Gentoo Linux

  • Microstar MS-6119 motherboard
  • Pentium III Katmai 4.5 * 112 MHz
  • 384 MB SDRAM
  • Gainward GeForce2 MX 32MB VIVO AGP Dual VGA with passive heatsink

The motherboard was a surplus item from a friend's employer, and I had pretty much everything else already. What a good excuse to hack together a spare machine, particularly when my EPIA mobo likes to crash about every year or so.

The case is a variant of AL4377D-Bk without the front connectors. Being aluminium it weighs almost nothing compared to the components inside. Unfortunately it's more prone to resonate with hard drive and other noise sources, compared to traditional cases.

BIOS problems

There are two kinds of this motherboard. Mine has a CPU PnP feature, which means the FSB and the multiplier can be set from the BIOS configuration. The 'standard' kind has jumpers and/or DIP switches onboard to accomplish the same.

The BIOS version p2.4 has problems with big hard drives. A 120 GB drive has to be turned off from the BIOS settings; I boot into Linux with a floppy (a bootable CD also works, using the same image). As Linux takes over, the /dev/hda works as usual. However, I'm now using a smaller drive which boots fine, as long as it's set in LBA mode in the BIOS.

Version p2.9 is supposed to handles larger drives... and it works after some tweaking. For some reason the BIOS wants a bootable partition, instead of just a bootloader on the MBR, but that's easy to fix (at least with Grub) once you know it.

About the name

A Google search of 'prkl' just turned up this page in the 10th place, so I guess some explanation is in order :) To make a long story short, my machines are generally named after fantasy characters, and 'prkl' is short for 'perkele' of Finnish lore. I also like to have machine names short, since they are often typed when you connect to one. I used to have a public server named prkl.

Risto A. Paju