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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 05-05-2008, 06:58 PM   #1
sonichedgehog
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Is Debian the wrong distro for my old MicroStar MS-6178L/M Motherboard?


This computer is impossibly slow- 20m to boot and everything else works but very slowly.
I have posted recently with this one, but added extra info so it never looked like a zero reply thread- and having done some more work, I can keep it brief.
The box has 40gB Excelstor drive, 500mHz intel celeron, 256mB ram. I have excluded HD problems, this HD has worked elsewhere and this motherboard has had the same problem with another HD. I have tried jumper options on the HD, a few tweaks in bios, also (suggested on Debianforum) disable DMA, no difference.
There was no problem copying lots of data from a removable drive to the HD. The only clue in dmesg is "loading hardware drivers-fail" and that's intermittent.
The motherboard would be in the local recycle site by now but for the fact that it worked up until I came off windows XP.
That gives me an idea... before I give up, should I try a different distro? and, if so, please suggest one. Thank you for being patient with this irritating thread!
 
Old 05-05-2008, 07:52 PM   #2
aus9
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I bet xp ran super fast (are you sure?)

I think you may be on the right track to ask for advice on other distros...or running debian with a minimal window manager....not sure what you have used so I will keep it brief.

You can search all of your specs at HCL but I can already tell that modern distro and their installers have trouble with cpu speed and ram as mentioned.

You may be better off running a live cd of damnsmalllinux or puppy and seeing which boots up the fastest for you....if their driver set recognises your hw.

http://www.puppylinux.com/about.htm

http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/

2) the debian hw driver failure may not be a error with debian but may indicate that your hardware is at fault. Some drives have smart technology but you may not see that in your bios...but linux distros do have smart daemon which may assist but the kernel or module must be in the distro.

I am not saying your drive is about to fail so I just suggesting when you have problem it may relate to bios, hardware or software.

good luck
 
Old 05-05-2008, 08:06 PM   #3
IsaacKuo
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I don't know if this issue is related, but I had similar symptoms with a fresh Ubuntu install that took forever to boot up. The solution was to remove "quiet splash" from the kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst.

I have never had this issue with Debian, though, since Debian 4.0 doesn't use these options. Are you using Debian Etch? If not, I'd recommend you use Etch on that machine.
 
Old 05-06-2008, 08:36 AM   #4
sonichedgehog
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Thank you aus9 & IsaacKuo.
I was probably being too brief in the interest of not boring fellow members with this sorry tale. XP ran well enough to get my work done- you could probably make the tea while it was booting and running its virus software, but not cook dinner for the family, if you see what I mean. Here's the summary-
1 Installed debian etch with same hardware except for 16gB original drive. Same problems. LQ member suggested smartctl, this gave me prefails, so I blamed the HD.
(A note on smartctl- I have used it extensively since. All 4 of the older HD's I have tested have passed but with all old age or prefail readings. The one mentioned above has not been tested with a Linux box that is known to work, but the other 3 have. Eg I have built an experimental box with Debian Lenny and used 2no 4gB HD's, both with prefails etc, by setting up partitions to spread the load. It has a 266 processor, 192mB ram made up of recycled 128+64 cards, & works fine- so I have every confidence in Debian itself, even with older hardware. The 40gB HD that I'm using now was previously installed with that motherboard, but seemed a bit much for a lightweight system. In a former life, it too was an XP)
2 Replaced 16gB with 40gB HD mentioned, loaded Debian Lenny. Installer seemed OK.
3 Took ages to boot, & seldom loaded gnome properly- toolbars missing.
4 Replaced with Xubuntu. The logic was to get a lighter distro up & running to be able to at least use internet & some diagnostic tools. That was achieved, but boot still just as slow. Menus would drop down quickly, but any other operation was too slow to use. However I was able to copy from a usb drive to HD without trouble or delay.
5 Attempted some messing with jumpers, 15heads, 32gB clip, cable select. No change
6 Attempted some bios changes: disable smart, enable CPU bist. No change
7 Disable DMA- no change

The Ubuntu "quiet splash" is- am I correct-? where a distro "trademark" fills the screen while the boot is running. I don't mind dealing with that, or even reinstalling etch, or perhaps putting back my ghost xp image to see whether there is now a hardware problem interfering with every platform. If eerything including XP is going wrong, I'll call it a hardware problem and replace with a basic motherboard.

I have recently installed Debian Lenny on a box with similar architecture- same manufacturer (Tiny) although I can't say for sure that it was the same motherboard. The processor was Intel P3 not celeron. It was for a friend, and as far as I know it's working well. For me, that's more evidence that the current Debian systems are surprisingly tolerant of old hardware.

On the alternative distro idea, I haven't found anything that reviews better that Debian- they all seem to present issues and delays for some users- but I am open to suggestions

So, , my next task is to install XP from ghost. If that's working, I'll try Debian Etch. If that doesn't work, damnsmalllinux- & post again- unless there's something in the above that suggests a different problem?
 
Old 05-06-2008, 08:44 AM   #5
IsaacKuo
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I'm really not familiar with Lenny, myself. I've installed it a couple times without being impressed, and went back to Etch.

Yes, "quiet splash" in the Ubuntu menu.lst were the options it used for that splash screen during boot up. I don't know of Lenny does anything like that, but on Ubuntu it was definitely the things which caused the boot to seemingly hang for about ten minutes. And for what? So I'm protected from the SCARY boot messages that actually tell me something about what the machine is doing and where it's getting hung up? Whatever. I would always remove those options even if it didn't cause the boot to freeze up for many minutes.
 
Old 05-06-2008, 08:20 PM   #6
aus9
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sonic

thanks for the expansion.

can you elaborate on your term enable cpu BIST?

2) are you aware of kernel parameters aka cheat codes that may impact on your kernel that is loaded that may make a difference.

I briefly mentioned minimal window manager and so as you have shown a pref for debian style we will stay there until you have exhausted that and let you decide to go to puppy after all heh heh

3) first stay xubuntu and try some cheat codes. I assume you are running grub or lilo?

I grabbed the first one off google but a clearer list in in the vanilla documentation or your source kernel doc
http://www.cyberciti.biz/howto/quest...parameters.php

look for no(string) eg noapic

these are added to the grub kernel line
eg
kernel /boot/blah blah blah noapic

3) other window managers can also be checked

here are some
http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/639/
 
Old 05-07-2008, 10:53 AM   #7
sonichedgehog
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Thanks aus9, firstly in bios "advanced" configuration one of the options is CPU BIST enable/disable, while thrashing around I enabled this which means built in self test... no difference anyway.
Acting on earlier advice + one of my theories, WinXP loaded & ran OK using ghost image, hung once but that's expected, then my good old Debian Etch disk came through. 1st time was perfect, 2nd went very slow, 3rd was perfect again, loaded KDE with a few errors (repairable) (to see whether the "weight" of the window manager is the problem) and OK so far.
The Lenny iso I was using had a problem for this box only (!). Confident in the HD now. The intermittent nature of the fault looks like hardware not software, if a full KDE setup works sometimes not others (I'll check it) I doubt there's any merit in using DSL or puppy just yet (btw I like the look of DSL so downloaded it anyway). In the end I think I'll retire the motherboard due to unreliability, but I'm going to concentrate on my work for the rest of this week & play again at the weekend.
IsaacKuo, I agree about splash- in fact I've been ctrlAltF1-ing to see what was happening. After all, computers should look like computers shouldn't they...?

Thanks for ALL your help, even if I've gone off at tangents the advice here has been invaluable & I suspect will save much time & energy in the future. I'll post again when I've had a chance to roadtest.
 
Old 05-07-2008, 07:38 PM   #8
aus9
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since you are ok to d/l live cds....could not see it in dsl but you need
memtester

its on RIP and sysrescuecd

thinking out loud without no testing of your hw I think its either ram or power supply

intermittent does it make it very hard tho.

assuming you know about static electricity ...turn off pc...wear anti-stat and push firmly all mobo cards and power leads it could be that simple but unlikely
 
Old 05-08-2008, 08:01 AM   #9
sonichedgehog
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why didn't I try a different memory card?? Great tip. I'm not at my home computer at the mo but Pyropus website suggests memtester's in the Debian repository. & thanks for the tip about the static, I'll be careful.

Folklore about Tiny computers has it that their power supplies are flaky- one of my friends had that problem, except that their computer just packed up. Since my shed looks like the starwars set I'll have no trouble producing a spare power supply.
 
Old 05-18-2008, 06:00 PM   #10
sonichedgehog
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This is an update + thankyou for all your help. memtester proved ok. DSL didn't want to load quickly, but I have it now as dual boot with debian Etch as an alternative in case of problems. Sysrescuecd is excellent, it will now be my 1st choice for repairs.
I went through my hardware checking jumpers, I placed a flaky DVD drive as secondary slave instead of secondary master, I removed an acoustic sound cable that really never gets used now, and this box is now working not perfectly but much as I'd expect for its older spec. Suspect that something in these later hardware corrections overcame the problems.
My next adventure is to get this box sync'ing with an ipod...
This has been a fun part of the learning curve for me and Linux honour is well and truly restored... I never really believed XP would prove to be the only option for this or any other box!
 
  


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