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Help with building a linux machine

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July 6, 2008 10:51:05 PM

FYI: I am a newbie when it comes to linux. I am familiar with hardware and the many faults of windows, not linux/ open source software.

I am contemplating the possibility of the assembly of a computer to run 8.04.1 on. Its main purpose will be media and consequently media storage. I was hoping that those familiar with ubuntu for this purpose could give some advice. Thanks in advance.

On Windows many video assignments are going to be given to the video card rather soon, encoding etc. - CUDA etc. Is this in the future for Ubuntu? If so, how soon, and would it therefore be worth it to purchase a videocard even though I won't be gaming on it.

If not then what motherboard chipset should I purchase based on the fact that although intel most certainly has faster cpus than amd, but the amd 780g and upcoming 780gx most certainly have better integrated graphics. How important are the onboard chipsets to the performance of a ubuntu based machine. Would it affect any video converting, experience etc.?

That being said I am aware that historically ATI now part of AMD has shown rather poor support for linux in general, but I read somewhere that they're trying to fix that with the 4800 release. Any progress? Does this apply to their chipsets as well. If so would I be better off with intel integrated graphics - nvidia hasn't been doing much integrated lately, however they produce fine gpus.I am just not confident in my newbiness(if that is a word) to be messing with drivers in linux.

Memory is also important to the experience of a computer and I would like to know how linux handles memory. Do you need as much as the garbage windows to experience smooth usage. also are there crazy memory barriers in the number of gb that you can have- ie. 3.5 for 32bit and 12 for 64bit(windows)

On the storage note - what hard drive would do well to store movies. I am thinking about 1tb hds, but the price seems to be higher per gb. Perhaps a few wd 640 gb on newegg $95. Random q: Is SCSI still any faster than a more conventional SATA 3.0gb/sec. set-up. If so how much? It is probably not worth the money though because I need mass storage and I don't have that kind of money to throw into expensive hds and a controller card.

I know that this is farther off topic, but since I will be using this computer for media what media player should I use. I was wondering if there was a media player that had a library similar to that of wmp. Just a novel idea, or is there something better? I am completeley uninformed in this area. What is with all of this messing with directories and codecs stuff. What would be a good linux video converter and a program to open .rar files? HJSplit is available for linux.

Are all of the distros available at distrowatch.com live cds and then install?

More about : building linux machine

July 7, 2008 12:05:28 AM

I do know of a couple of different media center programs for linux: LinuxMCE and MythTV. As far as I know there are 10^9+1 different how-tos on installing and configuring both of those programs on various distributions of linux. There are also distributions such as Mythdora and Mythbuntu that are supposedly structured around making MythTV easy to use on those distros (I think there are also equivalents for LinuxMCE and openSUSE). I haven't really tried any of that because I don't fully understand the concept of a "Media center" and I think it is just fine for me to tell mplayer to open up a video manually without any fancy-schmancy interface for doing so.

I will say this regarding graphics cards: if you are dead-set on going with integrated stuff, the best support is on intel integrated graphics, hands down. If you want discrete graphics, it is now a toss-up between AMD/ATI and NVIDIA, with AMD offering new open source drivers which means that they can be included in the repository of whatever distro you use and therefore should be a breeze to install. I don't know if those new drivers from AMD are as good as the proprietary NVIDEA ones though, so you might wanna check up on that (or maybe one of the other guys here can tell you)

As far as memory is concerned, the seemingly arbitrary memory barrier comes from how windows handles the entire address space. Some of it is reserved for memory-mapped I/O and as a result you will be unable to use the full 4GB of ram under a 32bit windows system. I think there is still a barrier under a 32bit Linux system although I am not aware of what it is. However, if you install a 64bit Linux, I believe the limit is 64GB of ram! Linux doesn't require a whole lot of ram to run (it can run on < 512MB depending on what programs you run), but it really shines if you give it more than 1GB (which should be relatively cheap).

With regards to SCSI vs SATA, I am not so sure that the extra cost/pain associated w/ SCSI can really justify getting it over SATA anymore. Off the top of my head I can only tell you that if SCSI is still faster than SATA, SATA is quickly approaching comparable speeds and is cheaper (pretty vague, eh?). I could be horribly wrong in that regard though, so you may wanna get a 2nd opinion or do independent research.

As for opening rar files. If you need to open them up I think ubuntu may provide some support for opening out of the box, and if not, then do "sudo apt-get install unrar" and you will have a tool for opening them. You will not be able to make rars though unless you purchase rar for linux (provided they even make a rar creation tool, although i know they make a rar extractor for linux).


Codecs: you really shouldn't have to worry about this much. If you install VLC and/or mplayer they already include all the codecs you could ever possibly want and more. Also, if you just double click on a video file you want to play in ubuntu, and you don't have the codec, it will bring up a prompt that will ask if you want to search for and install the appropriate codecs. Answer yes, and it will take care of the rest for you!

I can't really help you out w/ regards to CUDA and GPU accelerated computing because I don't know that much about it myself, so sorry!

I hope I was able to help, and hopefully others on this forum can either fill in the gaps or correct any horrible mistakes I have made ;D

Good luck.

-Zorak
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 2:26:36 AM

What are you gonna use it for (related to video)?
Related resources
July 7, 2008 2:55:55 AM

mainly just classic media playing, full length movies to be exact. In case for whatever reason I can't find a codec or am unable to play a file then I want to be able to convert it into another type of file quickly. I am certainly hoping that situation won't occur though, seeing as this build in all likelihood will not be as fast as my current build with a Q6600, 4GB of DDR2 800(3.5 usable though) and an 8800 GT OC. Even then it isn't all that fast at 35 - 65 % usage across all 4 cores ( 5-15 min).

I was definitely sure that 780G was the best integrated chipset though.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-780g-chipset,17...

Other uses will include web browsing, as well as school related work, that is what open office is for. I don't want to pay for Microsoft Office, which quite frankly I believe is worse than it was a couple of years ago.
July 7, 2008 2:56:37 AM

Sorry I couldn't be on after the first time that I posted, I went to play golf.
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 3:06:40 AM

mgtech said:
mainly just classic media playing, full length movies to be exact. In case for whatever reason I can't find a codec or am unable to play a file then I want to be able to convert it into another type of file quickly. I am certainly hoping that situation won't occur though, seeing as this build in all likelihood will not be as fast as my current build with a Q6600, 4GB of DDR2 800(3.5 usable though) and an 8800 GT OC. Even then it isn't all that fast at 35 - 65 % usage across all 4 cores ( 5-15 min).

I was definitely sure that 780G was the best integrated chipset though.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-780g-chipset,17...

Other uses will include web browsing, as well as school related work, that is what open office is for. I don't want to pay for Microsoft Office, which quite frankly I believe is worse than it was a couple of years ago.


Nothing right now is exactly GPU-acclerated in terms of encoding. Sure there's something in beta, but its in beta. Anyways I think that VLC should serve you for anything thats not VCD. Believe me I think that a lowly Athlon X2 will be more than enough, considering that in the unlikely case you can't play something with VLC and need to convert (you could just use your Q6600).

Currently encoders aren't very efficient so if you have multiple files, encode them all at the same time, rather than just queuing them all up.
July 7, 2008 3:26:32 AM

So you don't think that there would be a noticeable difference between a q6600 and an x2 for my uses. Then I would be better going for the 780G chipset right.
July 7, 2008 3:34:34 AM

If its CPU bound then should I go Intel.
e4600 or e7200

what intel mobo though ? G35
is there a g45 out yet

July 7, 2008 3:49:58 AM

zorak

sorry but i have just been raised with that feature. Is there a shuffle on these media players, because that is all the library is good for, well and organizing files for you.

would there be a significant performance increase in 4gb to 8gb of DDR2 800 RAM. Will probably be running multiple terabytes of hard drives (2 or 3 maybe)
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 4:02:51 AM

mgtech said:
If its CPU bound then should I go Intel.
e4600 or e7200

what intel mobo though ? G35
is there a g45 out yet


I reckon the E7200 hits the sweet spot tho... got one for my BF... G35 is not worth it not to mention G45. I'd say any mobo + a HD 2400 PRO/XT will be better than the G35/45 as it is the same GFX chip as the one found in the 780G.
July 7, 2008 4:09:45 AM

i thought that was the radeon 3200

if i were to get a gpu then why not get an nvidia because historically they have better drivers and i am not going to shell out enough to buy a 4850 to get the new found ati driver support
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 4:43:30 AM

^ Its the same chip
July 7, 2008 4:44:41 AM

what do you think about the ram (4gb or 8gb?)
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 4:49:09 AM

Its about the same lolz not many application take advantage of more than 2, but if your a hardcore multi-tasker...

I'd say 4GB
July 7, 2008 4:54:58 AM

ne nvidia cards that would go well
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 5:00:18 AM

^ huh?
July 7, 2008 5:22:14 AM

nevermind
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 1:34:22 PM

Look for anything with Purevideo HD...

or even get integrated 8200 graphics. Not as good as the 780G but cheaper and more supported in linux...
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 3:12:00 PM

amdfangirl said:
Look for anything with Purevideo HD...

or even get integrated 8200 graphics. Not as good as the 780G but cheaper and more supported in linux...


If you want hardware-assisted playback, you have to at the moment use a G70 or older NVIDIA card or an Intel IGP. NVIDIA G80, G90, and GT200-class GPUs cannot use XvMC with the current drivers and neither can any ATi cards. Intel's IGPs can use XvMC if you use the 2.3.0 or later driver. This helps *big time* with video decoding as my little 1.06 GHz C2D U7500 + 82945GM previously used 85% of one CPU core playing back 720x480 MPEG-2 video with yadif deinterlacing but now uses about 25% after the driver update.

So if you want to play back video in Linux, unfortunately the Intel IGPs are your best choice. They are much less powerful than the GeForce 8200s and especially the 780G at everything else but they can handle video. Plus they have the mainline drivers open-sourced so the notoriously bad Intel IGP drivers on Windows are not so bad on Linux/UNIX.
July 7, 2008 6:25:15 PM

are the nvidia 8200s available on intel mobos as well as amds?
a b 5 Linux
July 7, 2008 8:06:12 PM

mgtech said:
are the nvidia 8200s available on intel mobos as well as amds?


They are, as part of the 7{8|9}0i series SLi boards for "Hybrid SLi." I think there might be non-SLi GF8200s as well but don't quote me on that.
a b 5 Linux
July 8, 2008 12:14:46 AM

mgtech said:
are the nvidia 8200s available on intel mobos as well as amds?


They may come over to the Intel side but that's only a rumour. Besides its hard to find an 8200 without Hybrid SLi which works in a similar way as hybrid crossfire... Just that both are incompatible with Linux the last time I checked. As long as you don't enable it with a low-end card you should be fine...
July 8, 2008 4:49:06 PM

It is definitely an interesting article.

"As we mentioned in our GeForce 8200 IGP review, this chipset has a few issues currently with Linux. If you are using a Linux distribution that ships with a pre-2.6.25 Linux kernel, the Serial ATA support will likely go undetected. This means you will have a tough time using Ubuntu 8.04 LTS or other distributions from earlier this year unless using a separate PCI/PCI-E disk controller to get you started or building a new kernel first. The distribution we were successful using with the NVIDIA MCP78S "out of the box" was Fedora 9."

What kernel does Ubuntu 8.04.1 use?
a b 5 Linux
July 8, 2008 4:57:45 PM

mgtech said:
It is definitely an interesting article.

"As we mentioned in our GeForce 8200 IGP review, this chipset has a few issues currently with Linux. If you are using a Linux distribution that ships with a pre-2.6.25 Linux kernel, the Serial ATA support will likely go undetected. This means you will have a tough time using Ubuntu 8.04 LTS or other distributions from earlier this year unless using a separate PCI/PCI-E disk controller to get you started or building a new kernel first. The distribution we were successful using with the NVIDIA MCP78S "out of the box" was Fedora 9."

What kernel does Ubuntu 8.04.1 use?


2.6.24, IIRC. That is what Debian testing was running at the time and Ubuntu bases off Debian testing, so I have to believe that is the kernel version they are running. Debian testing should work with the GF8200 boards now as the 2.6.25 kernel became available for it in the last couple of weeks.
July 8, 2008 5:43:12 PM

I wouldn't have to worry about that with 780G right?
a b 5 Linux
July 9, 2008 12:21:32 AM

I'll check...

Clicky: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ecs_...

MU_Engineer said:
2.6.24, IIRC. That is what Debian testing was running at the time and Ubuntu bases off Debian testing, so I have to believe that is the kernel version they are running. Debian testing should work with the GF8200 boards now as the 2.6.25 kernel became available for it in the last couple of weeks.


Reviews take time to write, the 8200 is pretty good... rather go with the 780G tho...
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