Hardware

Can we brick it? Yes, we can :(

Updated DSDT for Samsung NC10

If running Mac OS on a non-Apple laptop, then there’s a sting in the tail of the forthcoming 10.5.6 update: it appears that the new kernel only wants to run with ACPI HPETs, and will fail on boot if legacy i8254/RTC timers have interrupts assigned to them.

To fix this, a replacement ACPI Differentiated System Description Table is required. efi_boot, version 6.1 or above, has the ability to replace the DSDT supplied to the kernel from the system firmware with a customised one: Simply place the alternative DSDT.aml in the root of the EFI volume – generally /Volumes/EFI/.

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Mac OS 10.5/Leopard on the Samsung NC10

Initially I ordered a Dell Inspiron 910/Mini 9, after reading about how easy it was to get Leopard running on these machines. However, after initially quoting 15 days delivery then then, on the 15th day, extended this to 30 days – at which point I cancelled the order.

Instead, due to its looks and frankly astonishing battery life, I ordered a Samsung NC10.

As it turns out, although all Atom netbooks are created equal, some are more equal than others – especially where OS X compatibility is concerned…

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Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 5000

Finally having built a (just-about) usable PC for the first time in years, I’m considering performing an equally radical upgrade to my input peripherals: Lacking the desk space for a Wacom Intuos3 A5 Wide tablet, I’m looking for a new keyboard and mouse to replace my existing Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro and Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer.

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Foxconn A79A-S: A reprieve?

Foxconn technical support finally came through, and sent me Beta BIOS S02 for the troubled A79A-S. This finally allows memory to run at 1066MHz, albeit with greatly increased timings, well above the speed that the memory is capable of.

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Jetway J7F5M-DVI ACPI DSDT fixes

The Jetway J7F5M MiniTIX motherboard is yet another entry in the 17x17cm small HTPC/low-powered server market. This particular model runs at 2GHz and features Jetway’s proprietary expansion connector for adding additional network, video, or serial ports. I have a 2xRS232 expansion card on mine, to allow me to fix otherwise broken servers via a serial link – it’s the way of the future 🙂

What impressed me is that options for the expansion board appeared in the BIOS, and without any obvious option-ROM loading sequence as is often seen delaying the boot sequence nowadays (JMicron, I’m looking at you) – I can configure the additional ports along with the rest of the system.

What is unfortunate, then, is that Jetway have broken ACPI DSDT tables, built with Microsoft’s non standards-compliant ASL compiler, installed with their BIOS.

This causes a number of issues, including premature shutdown and standby/resume failures – but luckily these are all fixable!

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Foxconn A79A-S ignores standards, doesn’t work

Read all about it 🙁

(Additionally, the Contact links from their Support Forum return an ASP error page, as does attempting to post any topic whose text includes an apostrophe! Colour me highly unimpressed…)

Foxconn motherboard ACPI breakage still not fixed :(

Further to the situation documented here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=869249, it appears that Foxconn are still shipping motherboards with BIOS which are either intentionally or inadvertently broken under any non-Windows OS.

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The scan saga…

… or why I vow never to build a PC ever again 🙁

Having last built a new desktop computer (I do have an ever expanding collection of MiniITX servers, but these don’t count 😉 ) in about 2003, I decided that it was high time to upgrade my 256Mb Athlon 1800+ desktop to something more recent: I was finding that I wasn’t updating my Gentoo Linux installation on the basis that I’d probably be replacing it in the near future, and I really wanted to play a few more interesting recent games such as Bioshock.

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PC Engines ALIX-based m0n0wall

I noticed recently that when certain house-mates turned on their computers, suddenly my internet connection would become very slow and highly unreliable – ah, the joys of Bittorrent and P2P traffic <sigh>

Rather than just trying to ban people from using these services (like that’d ever work… and anyway, BitTorrent has legitimate uses and they’re all paying towards the cost of the connection anyway, so it’s not my place to get all dictatorial) I decided to be a bit smarter: a packet-filtering system which can prioritise certain traffic whilst holding-back other types would not only allow people to run P2P software with abandon, but also keep everyone’s connection steaming along whilst hopefully improving subjective responsiveness.

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Reduced updates

Currently, the server hosting this blog (a 300MHz Silicon Graphics O2 with two SCSI discs) is sitting on a shelf in my bedroom, where it’s been housed since I moved house in December. This’d be fine, except the discs are so damned noisy! So basically, for the past 8 or 8 months, the server’s only been switched on whilst I’m not there (and even then, only when I remember to turn it on before leaving) and so there have been long outages, and few updates.

The good news is that, as of tomorrow, this should all be a thing of the past: The electrician is coming back, and is fitting the power sockets, network sockets, and a light under my stairs, so that I can finally move all of the computers into here, where they can run all day long without disturbing anyone!

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