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My old dev box that runs openSUSE 11.3 has been running out of steam recently.  It has 4GB of RAM and with the projects that I am busy with at the moment, the machine started to swap quickly.  So I began to look for options to increase the RAM.
The system was an Intel, Core2 Duo based system with DDR2 RAM.  The motherboard only have 2 slots, which houses two 2GB chips.  So in order to increase the RAM I had to find two 4GB DDR2 chips.  This proved to be a problem.
The only 4GB chips I could get was DDR3.  This meant that I would have to change the motherboard and CPU too,.  This could be a costly affair.  I found a new motherboard and CPU that was not too expensive, but it is AMD based. AMD Athlon II AM3 CPU with two 4GB DDR3 RAM chips and a motherboard to drive it.
Now, the problem was that my current system was Intel based, and the new one was AMD based, so the existing drivers would not work.  Fortunately I am using Linux.
I swapped the hardware and fired up the computer, expecting to see a lot of failures and a kernel panic.  Normally that would require a boot from the rescue CD to install new drivers, etc or do do an OS upgrade to get all the correct drivers configured. But none of that.  The system booted and loaded the appropriate drivers as it needed.  Only the newtorking did not work as the new network interface had to be set up.  This took all of 1 minute and we were back to normal.
This is one of the reasons why I love Linux.  The drivers are all available, so even if you swop hardware, the system will just load the drivers it needs.  Worst case is if you do not have all drivers installed.  Then I just boot from the installation media and do a software upgrade.  Upgrade from openSUSE 11.3 to openSUSE 11.3.  This allows the installer to go through all the steps and install the missing drivers and configure the ramdisk for booting.  Even this would take about 15 minutes.
No need to re-install everything.
This particular system is my dev box.  I think I originaly built it with SUSE 8.x or maybe 9.x.  It started out on AMD hadware.  The early Athlons.  Since then it has been upgraded through all the diffrent OS upgrades to openSUSE 11.3.  It does not have any of it's original hardware.  Over time I swapped motherboards, CPU, disks, everything.  I think even the case has been swapped once.  It started with two 160GB IDE drives.  Now it has two 300GB SATAII drives and one 160GB SATAII drives.  No IDE drives anymore.  The architecture went from AMD to another AMD to Intel and now back to AMD.  All this with the same basic installation.  I have not done a re-install on it.  Just upgrades.  Even the disk swaps was done without re-installing.  I just transferred the data from one disk to another, fire up the system with a live CD to install the boot loader and set up fstab.
Through all these changes, the system is still stable and running fine.  :-)
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