Built a Linux workstation with my son

This evening my oldest son and I put together a Linux workstation together for him to use. Hardware was sourced from my used inventory.

  • Nobilus branded case
  • Intel LGA1155 server motherboard
  • Intel Xeon E3-1220 v2 cpu
  • 16GB PC3 memory (four 4GB modules)
  • Samsung 128GB SATA SSD
  • AMD Radeon R7 graphics card

We talked about different options for Linux distributions and my son chose to go with EndeavourOS, an arch based distro.

He was interested in trying the Budgie desktop environment, though he’s used to MATE from using Ubuntu MATE for quite a few years. We installed EndeavourOS together choosing the online installer with both the Budgie and MATE desktop environments checked.

After the install, we rebooted and logged into Budgie. It worked but was a bit rough around the edges without a unified theme. The underlying Gnome theme was showing a bit.

The MATE desktop environment also didn’t have the extra polish that other distros often give it. It was very much a classic look and feel and brought back memories of when I first used Linux with Gnome 2.

We installed a few apps that he wanted to use and tested them. Performance was good. We used the pacman package manager to install the minetest game (looked at the arch wiki for reference). Graphics worked great for Minetest with 60 frames per second (we believe it is limited to 60 fps) and smooth motion with details. We also downloaded the FlightGear flight simulator AppImage but haven’t tested that yet.

Overall, it was a good experience to build a computer with my son for him to use as a workstation. His everyday carry is a ThinkPad X220t which he has been using the stylus to do drawings with Krita. The X220t works great for him for most things, but lags with the recent updates to Minetest and Flightgear. This workstation we built will handle both of those just fine and we can upgrade it further if needed.

We talked about him doing some more with FreeCAD. This workstation would be a good machine for that, too.