They have issues too though

X-Mas is over and I’m nearly finished with the changed to my PCs where I once again meet a point where I get confronted with a disturbing problem on my gaming system. It does not start everytime I want it to start. When I go by and move the waterpump a little bit the system goes and starts. Another time it’s just a touch somewhere in the case or near the motherboard. I’m not sure till now what the exact problem is but it’s not the power supply unit, it works perfectly. There’s some kind of interference and I don’t know where it is. Hopefully it’s nothing serious so that I don’t have to do a major replacement to the system which will cost me around 650EUR right now.

Besides all this, I’m on the noise hunt and I try to eliminate every disturbing noise that comes from any PC I own. I just silenced one PC with a noise absorber kit by Be Quiet! and it will be quieter if the fans would work correctly or let us say, if they were not so bloody dirty. Well, I freed them off the dust but I guess it was a bit too late and now I have to replace them. It’s very hard these days to get 80mm fans with red LEDs that are declared silent cause everyone switched to 120mm or bigger. The backplane in my gaming system will be replaced by a much quieter one too because I wasn’t able to completely disable the fan without getting an alarm noise and I didn’t wanted to rip the speaker off because of the “you’ll never know”-factor. Maybe it’s the backplane that causes the starting issue (well, NO!!!).

The HDD cases in my media center (which is capable for gaming too right now) are getting completely removed to and will be simply replaced by some uncoupling units. Two hits with one strike, I get rid of the 40mm fans and the hard drives are getting a little bit more “softened” in the case. By the way, the media center is the best working system at the moment without any issues. Like I said, the gaming PC has starting problems and the inter PC seems unstable to me, which leads me to final point.

I am going to say goodbye to Fedora and Linux on this system because I switch back to Windows. It still remains a system for internet but also for audio production and some picture editing. It comes in pretty handy because two monitors are plugged to this system and these two things are handled pretty good if you have a second monitor. It’s a kind of sad that I’ll soon will have no Linux machine but unfortunately is Linux not able to fulfill my needs. Combined with the stability problems it’s the best choice to get back to Windows.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have so much hardware lying around that a fourth system is coming up which will be a pure dedicated gameserver and guess what, it’s going to be a Linux system. Till now do I not have any specific plans on that but it will come and hopefully will it come together with a LAN in spring 2011.

For those of you who expect to read some more things about my photography hobby can I tell, that there’s pretty soon something new to say about it because I ordered some fine new stuff for my camera. But more about these things will be here to read later in another post. I’m sorry for posting so much about my PCs and hardware and stuff these days but it’s a cold and extremely snowy winter here in Germany and this is like the perfect time for me to get a few jobs done in these cases.

Stabilization #1

I’ve made some minor changes to my Fedora system to get back to a stable system as it was before. I unplugged my SoundBlaster Live cards off the system to get a better look into debugging by just using one soundcard. After taking the card off, the system still crashes while listening to music or even usage of a soundcard. After the first crash with just using one single soundcard I made some changes to the config files of Pulse and afterwards the system seemed to be stable. I ran the system for like 45 minutes with music and without crashing. Before all these changes, the system crashed after nearly ten minutes. When I find that my system is stable (which will be after a few hours of uptime) I’ll post my config changes right here.

Mission 14 accomplished

Because I don’t like old systems and can’t stand it if something does not work correctly or how it should be, I wasted nearly my whole weekend in Fedora 13 and 14. The Pulse server in Fedora 13 was buggy in a way, I don’t know why or what exactly changed, my Soundblaster cards gave me nothing than a stupid crackling sound. Without pulse and alsa only the sound worked correct but I was only able to set it all up in stereo only, which makes no sense on a 5.1 system. Another thing that was very annoying, that I was not able to do a clean install of Fedora 14, this issue got fixed after I rearranged the partition table of the system harddisk drive. Finally I was able to do the clean install and I don’t why and how but pulse was working correctly and I was even able to setup the whole thing to work in a 5.1 mode, where Fedora 13 gave me the crackling sound. That was in the night from Sunday to Monday and after a few hours of working with Fedora 14, I can say that the system itself is nothing brand new. It offers some nice little features like an updated KDE version and a new system settings page, but overall this is the most boring update since I got into the Fedora thing a few years ago. Another thing that I noticed is, that this version of Fedora is the most unstable version by now, it mainly crashes while using yum or in my case yumex.

Cause 13 is my lucky number

This week was the release of Fedora Release Version 14 and I was very excited about this release, because due to my hardware change between my media center and my internet PC I had several minor bugs when it comes to hardware detection. Actually, sound wasn’t working anymore and the speakers gave nothing else than a crackling noise right after logging in. So, I downloaded Fedora 14, burnt it, installed it and first of the new version had some problems with the “old” KDE environment variables (I did a fresh install by keeping my home directory). After deleting the settings and relogging everything worked fine. I went to install drivers for my graphic card and it turns out that this was bold bad choice, because KDE wasn’t working anymore.

I downloaded the full DVD image of Fedora 14 and tried to a fresh install with that one, but I wasn’t able either to do the partitioning because the system hung on harddrive detection. Yes, fail #2 and my patience fell below zero. I decided to install Fedora 13 once again and give an upgrade a try which finally seemed to work. Well, ya, it actually worked until I installed the graphic drivers once again. I got some stupid livna failure notices during booting and was not able to activate 3D effects either. Finally I declined to install the drivers offered by RPMFusion and install the ones directly from Nvidia and this driver version worked, BUT a wasn’t able to activate 3D desktop effects either. I’ve found a workaround to finally get them working, but I wasn’t very happy with this solution so I went back to Fedora 13 again, did my standard setup procedure and everything, except the sound issue, is fine. By now I am not very sure what the actual problem is, but I am sure I can fix this. Pulse is always a struggle especially when you install a Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi card and you finally want to have it in company with a SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS. The ZS model is working fine but the X-Fi is a pain in the ass.

Closet cleaned

Last weekend stood under the flag of rearrangement and getting rid of some useless things from the past. Out of a clear blue sky I decided to sort out some of my old IT books to get some space to place the old books of my grandfather inside my bookcase. Seriously, I don’t need a book about Novell DOS 6.2 or MS DOS anymore and if I’ll feel that urgent need to find some information about this ancient operating systems I would find much more knowledge bases on the net than in a single book. And due to fact that I stopped coding in 2005 I thought that there’s no more need for books like C++ and shit like that. I finally made it in nearly five hours of pure bookcase management to find a worthy place for every book. My beloved game strategy guides are now on eye height and everything else is well sorted and easy to find.

Secondly did I finally made it to exchange the mainboards of my internet PC with the one built in in my media center PC. I did this because the board of my internet PC offers two 16x PCIx slots and I wanted to use one graphic card as a dedicated PhysX accelerator like I do in my gaming system (GF260+GF9800GT). The exchange went better than expected, the systems are still working, except for some pulse server bugs on Fedora. The bug in Fedora is not a major one because Fedora 14 is going to be released this week and I don’t want to do an upgrade, I feel like re-installing the system by keeping the home folder, like I did several times in the past. The whole setup procedure runs pretty fast, because all that is left to do after the core setup routine is to install the missing packages, every application is already configured in my home folder.

Unfortunately do I have to run my Linux internet system with a crappy GeForce 8600GT because this graphic card knows a nothing about PhysX so I had to place my GF9800GT in my media center for a while till it is getting replaced by a new PhysX dedicated card. I’ll also replace the cpu fan of my media center because the stock one sold by AMD is a kind of cheap and noisy and is going to be replaced by an Arctic Cooling Xtreme Freezer Rev.2. Hopefully the noise will disappear after that and the AMD Phenom II X4 965 will feel comfortable without making too much noise. Anyhow, the whole media center is going to be much quieter than it is now.

Back to the core

Because of various problems with my Fedora machine I finally decided to give another distribution a chance and my first two targets were Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Linux Mint wasn’t an option because of the lack of an alternate installer routine that allows me to create and manage software RAIDs and LVM. I always use to run my /home on a mirrored RAID system. What was left was the latest Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with alternate installer routine. Well, actually I chosed ¬†Kubuntu instead of the Gnome variant and, well… yes, it’s working and there’s a lot of one-click routines and the system itself does a lot more “automated” than Fedora does BUT it left an unfinished fell on me. A lot of options in customization in KDE were missing even though I post-installed a lot of KDE stuff and even the praised Gnome desktop looks like a ghost town to me.

Another thing I can’t get comfortable with was the sudo feature and curiously the apt tool. I was using Debian a few years ago as a “hacking machine” and I loved apt because before that I was only using SuSE and never felt homish with yast and RPMs and stuff. Though Fedora is using RPMs as well and the yum package manager isn’t mostly something entirely different than apt, zypper, yast and merge, the yum system is for me personally the best. Maybe it’s only because I finally got used to it after nearly one year and a half of using Fedora. Anyhow, Kubuntu was easy to setup but I personally missed some customization and some, you know, nerdiness in the system. What finally happens, I took a closer look on my hardware settings, did some error detection, fixed that and reinstalled my Fedora again. The only thing that’s left to do is to fix the PulseAudio vs. Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi configuration, which was handled perfectly well under (K)Ubuntu, but I fixed this once and I can surely do this twice.

Two is one too much

Unfortunately do I have to say good-bye to Linux Mint and an open source media center solution. Though I was pretty excited about the overall performance of the system I have to finally admit that the media performance completely failed. Full HD movies in 1080p are stuttering and nearly every movie has some ugly tearing and vsync problems. I took a bunch of example movies, and this bunch included mainly those movies with the worst performance under Linux, and they were running surprisingly much better and of course fluently under Windows 7.

Media Influence

In the end it’s the better decision because of one simple reason- dual boot is everything but not user friendly. So I will switch back to one single system which will be Windows 7 that will handle all the movie, picture, network sharing and gaming stuff. Though it’s a nice system that I really would like to keep on using I have to abandon Linux Mint and ban it from my disk. Well, I have this bunch of hardware that rests in my closet and my cellar that will be waken up in the future and I am pretty sure it’s going to be a Linux Mint system.

Another choice was to switch to Fedora but in the end I still have the dual boot problem. If I want to watch a movie I have to boot into Linux and if I want to play a game I have to boot into Windows and as you can see, this is lame and unnecessarily stressing and with this setup on our media center PC my girl-friend will become furious pretty soon. All that she wants is to watch some episodes of “Crank Yankers” and not to do some deep diving into computer sciences.

New media experience

I bought me a new TV a few weeks ago and yesterday was the first day where I integrated my unused but very powerful third PC into the whole multimedia system. By now there is no OS installed but in the near future I am going to install Windows 7 and Fedora on this PC. Windows 7 will be a kind of gaming console replacement system (DMC4 on a 40″ TV will kick ass) and the parallel installed Fedora will be the media center and “internet-machine”. I have chosen Fedora because the overall performance of the system is way better than Windows 7 and I don’t like the MC which is integrated into Windows 7 very much.

Actually I am not very sure about running two systems on a media center but the file handling sharing options are much easier than they are on Windows. Like I said Windows 7 will only be there for gaming, such as a nice Street Fighter IV session or a competition in Pro Evolution Soccer and Fedora will be the movie master. Another thing I am not sure about for the moment is, which media center software I should use under Fedora, mythTV or moovida, or if I should completely leave it and just use VLC or SMPlayer and customize the GUI of Fedora in that way that it is minimal but ultra functional.

One thing that is really annoying and disturbing is that the case, where the whole hardware is installed, is pretty loud and noisy. I am going to fix this in the nearby future by simply moving to another case that uses less but bigger fans and includes more 3.5″ slots. By now I have a lot of cooling boxes built in to the case for my hard drives but all these 40mm fans do too much noise so you’re not able to watch a movie in a friendly and silent environment. Well, well… there’s still a lot to do, but there’s no hurdle that cannot be taken…

Number Thirteen – back to Fedora

I wasn’t very lucky with my OpenSuSE 11.2 system that was running on my mail and internet machine. Besides mail and internet I also use this PC for listening to music and watching some movies. Especially when I tried to watch HD movies SuSE fell down on his knees and were begging for mercy. Another very disturbing fact was that the soundserver crashed very often and curiously, mostly after Adobe Flash was active (even a few hours after). I switched from Fedora to OpenSuSE because Fedora crashed or freezed very often but afterwards I found out that some memory settings were chosen wrong. So now it’s time to turn back to Fedora and gain back more speed and bleeding edge repositories.

Unfortunately the installation of Fedora 13 failed a few before I finally made it to get working straight. One massive problem was an X server the did not want to come up after installing the proprietary nVidia drivers. I was able to fix this with a workaround first, adding nomodeset to the kernel boot parameters, and finally setting a fixed display mode (e.g. vga=773).

Fedora logo by ~Mola-mp

The final installation of the whole codec and media player bunch (e.g. kaffeine, smplayer, amarok etc.) went very well, except VLC player that still won’t work but this doesn’t really matter because SMplayer is my new favourite player.

Skype was another problem child because it is still an i386 application and it still requires i386 dependencies and for some reasons Fedora 13 x86_64 does not find the correct depencies and also does not install them. So I was able to install Skype via the Skype repo but it wasn’t working out of the box. I ¬†finally found, after some research, the packages that are needed to get it working, just install the following

yum install libXv.i686*
yum install libXScrnSaver.i686*
yum install qt.i686
yum install qt-x11*.i686
yum install libsigc++ libsigc++.i686 qt.i686 qt

Until now everything is working fast and stable and I think that it is not going to change in the future. Finally I am very happy to be back to Fedora country especially because of the buggy package management system that is included in OpenSuSE with all its dumb priorities and messing up the system update.