ship overseas. Of course I could just get it sent to me through some loophole, but again: getting it through customs would cost me between 40-50% of the nominal price shipment costs included, and it’d be impossible to get warranty out of it. And it’s not very good for most consumer-grade hardware, not having warranty.
On the other hand, a cheap Intel quadcore with a decent amount of memory could work well as a workstaiton, the problem is that Enterprise has never been your usual workstation.
Enterprise not only worked as my workstation, and used to be my media center, but most of all, it’s a development box. I’m not just rebuilding projects I work on, but I’m rebuilding many times the whole of portage. When I updated first to GCC 4.3, the first thing I did was rebuilding world; when glibc 2.8 was released, I rebuilt world; when a new autoconf or automake version is released, I rebuild world. Why? Because I can usually fix or at least give a good indication how to fix those problems.
The faster these rebuild are, the faster I can fix the problem, the faster they enter portage, usually. But it’s not just that.
For instance, Enterprise had a massively more aggressive
--as-needed support: I force it through GCC specs. The result is that it stressed out linking, working around
libtool brokenness and similar issues.
But this could warrant a multicore system, why going high end? Well, together with the standard system in
/, Enterprise had a series of chroots, one handles the updates for the vserver where my blog is (but also xine’s Bugzilla, which is something useful for F/OSS, not just me), others handle corner-cases tests. Those are the ones building for instance a system with OpenPAM instead of Linux-PAM to see which parts of portage can work with it. Or testing cowstats with PIE enabled, to find programs that relay on the fact that they don’t need data relocations outside shared libraries.
It’s kinda like a tinderbox but it isn’t a tinderbox. It was a system that was almost never idling.
And, one thing I haven’t done, or improved in a few months, to be honest, is working on the linking collisions detection. The reason why I stopped doing that is that even using postgresql it takes a long time. And it wasn’t specifically testing for possibly embedded libraries yet.
While I do like devoting my time to Free Software development, a faster box means I can make better use of my time, which, considering my health problems, is probably a good thing (doing the same stuff in less time means I have more time to spend on other things, like going in and out of hospitals, or relaxing if I don’t feel good enough). Maybe I’m selfish but I’d rather spend money on a fast system with users’ help, than spending little money on a cheap system, and being forced to work less on Free Software so that I can handle hospitals and relax time.
So, thanks to all the users helping me with this, I’m doing my best to try securing the money for ordering the box ASAP so I can let it resume its tasks while I’m in the hospital too. And as soon as my health stops the downslide, I’ll be working on Free Software again.