From yggdrasil to arrakis – a love story

For years, I’ve been rocking a file server built off of an Intel PERL 865 motherboard and a 2.6 Pentium 4 CPU.  It’s worked great and I have no complaints about it.  It actually started out life as my original HTPC, but it only lasted in that role for a year.  I believe it was also my first, full time linux box.  At the time, I was still occasionally dual booting to Windows on my desktop and laptop. Not very often, but occasionally.

The only complaint I have about the board is due to its age.  It only supports SATA at 1.5 Gbit/s, only a PCI-based gigabit ethernet port and no PCI-e.  As I’m planning on adding more drives to the server, I’d rather not saturate the PCI bus and experience more issues.

Given that my two most recent HTPCs were AMD and I had a spare cpu laying around, I decided to hunt for an inexpensive AMD motherboard.  My only qualifications were it had to have dual-gigabit network jacks, multiple SATA II ports, integrated GPU, and (ideally) a firewire port

I found most of this in an Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe motherboard that I found for $40.  It was used, but the seller didn’t describe any problems with the board.  After a long delay in waiting for him to ship, I got it in my greedy hands and started rebuilding the server.

Except the damn thing seems to be cursed.  I tried booting with a USB stick loaded with a linux rescue cd.  It generally crashed.  I blamed this on the fact that I had just recovered said stick from being washed and dried in my jeans.  So I threw the same distro onto an external SATA drive and tried booting off of that.  Random errors.  I blamed this on the jmicron controller.

I took the drive I meant to boot off of and loaded it into my primary computer, installing a basic gentoo image.  It booted into the OS completely.  YAY!

Except it had USB issues.  I’ve been using USB keyboards for a few years now, it’s just easier.  On each attempt to load this machine, I’ve had issues with the keyboard a few times.  It would just start repeating a random key and not stop until I unplugged it.   I tried a second keyboard with the same results.   When I dug out an old PS/2 keyboard, I didn’t have the problem.  I wrote it off as I wasn’t using the correct driver, which would be corrected as soon as I could compile a kernel.

This build had a kernel built and it still had the problem.   Again, the PS/2 keyboard worked fine.

No worries, as it will be headless, as long as it boots, I’m happy.  So, I threw everything together and put the machine back in its hole and booted it remotely.  I was successfully able to log into it and start compiling screen.  Except it seemingly crashed on me.   Pings were unresponsive, the shell just sat there in the middle of the build.

Grudgingly, I pulled the case down and set it back up on my monitor.  Keep in mind this is a heavy steel case with multiple drives installed.

After booting, I did see a few errors in dmesg indicating possible corruption.  I attributed this to either the dirty shutdown or differences from the 2.6.33 that I use on my desktop to the 2.6.31 build for the server.

Then the SATA resets started.

“ata5: nv: skipping hardreset on occupied port”


So I’ve prepared a new image with a new kernel.   I’m not sure it’s going to work just yet.  With all of the troubles I’m having with this board, I’m planning on going with the name Arrakis if I ever get it moving.  I think it fits given the problems I’m having conquering it.  🙂   Time will tell.

~ by praetor on March 23, 2010.

One Response to “From yggdrasil to arrakis – a love story”

  1. […] has replaced Yggrasil and MaryJane (as detailed here).  It serves as a MythTV backend, file server, PXE server, VM server, Asterisk server and logging […]

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