Via M10000, video, and a Belkin wireless USB thing

I’ve had a Via Eden M10000 literally lying around since soon after I moved to the US two years ago, and I finally decided that it was time for a full blown home workstation the other day, having got fed up with the small screen on my laptops. Sometimes I really miss my 30 inch monitor at work, and the 24 inch I am using at home is a much better substitute than a laptop screen.

Anyway, getting the machine working was surprisingly difficult given its a three or four year old design. The problems:

  • The PCI 802.11g wireless card didn’t work. In fact, the machine wouldn’t boot with it installed. I suspect this was a PCI version problem, as I have had pain with this card in the past.
  • The PCI 802.11b wireless card I tried next wasn’t much better. The connection would drop out randomly, and the machine would occasionally lock up. This was the card I used as my first access point about six years ago (using hostap), so perhaps its just old. It got swapped out as well.
  • The Belkin USB 802.11g thingie didn’t work reliably. It would stay connected to the network for five minutes before something went wrong. This made me annoyed, especially when it turns out this is because the latest release of Ubuntu (gutsy) installs an old version of the rt73usb driver, which is known not to work with this card. Following these instructions from the canonical wiki which tell you to install drivers from here fixed the problem. Its annoying that Ubuntu ships with known broken drivers though.
  • Next, video. The video card built into the mother board sucks. I’m running a t24 inch LCD at 1920×1200, and there was significant ghosting on the monitor. Additionally, I couldn’t run at 24 bit, I had to use 16 bit because the video card was running out of RAM bandwidth.
  • Not to worry, I installed a Matrox G450 I had lying around, and now the monitor works nicely as well, with no ghosting.
  • Finally, the whole thing is much louder than I expected from an Eden machine (there is a fan on the board, a fan in the case, and the hard disk). Then again, given I built the entire machine for $90, I can’t complain too much.