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Choosing a Computer for Use at UNT

By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Associate Director of Academic Computing

Every semester I get mail from parents who are wondering what sort of computer they should purchase for their incoming freshman. Below is an example (real) of such an exchange. Perhaps it can help you in answering this question for yourself and/or others who might ask.

> Dr. Baczewski:
>
> My daughter, will be a freshman at UNT next year. I was
> wondering if there is an officially sanctioned computer system for UNT
> students. We are familiar with both Macs and PCs and probably will get
> her a notebook. My questions to you are:
>
> 1. Is there an official brand preference for the university?

The University does not specify a preference on computer brand or operating
system for students.

> 2. If not,
> a) is there one brand that experience shows is easier to use/more
> compatible with campus networks?
> b) what do most students/faculty use?
> c) is there an "unofficial" brand preference?

I'll attempt to answer all three of these at once... As is true in the
general computer population, most computers on the UNT campus are PCs
running some version of Windows. However, we also support Macintosh and
Linux systems and all operate equally well on our campus networks. The
choice of computer may be influenced by the student's major. Visual Arts,
Music, and Journalism all make heavy use of Macintosh computers in their
curriculum and labs. You would have to look very hard to find a Macintosh
in our College of Business. :)

So, if the your daughter's major is not one of the
three I mentioned, and she is self sufficient in supporting Windows, I'd
probably suggest a Windows PC as the default choice. On the other hand, I
find that Macintosh systems are easier to use and support, generally have a
longer useful life, are much less prone to security problems, and can still
perform the same general tasks required for college courseware.

> 3. On the software side, is there more and/or better campus support for
> Windows or Macintosh applications and operating system?

We don't generally provide software for students, but Macs and PCs are
equally supported for institutional use in this regard.

> 4. Are there wireless networks on campus? If so, do they work better
> with PC or Mac notebooks?

Most of out major Academic buildings, our Union Building, and our Libraries
support wireless access. Any standard 803.11b device can make an
authenticated connection to our wireless network (see
http://wireless.unt.edu/ for more info).

> I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions for me.
>
> Thank you for your help,
>
> Soon to be UNT Parent

I hope I have helped. We do have relationships with some vendors for
educational purchase of computers. See
 http://www.unt.edu/helpdesk/purchase/ for more details.