Thursday, July 4, 2013

Old PC with a new life in Slackware

One of my home PC died (HP Pavilion Media Center m8530f), and not seeing a great need for a new one, I found my wife's old PC laying in the garage.  It is a brand-less PC with an Asus motherboard P5VDC-MX (an old revision with only 2 RAM slots) couple with Pentium 4 (64-bit enbaled), 1G of DDR RAM, CD-writer and floppy drive!  Oh, it has SATA support also.  That is good as I could reuse the SATA components from the HP PC.  It has been collecting dust for years in the garage, and I was afraid whether it could still boot. 

After cleanup the dust and power up, it run without much problem, its BIOS battery run out, replaced it with the one from the HP PC.  I installed the DVD, multi-card reader and hard drive from the HP PC into this old board. It seems I could not use both IDE channel when SATA is in used (long time to boot and hard drive is not recognize correctly).  I have to disconnect the second IDE channel and have both old IDE drives on the first channel.  Then it boots up fine, even with my previous custom made kernel for the the HP PC.  The on board VGA is too weak, and I solicited an old ATI radeon 9200 SE AGP card from my friend.

After installed everything, I recompiled the kernel to match what I had on the PC, and almost everything work except for the sound.  I always got something like:

hda_intel: azx_get_response timeout, switching to polling mode: last cmd=0x12345678
testing with aplay gave the speaker repeating tone.  After searching the net and consult the documents in kernel source, it seems switching to polling mode is not a serious problem at first glance.  But I don't think it is right. Setting probe_mask=1 for the snd_hda_intel module gave no help.  Then I recompiled the module with debug turn on and I saw lines indicate it has MSI turned on, after setting "enable_msi=0" to off, sound is working.

The display has some minor problem, in console, the text is quite dim and it will become dimmer if running after a mc instance.  One thing is strange that if I highlight a few lines in the console with mouse, the brightness of the text will increase depends on how much line I have highlighted.  In X, I have the same problem if I have an xterm on full screen, it will become dimmer, if I have a relatively bright window opened next to it, it will be fine.  Well it is an old PC and usable, so I don't complaint too much ^_^

P.S. when compiling kernel, I feel the age of this PC ^_^ it took almost an hour.  Running Slackware64 14.0 on this old one.

P.P.S. it seems my problem of dim text in console has gone away, it maybe related to the old radeon card/mainboard hasn't been use for years, after a few days of usage, it seems back to normal.

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