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2012/05/24

Thoughts on my Setup

My coworker has recently moved from an years-old HP hooptie of a PC to a modern hotrod. He doesn't need it — his work occurs on the servers and clusters, not on his workstation, so this is just a nice place to store his xterms and browser — but now I have a mid-to-late XP-era machine that's demonstrably faster than the one-core Dell clamshell that holds my xterms.

My Desktop
This is my setup right now:
  • Dell Optiplex 755 with hard RAID and 8GB RAM running Windows 7 64bit, with a DVI output (right screen)
  • Dell Optiplex 260 with 2 GB RAM running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (left screen)
  • Synergy set up for keyboard and mouse sharing across the two machines, with the Linux as the server and the Windows as the client
  • An IOGear USB KVM switch which allows me to go to the Windows when I need to do something I can't do with keyboard sharing (mostly for admin work and login) 
  • An audio pass-through setup in the Linux machine which receives the audio out from the Windows machine. I also have an audio cable free that I can use with my laptop or Android phone (not pictured here, as it's taking the picture.)
  • I have a Dell USB keyboard which is reasonably good and a previously-blogged Logitech Wireless Touchpad. One of the inspirations for me going back and doing this is Vivek Haldar's post on his setup, focusing more on the ergonomic health of the setup rather than the compu-bling part of it, and I think I can credit a great part of my continued wrist health to my preference for trackballs over the last decade, and I think and hope the Trackpad will continue. (I'll be getting a wireless keyboard soon, too, so the wires across my desk will be fewer in the coming weeks.
This is a reasonably good setup, but I do have issues with it.
  • The audio situation is OK but not perfect. Plugging in the audio source brings attenuation of the bass frequencies, and seeing as I try to use techno and related music as my programming music, the bass frequencies are a big part of what I want.
  • I have two one-head PCs right now, and that means a hard distinction between what goes on in one and what goes on in the other.
  • As mentioned, I cannot do admin and login over Synergy, so I have to switch over via the KVM a fair amount, and sometimes stop and restart Synergy so can get my keyboard back.
The easiest move would be to swap the old Dell for the HP, but I'm thinking the smart move would be to get a two-head video card for the newer PC. The issue there would be that I then can't SSH into my Linux desktop (where I have all the tools and configuration that I like) to make changes from home. I'd have to set up VPN and use RDP, which is nowhere near as lightweight, and put more of my config on our servers. I could set up a Linux development environment in VirtualBox, but then I'd have problems SSHing into my desktop. And I could wipe and reinstall, but that would be destructive of what I have, so I'm largely unwilling.

So, I'm thinking the move is 
  • Set up Linux on the HP, move what I can of my development setup there.
  • Change the older Dell into the local Git server I've been wanting. Keeping your changes is all well and good until your hard drive dies, right?
  • Get a better video card for the newer Dell, which would allow me to have two heads on the Windows machine.
  • Use RDP or SSH (depending on need) to get into the Linux machine as needed. 
Thoughts?