I took advantage of a computer purchase program at work. Buy up to X dollars worth of computer, get approval from manager, submit receipt, sign payroll deduction contract for amount from each check to pay off in 24 months, and get check to cover the purchase.
I finally got tired of my computer hardware being the limiting factor on using my DSL. We have DSL at work, and last year, I got a new laptop with 2 GB RAM to replace the old one with 512 MB RAM. I did not expect a new computer with a bigger CPU and more RAM to be so much faster when surfing using the same internet connection.
I bought an ASUS CM Series Desktop, 64-bit with 64-bit Vista & free upgrade to Win 7, the only reason I own computers with Vista! It is a quad core with 6 GB RAM, and all kinds of bells and whistles. It is only about $150 more than what I paid for the seven year old eMachine it will replace. The eMachine has 256 MB RAM, and all the optimizations with Linux are not overcoming its limitations. Also a 20 inch flat panel monitor is a treat compared to the 15 inch CRT it replaces.
I also got an ASUS UX50 notebook. Other than Vista being stupid for getting it to work with my wireless router, which I changed a setting and my work laptop will not connect now!, it is great. Once I get my wireless working again, and copy all her files to it, my wife will be busy with the laptop.
I have heard good things about ASUS, and so far I am impressed with the speed of these systems. Vista, however, continues to be a frustration. Windows 7 better be as good as I heard it is.
I also bought a 1.5 TB External USB drive.
I am in the process of using the free, open source program Clonezilla, which is a Live CD like Norton's ghost, to save each partition and drive from my eMachine, so I can run them in a virtual machine using Virtual Box to get files and settings without having to burn a ton of CDs. I have read that since the emulated hardware is different, that I will have to call Microsoft to activate it, but I can also just install WinXP to a new Virtual Box Image, so I can get at the stuff that is Windows only. My Linux partitions should work without any issues.
On the old PC, I only booted into Windows to apply patches. My wife quit using that PC.
We also have an old white-box PC that was my dad's old computer, it is newer than the eMachine, and is WinXP. I plan to make an image of it, wipe it and re-install a fresh Windows, or maybe install Linux and use VirtualBox to run Windows.
I had not used VirtualBox until now, and figured out how to use a CD iso image to run. I also found instructions for installing ReactOS in a VirtualBox image.
ReactOS is a project to re-create the functionality of Windows in its own stand-alone operating system. React OS works closely with Wine. ReactOS is not yet ready for prime time as the main OS on a PC, but it is solid enough, that it can show you what it can do. I downloaded NoteTab Light and installed it into my ReactOS image. It works ok, but it has some quirks similar to what we have seen on Wine. I did not try NoteTab Standard or Pro yet.
In ReactOS NoteTab Light won't minimize, and the trick to click on the library bar and drag to select a library is needed. I did not try everything, but it is another option to try.
I plan to do a dual-boot option on the new desktop, but want to wait until I get the Windows 7 CD, since I have read that I may have to install from scratch, and don't want to have to re-do this whole PC in a few weeks.
With the capabilities of this new PC, I can easily create a VirtualBox virtual machine running Linux. I also plan to wipe the old eMachine and install Linux only. That should help its speed. I am considering making it a server.
I just got all this new hardware home about 1:30 PM Saturday, and it's now 1:30 AM Sunday, so things are still a work in progress.
I did not start the Clonezilla process of making images of the old eMachine until about 10:00. That old PC is only USB 1.0, so it's taking awhile. Thankfully, the first drive is "only" 20 GB, and the other 80 GB. I copied just the Windows partition off the first disk, and am now copying the entire disk 1, so that it will boot as an image in VirtualBox. Once the images are done, I can use Clonezilla again to write them to the VirtualBox images.
I also have an Epson all in one printer/scanner/FAX that was part of a package deal with the desktop that I have not even had time to take out of the box. I'm hoping it works with Linux....
Locations of the programs I have mentioned:
I hope I haven't lost you in my rambling, and that this information is helpful.