The laptop-style PSU has an output of 12V pulling up to 3.3A, which suggests it could be powered from an in-car charger socket, making it ideal for an in-car entertainment system. In operation the unit is virtually silent. You can hear intense hard disk activity and there’s a slight electronic “zing” from the device, but to all intents and purposes it’s silent.
The first time I powered it on, a white screen appeared and stayed there. No sign of HDD activity, or indeed any other sort of activity. After a power cycle, I saw a familiar BIOS POST screen, followed by GRUB and the Xubuntu 7.04 splash screen. Booting was not very fast, about 90 seconds to the login screen with a further 20 seconds to the fully loaded Xubuntu desktop.
I logged in as the default non-root user. There was a volume entitled “888M Volume” on the desktop which I was unable to access via the icon. This leads me to wonder whether people are expected to use the root account by default as Windows users tend to do with the Administrator account. Alongside Firefox 18.104.22.168 was Opera 9.21. Rather weirdly, these were the only two applications given their own shortcut on the taskbar. It seems odd to include two web browsers anyway, but to give both equally high profile could lead to confusion. In the trash can was a shortcut to Opera, originally in
/home/david/Desktop/. Presumably David was the guy who made the image up for these units. There was also a group in /etc/group called “david”. The output of lspci and /proc/cpuinfo is:
00:01.0 Host bridge: National Semiconductor Corporation Geode GX2 Host Bridge (rev 21)
00:01.1 VGA compatible controller: National Semiconductor Corporation Geode GX2 Graphics Processor
00:0d.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)
00:0e.0 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 61)
00:0e.1 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 61)
00:0e.2 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. USB 2.0 (rev 63)
00:0f.0 ISA bridge: National Semiconductor Corporation CS5535 ISA bridge (rev 13)
00:0f.2 IDE interface: National Semiconductor Corporation CS5535 IDE
00:0f.3 Multimedia audio controller: National Semiconductor Corporation CS5535 Audio
00:0f.4 USB Controller: National Semiconductor Corporation CS5535 USB (rev 06)
00:0f.5 USB Controller: National Semiconductor Corporation CS5535 USB (rev 06)
processor : 0
vendor_id : Geode by NSC
cpu family : 5
model : 5
model name : Geode(TM) Integrated Processor by National Semi
stepping : 2
cpu MHz : 398.450
cache size : 32 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 1
wp : yes
flags : fpu de pse tsc msr cx8 pge cmov mmx mmxext 3dnowext 3dnow
bogomips : 798.74
clflush size : 32
I had connected my unit to my LCD TV, capable of running at 1920 x 1080. The onboard graphics card automatically configured the display to run at 1280×1024 which is pretty good. The screen configuration dialogue offered VGA, SVGA and XGA resolutions. There were three small black rectangles across the top of the screen which disappeared when I moved the mouse over them, but I’m not sure if this is a fault with the drivers, desktop environment, graphics card or panel.
main, restricted, universe and multiverse repositories were all enabled. There were 136 updates to be applied to the new system. It would have been nice if all available updates had been applied as part of the build process. The 80GB HDD was partitioned in to two ext3 ~35GB partitions, one mounted as root and 5% used, the other mounted at /scratch and essentially empty. A slightly weird mounting system it has to be said, especially as the default non-root user didn’t have permissions to write to /scratch. It would have made more sense to make the second partition /home where users might make use of the storage, rather than /scratch which many people may not find and work out how to use it to store data on.
It was about this point that I worked out the reason for the mysterious “888M Volume” icon. There was a swap partition on the hard disk, but when I looked at the output of top, it showed no swap enabled. Running “swapon -a” returned an error and I needed to run “mkswap” on the partition before it registered as swap. So it looks like something in the imaging process didn’t set up the swap partition properly. It wasn’t getting enabled but was getting detected by HAL/dbus and showing up as a volume on the desktop. Weird.
Then I rebooted and it kernel paniced. So I tried with the old kernel, that paniced. I tried with the “noacpi” option suggested by Alan and it still paniced. So I’ve broken it within one evening of playing with it. Eventually, I worked out that the incantation needed to be “acpi=off”, after which I was back in the game.
I then tried to play back an OGG Theora file, to test the unit’s suitability as a media front-end. The default media player is XMMS which doesn’t play Theora files. So I installed Xine and although the internal speaker played back the soundtrack to the video for a few seconds, the picture was green and purple and just plain not right. It did persevere with attempting playback but I put it out of its misery once I was able.
The second 35GB seemed like a useful place to install other operating systems whilst leaving the default installation intact. The onboard NIC doesn’t support PXE booting, so the options really were for a USB CD-ROM drive (which I don’t have) or a USB flash stick thing. Fortunately I do have one of those. 🙂 There was even a very useful official HOW-TO on getting the USB stick set up correctly. The USB stick had to be in one of the rear USB sockets, not the ones on the front. There were at least three different installations I want to try on it. Xubuntu Hardy, Ubuntu Hardy (GNOME) and Ubuntu Hardy Server. My successes or otherwise will form another post. 🙂Pin It