As I wrote previously, I have been looking for 24/7 hardware to renew my home system: silent, up-to-date and linux compatible.
Does not sound that hard. But as I kept looking for user experiences, I found hardly any detailed information about AM-2 boards.
In the end I decided to get an ASUS M2N-E and give it a shot. My complete setup:
AMD Athlon 64×2 3800+
2 GByte Aeneon DDR2 566MHz
ASUS EN7300GT Silent/HTD
Western Digital 320GByte RAID Edition
What’s the worst that could happen?
First of all, a stupid mistake on my part: I ordered a Zalman CNPS7700 Cu, which is a really nice and quiet cooler, but unfortunately not compatible with AMD’s new AM2-Socket, as I discovered while trying to install the system.
Problem is, there hardly any coolers made for the new socket, so I had to take Zalman’s top of the line model, the 9500 AM2. But it’s silent alright, and really easy to install.
After plugging everything together the system booted. So I inserted my freshly downloaded Kubuntu Edgy Beta CD and? Kernel Panic
Nice, but not totally unexpected, as these things happen with new hardware, if ACPI isn’t fully supported yet. Tried a current Knoppix anyway, resulting also in a kernel panic. After that I tried the Kubuntu Disc with disabled ACPI (‘noapic acpi=off pci=bios’), but booting the live-/install-system took hours. Which means more or like 10 minutes, but one gets impatient in these situations.
When it finally had loaded nothing worked as it should be, the cursor jumped around and in the end the system froze. After that I took the system inside out, tried different CD-drives, ran memtest, …
Long story short, after 3 hours of pluging in and out almost every component I took a break, thought about the situation and then updated the BIOS. After that everything worked (almost) flawlessly. I used a Ubuntu install CD instead of Kubuntu, because the installer on the kubuntu disc had some issues with manual parititioning. Afterwards I simply installed kubuntu-desktop to get my beloved KDE.
What follows are the problems I had with my hardware:
A bit of an exagguration, but all the hardware worked out of the box, especially the onboard gbit NIC and spdif. For AC3-passthrough simply use this with mplayer:
mplayer -ao alsa -ac hwac3
With Xine/Kaffeine you set output to passthrough and might need to disable “mixer_software” and might, depending on your Dolby Digital Receiver need to force the ouput to 48KHz in kcontrol.
Configuring Cool’n'Quiet, extra repositories, … take a look here.
Something to look at is always nice. My desktop right now looks like this:
After that I had to try this:
If you would like to see this in action, have a look at this.
btw: ASUS got a nice tool to flash the bios directly from usb-stick right from the BIOS (EZFlash). You are also able to backup the old BIOS to stick in advance, really convinient.