Friday, October 10, 2014

DIY budget NAS build: Hardware side

I've been thinking of getting myself a NAS for some time now.

But off-the-shelf NAS look way too expensive than it's worth. Besides, building your own sounds like such a nice little personal project. That said, I don't have money to burn so I'll be going for a budget build that serves well without breaking the wallet (too much).

So here's the fruits of my "research" based on what's available.

Processor: AMD Sempron 2650
Motherboard: Asrock AM1B-ITX
Memory: AData 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3
Storage: 2 x 3TB WD Green, Silicon Power Touch 01 8GB
Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite Power 350W
Casing: BitFenix Prodigy

Basically, I've attempted to make a low-priced build while maintaining good performance. I'm trying to keep a small footprint while having the option of installing 3 or 4 storage drives for RAID5/6 hence the choice of casing. This being my first NAS build I don't really have an idea what the performance will be like but I'd think a NAS doesn't generally require a lot of compute power.

At the moment, I'm thinking of running Ubuntu Server on this build for the Btrfs support. That's why I only have 2 hard disks for this build. Btrfs RAID5/6 is still very very experimental so I'll be doing a simple RAID1 first and moving over to RAID5/6 later when Btrfs support improves or, as storage requirements dictates.

Any suggestions out there?

Updates:

Based on feedback I've reduced memory to 4TB. I can always add it back later if it's needed.

Casing's been changed to a BitFenix casing which supports up to 5 3.5" hard disks but looks quite a bit larger than the Cooler Master I'd picked earlier.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Upgrading to Ubuntu 14.10

So far so good...

No thanks to some display troubles I've been having, I've somehow managed to mess up my Compiz settings (wallpaper with no Dash, no indicators, nothing). So... it's a bit early but I've upgraded to Ubuntu 14.10 after downloading and burning the latest daily image on my laptop which was, for better or for worse, running Windows 8.1.

Unfortunately, that didn't fix the problem of the missing Unity desktop even though the upgrade said only data would be left intact and settings would be removed. Or, maybe I've misunderstood the wording.

Anyway, I've luckily managed to get Unity back without needing a clean installation. So now I'm back to "normal".

The flickering's gone and so far no white/black/grey screens have appeared. We'll have to wait and see.

But things aren't all back to normal. My normal screen resolution (1366 x 768) has now shrunk to 1024 x 768. I also appear to be on Unity 2D mode. I'm guessing my GPU's about ready to retire.

And to think the Sapphire HD 7750 isn't that old a card. Oh well, time to get a replacement. I had hoped it'd last a few generations at least.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

AMD Radeon on Ubuntu 14.04 - It's not a pleasant experience

Hmmm... okaay...

I'm sure glad Ubuntu 14.10 will be out soon. I can't wait to upgrade already. And not because there's some killer feature in there that I'd like to get my hands on.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. I'd very much like to get away from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS ASAP due to the flickering that's driving me crazy. Every second or so the monitor display flickers when I use the open source drivers.

Here's a short video that illustrates the screen flickering I'm having.

video

I highly doubt it's the monitor since installing Catalyst makes it much less annoying (although it's still there).

On the other hand, Catalyst seems to have its own issues. The first boot of the day gives me a white/black screen. The only way to "fix" it is to press reset. Attempts to switch VTs have failed. Sometimes, it even happens when I play a game or video. I know Ubuntu is still running fine from the sounds coming from my speakers, but I can't do anything but reset since I can't see a thing.

So here's to hoping Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn will have a fix for me.

Update: Today is the first time I'm getting the white screen while using open source drivers. I'm starting to wonder if it's a hardware problem instead. I'd test it out but don't have a spare GPU laying around.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to fix AutoCAD LT 2002 GEDIT 3 error

AutoCAD LT 2002 may suddenly crash with a Gedit 3 error (pictured below).

You get this after using AutoCAD for a while.
This is can be caused by drivers, or conflicts with certain software. Removing the software should also make the issue go away, if you can identify it.

And sometimes you just can't remove the software causing the problem. So here's a method worth a try.

First, you'll need to identify whether your AutoCAD LT 2002 has Service Pack 1 installed. From the AutoCAD command line enter "._vernum" (without quotes) and you should get something similar to _VERNUM = "K.0.44" (read only).

If it reads K.0.30 then you'll need to install Service Pack 1 first.

Next, proceed to install the patch to fix this error. Some sites refer to it as Service Pack 2.

Retry your AutoCAD LT 2002. The bug should go away now.

Good Luck.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Logitech MK220 impressions

The Logitech MK220 outside its packaging
The Logitech MK220 cordless keyboard + mouse combo is pretty good, honestly.

It's just too small for me. I'd much prefer a bigger keyboard and mouse. Right now my hands feel rather cramped using this pair. This is definitely a pair designed for smaller hands so if you're one of those this should be a mighty fine keyboard and mouse.

Keyboard battery compartment is on the left. Just slide down to open.
The mouse is the better of the pair. It's a bit on the small side so I wish it's a bit bigger but it's still usable. I just don't find it completely comfortable. There are much smaller (and less comfortable) mouse out there so you may or may not find the midway size comfortable to use. The scroll wheel cum middle button is rather hard to click though so you'd probably not like it much. If you don't use the middle click at all then all is dandy.

I find the keyboard is very very cramped so this is definitely made for smaller hands. Using this keyboard makes my fingers feel cramped almost immediately. I know some people find larger keyboard hard to use because their small hands mean it's hard to reach certain keys so this would make a good choice for them. There's no SysReq key though. At least I couldn't find any, so Linux users may want to avoid this one if you feel you need the key.

The keys also feel a bit flimsy during use. 

The USB receiver looks like most pen drives which is to say I wish it were smaller. For some reason I just get the feeling something or someone will accidentally fall onto the receiver on the back of my PC and break the dongle. They could've made it micro-sized to it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. That's another consideration before you buy this.

Oh yeah. Batteries are included.

Well, that's about it.