If I get paid for some recent work, I think I’ll have enough dough for a new computer. This is good because while I have a fleet of computers, they’re all old and getting older. My newest one is about 3 years old — about the usable lifespan of a computer. I’m trying to decide what computer to get next and am soliciting your input.

So far in my life, I’ve never purchased a laptop for myself. The two that I have came from 1) an old job and 2) my mom who pretty much just stopped using the one she bought for herself a couple of years ago. In buying hardware for myself, I always wanted the greater computing power for the buck that a desktop provides. Currently, thanks to my wireless setup and a general need to be where the action is in the house, I’ve found myself using my laptop(s) much more, whether computing on the back porch or in my new make-shift office (AKA table) in the living room. That said, once set up in one of those locations, I don’t tend to move it around much, so I’m still not sure how essential laptopage is. So, that’s the first decision that needs to be made: Laptop vs. Desktop.

The next decision is Mac vs. Wintel. I have a soft spot for Macs — the first computer I ever bought was a Macintosh SE, and I was the Apple Student Rep in college. But I’ve not owned a Mac since they made the transition from the MC6800 chip set to the PowerPC. Regardless of this decision, I will at least be dual-booting into Ubuntu (or some other distro, but I’ve been liking Ubuntu of late). I have one resource for finding out about personal experiences of Ubuntu on Mac, but I think he has a much higher tolerance than I do for trying to make half-baked packages work. (Hi, Victor) If anyone else who reads me has an opinion of Ubuntu (or other distro) on PPC, I’d like to hear it.

Another factor is that I’m a gamer. Fortunately, I’m not a bleeding- (or even leading-) edge gamer. I don’t have to have to be able to play the latest high-poly-count FPS (First-Person Shooter) at 60 FPS (Frames Per Second). But I was unable to even install EA’s LotR: Battle for Middle Earth on my current Windows PC, so I am going to need to catch up on that front before too long.

So, I’m looking for a certain amount of portability. I don’t need to be able to journal in bed (as I happen to be at the moment) but, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to move said machine from office to living room to back porch. I already have a flat panel monitor, so at least if I get a desktop, I won’t be trying to lug a CRT around. That said, I’d really like to have a dual-head setup. I’d love to be typing in my “IDE” (emacs) on one monitor with a syntax guide for whatever the language-du-jour is up in the other.

So, here are my basic computing uses, in order of either frequency or importance:

1) Programming — emacs. I’ve tried emacs under Windows, and just don’t like it. I haven’t really tried a native OSX emacs, so don’t know how it would fare, though I suspect I’d like it well enough.

2) Email/PIM — currently, I use Novell Ximian Evolution and like it fine, but have had trouble getting my Treo 650 to sync with it under (Redhat) linux, and am not wedded to it. Oh, and I wish I had the ldap object class defintion for the contact manager in Evolution.

4) Surfing/Blogging – Firefox — exists just fine under OSX, Windows, and Linux

5) Photo/Graphic manipulation — Gimp’s getting better, but I still have a preference for photoshop – but $600 is a LOT of money for one piece of software, even one as useful as photoshop. I also need to hook up my camera; Anything with USB will suffice but a media reader for the xD card would be cool.

6) Remote access — I list this low because it’s not really a factor. I won’t be getting a platform that doesn’t have an ssh/sftp client whether shell (Linux/Mac) or PuTTY(Win)

6) Gaming — see gaming paragraph above

Oh yeah, and quiet. It doesn’t have to be silent, but I’d like a computer of a lesser hum.

How would you crack that nut? Even better, what do you recommend for me in this situation? Thanks!