Trouble in Paradise. Some questions

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Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:51 am
Location: Finland

Trouble in Paradise. Some questions

Post by Hezu » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:54 pm

At the moment I have following three usable computer setups:
- Antec NSK 2400 case with 380W PSU
- Abit NF-M2 nView motherboard
- Athlon64 X2 1900+ (65W) CPU
- Scythe Ninja Mini (no fan attached)
- Scythe and Lieberman 120 mm fans
- 1 GB DDR2
- Samsung 500GB T166 SATA HD
- Hauppauge WinTV-NOVA-T-500 dual DVB-T tuner PCI card
- 3Com 905 10/100 PCI Ethernet card
- Lite-On DVD-writer (PATA)
- Ubuntu Linux OS

2. "Main rig"
- Antec P182 case
- Nexus NX8040 PSU
- Gigabyte 965-DS3 motherboard
- Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 CPU
- Scythe Ninja (no fan attached)
- fans at rear, top and in front of upper HD cage
- 4×1GB DDR2 RAM
- Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 Ultimate graphics card
- 5 SATA HDs: 1× WD 500 GB, 2× Samsung T166 500 GB, 1× Samsung F1 1 TB and 1× WD GP 1TB
- 2× Terratec Cinergy 1200 DVB-T tuner PCI cards
- 1× Allied Telesyn 10/100 PCI Ethernet card
- Optiarc DVD-writer (PATA)
- Debian GNU/Linux "unstable" OS

3. "Cheap box for parents"
- Compucase case (model number escapes my mind just now)
- Nexus NX-4000 400W PSU
- MSI K9A2 CF motherboard
- Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition CPU (with boxed cooler for time being)
- Corsair XMS2 TwinX 2x2GB DDR2 800 RAM
- ASUS Geforce 8500 Silent
- 2 × Antec Tricool 120mm fans (originally from the cases listed above)
- Seagate 7200.11 1.5 TB SATA HD and Hitachi 250 GB PATA HD with SATA-adapter
- Liteon DVD-drive (PATA)
- Ubuntu Linux OS (there are plans for Windoze installation too)

Now, I am have got little problems with these computers, or more specifically the last two are having really fatal issues. but updating these two may lead into changes in HTPC, which is currently the most stable one.
Let's start with the last computer. I already earlier asked hints for building this one, but got no replies and ended up with acquiring that cheap, spartan MSI full-ATX board with unnecessary Crossfire capability and top of line AMD dual-core. For the intended purpose (mostly Internet browsing, some Office usage and light photo editing) the rig looked quite ok, and once I got all components in place, it looked that after some fan and heatsink swapping it might even be fairly quiet (apart from the HD seek noise, especially from that old Hitachi - I decided to keep it just because I'm too cheapskate to discard perfectly usable HD, especially as if I bought new HD, I would end up in terabyte class because that has best €/GB rate and I didn't really want another big disk in this setup). However, few days later came the problem: mouse and keyboard stopped working. Tried few alternative ones (both PS/2 and USB units), but at one point keyboard didn't work even in BIOS! I didn't have time to properly investigate this when it was first encountered around Easter holidays, but now I have tried the computer few more times, and looks like the problem not just appear at random time, but it can also go away (at least temporarily).
Now, the first question is: can anyone know what might be causing this?
Could it be possible that PSU is acting up and causing this, because this case+PSU setup was housing a Pentium 4 + Abit AI-7 (Intel 865 chipset) setup that also broke down earlier?

Second problematic setup is my main rig. I have had unluck with it lately, first one of my two Benq G2400WD monitors broke down (or more specifically its power button stopped working, it is now pending for onsite exchange), then struck the software problems (ok, I can partially blame myself, I run "unstable" branch of Debian) and then I have noticed the most worrying thing: the 1 TB Samsung F1 may be dying as there has been some alarming I/O error messages in system log. I haven't seen these whole time, but I am still bit pessimistic about the longevity of this drive and thus I have started to think what to do. The straight-forward solution would be to go shopping and grab another 1+ TB disk, install it and migrate data to this new disk and remove the F1. However, I'm not sure about how practical this would be as first there is little problem with power cabling: the last free SATA power plug is at the moment in the upper chamber of case and getting it into lower chamber might be cumbersome and Molex->SATA converter may not be that easy solution as those also in upper chamber or some specifically around optical drive bays. Second challenge may come with the filesystem as the F1, the other two older Samsungs and one partition of 500 GB WD form a logical device that hosts logical volumes and I'm bit unsure about how well moving logical volume works. And in case, that there is mismatch in disk sizes, it might be fatal problem too as I use XFS filesystems, which cannot be downsized. Also, the biggest logical volume is currently 1.9 GiB and is almost full (mostly TV recordings, which I've been too lazy to watch, but don't want to delete either).
Thus I've started to think about building a new setup. First, I have also thought that instead building a new main rig, it might be interesting idea to build a separate disk server as also the HTPC is bit low on disk space. That might mean I would propably also need to think about the current network setup: these two current computers are already connected via gigabit Ethernet (on motherboards) and hooked to the Internet via 10/100 PCI cards connected to ADSL modem. The most crucial question in the server approach is, can gigabit Ethernet handle the traffic I will have? I mean that I may want to record couple TV shows at the same time and perhaps also watch one already recorded. Or would it be better to finally setup VDR software and place the DVB-recording on the server? Also, can anyone suggest nice motherboards with plenty of SATA connectors for this kind of file server? Or nice case that would have many hard disk bays? I do have old AOpen HQ08 case hanging around that has 7 internal 3.5" bays (+ 1 extra for floppy and 5×5.25" bays), but it might be bit old-fashioned and those HD bays have no vibration reduction.
Then other option is indeed to update this main rig (which already is some sort of file server). But after browsing motherboard price lists, I have started to wonder if there is any decent modern boards with just one 16× PCIe slot, 3 PCI slots and as many as possible SATA ports (yes, I'm a HD junkie :))? Or should I just forget that many PCI slots and replace either the current network setup or two DVB-T cards? Two DVB tuners in the main rig is a must in any case as I want to record from two different muxes at the same time.

PS. apologies for such a long post :)

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Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:20 am
Location: Missing in Finnish wilderness, howling to moon with wolf brethren and walking with brother bears

Post by thejamppa » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:40 pm

About the first question: PSU very well might be the culprit or part of the problem. I would try another PSU and see if its a problem. Motherboard can be a problem too. Mouse and keyboard jamming sounds bad BIOS.

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