A LAMP stack running any old PC, power, ethernet and port forwarding was (and continues to be) all you need to run a website.


As a broke student I couldn’t just buy something nice and fast, so I cobbled together some old discarded PC parts from school. I ended up with a 132 MHz Pentium + 1.6 GB spread across two very slow hard drives, running Gentoo. I actually had to use distcc to compile Gentoo on another PC because it was just too slow otherwise.

Historical onpaws.com hardware
The specs of the beige PC running the original site.

I still remember how you would type onpaws.com into a browser and the CPU would peg at 100%; loading the WordPress index page took 4-5 seconds before any of my content would even show up.


I managed to scrounge some marginally better hardware this year. PHP+Apache benefitted substantially from a noticeable speed increase. I also had the good fortune of using a much faster hard drive which was later successfully transplanted into the next few machines. (Try that on Windows XP.)

Specs were:

  • Pentium 3 733 MHz
  • 384 MB PC100 RAM
  • 160 GB IDE HD


My roommate asked me to fix his broken computer and in return I inherited it for several months. At this point, Gentoo had run its course but I had enough waiting for the cumbersome compile times. It was time to switch to a popular binary based distro: Ubuntu.

  • Pentium 4 1.8 GHz
  • 256 MB DDR333
  • 160 GB HD (same one…)

Of course, he eventually wanted his machine back. But by the time I got to Seattle I landed an internship and could afford some more modern hardware. This time around it was:

  • Sempron 64 2800+
  • 512MB DDR400
  • 160GB HD (still trucking)
  • 300GB HD (to trial some successful media hosting experiments)

Late 2007-

Normally when your power goes out at home, its an inconvenience. But when you’re running a website at home a power outage can boot your site and online presence right off the net.

At this point I elected to simply put the responsibility in someone else’s hands: pay-as-you-go hosting with a decent provider: NearlyFreeSpeech.net. It’s shared hosting and it’s not as fast for me to develop on, but it’s worth it simply not having to shoulder the hardware burden anymore.