New toys -- Dell Precision 650n

Posted on Feb 10, 2004

FedEx dropped off a bunch of boxes yesterday, filled with a couple of Dell Precision 650n workstations and monitors. The 'n' suffix means that these machines are pre-installed with Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS (that's the workstation version).

These are the first workstation style x86 machines that I've had the chance to play with for several years and the first time I've ever used Red Hat Linux. Both are interesting.

The Precision 650n reminds me quite a lot of the Sun Blade 2000 that I have and use every day. They share similar build features, both are larger than your average personal computer and both are quiet when idle and can get noisy when busy (no good idea how they compare in this respect yet). The 650n looks like a nice machine.

Red Hat Linux is impressive. Integration into our local NIS environment was simple, resulting in my home directory appearing when I log in. The system is very usable and features most of the tools necessary to pass the day (Gnome, emacs,, ...). Visually Gnome is pleasant with anti-aliased fonts, sensible colours and theming.

So far my only problem is that attempts to sign up to the Red Hat Network have proved fruitless. It all appears to have worked properly, but the machine won't download updates. I'm sure that it will be straightforward to sort out.

Today we'll see how Solaris installs and then, perhaps, Debian.

Oh, the monitors. They are Dell 2001FP - 20inch LCD 1600x1200 pixel. Very nice.