Having teenagers, who like to play computer games – including online ones, we have two desktop machines at home (not counting the museum pieces like a windows 95 machine that doesn’t say “with internet explorer” from back when the internet was “just a fad” (Gates W. 1995)). The “adult” machine was getting to feel a little pokey (windoze 2000, EPIA board that I want to use as an embedded machine, no free disk space), so it was time to build a new one. I also wanted to play with the Nvidia CUDA language extensions and it is a little bit silly to try to put a high end graphics board into an antique machine.
So off to Fry’s we go. (one of the perks of living in a “high tech” area are computer parts supermarkets).
Ended up with an MSI 770-C45 board, a quad AMD 64 bit machine, CPU fan, a PNY 1024M CUDA enabled graphics board, a terabyte SATA drive, 4GB DDR3 memory, a new wireless card and a new power supply. The case, floppy drive, DVD reader, and CD burner are left from the old machine.
The hardware snapped together pretty quickly and then the fun began. Windows XP doesn’t recognize SATA drives, and while the floppy is there, getting the drivers off the MSI DVD is fraught with peril. In fact, two burnt disks latter, I say the heck with it and try to load Ubuntu 8. (the other machine also has a 64bit AMD chip so we had the disks). It well past the “sell by date” and isn’t compatible with the new hardware. So out of frustration, I go back to XP and ignore all the warnings about unrecognized hardware. Miraculously it loads, and even more miraculously it runs! Turn’s out, in an undocumented feature of the mother board, there is an IDE emulation for SATA. Slower than pure SATA, but still fast.
Cool, now just to configure the wireless card, reboot a few dozen times then download the latest Ubuntu for the rest of the machine. Opps. While the new AMD chipset and fan is very quiet in terms of sound. they emit enough radio waves to make the wireless non-functional. Open the case, put in the old card, and its a little better. At least it’s now a registered copy and I can download the antivirus software (by the way these are all legal university staff license copies of software) and firefox, I think moving the antenna away from the machine will solve this, and we’ll see when the coax cable arrives.
In the meantime, I downloaded and burnt a cd of the newest (9.10) Ubuntu on an old Mac. Which did something to the ISO so that it was a bad image. Oh well. do it again, but this time at work (the download) and burn the CD at home (USB disks are really great for this). Now we have Ubuntu up.
So how is it working? Internet connections are ghastly (average about 1-10% of maximum speed) due to RF-noise. CPU speed is amazing, especially with Ubuntu. We see all 4 CPU’s and things that are slow to load like open office scream. I have some more tuning to perform, but it is impressive.
Update: Using a 10ft (3M) cable to move the WIFI antenna works as expected. In fact I’m using the machine to make this edit.