This is article is a response/expansion on Computers: Custom Built vs. Store Bought, published on July 31, 2005.

The goal of this article seems to be to encourage “gamers” (those that are very active in computer games) to look in to building their own computers rather than buying prepackaged computers, and it succeeds very well. It seems to be very logical for those that are in the market for a new computer to think about building their own system rather than purchasing one that is pre-assembled. The assembling of the information can be done from the site for the perfect model of development. The work of the staff with the latest technology will be excellent and perfect. 

As Thomas Roberts mentions in the article it is relatively simple to get into the hardware of computers. One can begin to understand the basics in a very short amount of time. By searching a little and looking for good components, as Mr. Roberts suggests, one can build a better system for much cheaper.

To continue with the topic, it should be noted that one of the most helpful benefits of building one’s own system is being able to set up a dual boot system. Many gamers will not consider setting Linux or any other type of operating system (OS) other than Windows on their computer, preferring to add power and components to a Windows system to make up for whatever the OS is lacking. But in this day and age of viruses and trojans and various other Windows attacks, it is logical to try a slightly different tact.

Adding Linux to a computer can be extremely helpful and beneficial in the long term and short. Many gamers prefer Windows games but adding a small amount of space for Linux can allow the gamer to tap into the ever expanding world of Linux and it’s games. But the primary caveat to using Linux for every day operation, e.g. letting Linux take care of internet surfing and emailing, is that it can eliminate any and all risk that occurs from all of the malicious software (e.g. Windows viruses) that a computer user can be exposed to. Granted, in the distant future there may be malicious software for Linux (it basically does not exist now). Even then, Linux’s format makes it more difficult to allow malicious software to be installed than Windows does. Linux is definitely an option to explore and it is remarkably easy to do if one is building his/her own system. It should also be mentioned that the latest copy of Windows XP is around $100, while a good copy of Ubuntu Linux (as with almost all Linux OS’s) is free.

When setting up a system, there comes a point when the OS needs to be installed. All the hardware has been put in the right place, the bios have been set up, all the bells and whistles and lights have come on when they were supposed to, so it’s time to add an OS that gets this thing running. This would be the ideal time to set up what’s called a “dual boot,” or a computer with two OS’s. Here’s how:

First add Windows (in this case, Windows XP). Windows has the habit of erasing everything on the hard drive, so you do not want to add Linux first. Run through the procedure that is laid out in the instructions, with a pause when it comes to setting up the partitions. If you’ve made it this far, you should know what a partition is, but in case there are those reading this article that don’t know, it is basically a section of the hard drive. In the Windows instructions it will ask how you want to install Windows XP. Pick the area you want to add Windows on and pick that you want to set up the space (or partitions) that are going to have Windows on them. Then, once you are in the next screen, partition however you want, but select some space for Linux. Linux does not need much space to operate, but 10-15 gigabytes of space will be more than sufficient.

For example, I want to set up a hard drive that has 80 gig’s on it. I select the option to partition the space that I want XP to be on. I see that I have 80 gig’s available, but I only want to have XP on 65 gig’s of the drive and save the rest for Linux. So, I type in 65 gig’s, or 65,000 megabytes.

After I’ve set up the partition the way I want, I tell Windows to continue with the installation process. It will then set up XP as if it were a 65 gig hard drive rather than an 80 gig drive.

Once XP has been set up, it’s time to add Linux. You would insert the Linux disk (if it’s Ubuntu, then it will be only one disk, akin to Windows) and go through the set up process. Ubuntu has the pleasant habit of assuming that you might also have Windows on the hard drive, so it makes it very simple to create a dual boot. When it comes time to partition the drive for Linux it will ask, “Do you want to use the available space to set up Ubuntu?” and this is exactly the option that should be chosen. Linux uses a different filing system than XP (XP uses NTFS while Ubuntu uses ext. 3 filing system) but Ubuntu will set the partitions up for you from this point on.

At one point the Grub boot loader needs to be set up. Grub is the thing that runs right before the OS comes to life when the computer starts. During the installation process, at one point near the final stages, Ubuntu will ask you, “We see that you have another operating system on here. Do you want Grub to set up so that you can boot from either Ubuntu or XP?” to which you say, “Yes, please put this information on the master boot record (MBR).” Done.

Now that it is all finished, when the system starts it will run Grub and give you the option of picking either Windows or Ubuntu to run. Pick whichever you want because you now have a complete dual boot system set up. Surf safely on Linux or game away on XP; it’s your choice.