Archive for March, 2011

Meanwhile in Japan…

Saturday, March 26th, 2011


Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Had everything running upto XBMC, except hardware video decoding. Tonight I started looking for a solution to fix a missing library figuring that could mean something. Installing xvba-va-driver thinking all would be good. Next thing I know the system has no working X setup anymore. Xorg config has not changed judging by it’s timestamp and yet X just won’t work anymore… All I can think of now is a Dutch word: kutzooi!

German efficiency

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Just ordered some CDs from Amazon Germany. 20 minutes later I discovered one of them has copy protection, so wanted to cancel (my mistake, Amazon actually mentions copy protection, which deserves two thumbs up). To my amazement the order already had the “Versand in Kürze” state. After 20 minutes! Geez those fuckers are fast :D

The funny thing is that 3 CDs are of Dutch origin, so I originally wanted to order from But they had a 4 day stocking time and were 30 euro(!) more expensive. Ridiculous…


A shame that after a day the order still has the “Versand in Kürze” state…. starting to smell some bad business practices…

Real-time rendering coolness

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Nice to see what they’re capable of these days (be sure to watch in HD);

Let there be music

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Woohoo, finally got sound :D As usual it took a lot of reading up and fiddling around, while in the end it all seems so simple. In short I did the following things; first make sure the Xonar DX card is the first device instead of HDMI audio, then figure out the needed device configuration and unmute channels.

Switching device order was trial and error, but eventually it worked. In the end all that was needed was append the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

options snd-hda-intel index=1

This moves HDMI audio output from 1st to 2nd place enabling the Xonar card to take the first place. Initially I also added  line for the Xonar (snd-virtuoso), but this resulted in an error message during boot (cannot find the slot for index 0 (range 0-0, failed with error -16). No idea why, but it’s not mandatory, so remove and problem solved.

Next was figuring out the exact configuration that produced sound. I’ll spare you the details, but what eventually worked was this:

  • hw:0,0
  • default mixer (not driver default, this produces invalid CTL errors)
  • line or master channel

By now I had the side and back channels working. Front channel was silent. Double checked if all channels had enough volume and were unmuted with alsamixer. All set but no sound. Running out of ideas I just muted and unmuted the card (you could see the ascii-art switch colour) and voila, sound on all channels. Must have been a glitch that the front channel wasn’t working in the beginning. Haven’t had a silent channel ever since, even after reboots (and switching on/off side and back channels work fine). Haven’t tried S/PDIF yet, but for the moment I’m assuming it will work now that analog output is working.

Audio and video troubles

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Last entry of this weekend and just need to blow of some steam. Been trying to get Alsa audio to work and well, what a mess! One audio device, no problem, but with multiple devices the trouble starts. If you have this Alsa version, do that. If you have that distro, change it to this. Using udev? Your loading order can get scrambled and you need to change that config there. New version? Don’t use snd_ prefix in that case. On that distro, you config is located there, and if not, look over there. Linux/Alsa devs, I’ve got 1 thing to say to you; W….T….F….?!

Also not working is hardware video decoding. As expected ATI cards are a pain. 2D, no problem, got that working. But decoding is a different story. Need to get VA-API running/compiling, which in turn is a wrapper for XvBA which is a wrapper(?) to get to the UVD2 engine. Or something like that? Installing libva-dev has no effect when compiling MPlayer, e.g. configure still thinks the VA dev stuff is missing. No idea why, but haven’t spend much time on this yet. Want to get audio working first because listening to some music has a soothing effect in situations like this ;)

Now the real question is “will it fit?”

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Time for one of those “WTF am I doing?!” moments; there’s over 17TB of storage capacity in the photo on the right (raw harddisk space, space lost due to RAID parity storage not substracted). Once I’m done it should be all contained within that black HP box. LOL :D


Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Since it’s Sunday (pun intended) and my brain is fried from copying lots of data, one’s mind starts wandering in strange directions… Harddisks work with magnetism and so does the sun. So what would you see if you unlock that small door of the MicroServer? Something like this perhaps? ;)

Limit found

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Hmmm, it seems I’ve crossed a limit in the current setup. Just gave it a 1080p x264 video @10Mbps with DTS 5.1 96 kHz/24 bit @1.5Mbps to chew on. 100% CPU usage and slowed down playback. Still no sound, so the DTS stream might not even play a role. My guess is hardware decoding is not used by mplayer and/or fglrx driver. Let’s call it a challenge =)

Some early and completely unscientific numbers

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

A quicky with some numbers. Keep in mind nothing is optimised yet. All software is generic 686 32-bit, not amd64. The RAID5 array is up and running with 5.5TB of space ready to be filled (still have 1 2TB drive doing nothing). Copying files via NFS from the old seedbox to the new server peaks at around 66MB/s. When peaked, CPU usage is around 30% for one core and 80% on the other. While it’s copying, power usage hovers around 70W.

Note that above numbers were done on an extremely scientific basis. Mount the NFS share, start copying with Midnight Commander and watch a movie while keeping an eye on the server ;)

There is an issue however. I still haven’t managed to get audio working. Alsa is a pain when it comes to multiple audio devices and in this case the HDMI and Xonar devices are batteling eachother. On a positive note, 720p video plays great, but again no sound.

To be continued…