A month ago, I returned from a work trip to Kolkata to find my computer
dead. None of the tricks learned during its eight years of service could
coax it back to life, and I was forced to visit Nehru Place the next day
to buy a new motherboard. I was disappointed by the lack of variety in
the models available, but had too little time to explore. I wanted an
Asus P7H55D-M Pro,
but had to settle for the
that RR Systems unearthed after much consultation on the Nehru Place
bush telephone. I got an i3-540 CPU and 8GB of RAM with it, and had to
buy a Radeon 4350 PCIe video card too (since the P7H55 doesn't support
the on-die graphics of the i3/i5 processors).
I was too busy with work to do more than install the new hardware and
continue to use the existing (32-bit) Ubuntu 10.04 installation. Given
my track record of upgrading, I may have left it that way for a year or
two, but for two things—the thought of half my RAM being unused was sad,
and the machine wouldn't boot reliably. The latter problem was difficult
to pin down, but I finally isolated it to the Via VT6415 IDE controller.
Sometimes the kernel would hang just after enumerating the IDE devices
(one of which was my root disk). Disabling the controller solved the
problem, but meant I had to set up a new installation on a SATA disk.
Last night, I finally installed Ubuntu 11.04 (whose slick new installer
does work in the background while waiting for you to answer questions!),
and got my machine up and running with surprisingly little trouble. The
proprietary ATI fglrx video driver continues to be horribly broken, but
video performance has improved dramatically even without it (but I don't
know if that's because of improvements in the open-source radeon driver,
or something else). Installing LTSP and booting 32-bit clients worked
flawlessly. The only thing I haven't figured out how to do yet is to
switch back to using fvwm2 as my window manager, but that can wait.
And now all of that lovely 8GB of RAM is accessible.