Friday, November 21, 2008

The story about the new server

Here is a story about two weeks of frustration installing a new server. I have never had that much problem installing a computer in my life and I have installed hundreds of them.

A few weeks before I left Sweden for a three week trip in southern Africa I noted that I was out of disk on my server. I decided to wait by more disk until I got back home. Therefore I moved some data temporary to my workstation.

When I got home a few weeks ago I ordered a new motherboard and hard drive. I decided to go for the brand new Intel mini-ITX atom based motherboard D945GCLF2 with 2GB memory and a Western Digital Green Power 1TB S-ATA drive. This made the new computer cheap and green. Misco delivered the stuff fast.

When I had assembled the stuff it did not boot, the screen was black and I couldn't enter the BIOS-setup. I Removed all cables, including the hard drive. The mother board worked fine. Tested with another old S-ATA drive and it worked fine. It was with Western Digitals Green Power that locked the BIOS.

I requested a RMA-number from Misco to return it for Dead on Arival (DOA). During the weekend this annoyed me so I investigated it some more. I discovered that I could enable power management on the hard drive. Then the BIOS passed, but did not find any hard drive. I found a diagnostic CD at Western Digital. It found the drive and its tests said it worked fine. I upgraded the BIOS, but still the same problem.

The Atom 330 processor is a 64-bit CPU so I booted latest Ubuntu Linux 8.10 64-bit serveredition. The kernel crached. I tried the 32-bit release instead. It worked and find the hard drive. Something was spooky with the integration between the motherboard and the hard drive. I thougth that the supplier may not accept my disk as broken. So I called them on monday and talked to a very nice guy. He said that they probably wouldn't accept my return. He recommended me to get in touch with Intel.

I contacted Intel's support and got a list of things to try, which I already had tried. If it still did not work it was the hard disk manufacures fault, they said. I replied that at least their BIOS should not hang when it can't detect the hard drive and it is better that their engineers get in touch with Westyern Digital to resolve why their products are incompatible. In other case I would just jump back and forward between the two manufactures. They promised to inform the developers.

In parallel with all the discussions I installed Ubuntu on a Compact Flash-card (CF-card). The installation CD finds the hard drive, but the installation on the CF-card did not. So I could not use it as a secondary disk either.

Tonight a few day after my last contact with Intel released a new version of the BIOS. I can now run the Ubuntu Linux 8.10 64-bit edition booting from a CF-card and the kernel always finds the disk. Since I do want my /boot on a separate disk I have not tried to boot from the hard drive. The BIOS still not list the hard drive correctly, but I have a working configuration.

If you have strugles with the combination of Intel D945GCLF2 and Western Digital Green Power. Upgrade your BIOS on the mother board, enable power management on the disk and put /boot on another disk. Then you will have a working configuration.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Todays good news

Adobe has finally released a 64-bit version of the flash player. Still alpha but a step forward. Looking forward to see this in next Ubuntu. This will definitely make my workstation work better.