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post #1 of 10 Old 07-31-2012, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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I've used Ubuntu on an older computer for several years as a backend content server. Lately when watching movies and TV shows, the video will freeze and I'll have to completely stop the video from XBMC (on the front end computer) and restart it. Then it will play fine for a few minutes and then it does it again.

The drive on the back-end media server is a Western Digital Caviar Blue, 640 GB. The computer uses a SATA raid controller that I installed in a PCI slot, although I do not use the raid function.

Here is a benchmark taken from the disk utility in UBUNTU:


And here is the data on the drive itself:


So no problems reported from the drive, but you can tell there is a hiccup somewhere. I'm thinking my PCI SATA controller card is bad. If there is a linux guru around, can you tell me a way to know for sure if its the drive or the controller?

I've also been thinking about switching to LUBUNTU, since the computer is now very slow on the latest UBUNTU build. The system drive doesn't have the same dips in the benchmark, and it also isn't a SATA drive, so it doesn't use the controller card.

Thanks!!!!!
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-31-2012, 10:19 AM
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You'd have to give us more information about your hardware and your GPU before anyone can really help you. As far as upgrading goes, the latest Linux builds don't run well on hardware that is older than several years from what I've read so if that's what you are using, it's time to upgrade.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-31-2012, 01:56 PM
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Because of the fans, PCs tend to accumulate a lot of dust. This is especially true for the CPU and GPU heat sinks. When they overheat they then freeze up. You should blow out the case with compressed air. Do not vacuum it, as this can cause static electricity.

Also, check to make sure all of the fans are still working. Especially the cooling fans for the CPU and GPU.
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-31-2012, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post

You'd have to give us more information about your hardware and your GPU before anyone can really help you. As far as upgrading goes, the latest Linux builds don't run well on hardware that is older than several years from what I've read so if that's what you are using, it's time to upgrade.

The front end machine is fine. Its only when I stream videos from the server I have a problem. My front end is a core i7 875k, with a Saphire ATI HD 5700 (I think I'm remembering it correctly) GPU. It screams on Windows 7 with an OCZ SSD system drive.

No, its really only a problem when I stream movies or television shows off of this hard drive. I'll get the specs for the backend for you in the morning.

Rather than upgrade the hardware to meet the increase demand of the latest UBUNTU build, I think I'll save a little money for now and downgrade the OS to a more Old Timer friendly build. It worked fine for years under UBUNTU, but UBUNTU as you said has in the last two or so stable releases become a bit too much for this old machine.
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post #5 of 10 Old 08-02-2012, 04:34 PM
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EDIT- I see from your OP that the backend fileserver is not the core i7 CPU

I would suggest trying Xubuntu before Lubuntu if you want something other than the Unity desktop but with all the filesystem amenities, such as filesharing utilties for easy administration. I don't think Lubuntu has the networking filesystem filesharing apps/utilities that Xubuntu has by default, but I could be misinformed.

EDIT: Your issue looks like a problem with the PCI SATA card- the version of Ubuntu you're using may have a faulty driver for the SATA card and/or an OS and/or BIOS setting may affect its performance.

Try the PCI SATA card vendor's site for an updated driver for Linux/Ubuntu. What is the make/model number of the PCI SATA card?

Is the PCI SATA card using AHCI, SATA or IDE mode? Be sure to disable all RAID functionality. The PCI SATA card should have its own BIOs you can enter and edit at startup with a keystroke displayed during POST. Try AHCI or AHCI-Linux mode is the card has those options.

There may be other setting's in the card's BIOs that could affect the read performance, such as block size, DMA settings, LBA settings, etc. You may have to experiment by changing settings, rebooting and re-running the benchmark tests and frontend media playback.

As far as alternative OS's for fileserver duties, you might want to try a NAS specific distro like FreeNAS, though I've never tried it.

http://www.freenas.org/

Another low resource Ubuntu compatible option for your server OS is WattOS

http://www.planetwatt.com/

though it is now one version behind the current Ubuntu, i.e based on 11.10 vs 12.04

Another NAS type distro to try is openmediavault-

http://www.openmediavault.org/
Quote:
OpenMediaVault is the next generation network attached storage (NAS) solution based on Debian Linux. It contains services like SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, DAAP media server, RSync, ********** client and many more. Thanks to the modular design of the framework it can be enhanced via plugins.

OpenMediaVault is primarily designed to be used in home environments or small home offices, but is not limited to those scenarios. It is a simple and easy to use out-of-the-box solution that will allow everyone to install and administrate a Network Attached Storage without deeper knowledge.

Overview

GPLv3 license
Debian Linux
ExtJS
AJAX
PHP
Modular design
Event driven configuration change management
Quote:
OpenMediaVault includes the following features

Debian Linux (Squeeze) OS
Web based administration
Easy system updates via package management (no firmware images)
S.M.A.R.T. monitoring + email notification
Watchdog
HDD power management (APM/AAM)
EXT3/EXT4/XFS/JFS filesystem support
Software RAID JBOD/0/1/5/6 (mdadm) + email notification
LVM
Share management + ACL support
Quota (per volume)
SNMP (v1/2c/3) (read-only)
SSH
FTP
TFTP
NFS
SMB/CIFS
********** client
DAAP client
NTP
UPS

Since openmediavault is based on linux/Debian (vs BSD for freeNAS), it should be more familiar and more compatible with Ubuntu packages and common Debian packages/binaries.

There's also Ubuntu server

http://www.ubuntu.com/business/server/overview

though openmediavault may be easier to set up and maintain via the web interface, and Ubuntu server may be geared for larger installations.
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-03-2012, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Waterhead was correct, I opened up the case and took a look. For the most part everything looked pretty clean except for a fine layer of dust and a stray dog hair or two on the pci/sata card. I reseated the card in the PCI slot, changed out the sata cable, and tried using a different sata port on the card. I ran another benchmark and the dips you see in the 1st post are gone. Yay, glad to have gotten that sorted out. I'm actually typing this reply on the machine now. I'd put up a picture of the latest benchmark, but the picture upload/attachment function on this forum doesn't seem to be linux friendly unless I use another picture host.

Rgb, thanks for all the suggestions. Since this machine has gotten so bogged down on the latest UBUNTU release, I think I'll go ahead and switch the OS anyways.
Since you asked, here is the SATA card I have:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816124018

I didn't really specify all that I use this machine for, so using a dedicated server OS may not make the most sense.

Its main purpose is for backup of other machines on the network, as well as media server.

I occasionally use 'transmission' to download TV shows when my PVR misses an episode, or I need to get caught up on a new series we are interested.
I like transmission because my Android phone has a nifty front end to it that I can use to control it, although I'm sure there are similar offerings from other torrent clients.
Occasionally I'll use it to surf the web out of boredom, since it sits next to my work computer and I don't like using my work computer for such purpose.
I also use it as a print server for the 4 laptops (1 linux, 2 windows 7, one mac) on the network.
I recently installed a DNLA server called 'Servillo' on it, although I haven't gotten it working completely. I do like the idea of it though.
EDIT: Another thing, some time after 10.04 UBUNTU I lost the ability to view flash video on websites like firefox, etc. It would be nice to have that back.

I may be flamed for admitting this, but I really don't have a problem with Unity. I've gotten used to it and in some situations I actually prefer it. Of-course, in some situations I prefer gnome. The machine in question isn't really set up for Unity though, lacking any 3d acceleration I'm forced into Unity 2d. Here are the specs:

Memory: 1.2 GB
Processor: AMD Sempron(tm) 2200+
Graphics: VESA: 6330
OS Type: 32-bit
Disk: 37.7 GB (This is the system drive - the 640 gig drive I mentioned is only for storage)

I can install and configure Samba if need be for file/print sharing. So really I need more of a lightweight desktop solution that can do file/print sharing.
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-03-2012, 02:51 PM
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I wouldn't have thought that just a fine layer of dust on the PCI card would cause all your problems. Maybe it was the dirty slot connection.

Glad it's working OK now.
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-03-2012, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is the new benchmark. Much nicer.
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-04-2012, 04:01 PM
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I had a slow GRUB boot for years where it would take 30+ seconds to get GRUB to start. I switched the eSATA cable to another connector on the motherboard and now everything loads fast and the computer runs well. I always thought the MBR had been screwed up by Windows due to dual boot and MS not always playing nice with other OSes.

Just my experience in improving system performance by making small changes and confirming your experience.
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-06-2012, 08:03 AM
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If you moved the card to another slot (resolving the performance dips issue), it may have been an IRQ sharing/confilct issue, too.
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