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Smint
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:35 pm    Post subject: New Computer to run Gentoo Reply with quote

Hi people.

I've been running Gentoo on my 7 year old computer for about 2½ years now, and I like it.
But now it's time to get a more modern and fast workstation.

I would like to get some oppinions on my suggested buy, as I don't know much about consumer computer hardware, and now my hardware is so old that the linux hardware support have never been a problem... but how about all that new hardware on the market?

First of all I am planning to have a RAID system as I do a lot of disk intensitive stuff. I think a RAID-5 is a good balance between speed/security and price.
I've decided to go with linux software raid as it is quite effective (according to internet benchmarks and storys i've been told) and for the money a good pure hardware raid 5 controller for SATA cost I can a better CPU and more RAM.

Therefore I need a motherboard with plenty of SATA ports. Ive got my eyes on this one, that looks about right at this price:
MSI P965 Platinum
It uses Intels P965 Express chipset and ICH8R southbridge.

The processor has to be a Core 2 Duo.
I think I'll buy the Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 as it's a good bargain, and should be ok for better speed than the factory default, though I'm not gonna overclock it that much.

On the RAM I think is worth spending a little for OK timings. I've heard good things about PDP Patriot Extreme. They come in a set of 2 x 1GB and I'll buy 2 sets so I'll have 4 x 1 GB = 4GB

I'm not a gamer. I play a game once in a while so my demands are not that hight on graphicscard. I think the Connect3D Radeon X1950 Pro is a good buy as I've read some benchmarks that shows it clearly beats GeForce 7900GS in performace while the price is the same. Of course I only found benchmarks on windows, so in linux is could be a different story.

I've decided on a cabinet from ThermalTake called Thermaltake Eureka VC8000BWA as this give me plenty of drives slots and I don't care for hotswapping my drives or accessing them from the front as long as they are easily accesible hven side is open.

The power could be delivered by a Antec EarthWatts EA500 EC. That should give plenty of power and thanks to the over 80% efficiency I'll might save a buck in the long run and feel good about chossing effektive electrics.

I was originally planning to buy 2 Samsung SyncMaster 204B flat panels, but I think I'll might save ~150$ by buying 2 LG L2000CN-SF

Last but not least that RAID-5 needs som HDD's. I was originally planning on hardware raid or Fakeraid (bios-controlled raid) so I decided to use WD RE discs as they have TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) which is needed for hardware/bios raid-5 to not throw healthy discs. The actual setup would be 4 WD RE WD1600YS 8,7ms/16MB. Now I allmost decided to go with Linux software RAID, that is not necessary anymore, but as they can get the normal Error Recovery activated by running a piece of software I think I'll stick with them.


So if anybody has some suggestions of something that would be better for roughly the same price please let me know.
Also I wanna know if theres any problem with this hardware and gentoo/linux. I'll rather spend and extra 100$ and save a lot of hassle.

Does anybody know if all chipset features of the motherboard are supported inlinux, including the bios-raid? I like to run some benchmarks before a finally decide on the raid-setup and start use the new machine with my vital data.
Also I would like to know if is possible to expend a linux raid-5 with one more disc for more storage latter on if that disc have at least same capacity as the existing ones. And that is without loosing data on the existing RAID.

Some of my priorities are: Low power consumption, low noise (I'm not exentric here), an all round powerful machine.

All comments, suggestions, pointers and oppinions are very welcome as I'm using a large amount of money I want this to be a great Gentoo machine.
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erik258
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what i've seen on the forums, and I pay some attention to them, results within linux are more consistant when using the nvidia drivers. That's not to say that ATi cards aren't superior, they may well be, but both companies insist upon closed-source drivers and nvidia seems to do a better job staying on top of their releases. You might be able to save yourself some hassle going with somethig from nVidia.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are asking for better suggestions for equivilent prices, could you post the prices of what YOU have selected? Otherwise it is a pain...
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your graphics demands are not that high, why are you bothering with a top-of-the-line graphics card? A Geforce 7600 (my preferred card) or a Radeon X1600 should do you just fine, even if you want to occasionally play games on low-to-medium settings.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erik258 wrote:
From what i've seen on the forums, and I pay some attention to them, results within linux are more consistant when using the nvidia drivers. That's not to say that ATi cards aren't superior, they may well be, but both companies insist upon closed-source drivers and nvidia seems to do a better job staying on top of their releases. You might be able to save yourself some hassle going with somethig from nVidia.

QFT...

ATi (fglrx) drivers on Linux are just awful, even for moderately old cards they barely work. I've had 3 ATi cards in the last 5 years, and fglrx has been consistently broken on all 3. nVidia's drivers on the otherhand run straight out of the box with minimal fuss, the other advantage is nVidia cards have been consistantly stronger at OpenGL, a trait they picked up from their 3Dfx acquisition.

The rest of the system looks nice, although I've been more partial to Asus boards myself for reliability. You can always get extra 4 port SATA controllers if needs be.
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Smint
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erik258 & Aidan JT >>> I know about the driver problems with nvivia and ATI. I have an old nvidia card now and the driver works fine. I think I read somewhere not long ago that ATI made a major improvement to their linux driver and that it was at the level of the nvidia driver, but i might be mistaken... it could be that they haven't been improving since and is therefore not on top of the game anymore...

Maybe I'll go with nvidia instead.

chrismcdirty >>> well I don't see it as high end... I change hardware once every 5 - 10 years so i don't wanna buy obsolete hardware.

kilfire >>> ok, i'll try putting some prices on, but i'll just have to make some estimates cause my prices are in denmark and here we have a lot of taxes on hardware.

MSI P965 Platinum: ~135$
Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz: ~180$ - Boxed processor
PDP Patriot Extreme 4 x 1GB: ~450$ - DDR2 PC-6400 (4-4-4-12)
WD RE WD1600YS 8,7ms/16MB: ~65$ - 160GB, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, 8,7 average seektime and TLER
Connect3D Radeon X1950 Pro: ~180$ - 256MB
Thermaltake Eureka VC8000BWA: ~150$ - Nice tower with plenty of drive bays and 12cm fan on front and back.
Antec EarthWatts EA500 EC: ~75$ - 500W efficient lownoise PSU
LG L2000CN-SF: ~340$ - 20.1" LCD screen with 1600x1200, 6ms refresh, 300cd/m2 and 200:1

I think these prices resembles the price i'll get them for in denmark compared to other products so in america you should be able to relate to these prices...
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ATI is also currently developing ATI Catalyst Control Center - Linux Edition, perhaps ATI is setpping up their support for Linux. Cheers.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This motherboard has a JMicron , I think that you will endup with problem.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sappling >>> Looks interesting but I'm going to buy very soon so I have to look at the situation as it is now... but would be nice for the Linux community with better ATI drivers and thereby more hardware to choose from.

d2_racing >>> What kind of problem?

Will make the whole system not work?
Will I just not be able to use the SATA on the JMicron or is there problem wirth both the SATA and PATA port on the JMicron in linux?
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erik258
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smint, jmicron's new ATA controllers [whether parallel or serial, or both, I don't know) came out after the 2006.1 boot cd, so their drivers aren't included. Look to 2.6.19+ kernels to provide the support you're looking for. There are a few options to get around this -- without finding that nifty jmicron-enabled gentoo boot cd somebody here on the forums made, though, your best bet is to find out the "ide=generic"-like kernel parameter that allows the controller to be used, slowly, but properly, and then reboot into your new system asap for increased disk speed. It's not a big deal for hackers, but newbies might get tripped up.
Quote:

Sappling >>> Looks interesting but I'm going to buy very soon so I have to look at the situation as it is now... but would be nice for the Linux community with better ATI drivers and thereby more hardware to choose from.


When all is said and done, both companies are ahead of the industry as far as linux support. Either one would be a decent choice, and either way, hardware that's brand new may be problematic, and really old stuff could be unsupported by newer drivers, but by and large, either one will work. NVidia is really easy, probably partially since their drivers have been unified since forever ago, but ATI hasn't done badly. Both companies refuse to release code, so both are kind of behind the Linux crowd... but it's the best option we have at the time. Your best bet is to do a bit of research on your particular card and see if anybody's having problems with it, or if all goes well.

Quote:

chrismcdirty >>> well I don't see it as high end... I change hardware once every 5 - 10 years so i don't wanna buy obsolete hardware.

Sure, having any fast hardware is great, but my biggest recommendation for speed is a fast new hard drive. The disk is the most consistent bottleneck in a computer, and if there's one place any desktop can really benefit from having more memory thrown at it, it's the hard drive. The newest one I've gotten a chance to play with was a seagate 7200.10 and with 75-80 mb/s raw access speeds and parallel something-or-other writing it seems really fast. WD and ( -- uggh -- ) maxtor probably make drives that perform similarly well, but I just don't trust them as much. I got a samsung spinpoint 80g years ago and it's still kickin' -- it's increased my opinion of samsung drives quite a bit.

Be careful when you buy ram. A friend of mine had problems with ram on the new core2 duos that was to fast. The CAS latencies were too low I believe. Just something to watch out for, I think the problem for him was that he couldn't overclock or something but i'm not really sure. I can ask him when he's around if you want.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smint wrote:

d2_racing >>> What kind of problem?
Will make the whole system not work?
Will I just not be able to use the SATA on the JMicron or is there problem wirth both the SATA and PATA port on the JMicron in linux?


You will not boot with the minimal CD 2006.1. And this is the newest yet.

Search Jmicron in this forum and you will understand what i mean :(

http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-546545-highlight-jmicron.html
http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-498160.html
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eGore911
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sappling wrote:
ATI is also currently developing ATI Catalyst Control Center - Linux Edition, perhaps ATI is setpping up their support for Linux. Cheers.


According to an interview of an ATI/AMD:
Spend 95% on Windows driver development, spend 5% on other systems (Linux, Mac OSX)

That means the the Catalyst Control Center will take a long time.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eGore911 wrote:
Sappling wrote:
ATI is also currently developing ATI Catalyst Control Center - Linux Edition, perhaps ATI is setpping up their support for Linux. Cheers.


According to an interview of an ATI/AMD:
Spend 95% on Windows driver development, spend 5% on other systems (Linux, Mac OSX)

That means the the Catalyst Control Center will take a long time.


And it clearly shows in the quality of their drivers (or lack thereof).
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madisonicus
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:09 am    Post subject: Re: New Computer to run Gentoo Reply with quote

Smint wrote:
Some of my priorities are: Low power consumption, low noise (I'm not exentric here), an all round powerful machine.
The guys over at SilentPCReview have excellent reviews of low-noise, low-power consumption stuff. I've used results from them for a couple systems now and been very happy.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erik258 >>> But if im not going to install my gentoo os on a disc connected to the JMicron and the DVD-drive i install from also is not connected to the JMicron I should have no problems?
I plan on bying a SATA DVD-burner too... should there be any problems booting and installing from that as long as it is on the Intel ICH8R controller?

But as I have decided to not use the fake-raid, but instead use kernel-raid any other controllers than the intel and jmicron would suit me as long as I have a lot of SATA ports. Also I could put an expansion SATA controller in.
Any ideas of a motherboard for Core2 Duo with a lot of SATA ports on a controller that works with gentoo?

I really can't figure out if the ATI drivers are ok or as bad as some people says, so I think i might just go with NVidia. The 7900GS is ~30$ cheaper, and though it perfoms slighly poorer in windows I guess the situation i Linux might be different, so I think it's a better guess on a hassle-free installation.

As you say the disc can be the bottleneck, but with a 4 disc RAID-5 solution I shouldn't have that problem I think... correct me if I'm wrong.

Ok, maybe I should look more at this RAM issue you mention. Extra from your friend would be much appreciated. But actually I choose these RAM based on an overclocking test with an Core 2 Duo... Seems that it should work equaly in linux as in windows.

madisonicus >>> Thanx for the hint I'll look in to that as my PSU and fans can be changed "on the fly"... meaning I don't have to spend time examinig their linux compability :-)

OK... here is an update list of what I'm planning to buy:
Type Vare Stk St. Pris Pris

Motherboard Gigabyte GA-965P-DS4 ~165$
Processor Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz ~160$
RAM PDP Patriot Extreme 2 x 1GB x2 ~450$
Harddisk WD RE WD1600YS 8,7ms/16MB x4 ~250$
Grafikkort ASUS EN7900GS/2DHT ~160$
Kabinet Thermaltake Eureka VC8000BWA ~150$
Skærm LG L2000CN-SF x2 ~680$
PSU Antec EarthWatts EA500 EC ~80$
CD/DVD NEC AD 7170S ~35$ - SATA DVD CD/Burner

Am I getting closer to a good gentoo workstation?


Last edited by Smint on Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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gelbasack
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:45 am    Post subject: JMicron Reply with quote

Well, installing Gentoo with JMicron with the 2006.1 livecd isn't fun but works.
I got a SATA HD and an old IDE DVDRW drive.
As I did: booting with "gentoo all-generic-ide", HD is /dev/hda, DVD is /dev/hdl (yeah, l). My network adapter didn't work so I did a chroot-install on another box and copied stage3 tarball, portage snapshot and all distfiles after "emerge -e --fetchonly system" to an USB drive and then over to the HD. (I know, emerge -e... for fetching the packages isn't that leet but faster then searching an universal CD on the mirrors).
Ok, so I paritioned /dev/hda and installed. The problem is, installing grub doesn't work at all then. So I created a grub boot CD (http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/manual/html_node/Making-a-GRUB-bootable-CD-ROM.html). You can use grub shell to boot then. I use kernel parameters "irqpoll root=/dev/sda1" then, works fine.


Last edited by gelbasack on Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go for SATA only setup and disable JMicron for good. That is the best option.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't have as much trouble with JMicron as everybody else did. I set my devices to AHCI in my BIOS, and booted with 'gentoo all-generic-ide' and everything came out pretty good. My HDD is /dev/sda which makes sense, and my DVD drive is fine..

I like your setup though. I've got a C2D and it's an insane performer. And the 4Gb of RAM should do you wonders.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and for RAM:

Forget low-latency memory if it is significantly more expensive!!! Latency means nothing in real world performance. You will mostly gain 0-few % in actual performance so IMO it is never worth the price premium. You get a LOT more performance by investing the same money for a faster processor or OCing more.

By all means buy 4GB if you really need that much. I have 2GB but I would do just fine even with 1GB. So think before you buy.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paapaa >>> I intend to go all SATA. Though i would like have some data copied from and old IDE drive, but that could be done by an IDE->USB converter I've got.

Interimo >>> Yes I think it should perform very well... I just need to get the details of compability with linux finally sorted before I buy.

Paapaa >>> I've seen some test showing that a computer would perform better with 800MHz DDR2 with low latency than with 1033MHz DDR2 with high latency. How the score compares to High latency 800MHz DDR2's I actually don't know. Maybe I should look ind to that and save some money...

I've heard that if you do RAID-5 in kernel raid the amount of RAM makes a big difference. I've seen test compared to hardware raid controllers (3ware) where linux kernel RAID-5 outperforms the hardware RAID-5 by a imprssive margin but at the expense of CPU-load. But with additional RAM it could get the CPU-load close to none, and the additional RAM is less expensive than a good hardware SATA RAID controller.

But I think you might be right that 4GB is a lot. I'm not gonna run windows on it....
So I'll might go for 2 GB and have the posibility to upgrade to 4GB later on.

Actually thats also why I'd like to know if it is posible to add a extra disc to a raid 5 later, as I then might just go for 3 250GB now and have good posibilities for upgrade instead of going with 4 160GB. I know more discs should be better for performace, but a RAID-5 with 3 SATA discs should do decent.

Does anybody know if I should use WD's TLER on kernel RAID-5 or not? I can't seem to find advices on that.
Also would the intel ICH8R and WD drives give me NCQ and AHCI support?
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