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LAC Portland Frequent Questions & Answers



Software Options and Configuration

Which GNU/Linux distribution should I choose?

It depends on your experience and on what your intentions are for your new system. All distributions can be made to behave essentially the same, for they all use the same kernel (Linux) and much of the same software (e.g. GNU programs,, etc.). Differences between distributions appear in such places as installation method, general system configuration (configuration programs and location of configuration files), and software installation and software package management.

For customers new to the GNU/Linux operating system, we recommend Ubuntu, Debian, or Trisquel, all with which we offer a system restore procedure that puts ones system back in the fully-functional state it was in when delivered. All three distributions offer easy software installation using the APT package management system and have significantly many more packages available than most non-Debian based distributions.

If you want a computer running 100% free software, we suggest shopping at All computers purchased through are shipped with 100% free software, pre-installed with a completely free GNU/Linux distribution such as Trisquel.

We urge you to contact LAC Portland to discuss this question if you are undecided.

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Will you install more than one GNU/Linux distribution in my computer?

Yes. There is no installation fee for the first distribution in any system. For each additional distribution, we charge a $50.00 installation fee (i.e. installing 2 distributions is $50, installing 3 distributions is $100, etc.).

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Can I have a plain text rather than graphical login?

Yes. If you prefer a plain text login, just let us know by replying to the email you will receive when you place your order.

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What partition scheme will you use for the hard drive(s) in my new computer?

We will partition your hard drives however you want. Upon receiving your order, we will review the hardware and operating choices in your system and make a recommendation for your approval or modification. If you let us know how you intend to use your new LAC Portland system in your response to our initial configuration approval request (sent by e-mail), we will work with you to determine an optimal partition scheme. For flexibility, data protection, and often enhanced performance, we install and fully support software and hardware RAID, LVM, and disk encryption upon request.

For a single disk, multi-user, standalone system, we typically recommend a multi-partition scheme like:

/      50 gigs
swap   one fourth of system RAM
/home  the rest
Having a separate /home partition is a good idea for a few reasons, primarily so one can format the system partitions at a later time (e.g. for replacing or reinstalling the operating system) while leaving personal, non-OS data intact (data in /home).

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What file system will you use in my new computer?

We use Ext4 by default, and we recommend using Ext4 in most of our systems. At your request, we will build your machine using a different journaled file system such as XFS with any GNU/Linux distribution. If you prefer a file system other than Ext4, let us know. The best time to make this request is when responding to the configuration approval request e-mail that we send immediately after receiving your order.

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I want to use my new computer as a Web server. Will you install Apache? If so, how much extra will this cost?

Yes, and we currently do not charge for this service (Apache is a standard package in every common GNU/Linux distribution). The more specific you are about what you need your machine to do when you get it, the closer it will be to a state allowing you to simply plug it in, turn it on, and get to work immediately upon receipt. Again, if you want a piece of software installed and configured, just send e-mail to us and ask.

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I want to use my new computer as a file server. Will you install and configure Samba so it will run in my network ``out of the box''? If so, how much extra will this cost?

Yes, and we currently do not charge for this service (Samba is a standard package in every common GNU/Linux distribution). To ease integration of your new LAC Portland file server into your network, we will ask specific questions early in the system build process, the answers to which we will need in order to configure Samba for your environment.

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Hardware Options and Compatibility

Can I get RAID or LVM?

Yes. Let us know that you are interested in using RAID and/or LVM. If you want to determine whether RAID or LVM will be useful for you, let us know, and we will work with you to investigate whether or not you will benefit from a RAID or LVM configuration. Software and hardware RAID and LVM is available in every GNU/Linux box using free, native GNU/Linux software. All RAID system ship with RAID array monitoring enabled, so you will be notified in the event of a RAID status change. We offer optional hot swap hardware for maximum uptime.

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I want a [part] in my machine, which is not an option on any of your system configuration pages. Do you offer machines with [part]?

Usually, yes. Just let us know what you want, and we will determine if a Linux-compatible [part] exists and is available through our supply chain. If so, we will promptly send a detailed price quotation for you to review.

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Do you sell hardware?

Integrated into systems, yes; by itself, no. However, if you ask, we will recommend reputable PC component vendors with reasonable prices that do business with end users.

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LAC Portland Methods and Packaging

Click for details about the LAC Portland system build process.

When will my new computer ship?

Our systems generally ship in 5 business days depending on the system type and amount of customization. When you place your order, you will receive a link to a page at which you can review your configuration requests, check your order status, and see the estimated shipping date.

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Post-sale Software Questions

In spite of the fact that I have [huge number] megs of RAM, free reports that 90% is used, and my box is idle. Do I have a problem with my system?

No, this is good and normal. Large blocks of memory are held on to for disk write buffering, and applications remain cached, for example. This is given up to new applications when needed. Add buffers and cached to free and get a more accurate estimate of memory that is "free".

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