There is a document that has been floating around the internet for at least fifteen years, called ‘What if operating systems were airlines’. The entry for Linux Airlines states: “When you board the plane, you are given a seat, four bolts, a wrench and a copy of the seat-HOWTO. html”.
It’s an old joke but as Linux users we are still more accustomed to sometimes having to do things for ourselves than users of other operating systems. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as it means we understand our computers better. Still, at least when you want a new PC you can just go out (or online) and buy one.
So why do people build their own? Over the next few pages we will try to answer this question, as well as the more complex questions that arise when you try to do it, such as: how hard is it to do? What are the risks? What about warranties? Will it save me money? Can I build a computer with no Windows? And many more.
There are several reasons why you may want to build your own, not least of which is the satisfaction of understanding your computer that little bit more, but this information is not only useful if you want to build a new system from scratch. Much of what we cover here will also be of benefit if you are looking to upgrade an existing computer.
We will been concentrating on desktop systems, which are generally very easy to work on – we find LEGO more taxing. Laptops are another matter, but many of the points about choosing suitable Linux- compatible components still apply and we will end with a look at picking a laptop, or any other type of sealed box, such as one of the popular nettop systems. Why build your own computer?
You may be able to save money by sourcing the components yourself, but don’t bank on this. What you do get to do is pick the exact specification you want – no throwing away parts to upgrade to what you really wanted. You also get to choose the quality of components you use.