No laughing, I'm not here to argue with people, just answer questions and give advice - I don't argue with people on the internet, I've been here long enough, haha!
I didn't intend it to be discouraging or insulting, just a well-warranted warning, because all too often on the internet people will answer a question with no background and unleash somebody on the world - more often than not they have no context for their plan or actions and, as I saw countless times; do more harm than good. I didn't intend for it to sound like I was saying "you're just some guy" - quite the opposite, my intention was to make sure you weren't. That you had experience, that you had practice, that you weren't just going to wake up one day and think "I'm good with computers, therefore I should fix them" which is an absurdly common line of thought. I may sound jaded, and I may very well be, but my points are all very valid, as I've had to clean up messes made by inexperienced people more times than I can count.
One fun thing - if you build a computer well enough, it's actually really easy to not have to be their tech support for life. There's only 1 guy who's computer I've ever had to fix myself, and I've built dozens. It just takes the right mentality and building a solid computer from day 1. If you don't mess around with $500 computers and are clear on the cost of your repairs vs those of others, you won't have to deal with as many entitled people as you would expect.
As far as Linux goes, I can mess up somebody's computer with nothing more than Terminal and a Text editor. The generally overlooked rule is the more powerful the tool, the easier it is to do damage with it. A table saw will cut wood faster, but it'll do more damage to you than a hand-saw if you aren't careful. The most common use of Linux would be G-Parted; it is extremely useful, and very powerful, but if you're not careful, it'll mess up their partition map and it'll be a lot of work to recover, if you can at all. I also used it a couple times to force-flash firmware onto parts that were never meant to have their firmware flashed (primarily wireless cards that were acting up and I couldn't find a reasonably priced replacement)
Most HDDs you'll see are only capable of 50-80MB/s max and are usually running at much lower speed than that because they are handling a lot of small files. i3's will be more than enough power to max out a couple at a time.
My concern with AMD for a computer that will see a lot of up-time is historically (from my mass repair days) is they are more prone to failure. I dealt with dozens of bad AMD chips and only a single bad Intel chip (sadly it was a QX9775 so it was a PITA to hunt down a replacement chip for his Skull Trail rig). This isn't saying AMD is bad, I'm just saying they are more prone to failure - it's still rare, but less-so. I'm sure somebody will dis-agree with me, but you asked opinions and that's mine.
Other things of note: Cheap hot-swap bays are more headache than the money they save you short term. If you do any wire management on the PSU in your trouble-shooting computer, leave a SATA power cable totally loose (eventually you're going to have to plug in a hard drive to your computer, while it's still in it's old case). Buy a good PSU tester (my weapon of choice
). Keep a basic PCIx16 graphics card, that does NOT require a PCI power cable handy. Keep an extra gigabit NIC on hand for testing in people's computers. And finally, and I cannot stress this enough, there are three rules for computers to never work on at all (other than to pull a HDD from): 1) Beige, 2) it has a DVD-ROM and/or CD-RW drive only, 3) 1GB or less of RAM.Edited by CTRLurself - 4/10/14 at 2:37pm