Computers are frustrating. Simply shopping for one is enough to drive a sane person mad, and if you want a Linux machine, you might as well sign up for therapy now. Aside from relatively low hardware prices, the cards are stacked against you. A confusing barrage of specifications and incompatibilities awaits you in your quest, and along the way, you must often confront extremely lame advertising for what are often the ugliest examples of industrial design in history.

This chapter is a field guide to hardware selection. Although hardware is in a constant state of flux, the good news is that an old adage applies: The more things change, the more they stay the same. If you can see computer hardware in more abstract ...

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