Hardware Debugging

Shuttle has crashed on me twice today, so I bit the bullet and started swapping parts to figure out what’s wrong with it…

Legal / administrative stuff

I had an appointment at the court today for Taodyne. I thought it was to shutdown the whole thing and tell me Taodyne was no more. Not so lucky. Apparently, my accountant failed to disclose a few important documents, so we did not make it for the term of the “expedited” legal process. I’m now stuck with the longer process, which may take one year or more.


The Mac that Red Hat provided me works quite well, and the Linux VM corresponding to the second boot partition seems reliable enough with VMware Fusion. Running that VM was a primary partition is, currently, not an option due to the issues with graphics whenever it’s not on battery power.

This is why it’s so important for me to build a reliable workhorse that I can throw workloads at. Ideally, I’d like to have more than one, to test things like migration, etc. I was counting on the Shuttle PC to be that workhorse, but it proved extremely unreliable. Yesterday alone, it dies twice on me, the first time with really strange error messages in KVM that made me first thing there was a KVM error.

Swapping Shuttle Memory

Since I have ruled out the graphic card as the culprit, the next big candidate is the memory. Swapped the memory with another machine (that means the Shuttle only has 8G now).

Moving Big close to the house networking hub

Also brought another machine, let’s call it Big, to the mix. That machine is very very silent, has a powerful graphic card, and has 24G of memory. So that would be a good server machine, but it is also the house’s HTC Vive host, and that’s a role that I need to preserve if I don’t want to have issues with my kids.

So I took a spare 1TB disk and put it in there. The longest part of the operation was to find a SATA cable in my trusted stash-o-cables. It was pink, and that’s the only reason I found it. Then I moved the PC to a location where it could have wired ethernet and not just Wi-Fi. Recabling is always fun.

Recyling my old media server

The third machine in the pictures is my former media server which Taodyne sometimes used as a demo machine during trade shows because it looked good (it looks more like some high-end amplifier than a regular PC) and proved extremely reliable, unlike Shuttle. That machine currently runs either Ubuntu or Windows. That machine received the memory from Shuttle, and if it starts crashing, I’ll just buy new DIMMs.

All this hardware shuffling was good exercise, but I did not feel very productive on the software side today.

Software installation

Big now has an extra disk where I can install Linux. Did three Linux installs in a row:

  1. Fedora 25: This was just to test that the machine was working properly. I ran into an interesting problem that the installer was displaying on the HTC Vive display, which is not very practical. This is relatively easy to correct with Display Settings, if you are lucky enough that the display settings show up on the “right” screen.
  2. RHEL 7.3: I initially thought that Big should run some old and trusty “release” from Red Hat. But then I saw that the kernel was old enough (3.10) that it would probably cause me more trouble than anything else for the kind of work this machine will be doing, so…
  3. Fedora 25 Server: This will give me a server environment, but with recent components. A bit bleeding edge, of course, but that’s IMO part of the job.

Burn in test

Started a burn-in test on Shuttle.This machine is quite silent at rest, but it’s noisy when it starts working. Stopped the burn-in test after a couple of hours because of the noise, so that my kids could go to sleep.


Author: Christophe de Dinechin

I try to change the world, but that's work in progress. If you want to know me, google "Christophe de Dinechin". Keywords: concept programming, virtualization, OS design, programming languages, video games, 3D, modern physics. Some stuff I did that I'm proud of: the first "true" 3D game for the PC, HP's big iron virtualization, real-time test systems for car electronics, some of the best games for the HP48 calculator, a theory of physics that makes sense (at least to me).

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