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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 12-17-2007, 12:14 PM   #1
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Registered: Aug 2006
Posts: 6

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Ok, so my gf recently moved in and I decided to build a little Ubuntu-based file/print/backup/dhcp server. I unearthed an ancient machine (Celeron 700 / 256mb RAM) and installed 2.6.22-14-server via the Ubuntu distribution along with samba, dhcpd and arkeia. X-windows is not running on the machine, so I'm all command line here. I installed the OS on a small internal hard drive and added another internal drive for backups. All that works great. I also added an external 300GB USB 2.0 hard drive for the file server. That works, but it works very slowly for both reads and writes. Now, I'm fairly sure (but not positive) that the USB ports on the back of the machine are 1.1. When I do a lsusb, the external hard drive is listed as follows:

Bus 001 Device 003: ID 1058:0903 Western Digital Technologies, Inc.
Device Descriptor:
bLength 18
bDescriptorType 1
bcdUSB 2.00


However, the USB "hub" itself is listed as:

Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Device Descriptor:
bLength 18
bDescriptorType 1
bcdUSB 1.10
bDeviceClass 9 Hub


So I assume this means my drive is running at 1.10 and that likely explains the excutiatingly slow reads and writes to that external drive (please let me know if I'm being stupid here). The drive itself is ext2 and is mounted via the following record in fstab:

/dev/sdc1 /extdisk ext2 defaults 0 0

So, my question is this: will installing a PCI USB 2.0 card in the machine significantly speed up disk access? If so, does anyone have any recommendations on which card to get? I've never installed one of these in a Linux machine before and am leery about just buying the cheapest card I can find.

[EDIT: To quantify "excrutiatingly slow": I copied about 100GB of data yesterday via an XP machine to the shared drive and it took roughly 20 hours. Furthermore, local reads and writes are also quite slow, so I don't think this is a Samba issue.]

Thanks for your help!



Last edited by jstrope; 12-17-2007 at 12:18 PM.
Old 12-17-2007, 03:28 PM   #2
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Houston
Distribution: CentOS, ubuntu
Posts: 41

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I think you're right on the money, here: looks like a USB 1.1 card. USB cards are pretty commoditized these days, so I don't think you could go wrong with even the cheapest thing available.

In any case you probably can't hurt anything trying. The driver support is very robust and I haven't heard of any freak cards in the wild so I think you should be able to plug and play with pretty much any old thing in the bargain bin.

If you want to look for feedback on a specific card, it might be a good idea to find a candidate then get input on that.
Old 12-18-2007, 06:36 AM   #3
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Registered: Aug 2006
Posts: 6

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Thanks for the reply. I ended up buying a generic $10, 5-port USB PCI card. Looks like it's based on an NEC chipset (D720101GJ). It's working great. It was detected by the OS automatically and the external hard drive now attached to it is working much better.


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