Archive for March, 2010

I caved in to

March 30, 2010

.. building my own system. I spent 3-4 hours putting together the whole thing in a free-after-rebate Ultra Wizard case and Ultra PSU, only to find out that the (brand new) 7-year-old PSU wasn’t really working… great. So I put it into the Antec Sonata III + EarthWatts 500W PSU (not that I care about saving power at work…)

I’m using the ECS NForce4M-A v3.0 with AMD X2 6000+. There’s 3 PCI slots and I got 3 PCI 8400GS. Fry’s also has a PCI-E 8400GS for $15 AR this week so I plan to get that too for 8 possible outputs all with the same GPU.

But when I put all 3 cards in, the motherboard would show the GPU “BIOS” screen and reboot over and over. Not really sure why.. then I put my PCI-E 7600gt in place of a 3rd PCI card and it still happened. Shuffled the cards around and it still happened… sigh. That ruins my plans for 3-4 cards on this board, but maybe I can fix it with a BIOS update or something.

Installed 9.10 i386 (oops, 8gb ram and only 2gb usable) with / on a 40gb drive and /home on a 500gb one. The 500gb was coming up as /dev/sda so I had to be a bit careful as to where the MBR was getting installed and stuff. When 10.04 comes I’ll remember to install amd64.

The machine runs seti@home too, but it looks like the stock HSF does not run too well with it. Going around 72C with the case fans on low; I set them to high before leaving the office and it dropped to about 65C. I’ll change the HSF later. Ubuntu 10.04 is coming out in about a month and I might take it home to upgrade. The machine that the company gave me (AMD XP 3000+) is running at 65C as well; now it’s just sitting with power and LAN connected (no keyboard/mouse/monitor/etc.)

4 displays is hard. Actually, just multiple heads is hard. Unless you’re willing to cave in to Xinerama…. NVidia TwinView supports graphics acceleration but only for 2 outputs on 1 card. I will be using Xinerama with all 4 displays for now. nvidia-settings supports configuring them all with Xinerama in a GUI. TwinView only supports 2 displays and “separate X screens” leads to a real disaster. It looks like you have different GNOME sessions for each X screen… yeah.

I have 2 Dell E178FPb and 1 Hyundai L70S, all VGA-only. The company gave me a Princeton 19″ DVI+VGA monitor which was a lot bigger than the rest, but I swapped it out with a Dell E176FPb in the lab (no one cares). So now I have 3 17″ Dells which all line up and this fat 17″ Hyundai (more like 현대 ;) .)

“The Daily WTF of ServerEngines”

March 22, 2010

Well-named by my coworker and old classmate.

$i = 1;

Everyone at every company has seen something like this, at some point or another.. yeah, WTF.

Might be better to just

March 22, 2010

Use the PC that they give me, and add a $40 PCI 8400GS to get 2 more outputs..

Downsides.. XP3000 is slow, but not horrible. Lack of gigabit is slow, but not horrible. 80gb HD means music subset instead of music collection.

Upsides: Less complication, less money spent. Minimal TODO. No need to figure out equalizer settings again.

The way to (cheap) multiple displays

March 19, 2010

Trying to build a 4-VGA system with flexibility/future expandability.

Cheap PCI-E cards that do the job are $20-30. They usually come with HDMI+DVI+VGA and can do hardware accel x264.

Just popped by Fry’s and saw that PCI 8400GS is $60. The PCI-E version was like $40. Don’t think I should be obligated to get the same GPU (just same drivers) but it would be nice. That makes a $100 2 VGA 2 DVI-I 2 HDMI system.

If I wanted to step down the PCI card I could get a MX4000 for $30. It would probably do its job but stepping down that much for 30 bucks .. I’m torn between the choices.

PCIE+PCI or PCI+PCI seems like a better/more flexible solution than 2xPCIE or anything that depends on motherboard output.

That being said, the motherboard shouldn’t have integrated video (it’d be a waste.) It can be full ATX or mATX because I plan to have an ATX case for it anyways. Guess that’s making me lean towards the nForce4M-A with AMD X2 4200.

I have a PCI-E 7600gt already but it’s kinda borked. The device works but the image comes out really strange. I guess I should try the bake trick to “restore” it. It’d be uncomfortable having an unstable device at work though…. if it ever doesn’t work I’d be screwed for the day. Hrm.

AMD X2 4200+
ECS nForce4M-A
Ultra Wizard?
Maxtor 500gb
4x2gb ddr2-800
pci-e nvidia with 2 analog 1 digital (7600gt or 8400gs or gf210?)
pci nvidia with 2 analog 1 digital (8400gs $60? mx4000 $30 but -1 output?)
Ubuntu 10.04, nvidia restricted drivers, xorg.conf for multihead

which means i need another mobo/cpu to replace these 2 that are in use already..? put asus motherboard back to phenom ii system and put gigabyte+le1640?

refresh the list now:

ECS NForce4M-A + AMD X2 4200+
Gigabyte MA74GM-S2 + AMD 4850e
MSI K9N6PGM2-V2 + AMD LE-1640
Asus M3N78-VM + AMD Phenom II X2 550
MSI K9N6PGM2-V2 + AMD Sempron 140
Asus Crosshair II Formula + AMD X2 6000+

ECS NForce4M-A + AMD X2 6000+ (work multi-display multi-head)
Asus M3N78-VM + AMD Phenom II X2 550 + tuner (me)
MSI K9N6PGM2-V2 + AMD X2 4200+ (dad)
Gigabyte MA74GM-S2 + AMD Sempron 140 + ATI HD4350 + tuner (HTPC)
MSI K9N6PGM2-V2 + AMD X2 4850e (sister)
Asus Crosshair II Formula (Sell)
AMD LE-1640 (extra)

Motherboards with onboard DVI+VGA

March 13, 2010

.. tend to be DVI-D + VGA. That is, the DVI port is digital-only so you can’t use a standard DVI-VGA adapter. You can only use those with DVI-I. DVI-I is the “DVI” connection that has analog signal pins also.

“I” is for Integrated digital+analog pins in 1 plug and “D” is for digital-only. “A” exists for analog only but I’ve never actually seen that in use.

On a HDMI+DVI+VGA board I was thinking about connecting the DVI monitor to the HDMI port and a VGA monitors to the DVI and VGA ports, but my plan was foiled by the fact that the motherboards with onboard DVI tend to be DVI-D and not DVI-I.

Onwards to making a 4-VGA-and-some-DVI/HDMI-output system for work! Hopefully my future jobs are as lenient as my current one in allowing people to do whatever they want to their PCs, wire their personal laptops to the network, bring their own gear, etc.

xkcd: my hobby:

March 10, 2010

CCing myself to bugs where I anticipate the guy to say “user error” or “you’re doing it wrong” to the bug reporter. A feeling of happiness comes when it happens, and lessons are learned when user error is actually *not* the problem.