Waiting for the Harddrives

Posted by me on Friday, the 7th day of April, anno domini 2006 at 12:10 AM, local time.

So, overnight really means, better luck next time, its really two days.

Anyway, while I wait (patiently?) for the hard drives to arrive, I’ve been playing with alternate booting methods. Booting from USB keydrives was supposed to work with this motherboard, but it was also supposed to work on my Thinkpad, where I never really got it to work at all. So, needless to say, that didn’t work here either. :) Booting live linux CDs worked just fine, of course, with SLAX having a lot more hardware support than Knoppix does. Maybe a more recent Knoppix has some better drivers, but I just tried what I had.

That got rather boring, so today I played with PXE booting from network. Set up my rack server to provide the DHCP booting, kernel image, initrd, and the rest of the setup. That should let me play a bit more with more recent kernels and drivers for the case and motherboard so that when the harddrives really do get here tomorrow, I should be relatively ready to go. Surprisingly, booting over network was a lot easier than I would have originally thought. Not too slow either. You should try it :)

Well, thats about all thats new on the MythTV front for today.

By the by, I added the Man Room Cam link to the links on this page so nobody has to wade through recent articles to find the one where I listed that link. I have heard that several people seem to use this page as a portal to that one. So, alright, I’ll try to be accommodating.

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MythTV parts start trickling in

Posted by me on Thursday, the 6th day of April, anno domini 2006 at 12:07 AM, local time.

So, my case, motherboard, processor, DVD player, and 1GB of RAM arrived now. I put them all together and didn’t run into many issues at all. The documentation for the case is slightly out of date, I believe, as some connectors aren’t exactly as pictured, and some are preconnected. Another slight “issue” is that the case has a USB connector needed for the front panel, and 4 headers (in double header sets) for the 4 USB front panel ports, for a total of 5 USB headers. But, the motherboard only has room for 4 header connections inside. I decided the best route for me was to connect all the front USB ports onto the motherboard directly, and take the front panel display USB and plug it into a USB port on the back of the motherboard. Not a perfect solution (since I now have a USB cord sticking out of a hole in the back of the case and then plugged into a port in the back), but it appears to work just fine, and leaves all 4 front ports usable as well.

Another issue I encountered was the huge number of power cables and connectors in the case. Lots of cables, not a lot of room. It all fits, but air flow could be a little better. Of course, there is also a lack of a couple specific cables. The second case fan has no control inputs, so its always on (or always off). In theory, I could whip up a little circuit to control it from a serial port or something, but that might be a bother. Currently I just don’t have it plugged in at all, and that seems to work fine under current situations (with no harddrives and no tuner card yet). I also wish that the power supply had a temperature sensor and a fan control input, so that those fans could be controlled as well. There are inputs on the motherboard for them, but no cables from the power supply box (I think… there might be a few connectors that I am not sure about yet). Right now, they are always on, but they aren’t too loud.

The next minor issue I had was with the DVD drive and the case. When first installed, the drive’s open button was wedged too closely to the case’s drive open button, so it was always depressed, which causes lots of POST issues and whatnot. But, with an exacto knife, the case-to-drive-button interface was slimmed down a bit to a perfect fit for the drive. Other drives might not have as big of an issue with this out-of-the-box, but even so, it was easily fixed.

So, thats pretty much where I’m at. I can boot live-linux CDs just fine and everything seems to work ok. Havn’t tested the remote control or the front panel display yet fully, or the digital audio yet. The gigabit ethernet ports appear to work just fine (in 100mb mode, of course :). TV out worked instantly, and the thing has only booted with TV as display so far. Wireless keyboard/mouse over USB also just worked, too.

The two hard drives are on their way and when they arrive, work will really get under way. I think with the hardware RAID, they should work just fine. We’ll see. Then there is lm-sensors and fan control, the front panel display, the remote control, the digital audio, cpu throttling, dvd/cd burning, etc. all to get working with the hardware, and mythTv to get working in software, all before the final part arrives, the tuner card. Most of the hardware stuff above I am currently hopeful that it will just work. We’ll find out, I guess. I might be lucky.

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