Desktop is up and running.

So my Blackbird desktop is running like a charm, in the end I had to change the CPU for the X version of the Ryzen 5 1600 because Amazon didn’t carry the standard 1600.
The Ryzen 5 1600X is a brutal CPU and I won’t say more. Anyone who buys Intel these days is losing money big time but thats my opinion.

Right now I’m using my Nvidia GT740 with 2Gb DDR5 to do the GPU honors because I need to buy a good GPU to pair with the Ryzen.
After talking with a pal of mine I’m leaning over to the AMD radeon RX series with at least 6 Gb of VRAM, being price, support for Linux and specs the main reason I will change back to Radeon. GPUs are expensive and I want a decent one so I will need to save some money for it, if all goes smoothly I’ll buy it in January because Christmas is coming and I don’t want late or lost parcels.

Because the GPU will be power hungry I’ll need to buy a good power supply or I’ll have stability problems. The one I got is starting to show some age signs on the caps. This sucks but PSUs are very important so I’ll probably buy a branded one from Corsair or Cooler Master with a minimum of 750W.

Storage wise I got a “problem” like I always did.
I don’t like to put all my eggs in the same basket so I got 5 storage mediums on the desktop. Yes, I know this stresses the PSU power rails.
I got 2 drives dedicated to operating systems and 3 for storage. Besides that I got 1 external drive for backups, plus several 2,5″ HDD I have with several backups of the backup. I’m not paranoid, I just don’t want to lose the family photos.
I know I should buy a new 240Gb SSD for the Win10 partition but my wallet isn’t happy about that, so for now it’s in the back burner.

RAM is still on the menu, and I’ll continue to update the motherboard with more modules. If all goes as planned I’ll have 32 GB soon after I buy the GPU.

Because I’m a audio enthusiast and these things matter a bit, I should note that my desktop is not silent but it’s quite tolerable with five fans doing their job:
– 1 for the CPU radiator that takes fresh air from outside the enclosure. Almost silent even in heavy loads.
– 2 silent 12cm fans that push air from the front to the back of the enclosure to remove the hot air of the CPU radiator.
– 1 small noisy fan for the GPU, most of the noise comes from this bastard.
– 1 fan on PSU that takes air from the bottom of the case and pushes it outside. This position of the PSU was one of the reasons I bought this enclosure.

I think the noise will come down when I buy a GPU with 12cm fans, most of it comes from the small fan the GT 740 has.

Final words..for now at least.
My old Core2 Quad will serve my kids as soon as new parts arrive for the Blackbird, right now it’s stored in the attic. It will be their school PC because I’m against disposing of good old tech, maybe thats why it survived so much time.
I’ll make a small update on the state of the desktop probably when I buy the GPU.

And so it begins…update on the desktop.

By Cephas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some days ago I wrote that I would build another desktop computer, so today I updated that post to reflect some unforeseen changes, specially the compatibility with the RAM which seems to be an issue with some motherboards, including mine.

The update was also necessary because I  have purchased most of the base of the system, the final piece will be the Ryzen CPU.
Sure I still have some money to spend in the GPU, RAM, PSU and SSD but those can wait a little.

Some lose thoughts about the build:
The CPU had some strange problems with Linux, AMD is now solving some of the shitstorm with some microcode patches and whatnot.
I might be biased because I’m gonna buy one, but the AMD Ryzen is one hell of a CPU, seems Intel finally moved their ass and started fighting back, the CPU wars are back and I like it!

The DDR4 RAM support for the Ryzen is a mess, I had to actually buy HyperX because there is so much conflicting information around the forums and DIY community, looks like if you buy a RAM module which isn’t approved by the manufacture company your chances of getting a no go at boot are very high, add that to the Ryzen picky nature when overclocking and it’s a pain for DIYers.

I love videogames, I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer because I don’t spend hours gaming every day, but I do love to play my stuff specially RPGs like the Witcher and Elder Scrolls series.
The problem of having a decent CPU is that you really need a decent GPU to come in to the fray when you want your videogame fix.
Right now the AMD GPUs are out of the question, even if I like them very much.
NVIDIA has better support for Linux and I use Linux for everything besides gaming so this is KO even before the match starts. I’m now considering the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 by Gigabyte and Asus, both present a bottleneck when paired with the Ryzen CPU I intend to buy.

In terms of storage I need a SSD for Windows 10 but I’m still on the edge if I should go M.2 or SATA, I’ll research a bit more first.

On a nerdy note I have a name for the desktop, it will be called Blackbird because I love both the bird and airplane. Deal with it I’m a nerd…

Wi-Fi USB adapters that work with Ubuntu based distros.

One of the things that bugs me a lot about using Ubuntu and all other distros based on it like Pop!_OS is the fact some USB Wi-FI adapters don’t work out of the box, so I’ll share two that work fine with the 17.04 release. Your mileage may vary from distro to distro as in all things GNU/Linux.

RT5370First and before all, see if your current adapter isn’t having connection problems because of the feature bug that keeps changing the MAC address. Developers call it a privacy feature, I call it a Wi-Fi adapter shitstorm from hell that broke stuff.

Please also note that I got BOTH of these adapters to work after disabling that so called privacy feature, follow the link I shared above for directions. You’ll need to use the terminal but it’s easy stuff compared with some other options around.

The first and cheapest 150Mbps adapter that works is the small Robotsky Ralink RT5370, you can get it at various online shops.
The antenna is not removable but it’s fairly small to carry around.
It’s compatible with the IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards, just don’t expect amazing range.
I use it with my netbook, in fact I removed the problematic internal Wi-Fi adapter and now only carry this one with me.
The second USB adapter I use is the huge 150Mbps Atheros AR9271, search for it online and buy the model in the photo (note the design on the lid). It has the same network specs as the Ralink one but the antenna is removable and it’s huge, I totally recommend this adapter for use with desktops or in areas with bad reception. It’s more expensive than my first option but it’s still worth it.

For now these are the only adapters I use with my Linux distros, if by chance I buy more I’ll add them to this list, but please understand that sometimes factories change the specs and chipset of the adapters. Because mine were bough of ebay I don’t have version numbers to share but it’s better than nothing at all.
All the best and I hope this helps, give a like or comment if it did! I’ll be very happy.

A new desktop PC for 2018.

AeroCool CyberX

My current desktop PC is a old horse and needs some rest very soon, it will probably be used later by my kids for school work or something. I did learn a lot with it and it was the entertainment hub for my whole family for a long of time.

My current setup:

CPU: Intel Core2 Quad Q9450  @2.66 GHz, OCed @~2.80 GHz (Still gives a respectful benchmark of 4000 at Passmark when OCed)
CPU Cooler: Stock Intel with copper base
Motherboard: Asus P5QL Pro
RAM: Crucial DDR2 8 Gb Total OCed
GPU: Asus GT 740 2Gb
SSD & HDD: HyperX 240 Gb + Assorted Scorpio Black HDD from Western Digital.
PSU: Nox 750Watts
Case: White Brand ATX Mid Tower
Screen: Dual HD Monitor setup from LG & Asus
Keyboards and Mouse: Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014Ed (US) + HP Classic Wired Keyboard (PT) + HP X500 Wired Mouse (Got kids so no expensive Mouse for me)

The update will be something in these lines:

CPU: Ryzen 5 1600X
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite 120.
Motherboard: ASUS PRIME B350-PLUS
RAM: 1X HyperX FURY 16 GB 2666Mhz (Will updated 16GB every 3 Months until a total of 64Gb, will not make the same mistake I did in the past).
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti Windforce OC 4G or GTX 1060. (Will hold on my GT 740 for a while)
SSD & HDD: HyperX 240 Gb + various old HDD
PSU: Corsair Series VS650 (When The NOX bites the dust)
Case: Aerocool CyberX Advance with a clear window on the side
Screen: Dual HD Monitor setup from LG & Asus (Will update for a good big FHD when my kids grow up a bit more)
Keyboards and Mouse: Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014Ed (US) + HP Classic Wired Keyboard (PT) + HP X500 Wired Mouse (Got kids so no expensive mouse for me but I do want a Kanonic 82 keyboard really bad).

All in all it’s a budget desktop PC and it will be build not as amazing gaming machine but as a entertainment hub that can run some video games from time to time.
I will dual boot on this machine if I don’t get too much nags from Linux.
Unless something bad happens this PC will be built by the end of 2017

A Linux distro done right, Pop!_OS

Pop!_OSPop!_OS is a Linux distribution (distro) based on Ubuntu and made by the amazing people at System76.
When I heard that System76 made a Linux distro I was very happy, those guys and gals take their jobs seriously so I was sure that at least the design would be amazing and I was not wrong at all, their theme is a beauty.

Their new operating system is still in Alpha so it’s still too early to see what software will be shipped with Pop!_OS, but some things are expected for their clients like automatic firmware updates. The fact this OS is built upon Ubuntu means it should actually run rock solid in System76 computers even in alpha stage.

The community as usually bashed this new distro because “It’s just another one based on Ubuntu”. Linux elitism at it’s finest, these are the very same people who say Apple enthusiasts are elitists, mirrors anyone?
The more distros the merrier at least from my view, sure it might divide the community effort but at least System76 is not at the mercy of the whims of Canonical, also something tells me they will not leave Ubuntu far behind, after all it’s a strong distro with a huge community.

This new operating system is very sober and warm, it’s not as minimal as the elegant elementaryOS, after all both distros have different communities and users in mind.
System76 Pop!_OS is an impressive move towards consolidating a already very respected niche brand. After all Ubuntu’s orange folders are not the best way to impress technical minded people, not that I have anything against orange.
If System76 can harness the creativity of their own fans, some of them amazing programmers and designers, I’m sure most bugs they have in the alpha release will be solved in no time at all.

Pop!_OS is something made for very specific hardware so I will understand if System76 doesn’t give technical support to users that didn’t buy the company computers, even so it would be nice if for a annual fee users running other hardware could request some help.
It would probably be a huge task that System76 wouldn’t be willing to risk capital at, but good software can attract users to their hardware just like macOS does for Apple.

Sure it might be just another distro but given the fact that Canonical doesn’t know what to do with Ubuntu, I placed a bet on Pop!_OS alpha and installed it on my main computers.
I don’t install operating systems often and sadly the last time I placed a bet and some money on elementaryOS I was disappointed with the outcome. A beautiful design is very important but trying to reinvent the wheel and removing the possibility of customization were deal beakers at least for me. If Pop!_OS doesn’t fall in the same trap and lets users tweak and play around with the distro I’m sure many will also bet on System76.

I would be more than happy to buy their hardware if they had a online shop based in Europe but because that’s not yet possible I’ll do the second best thing and run Pop!_OS.
I don’t recommend alphas to new users so trend carefully if you go that route.
If by any chance you still want to play around you can use a live preview of the distro. Right now it’s pretty much a gnome experience with a nice theme, we still have to wait some months for a stable release, after that it will be released every six months, LTS versions are not yet confirmed.