December 23rd, 2011

Dear Diary,

today I was rummaging through the drawers in the office, and I happened upon an SSD there.  It was a Corsair Force 3, which is a SATA 3.0 disk!  Yay!  I can finally do some benchmarking, I thought.

I put the SSD into the server and switched it on, but it came up as a 3Gbps device.  And there were only four ports visible, even though there’s six headers on the motherboard.  Just look:

ahci 0000:00:11.0: AHCI 0001.0100 32 slots 4 ports 3 Gbps 0x3f impl SATA mode

After fiddling around in the BIOS a bit (I had to switch off IDE emulation and “combined mode”, whatever that is), all six ports appeared in Linux:

ahci 0000:00:11.0: AHCI 0001.0100 32 slots 6 ports 3 Gbps 0x3f impl SATA mode

By all that’s holy!  By Emacs!  I misread the specifications on the motherboard! It says “6x SATA2 3.0 Gbps Ports”, not “6x SATA 3.0 ports”!

Diary, it turns out that Supermicro has absolutely no SATA3 motherboards.  

Instead of turning to drink, despair and vi, as some might do, I turned to the browser and ordered a low-profice PCI Express SATA 3 card instead.  The reviews says that it’s supposed to play well with SSDs, too, and has realish hardware RAID.  I know that I earlier vowed never to use anything but soft RAID again after many dissappointing experiences with cheap-ish hardware RAID setups, but surely this time there won’t be any problems.

Fingers crossed!

(Continue reading my secret diary.)

December 22nd, 2011

Dear Diary,

the Samsungs haven’t arrived yet, but they’re supposed to arrive any day now. I’m starting to wonder whether they actually exist out there, or if they are a phantom product that’s announced, but not actually shipped.

But I just looked on Newegg, for instance, and they claim to have them in stock, so they must exist.  They must!

It’s odd that they say “limit 1 per customer”, though.  And that they are more expensive in the US than in Norway.  That never happens.  I’m pretty sure when I looked earlier that they were more expensive here than there.  As they should be.

Is Samsung rationing the SSDs?

Aren’t they thinking about what the effect is on me?  They are so self-centered.

(Continue reading my secret diary.)

December 19th, 2011

Dear diary,

Sinking Heat

today I got the heat sink and the RAM for the new server. I installed them and hit the power switch.

It’s alive!

I haven’t built a server in ever so long, so I’m happy and kinda surprised that it works.  The Samsung 830s I ordered haven’t arrived yet, but they’re supposed to ship in a few days.  The OS is going to be on a spinning disk, anyway, so I installed a normal Western Digital Enterprisey and untarred Debian onto it.

It still works!

SATA Galore

However, the disk performance isn’t all that great.  Since the disk is quite modern, and the motherbord is quite modern, I had expected sequential writes of 120MB/s, but I only get 105MB/s.  Boo.

To bad I don’t have any SATA3.0 disks to test with.  The spinning disk is just a 3Gbps SATA disk.  At least it means that les backplanes sont des connecteurs simples sans électronique ni intelligence.  For SATA2, at least.

Oh well.  The Samsungs will arrive any day now and I can start testing!

(Continue reading my secret diary.)

December 16th, 2011

Dear Diary,

There’s only one 8-pin header on the motherboard

today I got the motherboard I ordered for the new server!  I yanked the old motherboard out and put the new one in.  And it fit!  I got all the power cables, the SATA cables, and the fan cables fitted without any major problem, despite the new motherboard being a lot smaller than the old one.

But, Diary, it’s been so long since I last built a machine that I’d forgotten that there’s more parts needed than just a motherboard and a CPU.

 I’d forgotten to buy RAM and the CPU cooler. Our trusty hardware pusher ensures me that he can get a new cooler just over the weekend, so I ordered that one and some RAM for the machine.

But I so wanted to test the machine now, since I’m curious whether the old SATA1 backplane will still work with the SATA3.0 motherboard.  I think it should, but who knows?

I’ll just have to wait.

(Read the next entry from my secret diary!)

Useful Consumer Review

Ugly OS

This year, I’m finally actually really (this time) learn to read French.  So I needed a dictionary by the couch, so I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is the tablet with the longest battery life, allegedly.  (Apart from the tablets from The Company That Shall Not Be Mentioned.)

The most immediately striking thing about Android is how butt-ugly it is.  Excuse me.  I didn’t mean to slander butts.  It’s not just ugly.  It’s ugly-fugly.  I mean, look at those colour combinations.  Just look at it.

And scrolling in the browser is quite choppy and not smooth and nice, like those other tablets that I’m not mentioning.

And that concludes this consumer review.  This stuff is easy!

December 12th, 2011

Dear Diary,

since the beginning of time, Man has yearned to have their news spools on solid state disks instead of those pesky spinning ones.

The load on the Gmane news server frequently tips over the 16 point (which means that access is denied) purely from people and bots hammering the web and news interfaces too hard.

SSDs have been too expensive until now, and they still are, really.  But today I’ve decided to take the plunge!

I’m giddy with excitement as I order five 512GB Samsung 830s.  They’re supposed to have lots of them there IOPS-es!  Like sixty thousand of them!  I’m not quite sure what that means, but surely it has to be enough.

But what to put them in?  I rummaged through the discarded servers that somebody (i.e. me) had schlepped out from the server room.  I found this nice 2U Dual Core P4 Xeon machine with room for six SATA disks.

But OH NOES!  It only supports SATA 1.5Gbps, while the disks are 6Gbps.  That’s a lot fewer of them bps-es than I want.  So I order a new motherboard that has SATA 3.0 and a new CPU.  I can’t wait to get this going!

(Read the next excerpt from my secret diary!)

Tube on the Tube

Puny Weakling Laptop

I’ve wanted to be able to display YouTube stuff on my TV for a long time.  If somebody mentions a link on IRC, it would be nice to display that on the big screen instead of my minuscule sofa laptop.  (Which isn’t powerful enough to show most YouTube videos, anyway. Poor Sony Vaio P.)

I’d hate to have to run a web browser on the TV machine, though, so I didn’t think this would be practical. 

I wanted a standalone Flash player of some kind that would work under Linux, and that I could control without having to click around on the screen.  Like an animal!

But then, after an exhaustive Google search, I found youtube-dl.  It’s a great Python script that ferrets out the Flash file from a YouTube (and similar) page, and then saves the video file to disk.

So I scripted up something for my movie viewer, and added some keystrokes to the Emacs irc client, and now I can just click on a link on the sofa laptop to tell the TV to play the video.

It starts downloading the file, and then starts mplayer on the file as soon as the file is a few KiB long, so I can start watching pretty much immediately.

It’s a quantum leap. I mean, the smallest leap possible.