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Andrew Pollock


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Saturday, 03 September 2005

Must be the weekend for hardware failures

The last time I was in Brisbane, I retrieved the old daedalus, which is the 4 year old VA Linux 1RU low-end Pentium III that used to serve my website.

It sat in a carton in the lounge room until this week, when I finally unpacked it and chucked it in the study.

This weekend, I started cannibalising the drives out of it. It has 2 Seagate 120G disks, which were software mirrored, but that had been playing up due to some errors on what appeared to be on the second disk. The intention was to take one and put it in brutus, my desktop machine, which has my DVB card in it, so I could record more TV. I'd then keep the other disk in the old daedalus and reinstall it with a fresh install, and it would just be a general purpose sacrificial box/distcc node or whatever took my fancy.

Easier said than done. I discovered the folly of using the LVM volume group name of "base" for everything - you chuck another disk in with the same (but really different) volume group, and LVM gets very upset. No amount of tweaking /etc/lvm/lvm.conf to ignore /dev/hdb seemed to help (perhaps I should have put explicit partitions in the file instead of the whole disk device).

I tried to do all manner of creative things, including plugging the second drive into my laptop via Mikal's IDE-USB adaptor, but that approach didn't seem to have the drive show up properly.

In the end, I booted from a Sarge netinst CD, with only the second disk attached, and did a vgrename on it.

Then the video card started doing weird stuff. More often than not, the video output is all "wonky". A lot of what looks like interference, garbage characters. You can barely make out the display when it's displaying 80x25 character-mode. Sometimes on the next boot it's okay for a while. Sometimes hitting the reset button a few times cleans it up, but it seems to be a temporary fix. I had a boot that started off fine go to custard after a while.

I'm putting this down to the fact that the fan on the video card (an nVidia GEForce2 MX if I recall correctly) being seized (well it's not turning, and is quite stiff to turn manually), with presumably nasty effects on the card.

So I guess my next Computer Fair purchase is going to be a new video card. Thing is, I don't really follow PC hardware, so I have no idea what to buy.

I'm contemplating getting a DVI card that can provide two outputs, or use a DVI-VGA dongle. Then I can keep my honking big 17" CRT for a bit longer, and upgrade to a pair of LCD flat panels down the track if I'm feeling rich. Alternatively, I guess I could just replace the entire box and dice with one of those stupidly cheap Dell package deals, that include a flat panel, and be done with it. Relegate that machine to being yet another sacrificial box.

I don't play games, so I don't need anything terribly fancy, but I do occasionally watch a bit of the TV I've recorded on the box. I guess I should start doing some video card research...

[22:03] [tech] [permalink]