Dear Santa, thank you for the dolls and pencils and the fish. It's Easter now, so I hope I didn't wake you but... honest, it is an emergency. There's a crack in my wall. Aunt Sharon says it's just an ordinary crack, but I know its not cause at night there's voices so... please please can you send someone to fix it? Or a policeman, or...
Back in a moment.
Thank you Santa.

Sunday, December 14


Thought As Much

The /pixy filesystem on Kodachi, my old Linux box, appears to be completely and utterly toast. Those crappy IBM drives finally got me good.

I think I already had everything interesting copied off. I can no longer tell for sure, because after trying a quick reboot to see if that fixed the problem, the filesystem will no longer mount. Or even fsck.

Of course, this happens just before I get my new server set up and copy everything over to a new home. Of course.

Fortunately, the vast majority of the files on there were either (a) anime and other videos that I have backed up to DVD-R or (b) backups of my other computers, which have not suddenly and irrevocably died on me. As yet.

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Saturday, December 13


Just Say Nah

The Windows XP install routine has been stuck for, oh, fifteen minutes now. Somehow I don't think this is working.

P.S. Look, you idiots, I don't have a floppy drive. Device drivers are supplied on CD-ROM these days. The only reason anyone uses floppy drives any more is to load your blasted device drivers. Would you at least try to join the 90s, even if you can't quite make it into the new century?

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:54 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Not So Bad

Yuri, my new Linux box, is now formatting its 716.8GB /pixy filesystem. (Yes, all my Linux boxes have a large /pixy filesystem. Why do you ask.)

The only thing I'm not 100% sure of is whether the new IDE controller is working in DMA mode. If it is, then this box will shortly be ready to go.

I've reserved 45GB for Windows XP so that I can dual-boot and play around a bit. I'll report in when that's done - or when I trip over some other horrible problem.

Pixy's Tip of the Day

When a mid-tower case specifies that it has 12 drive bays, this does not mean that it is physically possible to install 12 disk drives in the case. It means that you have 12 different bays in which to arrange your 7 or 8 - or if you really push it, 9 - drives.

Also, IDE cables still suck. If I'd known that I wasn't going to be using my 3Ware controller for this, I would have done things rather differently. SATA cables are a substantial improvement, but something like Firewire, which can be daisy-chained and supplies both data and power on a single lead, would be even better.

I took a couple of photos of Yuri before I closed the case up. It looks like Cthulhu is trying to escape from within - but has become entangled in fishing line. There are cables everywhere.

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I Thought It Looked A Bit Small

Pixy's Tip of the Day:

You cannot install a full-length PCI card in a Lian-Li mid-tower case if you are planning to use the lower drive bays. For example, using a 3Ware 8-channel IDE RAID controller to run 8 IDE drives is not possible.

So it's a good thing that I had no intention whatsoever of doing just that.


On the other hand... Hmm. If I pull this out of here and stick it in here, and then plug this into here instead of there... Yeah, that should work. Tinker, tinker... But I'll only get 700GB on this box rather than 800GB. On the other hand, I now have 320GB on the other box instead of 200GB. I can probably live with that.

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Friday, December 12


Pixy's Tip Of The Day

If you idly twiddle the volume control on your Logitech cordless keyboard while waiting for an install of Windows XP to complete, the installation routine will crash and you will have to start again from the beginning.

So you probably don't want to do that.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:27 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, December 11


Of Course...

Now that I went and bought a gigabit ethernet card, I find two just lying around...

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Wednesday, December 10



Rather than spend days fiddling with Linux drivers, I bought a gigabit ethernet card and a cheap IDE RAID card. I just hope I have enough PCI slots...

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Tuesday, December 09


Updated Results

So, I've built Kei, the Pentium 4 2.6GHz super wizzy box, and installed Fedora on it as well. How does it run? Let's find out!

Test 1: Woot*625

Kei x22.93

Yuri's rating of 2800+ looks realistic as it pips Kei's P4 2.6 by about 15%. On the other hand, the Pentium 4 2.6GHz is nearly twice as fast as the Pentium 4 Celeron 1.7GHz.

Kei x2 shows the average CPU time for two copies of the same code run simultaneously with HyperThreading enabled. Here we see no advantage from HyperThreading at all: At 2.93 seconds the programs take just as long to run in parallel as they would in series.

Test 2: Memory Exerciser

Kei x21.713.555.26

But now Kei steals the lead - and by a healthy margin. As I had expected, the 800MHz front-side bus really delivers the goods when you're tossing 48MB strings about.

Also, we see a marked improvement with two copies running simultaneously: The total time for two runs drops from 6.36 to 5.26 seconds - about 20% faster.

Test 3: Cache Cruncher

Kei x29.96

Ouchie! Kei falls in a heap, outperformed by a 1.2GHz Athlon. A sad day for Intel, a sad day for - me, because I bought the darn thing. In proportion to clock speed, Kei delivers the same performance here as Misa. Kei claws back a bit of respect, though, with a hefty 46% speed gain from HyperThreading.

So, the conclusion we draw from this is: Um.

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Curiously Enough

Fedora does recognise the gigabit ethernet on my 8IPE1000Pro2, where it didn't recognise the gigE on my 7N400Pro2.

So if I run Windows on the Athlon and Linux on the Pentium, it will all work!


But at least I haven't blown anything up yet.

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Monday, December 08


A Trying Time

Although my IDE RAID, network controller and video card aren't working properly, I was still able to install Fedora Linux on the box and run a few tests. (Hint: Don't wiggle the mouse while it is starting up the X server during installation. This will crash the X server and you will have to reboot and start over.)

Anyway, I wrote a couple of little Python scripts to test relative performance on CPU-intensive and bandwidth-intensive tasks. The actual work involved is just manipulating meaningless strings, but since I do a lot of that this is probably not a bad thing. The machines tested are running different versions of Linux and of Python, so the results aren't particularly meaningful, but I will present them anyway.

The systems on test are:

Yuri: A shiny new dysfunctional Athlon XP 2800+
Misa: The web server hosting, a P4 Celeron 1.7
Lina: A somewhat reliable Dual P3-800
Kodachi: An Athlon 1.2 with the least reliable storage system in the Southern Hemisphere

Program one makes a string containing the phrase "woot!" and repeatedly quintuplicates it out to 3125 bytes:

for j in range(0,10):
    for k in range(0,10000):
        for i in range(0,4):
    print j, len(s)

Results: (total CPU times in seconds)


No real surprises here. Yuri is about twice as fast as Kodachi, despite only having a 70% higher clock speed. This illustrates real advances in the Athlon core over the last three years. The Athlon 64 should do even better, but I don't have one.

Program two is intended to stress the memory system: It continues the quintuplication until the string is 48,828,125 bytes long, containing 9,765,625 copies of the word "woot!". I expect the older systems with their PC133 memory to suffer. I also expect that Kei, my so-new-I-haven't-built-it-yet Pentium 4, will rule here, with its 800MHz front side bus.

for j in range(0,10):
    for i in range(0,10):
        print len(s)

Results: (times in seconds)


This time Misa with its 400MHz bus manages to outrun Kodachi with its 200MHz bus (and 133MHz memory). Suprisingly low user time from Misa is balanced by a surprisingly high system time. I repeated all of the tests and the results are consistent.

Yuri with its 333MHz memory bus - 2.5 times as fast as the 133MHz memory on Kodachi - gets almost exactly 2.5 times the performance.

Program three is a cache-cruncher - it creates a 15,625 byte string and does a search-and-replace on it:

for i in range(0,4):
for j in range(0,10):
    for k in range(0,1000):
    print j, len(t)

Results: (total CPU times)


And the Celeron, with its smaller caches, crashes to the bottom of the list. I think this may be the problem we're having with Movable Type - a Celeron just can't handle the template processing very well. I'll be running these same tests on a P4 later this week, so we'll see the exact difference.

Either a slightly disappointing result from Yuri here, or an impressive result from Kodachi, as the speedup is less than the ratio of clock speeds this time.

More to follow...

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