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#244755 - 28/12/2004 13:36 Annoying linux htpc question
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
My new myth box has been in service for just over a month. It consists of:

AMD XP3200
Gigbyte Mobo w/VIA chipset
Nvidia FX5200 GFX Card
256MB Corsair Value Select

It started out behaving itself quite well, the GFX card had actually been in another machine which showed zero problems. Slowly it's been becoming less and less reliable but only when watching videos, it basically hard locks and only a reset will bring it back. As a recording backend, a transcoder and a web/mail/DNS server it performs flawlessly. If you don't watch video on it, it will run and run. I ran memtest for a couple of days which showed nothing. What do you guys think? Flakey gfx card, mobo chipset issue, overheating (there are two case fans in already)?
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244756 - 28/12/2004 13:44 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
Run something like distributed.net on it to see if it's crashing under load?

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#244757 - 28/12/2004 14:11 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: tman]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
I've done a lot of video transcoding and that seems fine. It certainly brings the cpu core temp up.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244758 - 28/12/2004 23:55 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
shadow45
member

Registered: 19/03/2002
Posts: 144
Loc: Florida, USA
Search the mythtv forums for VIA and see what the consensus is I can't think of a single person that runs VIA chips on a mythtv box successfuly. everyone crashes or hardlocks. a lot of people have said that this indicates that VIA has crap PCI handling, no other mfg'rs have problems lthat I've heard of.

i run my mythtv on an nforce2 board.. works nice
_________________________
::: shadow45

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#244759 - 29/12/2004 14:10 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: shadow45]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Oh well, looks like an nforce mobo might be the solution. I'm looking at this one:

MSI K7N2 Delta-L

Any comments?
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244760 - 29/12/2004 14:13 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12143
Loc: Sterling, VA
I don't think I'd go back to a VIA chipset. My current machine started out with a Soyo Dragon, and that thing was way too flakey. That could have also been because it was by Soyo, though.

Anyway, my Asus A7N8X has an nForce2 chipset, and it's been great for over 2 years.
_________________________
Matt

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#244761 - 29/12/2004 17:13 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
The MSI MB's I have had of late shipped with a very annoying noisy on-board fan, they even flash! That went in the bin straight away

I only use Intel CPU's and Chipsets now, I think they are worth the extra for all the stress it saves me. A recent example is my Dad's PC, he wanted to scan in all his old 35mm film using a neg scanner, we tried everything to get it working, in the end it was the Via USB drivers being a total bag of s*[email protected], swapped it for a nice Intel MB and it has worked 100% ever since

Cheers

Cris.

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#244762 - 29/12/2004 17:58 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Cris]
Ezekiel
pooh-bah

Registered: 25/08/2000
Posts: 2413
Loc: NH USA
VIA 6-in-1 Drivers...<shivvers>

Ugh!

I also refuse to spend another minute of my time with VIA chipsets.

-Zeke
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WWFSMD?

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#244763 - 29/12/2004 23:13 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
Shonky
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/01/2002
Posts: 1970
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Only comments I have are:

1) Yes VIA seems flaky and always have been from what I've read. For that reason I have never bought a VIA board ever personally. I'd have to say ditch it. Especially if you're using software encoding (i.e. no DVB/PVRx50) and there's a lot of data flying around the busses.

2) I run an Asus A7N266-VM (nForce 1 board for my MythTV box with an XP2400 on an it's been rock solid for about 18 months 24/7 now. I'd have no qualms going nForce again.
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Christian
#40104192 120Gb (no longer in my E36 M3, won't fit the E46 M3)

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#244764 - 30/12/2004 00:41 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Shonky]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
Even with a hardware encoder board like a PVRx50 card you may have problems. The ivtv driver developers have mentioned several times that DMA seems to be really flakey on VIA chipset boards.

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#244765 - 30/12/2004 13:18 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Shonky]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Thanks guys, I got an Abit NF7-S in the end, I'm currently 12 minutes into the Scrapheap xmas challenge I recorded a bit ago. Wish me luck.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244766 - 30/12/2004 17:09 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Scrapheap went through without any problems, running a recording of Tomb Raider through it at the mo.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244767 - 31/12/2004 00:25 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14016
Loc: Canada
Yeah, that's nice, but will it compile and then run a Linux kernel, from scratch?

For over a decade, this was the ultimate way to thoroughly exercise a new system -- other OSs didn't use all of the chip's features enough to stumble across any bugs!

Cheers

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#244768 - 31/12/2004 00:41 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: mlord]
Shonky
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/01/2002
Posts: 1970
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Heh I use that too as a guide to how stable it's going to be.

Actually a MythTV compile is a pretty fair effort in itself. Maybe not quite at linux kernel level, but it takes a good 20 minutes on my XP2400.

Running MythTV stable is also a good indication since it uses many separate bits to all work.
_________________________
Christian
#40104192 120Gb (no longer in my E36 M3, won't fit the E46 M3)

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#244769 - 31/12/2004 07:57 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: mlord]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Quote:
Yeah, that's nice, but will it compile and then run a Linux kernel, from scratch?


Well, I upgraded and recompiled the kernel to include all the nforce drivers plus I pulled a fresh copy of myth from CVS. So I'd say I gave it a fairly good going over. Anyway I run Gentoo so I'm always compiling stuff from source.

EDIT: Probably worth pointing out that the previous system was built from source without any difficulties, it was only playing video that caused it problems.


Edited by andym (31/12/2004 08:02)
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244770 - 31/12/2004 12:12 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14016
Loc: Canada
Great stuff!

So.. what should I be using for a tuner/encoder card for MythTV TV?

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#244771 - 31/12/2004 13:50 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: mlord]
shadow45
member

Registered: 19/03/2002
Posts: 144
Loc: Florida, USA
Most people seem to use Hauppauge PVRx50's I think..

speaking of which, i need to harass those bastards. they've been dodging me on my $40 rebate.
_________________________
::: shadow45

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#244772 - 31/12/2004 15:53 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: shadow45]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Yeah a PVR card is a good start as there's very little cpu overhead as the encoding is all in hardware. I started with a 250, some people use the 350 for TV out but think it's all too much hassle, you might as well get an Nvidia card install the driver, add two lines to your xconfig and get really good TV out. I've now got two DVB-T cards which are much better.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244773 - 01/01/2005 06:34 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: mlord]
Shonky
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/01/2002
Posts: 1970
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
So we have another MythTV user! Once you get used to it, you won't want to go back. I very rarely watch "live" TV anymore. I record and watch later which lets me skip the commercials.

As for cards it's very dependent on where you live and what channels you have.

The PVRx50 cards sound fairly good and take a lot of the load off the CPU. The driver support isn't all the way there it would seem. If you want to pipe the output of your cable TV in, this is probably what I'd use.

Personally I didn't have much luck with normal "software" encoders receiving analogue TV. I found the insides of a PC simply had too much interference for the tuner to work well. Digital TV (DVB in Australia) gets around that problem

Is Canada the same as the US i.e. ATSC for digital TV? There are special ATSC cards which I think work pretty well from what I've read.

In my setup I don't have cable or anything like that. I have two Hauppauge Nova-T DVB cards and they work fine. I use a Geforce4 MX440 as the output via S-Video and it's pretty good. Running an XP2400 CPU is probably a bit overkill. CPU runs at about 25% when playing back. More CPU is good for transcoding if you are trying to save space though.
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Christian
#40104192 120Gb (no longer in my E36 M3, won't fit the E46 M3)

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#244774 - 01/01/2005 11:39 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Shonky]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14016
Loc: Canada
I'm thinking of using another ultra-low electricity system with a fanless mini-ITX mobo from Via. This means a relatively slow CPU, so hardware encode/decode is desirable.

Also, I don't have nor want cable, satellite, or digital anything. Analogue broadcast television, over the airwaves for me!

Does the external USB PVR-350 work with this setup?

Cheers

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#244775 - 01/01/2005 20:53 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: mlord]
Shonky
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/01/2002
Posts: 1970
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
As far as I can tell, there's no such thing as a USB PVR350. It's PCI only. The PVR USB2 is hardware encode only.

I'm not sure how good the linux drivers are for the USB tuners either so that's something to look out for.

Are you saving the one PCI slot for something else?

You also might find some difficulties getting the TV-out on the mini-ITX board working correctly (overscan in particular). Generally speaking nVidia cards are the easiest to get going I think.
_________________________
Christian
#40104192 120Gb (no longer in my E36 M3, won't fit the E46 M3)

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#244776 - 15/01/2005 17:28 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5612
Loc: London, UK
Quote:
Oh well, looks like an nforce mobo might be the solution.


Andy, can you give any more details about the symptoms you were seeing? I've just managed to get the ivtv drivers compiled and loaded on my A7V box. After a few minutes of looking at static / blank output (using mplayer /dev/video0) while trying to figure out how to control the tuner, the machine locked solid. I've not attempted to look at using the TV out yet -- this is just input. Is this what you were seeing? Do I need the new motherboard? Or does it just do this if you issue an ioctl to change the input while you're watching the MPEG stream?
_________________________
-- roger

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#244777 - 15/01/2005 18:10 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Roger]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
As I asked before, which ivtv driver are you using? The ones from http://ivtv.no-ip.com are much better IMO. You may need to fiddle about as it still has a lot of "personality". Also check the firmware version you're loading.

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#244778 - 15/01/2005 18:39 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Roger]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
It ran for a week or so before I witnessed the first lock. After that MTBF got less and less until it got to the point where less than a minute in the machine would lock. No network connectivity, no response to keypresses, you couldn't even toggle the caps lock led on the keyboard. I tried all sorts of stuff both in the kernel and in BIOS. The syslog didn't throw any light on things either. The lock didn't coincide with any channel change actions, in fact I use it mostly for watching recordings, I hardly ever watch live TV on it.

EDIT: On re-reading your post, I only used the PVR card for about a month before getting rid. All my recent problems have been with recordings from DVB cards, although they weren't at fault. It does seem they don't like the BBC's channels on Freeview, seeking to frames is erratic and innacurate.


Edited by andym (15/01/2005 18:42)

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#244779 - 15/01/2005 20:10 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: tman]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5612
Loc: London, UK
Quote:
which ivtv driver are you using?


v0.2.0-rc3d from no-ip.com. It installed cleanly on 2.6.10, which was cool. I'm not sure which firmware version.

It appears, however, that either that was a one-off lockup, or I've fixed it. I found something on the myth FAQ that suggested adding 'noapic' to the kernel command line would fix it. I've done that and now it's been watching live TV for a couple of hours now. Well, actually it's been watching static, 'cos I only just got the channel definitions sorted, and I'm watching Kill Bill 2 on the DVD player, anyway...

But it's promising. Now I just need to get LIRC, TV out and audio working properly.
_________________________
-- roger

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#244780 - 15/01/2005 20:17 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Roger]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
I tried the noapic flag but alas it didn't do anything for me. TV out with my Nvidia card was simple. In fact all i've done this time is emerge nvidia-kernel, i've not even touched my xorg.conf and I still got TV out!
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244781 - 16/01/2005 06:44 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5612
Loc: London, UK
Quote:
TV out with my Nvidia card was simple.


I'll be using ivtv-fb to use the PVR350 for TV-out. I hope that's as easy.

It does have the advantage that, hopefully, I can have one X display (with MythTV) on the TV, and another (with a normal gdm prompt) on the console. At the moment, however, I'm using gdm in "kiosk mode" to auto-login the mythtv user after 10 seconds. Works well if mythfrontend crashes, too.
_________________________
-- roger

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#244782 - 16/01/2005 08:58 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: Roger]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Quote:
I'll be using ivtv-fb to use the PVR350 for TV-out.


Sounds cool, I'd be interested to see how you get on with it.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#244783 - 16/01/2005 18:01 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: andym]
ashmoore
addict

Registered: 24/08/1999
Posts: 564
Loc: TX
I have a similar problem with a SLES9 box I was building as a server replacement. In the end, after masses of fruitless searching and replacing, I finally replaced the power supply.
Problem fixed.
To be honest the reason I replaced the power supply was the funny smells that were starting to eminate from it
It really did cure the hard lockups though.
_________________________
========================== the chewtoy for the dog of Life

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#244784 - 16/01/2005 18:51 Re: Annoying linux htpc question [Re: ashmoore]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
The box itself had a rather chunky and expensive silent PSU in it so I'd have been rather upset if it had been that. The motherboard change did seem to do the trick.

Although I've spent the afternoon reconfiguring my aerial feeds to play musical myth boxes. Thanks to Cris for helping me with drilling and running of new cables. I've now moved the Hovercraft to my study to act as a recording backend now with a regular (noisy) PSU. I've now got a discless box with the silent PSU in the living room acting as the frontend.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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