DIARY 2011















Thu, Feb 17

<23:40 EEST> The hardware woes of the past entry have resolved themselves rather nicely. A replacement for the faulty motherboard arrived on Tuesday, and after some driver issues, the machine is now happily crunching in a cool, distant corner. The same issues with fglrx (closed Radeon driver) affected Hoo as well, but as it coincided with the arrival of new hardware, it took a while to find the actual cause. In summary, I had to mask xorg-server 1.9.4 and use 1.9.2 instead, along with ati-drivers 10.12.

The 12-volt adapter used in Hoo was repaired by replacing a couple of capacitors, as expected but not quite planned. Initially, I replaced a rather big and expensive cap in the HV section (68 µF 400 V), and it was not enough. A smaller output capacitor was also in need of swapping, just like had happened before with the same adapter. Once again, it was immensely satisfying to find a machine boot up after fixing it with my own hands.

The HD5770 is now back in Hoo, and the weaker HD5570 is crunching in Nanite. This is not quite the ideal setup, as the media center will have to throttle its GPU when actually showing graphics. However, there are casing and cooling issues to consider as well. I prefer to keep the larger and harder-to-cool card mounted in a proper case, with a well-positioned fan. Nanite may end up with an even stronger GPU later.

Mon, Feb 7

<23:55 EEST> Linux was released today. As much as I like the bleeding edge, and the stable kernels are already at 2.6.37, this is the only up-to-date series that runs on the LS-XHL.

On the darker side, in the past days I have been struggling to prepare revision sheets and exams while having a flu. A real annoyance has been a Paypal chargeback, which has lost me USD 8.90. Not really something worth spending a lot of time on, but a matter of principle. Naturally, this is one reason for alternative online payment systems such as Liberty Reserve and Bitcoin, but for now everyone seems stuck on Paypal. Like Microsoft Windows, everyone uses it because everyone else uses it, even though everyone knows it sucks.

On the hardware front, things are not much nicer. A "new" Mini-ITX motherboard does not seem to boot properly, but it may just be picky about power supplies. A 90-watt PicoPSU may not be enough for a sturdy industrial board, and in any case I have ordered a new full-size PSU, which should be here any day now.

During these tests, a 12-volt adapter broke down, thus reverting my cruncher back to a weaker GPU. In fact, this is the same adapter from 2004 that I have already repaired once, by replacing some leaked output capacitors. The symptoms were similar, and I have indeed located another faulty elca, but it is hard to find a replacement. With the other PSU on its way, and the cheapest source of these elcas being Ebay via Paypal, I am in no hurry.

Risto A. Paju