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Old 01-19-2011, 08:59 AM   #1
akamikeym
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Finding a Linux compatible motherboard


Hi,

I bought a computer a few years back form a vendor in the UK that specialised in Linux systems, I feel ripped off. I've had nothing but hassle from the system, crap components and MS Windows only components.

The king of these problems has been from my motherboard that has never worked properly and at stages worked so badly that a number of kernel revisions have just not booted at all.

Many of these problems I have traced back to APIC and my DSDT. I had a go at fixing my DSDT table on one kernel and around the same time HAL stopped loading for all kernels (intermittently). I don't know if what i did caused the problem (by somehow making a permanent change to my DST table - this wasn't what I would've expected it to do, but there you go) or if it just so happened that my motherboard started to pack up about the same time. (Details of this along with my increasingly desperate pleas for help can be found here: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=108088)

So my main question is: What motherboard could I but that would be compatible with Linux and my current setup (i.e. processors, PSU, etc.)?

My current system is:

Motherboard: ASUS M2N4-SLI (DSDT table is windows only compatible)
CPU(s): AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6000+
Graphics Card: Silent Pipe 3 - NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS (Has minor lines and glitches in graphics that seems to be down to a problem between it and the motherboard)
Sound Card: Creative Labs Soundblaster Audigy SE (CA0106) (has never been fully functional in linux)
PSU: Mod X Stream-Pro 500W (I replaced the original and a replacement that both went in under a year, after advice for a reliable PSU)
 
Old 01-19-2011, 11:16 AM   #2
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akamikeym View Post
Many of these problems I have traced back to APIC and my DSDT.
Never having had to mess with DSDT, I probably know less about this than you but, have a look here, as one of the comments mentions the problems with this board. (Or even here)

Now, you have probably been round the various links available from the interwebs and search engines, so I apologise if you have read these before.

Quote:
What motherboard could I but that would be compatible with Linux and my current setup (i.e. processors, PSU, etc.)?
(presumed: buy, not but)

For Linux usage, I'd always go for the manufacturer chipsets (ie AMD for AMD processors and Intel for Intel processors) if I wanted the quiet life. This is not to say that nVidia chipsets are bad, just that I've got more confidence that the chip manufacturer chipsets get used by the people who develop Linux, themselves. I'm sure that some people will see this approach as being a bit wimp-ish, but, if that is the case, it is the case.

That is not to recommend on-board graphics, specifically; if you need real graphics performance, then on-board isn't good enough . And even if you did find on-board gave sufficient performance, the exact choice would be difficult.

64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6000+ looks to be a socket AM2 processor. This is unfortunate as buying an AM2 board will cut you off from the future (...and the present, actually...). I'd be happier advising an AM3+ board, but that wouldn't be compatible with your existing processor. Any chance of selling on your existing processor and board as 'a going concern'?

Not sure that helps much, really.
 
Old 01-19-2011, 11:53 AM   #3
H_TeXMeX_H
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The only thing I can recommend on the software side is the boot parameter 'noioapic', but I see you have tried 'noapic'. Have you tried BIOS updates ?

Anyway for mobos, look at the HCL.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 05:20 AM   #4
akamikeym
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
(presumed: buy, not but)
Yes, sorry stupid typo.

I'm no longer into linux masochism as I've had too many years of trying to make hardware work where the only option turns out to be to go into the kernel code yourself and fix it and I don't know how.

I've pursued fixing the DSDT as far as I am willing to, my computer is now old because I've spent so long researching it. Also I'm leaning toward the explanation that it's something hardware related that's dying at the moment so I think it needs replaced. I'm using the best combination of noapic I've found by trial and error at the moment, 'acpi=noirq irqpoll' which gets me into linux with working CD drives and HAL but my USB devices are off line.

So a AMD chipset sounds like a good idea. I'm willing to upgrade my processors while I'm at it, but money is definitely an object so it entirely depends on if it raises the cost much.

Hardware Compatibility Lists are fine and might tell me a bit about whether any motherboard I have in mind would work or not but unfortunately hardware and motherboards in particular are a bit of a blind spot for me (I really don't know much about them, sockets, codes etc.). I had to look up that my current board is an ATX for example. That's why I need your expert advice.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 05:45 AM   #5
H_TeXMeX_H
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To me it looks like a hardware issue if it happens with all kernel versions. It may also be a BIOS issue. Does it work with Window$ ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Never having had to mess with DSDT, I probably know less about this than you but, have a look here, as one of the comments mentions the problems with this board. (Or even here)
These are good links.

I cannot really recommend a mobo, because I use Intel, and I only have experience with Intel, so ... I cannot recommend an Intel board, because they're Intel-only.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 06:03 AM   #6
akamikeym
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H_TeXMeX_H, what's that, Intel you say.

Thanks. As I say though I'm not following up the DSDT think any further. I did go to the trouble of recoding and overriding it for one kernel (http://en.gentoo-wiki.com/wiki/ACPI/Fix_common_problems) and I thought it was working, but this is about the time that my hardware problems started (which are by no means certainly related to DSDT). It could be that my changes to one kernel somehow overwrote my DSDT permanently (not what I would've expected) but the hardware issues I have now are regardless of kernel version (including kernels that used to work) and intermittent, so sometimes it boots and loads HAL for a while, but then it does tend to crash and take out my USB devices and make the system unstable after a while. All of which sounds like a new hardware fault to me.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 09:13 AM   #7
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akamikeym View Post

I'm no longer into linux masochism...So a AMD chipset sounds like a good idea. I'm willing to upgrade my processors while I'm at it, but money is definitely an object so it entirely depends on if it raises the cost much.
All understandable. The cheapest of the Phenom II range seem like good value for money, right now (the X2s and X3s have the possibility of being unlocked to X4s, but it is certainly not guaranteed and you need the right MoBo, so while that could be attractive as a money-saving scheme, you can't rely on it, and it may be too close to masochism).

Intel's processors are currently the only choice higher up the performance range, but the new 'Sandy Bridge' architecture parts use a new socket (therefore a different, and newly-released (read; no real cheap options...yet?) MoBo range) and the parts that you'll find at more attractive prices use obsolescent sockets. As usual, it is a pity, because Sandy Bridge looked like a worthwhile step.

On the AMD front, the AM3+ motherboards have some degree of compatibility with the new range of processors that AMD are due to release soon. The existing processors are having a hard time competing with Intel at the higher performance end of the spectrum, but the lower-to-medium end AMD have parts that they are having to price really rather competitively to stay in the business. Maybe, this all changes when AMD's 'Bulldozer' parts are released, maybe not.

In any case, current 'progress' seems to be largely 'have some more cores, and maybe the odd architectural refinement' more than clock speed, and that may not have all that much to offer average desktop users most of the time (there are certainly some times when 'more cores' is better, just not most of the time for your average desktop user, rather than someone with specialist processing requirements).

Quote:
Hardware Compatibility Lists are fine and might tell me a bit about whether any motherboard I have in mind would work or not but unfortunately hardware and motherboards in particular are a bit of a blind spot for me (I really don't know much about them, sockets, codes etc.). I had to look up that my current board is an ATX for example. That's why I need your expert advice.
BTW, did you know that your board features in a Hardware Compatibility List over at Phoronix?
http://phoronix.com/forums/showthrea...ASUS-M2N4-SLI&
(seems to be the URL, but that looks a bit messed up from their usual; if that doesn't work, try a search for it). Their list just has that board with no comments listed against it, either pro or contra, just an outline of the board spec. Odd.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 09:18 AM   #8
TigerLinux
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Linux can run on minimum hardware,
for simple user, a mobo with built in VGA and sound is good enough,
nvidia and Ati drivers are supported by most distros.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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messing with the dsdt is a mistake, imho. Problems that trace there are often acpi or kernel related.

In my experience, any m/b works, but some work better. I now avoid Via chipsets; If it's a laptop, the owners of IBM, Tosh and a few others have contributed bodges/fixes for the various issues that arise. the noapic parameter is useful for a bodged chipset. If that you've no backup for your dodgy dsdt, try a bios update. If you're loading one to /proc/dsdt, stop. Fix kernel or acpi.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 12:15 PM   #10
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I agree, I have never heard of the DSDT, and from the dmesg it seems to be a problem with IO-APIC, caused most likely by the BIOS. I'll bet that either 'ioapic' or a different BIOS version will fix it.
 
Old 01-20-2011, 03:40 PM   #11
J.W.
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You can also look into LQ's own HCL
 
Old 01-20-2011, 03:51 PM   #12
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I will have to agree with H_TeXMeX_H. With well over a thousand machines now installed, I have never had to mess with DSDT and Asus has always been my goto brand for motherboards.
 
Old 01-26-2011, 02:13 PM   #13
akamikeym
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Hi, thanks again for all the replies.

I should make it clear that there appear to be 2 issues with my motherboard. The original problem I had that would make it refuse to boot without 'noapic' for many kernel releases over the last 4 years, but which has been less of a problem in recent releases. This issue was the 'MP-BIOS BUG 8254 timer not connected' problem. I did update my BIOS to the latest version while trying to resolve this problem and it had no effect, and I found as per post 8 on the link that my DSDT table had indeed been compiled with a Microsoft compiler that had resulted in a number of errors when recompiling using IASL following the gentoo guide for DSDT table fixes. I managed to track down my errors and fix them (there were 3-4 and were mostly failing to supply a return from a function) and build it into one kernel following this section of the guide. I have since stopped using this kernel and reverted back to the vanilla Arch kernel for debugging the problem that coincided (roughly) with using my new DSDT 'fixed' kernel.

The 2nd and ongoing problem is that HALD will not load or will load after a 5 minute wait then later crash the system. This has now been happening for about 4 months and over a number of kernel updates. As described here, I have managed to get my system running with HALD but no USB by using the boot option 'acpi=noirq irqpoll'.

H_TeXMeX_H, that may be where the ongoing problem lies but I don't see how another BIOS update will help (or why it would start a new issue after 3 years of use). I also don't understand what 'ioapic' is supposed to mean, I tried using it as a boot parameter rather than my own apic boot parameters and it failed to load HALD as per normal. I have also never run Windows on this machine as it was bought as a Linux specific machine so I don't know if it works.

J.W., I've been looking at the HCL for this board and the opensuse one (just as it's easier to read), but I'm not really any clearer as to which board will be suitable for my current Processor, memory, etc. I looked at prices of new CPU and motherboards. The CPUs I was looking at were 150+ with 55+ for a motherboard putting it way outside my price range for the moment, so I will have to try and figure out what motherboard will fit my current equipment and be Linux compatible (preferebly without a Via chipset).

Last edited by akamikeym; 01-26-2011 at 02:15 PM.
 
Old 01-26-2011, 04:30 PM   #14
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akamikeym View Post
I will have to try and figure out what motherboard will fit my current equipment and be Linux compatible (preferebly without a Via chipset).
I am using the Gigabyte GA-MA770-UD3, it is an AM2+-board that will perfectly fit with your current equipment. It has an AMD-chipset and is fully compatible with Linux. And you can upgrade your processor later, I am currently running a Phenom II X6-1055T on it, and it simply rocks.
 
Old 09-21-2011, 04:22 AM   #15
akamikeym
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Update

Hi,

Just writing this as an update to my long standing situation with my motherboard. I did buy a new board and have been happily running it without incident. I upgraded a number of components as well and my system now flies.

However I decided to try and hobble together a server and ended up using my M2N4-SLI motherboard. (I thought I could run a server without USB and get by.) However I was getting quite a few errors after install related to ACPI. I decided to look on the manufacturers website and found that they had finally gotten around to releasing a new BIOS. Updated and all my USB and ACPI problems disappeared.

Better late then never.
 
  


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