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An Easy and Inexpensive Quad-Core System for Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux

My son’s hand-me-down motherboard recently gave up the ghost, and I decided that was a good excuse for an upgrade. Shopping around, I found that multi-core CPUs were finally in my price range, so I decided to build him a quad-core system. This build worked out extremely well, with almost no configuration problems, not even for accelerated 3D graphics or ALSA sound — all using the latest Debian GNU/Linux (which means it’ll also work with Ubuntu or other derivatives). This one has that “classic” feel — everything just clicked into place. So I wanted to document it here. This also serves as a technology update to my earlier article on selecting hardware for a free-software-friendly system.

I started by looking for an appropriate CPU and motherboard combination. I’ve been a fan of AMD CPUs for some time, so I looked for that. AMD boards tend to have ATI graphics chipsets built into them (since AMD owns ATI), and ATI has been the best-supported OpenGL chipset with free software drivers, so that’s another factor.

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