More of the same?

2009-11-06

Shiny new hardware

Filed under: Hardware, Linux — Tags: , , , , , — _ds_ @ 22:38

I acquired a shiny new mini-ITX box with an Intel D945GCLF2 the other day to replace an ageing Pentium II box. Installation went smoothly (after some initial messing with what to boot from): I started from a lenny amd64 live CD and debootstrapped from there, making use of dpkg --get-selections and dpkg --set-selections along the way and aptitude to finish the job and mark various packages, mostly library packages, as automatically installed.

/etc, /home and a few other directory trees came from its predecessor, which wasn’t too painful since that was also running lenny. Some light tweaking was done, what with it being a different computer.

(I did consider running a 64-bit kernel with 32-bit userland, which would have meant just copying from the old box’s HD. Obviously easier, but less fun.)

In use

It’s now in service and doing its job well. There are only three issues that I can see at present, both minor:

  • I can’t plug in the case’s built-in speaker (one of the usual PC bog-standard beepers). No great loss.
  • The custom kernel which I’ve built for it (2.6.27.38) doesn’t seem to shut everything down properly: I checked its power usage with a power meter and found it still using about 20W despite being in standby. I’ve probably missed something silly… again, not a problem, since I’m leaving it on 24/7 anyway.
  • Others have reported that the northbridge fan is noisy, but I think that it’s just a little noisier than it might be.

Normal idle power usage is around 41W, about 5W or 6W of which is due to the hard disk. I was slightly surprised to find that the old PII box used 43W when idling – I was expecting more – but then it uses up to 70W under load compared to the new box’s 45W.

(The PII box has one 160GB IDE HD, a CD-ROM drive and one four-port USB2.0 card; the Atom box has one 250GB SATA HD. I’ve not measured without said hardware; suffice it to say that the older HD probably uses a watt or two more.)

Obligatory benchmarking

If I don’t include this, I’m sure that somebody sooner or later will complain 🙂

Kernel build timings weren’t too far off my main desktop box’s timings, at least when using CONCURRENCY_LEVEL=4 fakeroot make-kpkg kernel-image (not that dissimilar to make -j4 deb-pkg): it took almost 11 minutes, which is about 2 minutes slower. (The desktop box has an Athlon 64 3500+.) Without any explicit use of parallel processing, it took about 23½ minutes.

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