I'm preparing to have custom-build shop do PC to my specs (I will supply most of the components). I'm intending to have three dedicated hard disk drives (one for PC-BSD, one for Linux Mint, and one for XP Pro). Been told on other forum that its most important to pick components that are "known compatible with all three operating systems." With XP Pro, finding out exactly which CPUs, motherboards/chipsets, graphic cards, and sound cards it will work on was easy (only took couple hours of searching Google/Yahoo). With PC-BSD & Linux Mint, I have been at it for over two months, with little success. Can anyone advise how to go about finding this specific info, as I'm quickly getting frustrated!

There is a list of supported processors, system/motherboards and devises for PC-BSD 8.2 at http://www.freebsd.org/releases/8.2R/hardware.html.

The Linux Mint site has a community database that you can search by type, brand, release, etc. It can be found at http://community.linuxmint.com/hardware.

Hope this helps!

been sent to that bsd link by at least four others, and each time I look it over I see little of interest. Info on sound cards and FireWire is somewhat helpful.

Linux Mint link is good only if you have reached point where you have specific items to look up.

I do exactly what you are trying to accomplish. I am running a custom built system with an Intel S5000XVN motherboard w/ removable system drive carrier, so I can install whatever OS I want without "dual-booting" the system drive. I just shut down, pull one drive, plug in another, boot, and voila! This mobo is dated (all of 3 1/4 years old now... bleading edge when purchased, obsolete now), but it has been dead-bang reliable. Anyway, for custom systems, get a good enclosure, big power supply (750VA or better), Intel motherboard (dual processor capable is good) WITHOUT built-in video, lots of RAM (8GB or more), and an nVidia graphics board. FWIW, Intel workstation/server motherboards also include HD audio gear that works very well. No need for add-on cruft there. Anyway, I have run just about every OS you have heard of (and then some) without problems on this unit - Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, QNX, Free-DOS, etc. It has dual E5450 3GHz quad-core Penryn processors, 8GB (32GB max) RAM, nVidia 8800GT video card (512MB), 4 internal sata drives for user space, 1 removable sata drive for system/boot, and an esata add-on raid card for external storage. I still have one sata/esata connection for an additional RAID if I ever need it...

Pretty much, it is the same configuration as a top-end Apple Mac Pro, but at about $3K USD less.

I do exactly what you are trying to accomplish. I am running a custom built system with an Intel S5000XVN motherboard w/ removable system drive carrier, so I can install whatever OS I want without "dual-booting" the system drive. I just shut down, pull one drive, plug in another, boot, and voila! This mobo is dated (all of 3 1/4 years old now... bleading edge when purchased, obsolete now), but it has been dead-bang reliable. Anyway, for custom systems, get a good enclosure, big power supply (750VA or better), Intel motherboard (dual processor capable is good) WITHOUT built-in video, lots of RAM (8GB or more), and an nVidia graphics board. FWIW, Intel workstation/server motherboards also include HD audio gear that works very well. No need for add-on cruft there. Anyway, I have run just about every OS you have heard of (and then some) without problems on this unit - Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, QNX, Free-DOS, etc. It has dual E5450 3GHz quad-core Penryn processors, 8GB (32GB max) RAM, nVidia 8800GT video card (512MB), 4 internal sata drives for user space, 1 removable sata drive for system/boot, and an esata add-on raid card for external storage. I still have one sata/esata connection for an additional RAID if I ever need it...

Pretty much, it is the same configuration as a top-end Apple Mac Pro, but at about $3K USD less.

Yes, you are my 'pathfinder'! So how did you go about picking the exact components you now use (I'm assuming running multiple operating systems was your intent from the start). How did you know, for example, the Intel motherboard/chipset,CPU, etc., would be compatible with all those operating systems?

I did some research on the web for components that would meet my requirements. Then I had a local white-box system builder purchase the parts and assemble the system for me. I could have put it together easily enough myself (I've done so numerous times in the past), but I really didn't want to fuss with it. I could have put it all together for a little bit less than he charged, but since he could buy components cheaper than I can, it was not a whole lot more. A couple of hundred $$ on a $5000 system isn't all that much, which is about an hour of my consulting time. As I figured dealing with all the ordering, assembling, testing, and such would burn up at least a day or two of my time, it was a no-brainer.

So, my specs were as follows:

Motherboard:
1. Dual quad-core Intel Penryn E5450 (low-power) 3GHz processors.
2. Up to 32GB (or more) of ECC (error correction) RAM.
3. Dual gigabit ethernet ports on motherboard.
4. Plenty of (at least 6) USB ports.
5. 6 Sata drive ports
6. IDE/ATA interface for legacy DVD/CD drives.
7. Major manufacturer with good support policies, warranty, and fast turn-around on repairs/returns.

I looked at a number of boards from Intel and other manufactures, but I selected Intel's S5000XVN workstation/server board because Intel has the best Linux and Unix support of those I looked at. I wasn't too concerned about Windows since I planned on running that in a virtual machine (which I do). Don't hesitate to go to the manufacturer's web site and look at their support/downloads section for the board you are interested in, and read the specification documents carefully.

Video:
1. Dual 1920x1200 (minimum) digital DVI interfaces.
2. High performance.
3. Low power consumption.
4. Good Linux support.
5. Inexpensive (under $120 USD).

Only one board came close, the nVidia 8800GT board. It is still, after almost 3 1/2 years since I got it, one of the best performing boards on the market until you start getting into boards with prices over $500USD, and that run much hotter and consume a lot more power. I also liked the availability of CUDA software support so I can use the board for serious number crunching.

Other stuff:
1. 750-1000VA power supply (for workstations, more wattage is better wattage).
2. Audio built into the mobo was a nice-to-have. The S5000XVN has built-in HD audio. Works very well with Linux Alsa and Pulse-Audio drivers.
3. Case with enough room for 4+ internal drives, 1 externally removable system drive, and 2 CD/DVD recorders, along with good cooling capabilities.

I let my builder choose the case and power supply, as well as what brand of ECC fully buffered memory (8GB in 4x2GB sticks).

So, basically, the motherboard provides all the stuff I needed, except for video, and I definitely did NOT want built-in video hardware taking up space and burning up memory since it would have been redundant. The Intel board doesn't have any integrated video.

When I built the system, the Penryn chip was fresh out of the fab. It is also a very low power device (45watts), so it won't burn up a lot of power and generate a lot of heat, but is still very fast (3GHz).

There is a list of supported processors, system/motherboards and devises for PC-BSD 8.2 at http://www.freebsd.org/releases/8.2R/hardware.html.

The Linux Mint site has a community database that you can search by type, brand, release, etc. It can be found at http://community.linuxmint.com/hardware.

Hope this helps!

I had cause to revisit the links you gave, and on closer view I find the linux link is exactly what I have been searching for...at least a couple months now.'They' sure didn't make this site easy to find, and without your help, I might never of stumbled across it on my own! Many thanks for that link!

I did some research on the web for components that would meet my requirements. Then I had a local white-box system builder purchase the parts and assemble the system for me. I could have put it together easily enough myself (I've done so numerous times in the past), but I really didn't want to fuss with it. I could have put it all together for a little bit less than he charged, but since he could buy components cheaper than I can, it was not a whole lot more. A couple of hundred $$ on a $5000 system isn't all that much, which is about an hour of my consulting time. As I figured dealing with all the ordering, assembling, testing, and such would burn up at least a day or two of my time, it was a no-brainer.

So, my specs were as follows:

Motherboard:
1. Dual quad-core Intel Penryn E5450 (low-power) 3GHz processors.
2. Up to 32GB (or more) of ECC (error correction) RAM.
3. Dual gigabit ethernet ports on motherboard.
4. Plenty of (at least 6) USB ports.
5. 6 Sata drive ports
6. IDE/ATA interface for legacy DVD/CD drives.
7. Major manufacturer with good support policies, warranty, and fast turn-around on repairs/returns.

I looked at a number of boards from Intel and other manufactures, but I selected Intel's S5000XVN workstation/server board because Intel has the best Linux and Unix support of those I looked at. I wasn't too concerned about Windows since I planned on running that in a virtual machine (which I do). Don't hesitate to go to the manufacturer's web site and look at their support/downloads section for the board you are interested in, and read the specification documents carefully.

Video:
1. Dual 1920x1200 (minimum) digital DVI interfaces.
2. High performance.
3. Low power consumption.
4. Good Linux support.
5. Inexpensive (under $120 USD).

Only one board came close, the nVidia 8800GT board. It is still, after almost 3 1/2 years since I got it, one of the best performing boards on the market until you start getting into boards with prices over $500USD, and that run much hotter and consume a lot more power. I also liked the availability of CUDA software support so I can use the board for serious number crunching.

Other stuff:
1. 750-1000VA power supply (for workstations, more wattage is better wattage).
2. Audio built into the mobo was a nice-to-have. The S5000XVN has built-in HD audio. Works very well with Linux Alsa and Pulse-Audio drivers.
3. Case with enough room for 4+ internal drives, 1 externally removable system drive, and 2 CD/DVD recorders, along with good cooling capabilities.

I let my builder choose the case and power supply, as well as what brand of ECC fully buffered memory (8GB in 4x2GB sticks).

So, basically, the motherboard provides all the stuff I needed, except for video, and I definitely did NOT want built-in video hardware taking up space and burning up memory since it would have been redundant. The Intel board doesn't have any integrated video.

When I built the system, the Penryn chip was fresh out of the fab. It is also a very low power device (45watts), so it won't burn up a lot of power and generate a lot of heat, but is still very fast (3GHz).

I'll admit I'm curious about what sort of benefit comes of having two gigabit ethernet ports?

Anyway, if I fail to realize my design, I'll copycat your setup as closely as possible. The fact you consider it 'oldhat' is not a problem for me, as I'm not into the 'latest&greatest&biggest&best' viewpoint...but do want to rule out my specs first:
case: Definitely want full-size tower; probably 'Antec' or 'shuttle' brand.
power supply; 750VA; probably 'Antec' or 'Enermax'.
CPU: Phenom II X4 or Athlon II X4; if neither works, then I'll fall back to your
chosen one. I'm not a fan of Intel, so using that brand is last resort.
motherboard/chipset: ATX form factor. Non-integrated type. Expansion slots: as many as
possible. Dual-BIOS (Gigabyte? Asus?);although not required,
BIOS support of 'hard disk autodetection' would be great! PCIe,
SATA2 (or at least SATA), eSATA, FireWire, USB 2.0, & gigabit
ethernet.
hard drives: three dedicated HDDs (hopefully with separate bootloaders). HDD#1:
regular/internal sort, 500GB or less, for Linux Mint. HDD#2: SATA
mobile rack type, 500GB or less, for PC-BSD 8.1. HDD#3: SATA mobile-
rack, 750GB, for XP Pro.
floppy drive: I'm told XP Pro requires this in certain emergencies, so guess I have
to have it.
optical drive: I'm thinking Plextor PX880SA.
DVD burner: all-format DVD/CD combo drive; probably 'Plextor' brand.
memory: As much as PC can accomadate (not into adding more later). Probably 'Crucial'
or 'Kingston'.
grachic card: nVIDIA I guess. Was hoping for ATI/AMD, but I hear its risky for BSD,
so whatever works.
tv tuner: Would prefer graphic card/tv tuner combined, but I'm told thats risky too,
so again, whatever works!
sound card: Would like Asus Xonar D2.
Aside from the above, I need component connectors to hook PC into my LCD TV & DVD recorder setup. I hear most motherboards & graphic cards no longer have this...but saw mention of some sort of I/O card that installs 'legacy' connectors like component, s-video, etc.

Anyway, I'm very interested in any specific tips on how I would "research on the web for components that would meet my requirements." Been using this book 'Google and Other Search Engines', but had minimal results over past two months, so researching guidance would be appreciated! Thanks to link from 'CleoTek', I now have starting point to compare hardware required by Linux Mint to that required by XP Pro, but PC-BSD will continue to be a pain(hardware info is either lacking or archaic).

If you was going to build this PC, how would you go about researching the components to make certain everything will function (preferably at optimal performance), with all three operating systems?

1. CD/DVD drives: I've used Plextor CD/DVD drives in the past. They are good quality devices. Right now, I think my drives are NEC units. No problems in 3 years of use, and 100's of discs burned.
2. Memory: both Kingston and Crucial are quality brands. Either should be fine. Do, however, get a motherboard that supports fully buffered ECC RAM, and get the appropriate memory sticks. It is a very little bit more expensive, but you will be protected from system crashes due to memory failure, random cosmic rays flipping bits, etc. Mine has saved my bacon a number of times.
3. Video Card: Both AMD and nVidia have killer cards. I prefer nVidia because the do support Linux systems well, and because they are killer devices for number crunching.
4. TV card/tuner - there are a number of cards that Linux supports. Don't have one, so no personal advice here.
5. Sound card: the build-in sound card on my Dell laptop (D630), and Intel motherboard both work just fine.
6. Floppy drive: fergeddaboutit... These days, if you need a bootable device to run stuff like Seagate's disc diagnostics, or such, then use a USB thumb drive. That's what I do. However, if you have a bunch of old data on floppies, then an external usb-connected unit might be in order, but don't bother with an internal one.

Everything else seems pretty reasonable. All motherboards today have USB 2.0, most have gigabit ethernet, most all will have Sata 2.0 (or now 3.0) ports, and all have PCIe/PCI-X slots. Get one with a PCIe x16 slot for the video card. Disc drives are cheap, but although I have been a firm Seagate customer for 30 years, I am disappointed in their QA recently. Their drives run hot, and don't have adequate spare sectors for their size. Their 1TB and larger Barracuda drives don't have any more spares than their 500GB drives, and they run really hot. Anything over 500GB at a 7200rpm speed now I am getting Western Digital drives. They run a LOT cooler (about 25C cooler), have 2-4x as many spare sectors, and seem to be more reliable. That said, I have been a consultant for Seagate in the past, so you know that I would not say this if I didn't feel it to be true, and important for system reliability. I've had 2 Seagate drives fail in the past year. Yes, they were replaced under warranty, but the time lost to backup, recover, and restore data is not cheap.

That said, my 500GB Seagate Barracuda drives have been completely reliable. My problems have all been with their drives of 1 and 1.5TB in size. My WD drives are 2TB, and still run 25C cooler than the 1.5TB Seagate drives I have. Monitoring the health of the drives, I suspect I will be replacing a few more of the Seagate drives in the coming year.