Buying a New Computer Post-Restructure in CSE

The [person] will need to arrange their own computer, which probably starts with picking an OS and a form factor (ie, desktop or laptop).

If they are interested in a Windows computer, then we strongly recommend Windows XP Pro. If they are interested in Linux, then Ubuntu is a good easy-to-manage option, or if they are fairly experienced, whatever distribution they fancy. If they want OS-X, then they can have any colour they want as long as it is white (with apologies to Henry Ford).

If they are interested in multiple operating systems, then VMware or Parallels lets them run multiple platforms concurrently. Parallels on a Mac is particularly nice, seamlessly running OS-X, Windows and Linux concurrently on nice hardware.

If they want a Mac, there are several options and Computers Now will give them a reasonable price. Otherwise if they want a laptop, then we have had fair success with either DELL Latitudes or Lenova Thinkpads. Probably come and talk to us about standard configurations, though I will say more in a moment about configurations. If they want a non-Mac desktop, then DELL Optiplex seem best long-term value.

Our standard configuration, regardless of platform, includes at least 2 GB of memory (to ensure it is still a viable computer near the end of its life), at least three years on-site warranty, a DVD writer, the rest is pretty standard.

For laptops, we would strongly suggest an external keyboard, mouse and monitor for extended use (OH&S issues). People generally find light-and-portable is more useful than large-and-fully-featured. And a spare power supply is useful (one at home, one at work).

There is information about suppliers at:

People should get in contact with the sales rep who will usually give a better price than the web page.

If the quote is more than $2,000, then they should get three written quotes for comparable machines. Don't need to pick the cheapest, but do need to justify the decision if you don't pick the cheapest.

Each research student has $2,500 available. This should cover hardware and software and is expected to last until they finish their degree (hence the importance of three years warranty). They can spend more than that, but will need to find additional funds, probably via their supervisor.

The pink order forms come from the store in the basement. When they have filled out as much as they can, bring it to me for account information and authorisation, then take it back to Stuart in the store for ordering. Delivery is usually 1-4 weeks, depending on supplier and stock, just occasionally longer. We can lend a (probably old) laptop while they are waiting for delivery.

Then, once the computer arrives,

is a fair starting point for how to get their computer running, connected to the network and accessing various services.

Any questions on running their computer should normally go to the forums:

or, if it clearly requires "privileges" to help, contact System Support ( or x54199 or room 111).

geoff o
8 August 2006

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