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.
Today’s like one of the most miserable days since a very long time. Actually I’m not pretty sure why, but I should have stood in bed and kept on sleeping the whole day. Last weekend wasn’t as exciting as I expected it to be because if you’ve just visited a city like Paris a city like Dresden comes by like a small village in the middle of nowhere. Another horrible thing was that I devastated my media center and it wasn’t running the whole weekend. For some reasons the system was not bootable after I switched over to a single boot system and deleted Linux Mint. I had to install Windows 7 from ground on and on the other hand I had to re-initialise the RAID system where the OS was installed and my bunch of HD movies was stored, so the movies are lost.
Terrible thing today too is the fucked up weather outside. Dark, grey, pale and cloudy and no god damn summer in sight. I wanted to start off with gym today but I only made it to the bathroom where I picked up my toothbrush put it back and wandered back to bed. Though I am motivated to go to gym I am able to make it to the gym. I feel like I am stuck in a vicious circle and I can’t the portal which I have to break to get out of it. Seriously, I want to make some sport but I can’t get it done. Once again, tomorrow will be another try because I am pretty, pretty sure that I will not find the willpower in the evening today to grab my bag and go to the gym.
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.
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.
There’s something like a curse on me when it comes to Linux installations because nearly every setup I have done in the nearby past was made twice by me. The same happens to my media center. As you may know I was searching for a solution with my vsync problem while watching movies and other videos. After hours of research and being pretty hopeless and without any other idea for soluting my problem I decided to uninstall the Nvidia graphics driver and rebooting the system. I guess you know what happened next – RIGHT – NOTHING. I got a simple black screen.
According to the fact that it was a kind of late and I didn’t wanted to search the root of the problem I decided to reinstall the whole system by using my old /home partition. Well, well, well, that thought was nice but Linux Mint thought differently. First of all the install routine was not able to write into the existing partitions so I had to rearrange the whole system disk with a third-party software. After that the installer told me that he still was not able to write or delete conflicting system files. The solution was to format my old home directory (d’oh). Now the installer was able to start and run the setup routine. The previous problem solving took me nearly one and a half hour. So, the setup was running until the progress bar showed me 93% and then it told me that it was unable to write GRUB into /dev/sda. Actually I don’t have a /dev/sda or a /dev/sdb neither. The solution was to delete /dev/sda and /dev/sdb before running the whole setup routine in a terminal session, the installer was then able to see the correct order and names of my hard drives. Yep, another hour wasted…
Finally I made it to get the whole system running again and the system is running a way better then it was before. nvidia-settings will be applied automatically on startup, I can use screenlets and the whole booting progress is much faster (don’t know what was wrong before). I also decided to let the system install the nvidia proprietary driver and not to install it manually with a “whatever-setting”. So vsync is now enabled by default BUT it still does not work in video playback, but it’s only a matter of time until I find a solution for that problem.
Earlier than I actually thought I could finalize my new media center and it’s now up and running. Like I mentioned in a few posts before it’s a dual-boot system running Windows 7 as a “gaming system” and Linux Mint as the real movie and multimedia plattform. The Linux system itself uses to play everything that I tried, even HD movies with nearly no lags. Well, nearly, I noticed a little disturbing vsync problem while watching videos. It’s more noticable in HD movies than it’s in normal SD movies. By now I haven’t found a solution for that but the Ubuntu/Mint community is very huge and I am pretty sure that I’m not the only one with this issue. As soon as I have found solution, I will post it right here in this blog.
I also checked the gaming performance under Windows 7 with Devil May Cry 4 and Street Fighter IV. DMC4 runs at an average FPS of 45 with AA at 8 and AF at 8. The details are mainly set to super high. This is a satisfying result according to the fact that there’s “only” a GeForce 9800GT Green Edition with 512MB video RAM inside the system. I guess, I don’t have to mention that I run the games at a full HD resolution. The Benchmark results of SFIV are pretty similiar to ones I got in DMC4. I’m pretty sure that I’ll do some more benchmarks within the next days and check the performance. Till now I am very happy with the new system and it was a good choice to move the hardware to a new chassis that is not that noisy than the one before…
After being away in beautiful France for nearly two and recharging my batteries and simply staying away from everything that looks like complex work on a machine simply called computer I built up my new media center after getting back home. And of course catching enough sleep. The hardware moved from my old ‘I-don’t-know-the-exact-name’ case to a Thermaltake Element S VK60001W2Z case which is much quieter than the one before and can hold much more hard drives. On the final stage the case will hold nine hard drives with an overall capacity of something around 4 – 5 TB.
The media center was built for two things. First it’s a simple media center for listening to music, watching movies and pictures or simply surfing the web. Got it? Yap… Secondly does this PC replace a game console. Thanks to the fact that Xbox 360 controllers also work on Windows very well I can play a lot of games while lying on the couch. Well, of course I will I use other game controllers as well because I’m gaming nerd I have special controllers for every game genre.
For gaming I use Windows 7 Pro 64bit as operating system and for the whole multimedia thing my choice fell on Linux Mint because it’s pretty lightweight, got a great multimedia performance and I just like the overall file handling under linux because I can arrange a variety of disks much more comfortable.
The hardware itself is not very luxurious but will fit the matters. It’s an AMD 9550 CPU built on a Gigabyte DDR2 motherboard stuffed with 4GB RAM. The graphics accelerator is a Gainward 9800GT and the sound will be put out through a cool SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium. By now there’s only stereo output because I don’t have a surround speaker system but this will follow within the next two or three month. I am going to stuff the machine with multimedia content within the next days and then I will finally see how it works and give it a review right here in this blog.