I came to a sad realization about a week ago now. My university will occasionally have a surplus sale about once a quarter and at least once a semester. They usually sell stuff like desks, chairs, and old couches from the dorms (disgusting). They also use this way to unload computers that get replaced and can’t find a home somewhere else in the school. I’m lucky because they sell computers individually (monitors separate), where a lot of other schools I’ve seen will bundle a pallet and sell them at surplus auctions. In order to sell them individually they have to sell them really cheap ($2 per desktop, $4 per LCD monitor, $10 per laptop) and this will draw quite the crowd. People will camp out the night before in order to be the first in line to get some computers/laptops, it’s a bit like watching footage of Black Friday shoppers.
Well, the last sale was about a week ago now, and since I didn’t want to deal with that massive line I head over about 30 min after they “open”. My plan was to find a machine to replace an old P4 Linux server I had running, so I head back to the computer cage to wait my turn to get in and see what’s left. From what I could tell of people going to checkout, the desktops everyone was getting were Gateway Core 2 Duo machines. When I could get in most of what was left of the desktops were Gateway Pentium D machines, but after looking around and digging in the back row on a bottom shelf I found a couple of Core 2 Duo machines with no RAM. So I picked up one of the Core 2 Duo’s with no RAM, a Pentium D with 3GB of RAM, and a monitor all for $8.
The sad part of this story is after I got everything working and did some tests and research, I found the $2 Core 2 Duo that I bought is better than what I’m currently using as my desktop and “gaming” rig. So I’m gearing up for a switch-over between all the systems that I currently have. My plan is to take the Core 2 machine and make that my main desktop and “gaming” rig, then take my current desktop (an AMD Athlon 4450e) and run XenServer on that with a some virtual machines as a replacement for the P4 Linux server.
UPDATE 4/10/2012: After backing up my current desktop and getting ready to start switching hardware between machines, I found out that my graphics card won’t fit in the Core 2 machine. The graphics card requires two slots and the PCI-E slot in the Core 2 will only allow one slot due to the motherboard layout. So I’m moving forward with using the Core 2 machine as the XenServer, which limits me some since it doesn’t support hardware virtualization and the AMD does. This mostly keeps me from running any Windows VMs and since I don’t plan on running any Windows VMs anyway, it’s not that big a deal. I’ll go through later and post about my setup and configuration.