A Beast

I have been cleaning up and resurrecting a beast of a computer. Its a dual Xeon 3.16GHz, with 8GB of RAM. Its not that high spec compared with today’s hardware. Has a fairly average GPU and a RAID card with currently 7x 500GB HDs, and 1TB system disk. I think I will get it going. Maybe find a use for it. Perhaps as web scraper or something. That or I could sell it. Gonna have to get a HD off eBay to make up the 8, that and find the Sata PSU cables!

Oldish Computer


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Poor KDE Performance – Balooctl Disable!

Two of my Opensuse boxes where performing really badly, but only some of the time. I tracked this down to the Baloo file indexing program. This is the tool that indexes your files for search, which is useful but only if it doesn’t cause horrendous performance problems.

The symptoms were a very frustrating desktop performance where the mouse would stutter and every few seconds or so, the system would sort of stop and then start again. It seemed to affect all apps to the point where they were basically unusable. It feels like a constant interrupting of the system, which it might well be.

The solution! Disable Baloo using the following command:
balooctl disable

Then reboot the system and all will be well. I rarely used the file indexing anyway. It would often crash on its own.

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Got Me a Server Rack

I have been going through a process of tidying up! So I have got a server rack and put a load (3) of my computers in it. I got it free, thanks York University, and all it needed was a new wheel. Its working out pretty well. the Top one is my home server, the middle a Windows machine, and the bottom is my quad Opteron system that doesn’t get used much these days. Bit of a relic from the PhD days of ploughing though lots of simulations.


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SpiderOak and the Tail of the Dead Battery

I switched from Dropbox to SpiderOak a while ago. For a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to upload more things to the cloud for backup, video projects etc, and SpiderOak have a personal 5TB plan. I was also starting to get nervous about security and I think the encryption system in place by SpiderOak is better than Dropbox. However, this transition has its downsides.

The SpiderOak client is not as slick as Dropbox, in fact it looks rather retro. I don’t care about the retro, but the interface takes a bit of getting used to. That said, once you get your head round it it is not difficult to use. The main downside is that if you change a lot of files on SpiderOak then your computer is going to be spending a lot of time encrypting and decrypting files. Uploading a load of photographs downloaded from my digital camera took a fair while on my MacBook Pro, and that is a fair while of one core at 100% and the fan spinning away like crazy.

That is not the only way you can flatten a laptop battery very quickly. While being a Dropbox user I got into the habit of just working straight out of Dropbox. So I would incrementally save files into the Dropbox folder, and Dropbox would dutifully upload this file into the cloud. The situation with SpiderOak is somewhat different. The save event has to be detected, and then the file is encrypted into some sort of bundle of files. This is then uploaded to the cloud. I have just finished working on a Word document and when I looked at the upload queue in the SpiderOak client, three versions of the file where there waiting to go. I have also been working on my laptop for maybe 3 hrs from full charge. The relatively large amount of work that SpiderOak is doing to do all that encryption means I have warm laptop with 28% battery… not so good.

I think this system also causes problems for SpiderOak. The client reports that I am using 1.6TB of my 5TB of space. However, when the client reports the size of my files on their severs, its over 5TB. This is because of all those duplicate encrypted files. I am not sure how they go about solving that problem. The big duplications were caused when I changed round some computer systems and the client believed that the files on the hard disks were all new version of the entire content I store on the cloud. Oh dear.

So what to do. I like the extra storage space, and I like the encryption. I don’t like the battery usage or the CPU hammering. Its fine on my huge desktops that have 8+ cores and tons on ram. I don’t even notice. At the very least, live files like that Word doc, might have to be edited outside of SpiderOak and then copied in. That or I go looking for another solution.

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DriverTuner and the generic solution that doesn’t work

I don’t spend much time with Windows, my desktops are largely Linux and my laptops Macs. I do have one rather ageing Windows machine, that recently got borked by an update. It was when I was reinstalling the drivers and software that Windows update couldn’t find that I came across DriverTuner. What a hateful piece of software this is. I have been using computers for years, and I started early enough to remember the days when you had to manually set IRQs on hardware with little jumpers. So tracking through a website using the model numbers of my hardware isn’t much of a hardship. I don’t believe it would be to anyone really, we can all navigate websites…

Therefore I found it extremely irritating that when trying to install both my Canon printer and Epson scanner that I kept navigating to a specific page only to download DriverTuner. On the Epson site it even downloaded in a zip file that looked like the correct version of Epson Scan. DriverTuner is irritating because it doesn’t seem to work, it failed to find anything to install on my computer. Not only that it also seemed to want me to buy it. Would it have made me buy it to get my drivers? To me DriverTuner is nothing more than an annoying, overly complex, failed, solution to a almost non-existent problem. Another piece of crapware clogging up my system.

Canon at least had a version of the drivers and software somewhere on their site that I was eventually able to locate and download. It installed and worked. Epson, not so. I had to resort to chatting to a helper to get a link to a page that I could download the driver from. Why, manufactures, insist on making everyone download this software? Why not let people try the automatic method if they want, and let those of us who want to just go to site and get the driver without any fuss do that?

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Windows 10 Nvidia nForce RAID Update Troubles

So a resent update caused no end of problems with my Windows 10 machine. It would repeatedly fail to install the update, and then when it managed it I couldn’t log into the machine. User profile not accessible. I decided that it was probably time to re-install my machine anyway. However it seems the problem came back. A little different this time.

I reinstalled but chose to leave my Nvidia Soft/Fake RAID partition unchanged as I used it as my user space. The machine re-installed, and everything appeared to be fine. I could get to the RAID array, so I left it as is and went about installing drivers and updates. Updates! This is the problem. It seems I have become one of the many victims of a Windows 10 update that stops Nvidia RAID arrays from working (see here in German). So no sooner had I updated the machine and restarted, the RAID array vanished again. So annoying. This machine is a little old but it is by no means obsolete. Its a dual quad-core opteron with 16GB of ram and a half decent GPU. Plenty of live left in it yet, esp as all I use it for is scanning and printing photographs. The RAID array still reports as healthy at boot. I suppose I should have known not to trust a fake/soft RAID long term. However, wasn’t expecting an update to do it in. So what to do… Buy a cheap RAID card off ebay and use that, turn off Nvidia RAID and use the Windows fake RAID instead? Whatever, they should have warned us of this potential if they knew.

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Gigabyte X79-UP4 Linux Horror

So I am not much of a Windows user, I have one Windows machine that doesn’t get used all the much. I tend to use Linux and have done for about 15 years. One of my work machines has caused a bit of trouble. The system was built around the Gigabyte X79-UP4 motherboard. This is on the face of it a good main-board, nice spec, good components. However I have had a lot of trouble with it. Its all about the USB 3 chipset, Linux hates it. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Anything plugged into the USB 3.0 ports and the machine will not shutdown, it instantly reboots.
  • USB 3.0 devices are unstable, and don’t always function.
  • With anything in the USB 3.0 ports the system can become unstable/unresponsive.

The solution was to deactivate all the USB 3.0 chipsets on the main-board. The the system behaves itself. I didn’t however discover this very quickly. I first tried replacing the PSU as I thought it had become damaged somehow. I then complained to Gigabyte who asked me to send the board back to them. Which I did at cost to me. They checked the board and said it was fine. They however refused to check the board with any Linux install. It is hard to replace a X79 main-board now. I so I have to continue to use it. I have however installed a PCIe USB 3.0 card that is now running the front ports on my system, and 2 on the back. I tried this board with a couple of difference Linux versions, including Ubuntu 14 and Opensuse 13.3/Leap 42.1. So, this means that I will probably never risk a Gigabyte project again, to risky.

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Lightworks 12.6 working on Opensuse 13.2 & Leap 42.1

This might have been covered but I wasn’t able to find it easily so I thought I would post it up.

I have been trying to get Lightworks 12.6 working on Opensuse 13.2 and ran into some problems. It would hang on with the loading banner up and not do anything. So I tried running ntcardvt from the command line and got:

./ntcardvt: error while loading shared libraries: libcrypto.so.10: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

In Opensuse libcrypto.so.10 is provided by the libopenssl package as /lib64/libcrypto.so.1.0.0

So its both named incorrectly and also in the wrong place for Lightworks to find.

Easy fix, as root make a sym link:

ln -s /lib64/libcrypto.so.1.0.0 /usr/lib64/libcrypto.so.10

Seems to work now, although I haven’t tested extensively. I think this will be the same for Leap 42.1 but my normal machine is waiting on a motherboard replacement so I cannot test that.

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I went to the CCC (32C3) gain this year. As always it was great, a really interesting mixture of people geeking out with LEDs and activists trying to save the world. I always leave with mixed feelings. Glad that there is a community of people that are trying to keep a check on our privacy rights, and the freedom of the press etc, but also depressed about the direction that the world seems to be going in. Anyway, below is a machine that makes Crepes to cheer you up.

32c3 – Crêpe machine

Crêpe making machine at the 32c3. One of the many works of genius at the 32c3.

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Liquid Cooling

So my main home desktop machine needed some TLC. Firstly, it was caught in a power surge before I got a UPS system and that damaged the power supply. The result would be that it would instantly restart after shutdown. I checked everything, from the BIOS upwards. This was definitely a hardware problem. The other issue was the machine would run hot under heavy load. Pushing about 70/80 degrees C.

So I eventually got round to fixing the two issues. I got a new 850Watt PSU and installed that. This solved the restarting problem. I also got a refurbished Corsair H90 Hydro cheaply for the replacement cooling solution. The CPU is a Intel i7 3930K, which has a TDP of 130Watts so a air cooling solution wasn’t really up to the job. The H90 is very easy to install, there was plenty of room in my case for an extra fan/radiator at the top. So it was a simple matter of installing the fan at the top, and then screwing the retaining bolts for the cooler on to the CPU socket. There is then a fixing ring for the pump/heatsink assembly that attaches to the bolts. I think it took me longer to unplug all the wires from the back of the motherboard than it did to install the cooler. Result, it has knocked about 8+ degrees of the idle temperature and about 15+ degrees off the load temperature. Which is a big improvement. Now I should really do something about the cooling in my old dual quad core Opteron system… Pictures below.

Liquid cooler for the CPU.

Cooler, GPU and Tesla Card.

Slightly closer on the cooler.

Slightly closer on the cooler.


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