Monday, March 31, 2008

New Computer

My graphics card finally died, and I decided to get an upgrade. I now have an nForce 610i motherboard, 2GB RAM (800MHz), a Core2Duo (2.33GHz). The motherboard has an on-board GeForce 7050, which is quite good for my needs. I'm using the same hard-disk and DVD drive, but might get a new hard-disk soon.

Now I can finally run visual effects in Ubuntu, and boy, is it sweet!! The pretty animations, the desktop cube - I love it. And it runs so smooth!! Aero just sucks in comparison.

Since the motherboard is quite new, I needed to do some tweaking to get it working properly.

sudo update-pciids

To get the "lspci" list updated.

Install the nvidia graphics drivers manually to get the sound working.

For the sound, I followed these instructions posted on ubuntuforums.

The Ethernet card uses the "forcedeth" driver, which has a strange bug that caused the MAC address to change on every boot. I couldn't live with that, since I configure my wireless router based on the MAC. I decided to use my old Ethernet card for the time being.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Trouble with fans

I noticed a strange phenomenon with my computer. When I try to play a video, CPU usage would shoot up too 100%. I tried the usual troubleshooting methods, playing without the audio stream, trying different video output drivers, and so on...But nothing worked.

Then I noticed something else. If I pause a video for a minute, and then resume it, CPU usage goes back to the usual 20-30%. After a minute of playing, it would shoot up to 100% once again, until I let it cool off...

Sure enough, my CPU fan was bust. I bought a new one today and fixed it. Pentium-4 fans have a reputation of being notoriously difficult to remove. Ended up breaking a clip in the process.

The strange video problem didn't go away though. Next check: Graphics card. And Hurray!! that fan is bust too. Fortunately, a little nudging got it to work. But it seems I'll have to nudge it every time I start my computer.

I think its time to buy a new mobo. Nobody sells AGP 4x cards anymore :(

Edit: here's a good one. Anything running OpenGL (glxgears, -vo gl2 in mplayer) segfaults whenever the fan is RUNNING!! Works fine when its

Edit Edit: If I stop the fan with my finger, and then start glxgears, it runs fine (even after I let go and the fan starts). Then I can run it even while the fan is running...
Hmm...this is quite entertaining...

If anyone has an explanation for this strange behavior, do leave a comment.

Looking forward to the sweet smell of burning silicon.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Workaround for watching .flv videos on slow computers

I have a 1.6GHz processor, a GeForce 440 MX, and 376MB of RAM. But it seems I have to upgrade to a GeForce 8-series or something to play friggin' flv video in Linux. Until I can do that, I think I'll have to use this workaround:

  • Let the video buffer completely.
  • Close the window so that it stops sucking 100% CPU
  • Go to the .mozilla/firefox//Cache directory
  • $ ls -lhS
  • The entries on the top are the largest, one of them will be the video. Try running them with mplayer.
  • Copy and rename if the video is worth saving on disk.

This works with youtube, but I think it should work with any website that allows videos to be buffered.