2009/12/04

Upgrades

Ordered Intel X-25M (80GB, 2nd generation) in Lithuania. Price is 180 EUR, which is better than in Latvia (205 EUR), and have to wait around 1 month for delivery.

Also, purchased the latest and the greatest from ATI. XFX HD5870. Had to upgrade PSU too.

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Now, all my games have very friendly framerates (Core 2 Duo E7300 overclocked to 3.2GHz, 4GB RAM, XFX HD5870), and it became much easier to make headshots in 3d shooters (Left4Dead, TF2, Bioshock). Another strange, but pleasing side effect appeared in a racing game (GRID). It was very difficult to keep a car on the road while racing, but now motion is very smooth, and controlling the car is much easier. Probably, has something to do with the fact, that previously, with lower frame-rate, by the time when I saw car loosing traction, it was too late to react. Nice.

2009/12/03

Google Maps for Symbian update, Opera Mobile 10 Beta 2

Google Maps 3.3 now supports syncing of Nokia Landmarks and Google Maps favourites between handset and the mighty google cloud. Looks like another nail into the coffin of Nokia Maps?

Opera Mobile 10 Beta 2 for symbian has got Opera Sync and Download manager, but the sweetest thing comes from the fixes to memory management and rendering speed. It was quick on Omnia HD i8910, and it is (subjectively) twice faster now.

2009/11/06

Switch between laptop LCD and external monitor in Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic)

It is easy to switch display modes through system/preferences/display, but I wanted to make it even faster with keyboard shortcuts. It also gives you ability to force resolutions and relative display positions when using both displays at the same time.

Use XRANDR in the command prompt to find out names of connected displays.  In my case VGA1 = external monitor and LVDS1 = laptop LCD.

$ xrandr

Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1280 x 1024, maximum 8192 x 8192

VGA1 connected 1280x1024+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 338mm x 270mm

   1280x1024      60.0*+   75.0 

   1152x864       75.0 

   1024x768       75.1     70.1     60.0 

   832x624        74.6 

   800x600        72.2     75.0     60.3     56.2 

   640x480        72.8     75.0     66.7     60.0 

   720x400        70.1 

LVDS1 connected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)

   1280x800       60.0 +

   1024x768       85.0     75.0     70.1     60.0 

   832x624        74.6 

   800x600        85.1     72.2     75.0     60.3     56.2 

   640x480        85.0     72.8     75.0     59.9 

   720x400        85.0 

   640x400        85.1 

   640x350        85.1 

HDMI1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)

DP1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)

DP2 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)

go to System/Preferences/Keyboard shortcuts and add

WIN+F5 use only laptop LCD

xrandr --output VGA1 --off --output LVDS1 --auto

WIN+F6 use only external monitor

xrandr --output LVDS1 --off --output VGA1 --auto

WIN+F7 use both (laptop on the left)

xrandr --output LVDS1 --auto --left-of VGA1 --auto

WIN+F8 use both (laptop above)

xrandr --output LVDS1 --auto --above VGA1 --auto

2009/11/03

Opera Mobile 10 Beta for Symbian

This is important. This is hilarious if you have got fast symbian phone with lots of RAM. Opera Mobile 10 is here. Installed it on my Omnia HD i8910 and immediately  tweaked RAM cache to some 50MB. Running well and not getting any “low memory” erros, like poor N97 guys. :)

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It’s fast. It’s fucking Ajax compliant.

Gmail. It opened gmail in “standard view” and works fast.

Google Reader also opened in “standard ajaxy” mode. Wow.

Google Wave opened with errors. Not usable.

Youtube. Hmm, it doesn’t play youtube yet, but I have heard it from Opera some time ago, that Flash will be supported.

Friendfeed  works, as does Facebook.

2009/11/02

(Virus-) Free gaming under Wine in Linux

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In Windows world, you can play any game for free, but it usually comes with some payload from virus writers. Having realized that, I made it a rule to only play games that I purchased legally. Then, yesterday, I found some of those old Windows games archives. Don’t know why I have not deleted those virus-ridden wares long time ago.

I have already seen that many games work in Linux under Wine, and then I thought, why not try these ones, because they can not infect my Ubuntu anyway. And, voila! Both franchises of Bejeweled (2 and Twist) work in HD/3D accelerated, and they are “free”. True, they try to propagate on the game exit, and (moment of glory) simply error out in wine. Seems, that I will never ever have to pay for Windows games that do not use intensive 3D graphics or online authorization.

In search of the holy grail of home servers

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ATM my home server runs Windows 7 Ultimate (trial mode till end of December) and I am researching free alternatives like freenas, openfiler, ubuntuserver, freebsd. Need this machine to support administration via web gui and provide following services for me

  1. file sharing via SMB/Samba
  2. torrenting with webgui
  3. http web server
  4. webdav
  5. vpn
  6. upnp/dlna media serving to multiple upnp/dlna players simultaneously
  7. continuous data backup (windows live sync style, propagating changes between machines immediately, rather than overnight)
  8. advanced disk/RAID management, described below.
  9. seems that vitrtualisation is high on my list too.

Found this thread discussing freenas and drobo functionality, and thought that this post decsribes my needs too.

I'm also looking for the holy grail of RAID solutions and really hope someone can come up with or find something. I want the following features:

REQUIRED:
- Redundancy, allowing for at least 1 drive failure
- Mix and match drive sizes WITHOUT being limited by the smallest drive (and thus wasting space)
- Ability to add drives to increase capacity
- Ability to replace drives and increase capacity
- NAS functionality, accessible via a Windows share
- Ability to create multiple partitions, with respective shares (or one large partition with multiple shares mapped to folders on the NAS? Who really cares about the "internal" file structure..)

PREFERRED:
- Performance that isn't terrible - In my case, fast enough to steam 1080P over ethernet
- Minimal data capacity loss due to parity (< 50% - Else I'd just mirror.)
- "NTFS" Volumes larger than 2TB (Not sure if this is possible via a share.. perhaps "Emulate" NTFS and actually store on a file system with larger volume capacities to achieve this? I could care less if Windows reports my remaining space correctly, as long as the NAS would.)
- Software-based, so I can also use the box for other purposes.

I already run freenas in virtualbox on my server with bridged network interface on my server, and it appears as separate machine with web gui on my network. I already see some of the drawbacks of freenas, like no webdav, vpn, virtualisation (the kind that allows me to test freenas in VM like I do it now).

Downloading freebsd, openfiler and ubuntu server to install as VMs too and give ‘em a try this month.

2009/10/27

Wake Ubuntu with USB keyboard/mouse

I have Logitech DiNovo USB Bluetooth Keyboard. To make it wake your computer please follow this thread . Worked for me.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work through hub. In that case, the whole hub is either in sleep mode, or it awake all time and prevents my PC from going into sleep. Had to connect this keyboard directly to PC then. Strangely, the same keyboard woke Windows 7 even via hub.
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Want a super fast SSD for your lappie? Live in Latvia? Bad luck.

Due to economical crisis, prices of computer hardware been falling faster than usual. But. For a small country of Latvia, full of unemployed and bankrupt citizens, that means that sometimes, you can't buy nice things, because nobody imports them here.

Here I am, tried to order Intel X-25 80GB SSD (generation 2) and got answers from all shop that damn thing is not available in Latvia, minimum order from Poland or Estonia is 10pcs, and, obviously, nobody cares to order it for Latvia, 'cause they are not sure that they can sell 10 pcs. here? C'mon Intel, try harder...

If you've got any idea how to get SSDSA2MH080G2C1 for about 200 EUR in Riga, ping me. :(
Update. After failing to get it anywhere in the usual retail channels, I turned to ebay. Found 2 sellers that shipped from European country (Germany) and ordered 2 units (on 3rd of January,2010). Cost is 194 EUR x 2 for the goods, plus 16 EUR for shipping to Latvia with UPS. It arrived today (8th of January). Yeehah!

2009/10/26

Installing Steam game demos under WINE, Ubuntu

There is a problem with Steam client under wine, that it allows to install only games from your purchased games list. If you want to try demo that you found on a steam client, "install game" button doesn't perform any action.

Workaround: to install demos with steam under wine use

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam
wine Steam.exe -applaunch XXXX

where XXXX is a code of the game you want, can be seen in the url of the game (for that you need to open store.steampowered.com in the browser in linux)

Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade in Latvia

So, Windows 7 is here. Since trying W7 beta in the beginning of 2009, I knew that this was the first OS that I’ll upgrade my home computers to and will be willing to pay for it. I will need several copies for my home:

1. gaming/multimedia PC – currently runs W7 RC. It absolutely needs a Windows license, because I use it to for playing games, and Linux just can’t compete here. Will update it to Windows 7 Home Premium (which has all I need, including Windows Media Center).

2. home server- has Ubuntu and W7 trials at the moment. I can use it in this mode for another 100 days. It is now fully configured to provide the functionality I need – filesharing, utorrent, orb, wuala, https web server, webdav and vpn. In the upcoming 3 months I will try get same functionality (except orb) under Ubuntu. If that works, fine. Otherwise, will upgrade to W7 too. Home Premium does not support Remote Desktop server, but I can manage with VNC I think.

3. 2 laptops – running W7 trials atm, need to upgrade.

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So, I am going to buy 3-4 upgrade licenses. Today, I checked pricing and availability of Windows 7 here in Riga, Latvia. Unfortunately, there is no Family Pack available (some people say it might appear after Oct, 31st, when Latvian language Windows is promised). But, price for Home Premium OEM upgrade is quite good ($70 or 50 EUR). Buying Family pack of 3 licenses at amazon UK, would cost the same after shipment. I think I will rather buy HP OEM upgrades here.

I do not have that many Vista or XP licenses (basically all my PC were self made, and laptops came with Linux), but will try to find some old/written-off licenses from sysadmin friends. I know that OEM will work only with one machine, but Retail copy is almost 4 times more expensive (180 EUR) and for that money, I can buy new OEM upgrades later if needed.

I checked to computer shops today and in both, was asked to prove that I have a copy of Windows to upgrade from. Windows label on the bottom of laptop is enough of the proof they said. Interesting, can I show the same laptop in various shops to buy 3-4 upgrade licenses? I think I can.

SSL, certificates, VPN and WebDAV under Windows 7

Under Windows 7 (and Vista too, I think) WebDAV and VPN fail if you use a self-signed (and therefore, untrusted) server certificate. Too bad that error messages are cryptic, and talk about failure to establish connection, or something like it, but never complains about SSL cert. Hmm. If you try to access such server with IE then (unlike Firefox) there is no way to turn off warnings. Also, if you try to play media from such website, IE and Firefox  will launch associated media player (WMP in my case), which will also fail to connect to net resource to play it. Long story, short, kids – use trusted certificate if you need to use SSL in Windows.

And the good news is that now there is a provider of free SSL certificates (really free, not a 30-day trial as some advertise), who is also included into default Windows Certificate storage as a Certified Root Authority. This is Free SSL service from Startcom. With their cert for my server, WebDAV and VPN began to work.

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The only fly in the ointment – Windows 7 implementation of WebDAV is buggy and slow and compared to Ubuntu.

2009/10/19

Playing Steam games on Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)



Installation of Wine 1.31 amd64 went ok, but Steam client failed after installation and self update. Had to switch to 1.3 amd64 deb and also make sure that Windows version=XP in wine configuration tool. Now Steam works and I am downloading my games. Quickly tried Ricochet Infinity and it work well, in full screen, in windowed mode and downloading extension packs from internet works too.
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Access your home files from anywhere via browser and webdav (https) disk

This weekend I fiddled with enabling access to my home fileserver. I already can access it via RDP (Windows7) and FreeNX (fastest, recommended remote access with Ubuntu/Linux). I also manage my torrents with uTorrent's webUI. Files are accessible on home network via Windows files sharing (SMB on Windows/Samba on Linux).

My goal for the weekend was to enable remote access to files from anywhere on internet, under both Windows and Linux, with secure password protection.  For this purpose, I use webdav sharing with SSL (self-signed certificate) on my server. It can be raised on Apache2 (free on both Windows and Linux) and on IIS (free from Microsoft only on Windows).

Choosing server
I killed couple of hours raising apache2 on Ubuntu, but ultimately failed forcing it to use SSL. (meh, will try later) and then I tried apache2 on Windows - and this is utterly pervert feeling to configure it in CLI on Windows. Will try to avoid at any cost in the future. Luckily, there is free web server from Microsoft, IIS 7. It probably has some limits that would make it unsuitable for large website hosting, but it is perfectly Ok for my purposes. So, I installed IIS7 and enabled WebDAV.

IIS7/WebDAV Configuration (sorry, this is not a full manual explaining where to click each time, rather a milestone walkthrough for me or someone already familiar with IIS7 interface. I am saving it here, to read again should I ever need to repeat this procedure)

First, create self signed certificate. Add it to default websiite.
Bind website to your own domain. I do not have fixed IP, so I use dynamic dns service for dns resolution. So, I bind default website in IIS to my dynamic dns: solnyshok.dyndns.info
Then limit protocols to SSL (port 443).
Authorization method = application passthrough.
Enable WebDav module.
Enable Basic Authetication.
Enable Authorization for specific user.
Enable SSL = required
Create Authoring Rule for WebDav (* allow for all users)
Enable "Directory browsing" if you want to browse your folders in your web browser. This is not related to WebDAV, but rather is an additional extra, for getting access to your files on any computer wherever you are, with just a browser and a password.
Add virtual directory (directories) pointing to the folder (NOT DRIVE!!!) that you want to share. Check that authentication setting, authoring rules, filtering, directory browsing, ssl setting have been inherited.

Notes to myself
1. User "Network Service" and "IIS*" should have access to the destination folders or it fails to access it.
2. Drive root (at least on my Windows 7 system) contains protected system folders that IIS will fail to open, resulting in failure to show content of the root of the drive. (so, https://mywebsite.com/drive1tb fails to open, but https://mywebsite.com/drive1tb/subfolder opens ok)
3. If you want to be able to access certain files that are not listed in the MIME-types module, you can't. Need to add to MIME type list first.

Accessing remote WebDAV drive on
To connect to webdav shares on needs to map network drive in windows (https://solnyshok.dyndns.info) or connect to network share with SecureWebDav (davs://solnyshok.dyndns.info) in Ubuntu (9.10, Karmic Koala beta). You will be asked  username/password on first access. Update: I have run into problems with Windows, seems that Windows7 network drive mapper prevents connection to a server with self-signed certificate, and there is no way to override this behaviour. :(



And here is how it looks in web browser (if Directory Browsing module is enabled).


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2009/09/16

i8910 as real Samsung flagship in 2009

Today comes confirmation from Eldar Murtazin (russian language), the mobile industry analyst and avid phone reviewer, that sales of Samsung Omnia HD i8910 have overtaken sales of Nokia N97 in Russia. Despite the fact that N97’s advertising budget is 3 mUSD and Omnia’s only 300 kUSD.

More than ever, I am happy with my choice of the phone this year. i8910 is good.

2009/08/25

Custom ROMs for symbian devices?

 

SOHDi8910 custom romsAs far as I knowб this is the first custom ROM (similarly to custom ROMs for WinMo devices, made popular by xda-developers) for Symbian phones. This one is adaptation of HK Rom for Italian languages, plus some customizations, and Kastor effects enabled out of the box.

Btw, I have Omnia HD i8910 since middle of July, enjoy its speed and capacious RAM. New firmwares are coming out of Samsung soon to enable 3d task manager and to fix some bugs. This thing rocks. I also hope to see it updated to Symbian^2 next year. We’ll see. :)

2009/06/23

How to download youtube video to S60 phone

(tested on Nokia N82)

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How to download youtube video to your S60 phone?

I recently was presented with the challenge – I’ve received link to an interesting music video in twitter (I use and recommend Gravity). I could watch it using Operamini or native S60 browser, but downloading it to my phone was a pain. Commonly used sites (like ssyoutube.com, or youtubemp4.com) that help desktop users to download youtube clips, failed to work properly in the phone browsers (and I tried native browser, operamini, o3zone). Sometime they used ajax to show links, sometime they asked you to right click on the link to save file (how the hell can one do this on non-touch Nokia?) The only way that I found to ahieve the desired result, was to use keepvid.com which present simple download links in the resulting page.

If you already know ID of the video that you want to download, then it is pretty easy task, just form the following address in your favourite browser http://keepvid.com/?url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=VIDEO_ID follow it, and press on of the download links (.flv or .mp4). If, you want to get HQ quality, add &fmt=18 to the end of the url.

Now the 2nd obstacle is to get ID of the specific video from tinyurl (or any other link compressor, I guess). If you open tinyurl in your browser, it goes to mobile youtube page. Save bookmark at this moment and open it for editing. Surprisingly, I could not open bookmark address for editing in operamini (probably a bug related to very long address). But it works in the native browser, where you can see VideoID at the end of the address (the XXXXXXX after v= ). Copy it.

Now you can form download url as discussed above, adding to VideoID to

http://keepvid.com/?url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=

You also can save this address among bookmarks for easier use next time.

Now, I am looking for a way to extract audio track from .mp4 video on my phone and making a ringtone out of it. :)

2009/06/18

Virtual Box 3.0 Beta has DirectX9 support

But fails Windows Performance Index, so no Aero yet. Google Earth hangs too. :(

2009/05/24

Problem installing Nokia Maps 3 on N82

I was getting error message from Nokia Map Updater, that compatible phone is not found, until I tried to run old version of Nokia Maps (2.x which comes in v31 of firmware) for the first time. After it has started and created some registry settings and own files on the phone, Nokia Map Updater immediately found my handset and proceeded with installation of Nokia Maps 3.

2009/05/09

Windows 7 x64 Ramdisk

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Since the beginning of times, I speed up Firefox on all my computers by putting its cache on a ramdisk. Only recently I started to use Windows x64 and faced with the problem that it is impossible to start any free ramdisk under W7 x64. Luckily, there was a solution on on sevenforums.

Download the Ramdisk from
CENATEK: High Speed Storage Systems
Select the 1st one on the top (Public Beta V.3.5.107) and save the msi file to c:\
Don't start the MSI, it will not work.
Decompress the MSI-File (Start/Run CMD as Administrator):
msiexec /a Dataram_RAMDisk_v3.5.107.msi /qn TARGETDIR=C:\Driver

Since we have no "add hardware" in control panel, we have to install this driver manually.
The Hardware-Wizard still exist.
Start/Search -> hdwwiz.exe
- Button "next"
- select "hardware manually (expert)"
- Button "next"

- select "All Devices"
- Button "next"
Now you have to search for the Button "have disk". Click on this button and search for the folder
C:\Driver\Program Files(x86)\Ramdisk

select RAMDiskVE.inf
- Button "OK"
- Button "next"
- Button "next"
To Configure the Ramdisk start the program
C:\Driver\Program Files(x86)\RamdiskVE.exe

For me (solnyshok) RamdiskVE reports failure to start ramdisk, but after rebooting the computer, ramdisk with the required parameters is there. So, don’t panic if you get this error.

The 2nd part is easy and described in detail here. Requires creating a string browser.cache.disk.parent_directory containing the path to new cache location.

2009/05/08

CoLinux Ubuntu 9.04

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Yesterday I played with CoLinux on my laptop with Vista x32. Tried it first with Windows 7 x64 but turns out that CoLinux is only available for x32 bit environments. Anyway, it started find with Vista x32 and I even upgraded the original image (Ubuntu 8.04) in two steps to 8.10 and then to 9.4. Had to increase image size from 1.7GB to 8GB. Increasing image size involves creating a new empty image file under windows, then mounting it under CoLinux and copying all information to it, quitting CoLinux and restarting with new image file. Instructions are in the Colinux FAQ section. Maybe 8GB is an overkill, and 4GB would have been enough, but I made it bigger just in case I will want to install more programs.

It works great, faster than virtual machine. Internet works, but I still have to figure out how to see local network.

2009/05/05

Dual core Atom based home server

20090501074

Here we go, the small box based on Dual Core Atom 330 with total consumption around 50W replacing a 150W old Pentium 4 tower. It used to be around 35C in my wardrobe, now we are back to silent operation and normal room temperature. As I mentioned before, I have there 1TB 3.5” drive mostly idle 95% of the time and 500GB 2.5” laptop hard drive for 24*7 torrents.

And I am using W7 x64 build 7100 (RC) with it. I tried Home Server 2008 R2, Ubuntu 904, FreeNAS. I believe that W7 beta is so far the best value proposition, as it is very stable, versatile and free till the June, 2010.

2009/04/25

What’s best for your netbook – Ubuntu, Moblin, Solaris or Windows?

During last week, expecting new Ubuntu 904 to appear shortly, I cleared the partition where my Ubuntu 810 used to reside, and played a bit with various alternatives. I installed and tried in quick succession OpenSolaris 906, Ubuntu low power MID edition, Ubuntu netbook edition, Moblin Alpha 2.

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Disclaimer! This is a rant that do not in any way intend to claim to be the ultimate truth. I am only using Linux for half a year. While I feel comfortable digging through forums to enable support for various network and graphics hardware when I have free time to do this, I feel that at the moments it is not worth it. E.g. spending couple of nights to get Linux drivers working, costs me more than buying a Windows license. Having said that, I still enjoy Linux in a freaky kind of the way, treating it as a brain muscle stretching Lego for adults, and enjoying the process whenever time allows it.

OpenSolaris is interesting alternative to other Linux distributions, but not for a netbook. While I spent couple of days last year customizing Ubuntu 810 to work with all my hardware in eeepc 1000h. I do not feel like I want to spend such time again, since Ubuntu 904 supports all of it out-of-the-box. And I do not feel like I need ZFS on netbook. Its benefits are in ease of use of multi-disk storage, and all netbooks have only one disk.

Various Ubuntu derivatives – Netbook edition and lowpower MID edition. Netbook edition could be useful for touch enabled netbooks. Larger icons that make it easier to navigate with big fat fingertips. You do not need it on non-touch device. As to the the low-power MID edition - I had problems using it. It has increased fonts and icons, and after that, does not fit 1024x600. I wonder what kind of display they had in mind developing it.

Ubuntu 904. Loads quite fast (I use new ext4 file system) and supports all hardware features of eeepc 1000h. Compiz is still the best eyecandy you can get. Recommended.

Moblin – still in a hardcore alpha stage. Promising. Not recommended.

Windows 7 – RC (builds 7077 and 7100) are very stable. If you want to do any light gaming, or connect with Microsoft exchange or some other MS only corporate services,  or comfortably play 720p videos (1080p still out of question) then you have to get Windows 7.

Conclusion – for web browsing and document editing, watching movies and taking notes, ease of setup and use – Ubuntu 904 finally matches Windows. I like eye candy of Ubuntu more, but Windows still feels speedier to use. I am going to multiboot Ubuntu 904, Windows 7, and OSX on my laptop.

My new home server build on DualCore Atom

I am in that sweet time phase, when I made my research and ordered the parts. ETA is on Monday. I am building my home server on

image

Modecom mini ITX case with external power adaptor (96w, $70)

DualCore Intel Atom 330 in Intel D945GCLF2 (90$) – which has 1 IDE, 2 SATA connectors, Gigabit NIC

2GB RAM ($25)

500GB 2.5” laptop hard drive ($100)

and I will reuse my 1TB Barracuda 3.5” SATA from my old server.

Going for a laptop hard drive was a tough decision. I had to consider that laptop drives have limited capacity, that they are 2 more expensive than 3.5” drives, and the fact that 2*3.5 drives do not fit into mini ITX case (at least the cases that I could find in Latvia) because most of MINI-ITX cases support only one 3.5” drive and a slim CD/DVD. An alternative was to go with micro-ATX case, but then I would have to deal with the problem of finding the low-power PSU, which are not available in Latvia at all. Buying those online is possible from mini-box.com or minipc.de, but it costs an arm and a leg (upward of $100), negating any savings on purchasing a larger hard drive.

Moreover, I had to give up any idea of toying with the RAID for data protection. I will backup my personal data, which includes about 30GB of documents, photos and music, between server and my gaming pc hard drive, but for the movies, there will be no backup in this setup. I think that movies are not a critical information, because you can restore most of them from internet. At the same time, I am happy with the setup, because my space requirements will be met for another year. (I managed to fill about 700GB during 1 year). Only the small drive will be running 24x7 for torrents. It consumes less energy than larger drive and make less noise too. By the way, noise was not a consideration in this build, since I have a separate technical room for my computers. If I had to build a completely calm pc (for use on the table or in a living room) I’d had to take more expensive fanless MSI board with SSD drive, which cost too much to my taste anyway.

As for OS, I will be choosing between WHS and FreeNAS. I have seen FreeNAS, and I have yet to try WHS for the first time. And of course, there always is W7 and Ubuntu, but I do not see a benefits to running those on a headless server.

2009/04/18

Shozu problem

I don't get why people like this program. I honestly try it once or twice a year, hoping to start using it. But I again find that it is useless for me. I have some photos (5mpx) that I want to reduce in size and upload to blogger service. But there are 2 show stoppers. 1 - it would resize only to some ugly qvga resolution. 2 - it would create a separate post for each photo. No go. I need to resize to VGA or 800*600 and send multiple pictures as single post. And if they could allow for additional extra - like creating an embedded slide show or collage from those photos - I would love them.
Unfortunately, the most important change in Shozu that I noted so far, is that now it correctly processes russian encoding. Deleted. Will try it again after 6 months.

2009/04/14

Try OpenSolaris without downloads and installation - online

I keep studying options for my new home server, and one of the ideas that intrigued me, is that people swear by OpenSolaris filesystem called ZFS. Went to OpenSolaris sandbox. I haven’t tried it yet, but I already like the note in bold at the bottom.

:)

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Update: So, I tried it. On the surface is the same Gnome 2.24 as in many other Linux distributions. Seems that I need to go elsewhere to understand the benefits of ZFS.

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Using Asus eeepc 1000h as home server

I want to replace my P4 2.8GHz home server (Power draw around 100+ W/h, no processor scaling) with something more efficient. The current king of the hill in terms of power efficiency while providing adequate performance seems to be Intel Atom processor. I already have a netbook based on single core Atom, and before jumping and taking a mini ITX motherboard based on Atom (good list here at kramfs.com) I decided to test how well it is doing its job in the netbook.

So, I connected eee 1000h to my router via ethernet cable. Unfortunately, 1000h has only 100Mbps NIC. I shared a movie folder with the network, and connected 4 computers, playing 2 HD videos (up to 2.5 MB/s each) and 2 DVD videos (up to 1MB/sec each).

20090413052

On the picture – eee pc 1000h as server. 2 laptops and home entertainment PC, and old server (not visible) are playing videos, trying the limits of eeepc. Didn’t succeed by the way. Here are proof pix.

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Network utilization seems low, peaking only at some 43% (or 6MB/sec). I used a 9GB movie for this test. Sure it would be different if I used a 20GB movie. But it also reflects the current state of torrent popularity in our country. Videos larger than 10GB are not here yet. I watched “The Matrix” in 20GB hi-def, but deleted it later.

Capture

CPU usage averaged around 15-20% in the process. So, for my current usage patterns, it means that all my kids can watch their own movies on as many computers as I got in this house.

I am now on the crossroads, my two options are

1) take a new mobo based on DualCore Atom. It is around $100 here, and only $20 more expensive than single core Atom option. But it has Gigabit NIC, which is good for file transfers. Investment - 100$ mobo, $70 case with power supply, $30 2GB RAM stick. Total $200. The drawback here – I get another computer to care about.

2) use my 1000h as home server, as I do not have much use for it since I got a 12inch work laptop. I would need to buy a 500GB 2.5” SATA HD to make this a useful home server. My current server has 1TB 3.5” SATA and I could move it into my video/game machine. Investment - $120 for harddrive. Drawback – slow file copying on the network. Copying one file immediately fills the NIC with some 11 MB/sec transfer. My current transfer speeds are limited by harddrive writing speeds at 35-40MB/sec.

Decisions, decisions…

2009/03/27

RDP/ Thanx god it’s Friday.

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Web speeds have improved so much over last 2-3 years, that now it is so easy and convenient to RDP from work to home server, initiate download of Ubuntu 9.04 beta and even burn it to the disk that I loaded into DVD drive in the morning.

Life is good. :)

2009/03/26

What is best sync solution for Windows?

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I am looking for a best Win program to sync my numerous laptops, media pc, and hopefully, my mobile, with selected folders on my 24-hrs file server running on Windows 7.

After googling and reading a bit, I identified

  • Unison, and DeltaCopy – as Windows GUI for the famous rsync. Should be simple and mature.
  • Folder share (MS Live Sync) – free solution from Microsoft. Should be pretty simple too.
  • Synplicity,  Sugarsync, Dropbox – other well established programs. These seems to provide online storage for files, and any reasonable amount (over 2 or 5 GB for different programs) will cost money. Since I already have own always-on server, I feel that I do not need their service.

So, I will be installing and trying Unison, DeltaCopy and Foldershare.

2009/03/25

Time to upgrade? Nokia N82 firmware v31

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I have been using v20 for  a long time since it was easily unlocked. But my phone recently started to behave erratically, I could not start media gallery anymore. Camera was slow. Everything was slow and it rebooted by itself too often (couple of times a week). I also have 16GB MicroSDHC card and I knew that latest firmware touted better compatibility with large cards. So it was time to go with full format of the phone and the memory card and painfull reinstallation of all programs.

So, here we go. Backup of PIM. Copying of files from card to computer. (that was not easy, the card wouldn’t read in card readers anymore, but using the phone in USB mode, did it). Format the card. *#7370# for hard reset.

I used Nokia Software Updater, and it did it evil thing by upgrading me to v31 and loosing my regional languages in the process. There I was, having now choice between English and Hindu. Instead of Latvian and Russian. Luckily, this isn’t a rare problem. It happens often, because the phone is produced for one country, and has that country’s product code and regional languages are added before shipping only.

This is fixed by changing phones product code to correct region and doing NSU again. Luckily it is easy and free (with caveats about understanding the risks of messing with Nokia firmware using non-Nokia tools). I used guidelines for N95 product code change from thenokiablog and it worked for my N82 too.

Format the card. Hard reset. Format the card again. (just in case, you know).

Here I am now. The phone is much faster even with all the software installed.(I relate it to better support for the large cards). It eats less energy (true, as promised in firmware changelog). It is more stable. (true, not self-initiated reboots anymore). And yes, there are some problems with Opera Mini 4.2 as noted by other users(for me, it manifests in slow response when using My Opera sync). Because of the this, I hope that there is another firmware on the way.

It is not unlocked anymore. Huh. There is a way to do it (mapdrive method) discussed in great detail in many places on the web. But you need to have your own certificate to sign several programs required in the process and I do not have one. It seems that at this moment, our friends in China stopped creating such certificates. Boy, do I want to be in the line when there is a new place creating personal certificates.

2009/02/02

Boost GMA950 speed in netbooks

If you have one of popular netbooks like Asus eeePC, or Acer One or MSI Wind with Intel GMA950 built-in graphics, chances are you can improve its performance. Turns out Intel has decreased GMA950 frequency from 400MHz to 133MHz for netbooks, to cripple video performance, and separate them further from the expensive notebooks using the same GMA950. Now, there is a program called GMA950boost. It is discussed in MSI Wind forums, with users reporting some 20-30% boost in the framerates. Which means, that if a game wasn’t playable before (say 10 fps), it will not get much better (at 13 fps). Still it maybe a nice boost for someone struggling to get their favorite game to more playable fps and 720p video to play smoother. Unfortunately, this program is not free yet. So it is up to you to decide if you want to pay some 10$ for it.