PC update – new hardware in the main desktop

I got my hands on a Xeon E5-1680V2 processor last week. This is about the best CPU that I could get for my motherboard, and it’s an overclocking monster. Comfortable at 4.7Ghz at <80 degrees, currently at 4.6 and staying under 75 after extended benchmarks.

Adding to this the fact that I finally jumped 4 generation of graphics cards by updating to a Zotac 2080 Amp MAXX card, gaming and GPU computations are now impressive. All games at max details at 1980×1200 (none of that tiny HD resolution) now are pretty much stable at 60 FPS, and oh *so* pretty.

After having to update the PSU to a decent Corsair HX850i it now runs without clocking down or bluescreening in games, and makes me quite a happy camper. The PC name as “Behemoth” is still very much relevant. Pretty much the only update left for the PC is to go to 4x4Tb drives for the RAID array. No real cost benefit to going any newer or bigger or better with any of the components.

Not too bad for a system originally built some eight years ago, and still on the same motherboard, memory, and spinny disks. Updates to CPU/GPU/system SSD did happen over time.

Userbenchmark here: https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/14237025

Now off to go kill demons in Doom 2016, nazis in Wolfenstein II TNC, and to go raiding for tombs in the various new-series Tomb Raiders!

More retro PC updates

So, the Optiplex 960 bios does not boot with a Xeon e5450 chip, and had I done my homework on that, I would have been able to find that out. However, I sourced an Asus P5KE motherboard with 8Gb of DDR2-1066 and a Q9550 chip in it for a decently low price, to further my retro PC ideas.

The Core2-Quad q9550 dropped straight into that Optiplex, making that a quad core 2.83 instead of the dual 3.0 it had been. Now I can install XP-32bit on that and get the mid-Naughties retrobox up and running properly.

The Xeon e5450 works perfectly in that new Asus board, overclocks like a demon, and I think that I’ll build that up to being an early Win7 retro box, though it won’t be retro for a few years.. When I get the upgrade card for my behemoth of a desktop, the GTX660 will go into this box to update from the QuadroFX380 currently there, and I may keep the Quadro card in the system as it’s not a low-profile card that could fit in the Optiplex. That system setup will do the 2010-era games very well indeed.

So here’s the current list of retro PCs and the years of games they are aimed at:

  • 1995 – Dos, P3-600, 256Mb, 80Gb, Dos7.1/Win3.11, Matrox G400MAx, Audician32+D2
  • 2000 – P3-1.13, 512Mb, 16Gb CF, Win98SE, GF4-Ti4200, SB-Audigy
  • 2005 – C2Q Q9550, 4Gb, 250Gb, WinXP-sp3, Quadro K600, SB X-Fi
  • 2010 – e5450, 8Gb, 250Gb, Win7, Quadro FX380, onboard Azalia 7.1 (for the moment)

The Behemoth of a desktop is currently:

  • e5-1620 V2, 32Gb, 500Gb/4x1Tb, Win7, GTX660, Asus Xonar.

With the expected upcoming windfall of cash soon, I’ll be updating the Behemoth to:

  • e6-1680 V2, 64Gb ECC, 500Gb/4x3Tb, Win7, RTX2080ti, SB Z.

(that will definitely keep what is a seven year old system faster than most current new builds. Might get a decent 144khz 4k monitor as well)

I still also have the PS2 and the PS3 – I must investigate the modding of both of those for fun and curiosity. My homebrewed Wii is also present and accounted for, as is my Amiga1200HD with the Blizzard 1230/IV accelerator.

Maybe it’s time to reposition one of the RPIs to be a retro arcade machine / console emulator. That could be an interesting project for the Springtime.

A little retro PC work and upgrades

Last summer, I used my big box of PC bits’n’bobs to build myself a few retro gaming PCs, each genre with hot hardware for its time. I wasn’t restricting myself to being time-specific with the hardware available during the time at all, I just wanted to build myself some machines that ran the software of a particular type very well.

The DOS/Win3.11 machine is a Dell desktop with a P3-600 and 64Mb of ram, a tiny ancient 2.1Gb harddisk, a Matrox G400MAx graphics card, and an Audician32 soundcard with a great wavetable board on it from (). There’s a lovely floppy emulator that uses a  USB drive with floppy disk images on it, selectable on the fly. This pc plays the old Dos games brilliantly, with great sound output and nice sharp visuals. This is for games like DukeNukem3d, Descent, Tombraider, and others from the 1990-1996 era. I haven’t done much work into the slowing down of the cpu for the likes of Wing Commander, that’s for future work. I should also do an SD-card HDD replacement, makes it a bit easier to transfer files over, and I can have multiple profiles of software as well

The Win98 machine is a self-build Tualatin 1.13 on TUSL-2 motherboard, 512Mb ram, 16gb sd card harddisk, Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 graphics, and a SoundBlaster Audigy sound card. This system absolutely rocks early Windows games from 1995 through e.g. 2000. The Ti4200 really does outclass the Voodoo cards at Glide gaming with the nGlide wrappers, and I can enable things like AA in most games without penalty to framerates.

The Windows XP gamer is a little Dell SFF GX620, P4 640 (3.2Ghz, 1C/2T), 2 gb ram, Nvidia Quadro 600 graphics and a Sounblaster X-fi Extreme soundcard, and a 160gb harddisk.

I also have on hand another Dell SFF box saved from scrapping, an Optiplex 960 with an E8400 core2duo and some 4gb ram, using the onboard graphics and sound.

For the XP machine, I’ve sourced a very cheap P4-D 3.4 that should just drop in, giving me a bump in speed and bringing the system to 2C/4T which should make a bit of a difference in things. Unfortunately, it has appeared that the motherboard in this little box has suffered from the bad capacitors that has plagued the hardware industry.. It fails to boot with a lot of coloured snow on the VGA output during the POST process. So, I have a handful of caps en route from eBay to fix this one.

I have also sourced a nice LGA771 Xeon X5450 to put into the LGA775 Dell motherboard. This will require a little sticker that swaps two pins, and a shaving of the physical cocket. Unfortunately the Dell bios makes a check for the Xeon dual-cpu capability and fails to post with this CPU. Looks like I will have to just build myself another box to utilise the cpu :) In the interim, I’m putting the 960 into play as the XP gaming machine.

“Of” is not a verb.

Note to internet people that speak English – the word “of” is not a verb. Phrases such as “should of”, “could of”, and “must of” are all simply incorrect..

Those errors are understandable from kids or those with English as a second or third language, but it’s inexcusable from mainstream websites or media outlets.

Please proofread your writings more thoroughly.

Old School games

Something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, was to get the ability to play all of the older games I wanted to from my Wii and my PS2, as well as the Amiga.
For kicks this evening, I set up a few new emulators of old machines and I have been playing the classic PS2 games, fun Wii games , and I’ve got all of the classic Amiga games working on the original hardware and the fantastic Amigakit emulator as well.
Nostalgia overloads :)

Happy 21st Birthday to Quake

Quake turned 21 years old today.

This brought me back to playing the game in the evenings in UL, after coming home from co-op. It was certainly a lot of fun playing against people on the east coast of the US as an LPB..

I have actually played this game through to completion a few times, and I have purchased it at least twice.

And, because some of my classmates in college were all players on the international tournament scene, there were more than a few stories from this game! Plus, I ended up getting an early user ID on boards.ie before that site became the behemoth it did.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to play with an Oculus Rift, and it makes the game hugely immersive and absolutely fantastic to play, and I would highly recommend to try this if you can.

ID software, many thanks for the experiences from this game.

Systemd stupidity – or why Poettering is an idiot

Yes I work as a Unix admin, and I’m getting so sick of “systemd”, that complete ball of crap that Poettering has foisted upon the Linux community. His poor quality of work has singlehandedly caused the most problems I’ve had to face in my day-to-day work in the past year, through his shoddy code, his abysmal system design and his complete lack of knowledge on how to do things the Linux way.

Things that systemd breaks, in no particular order, and I’ll update this as I see them:

  • The use of binary log files breaks the simplicity of administration with text files.
  • systemd returns silent or incorrect return status from script starts. Nothing quite like a return status of “success” when the script actually failed.
  • Attempting to deprecate /etc/fstab by using its own mounting system, breaking a known-working system
  • Because systemd is so large and broken, it no longer has a small target area for any attacks on PID1. This is a major security issue.
  • systemd breaks the philosophy of “do one job, and do it well”, as it subscribes the to the known-broken monolithic philosophy as seen in Microsoft products, as it attempts to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
  • Poettering is also a poor responder to either bug reports or any warranted criticism of his project. There are many real bugs marked as wont-fix on the systemd bug tracker, and his comments on bugs are unprofessional and suggest that he has some issues to deal with, that should have no place in someone that manages a core server project.

I’ve seen systemd machines fail to reboot because systemd silently crashes on shutdown, with no console errors and no errors logged. That’s been fun to troubleshoot.

In short, systemd is utterly crap and is breaking Linux. There’s no surprise that there’s a groundswell of Linux admins that are working to remove systemd from their Linux distribution of choice. I choose to use Devuan, which is Debian that has been repaired by the removal of systemd.

See here for a great analysis of the situation.

It’s a First

The award I’ve earned for my postgraduate studies has been released.

I’m the proud holder of a First Class Honours, Graduate Diploma (Electronic and Computer Engineering) in Information and Network Security, awarded 2017.

Finally! :)