Six machines. Six plus one equals seven. My current laptop is named Reicore, where rei れい is a possible reading of zero in Japanese.

It was only fitting that the seventh machine—a desktop—would be Nanacore (nana なな) then.

NameYearCPURAMHard diskGraphicsOS
Reicore2010Intel Pentium T4300
2.1 GHz dual core
4 GiB500 GBIntel GM45Debian testing (Wheezy)
Nanacore2012Intel Core i7
(Ivy Bridge)
3.5 GHz HT quad core
16 GiB2 TBNVIDIA GeForce GT610Debian testing (Wheezy), Windows 7 (???)

Quite notably, everything is working fine with the latest Debian wheezy packages (although I compiled my own newer kernel later anyway) except for the onboard sound controller.

00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)

The Intel HDA codec for these controllers is apparently not quite ready yet; as a result, the mixer sliders are slightly broken in that there is no master channel, the speaker channel has no actual volume slider, changing the PCM channel’s volume causes some slight noise, and I suspect some features are missing as well. Despite this, the driver works for basic usage given some precautions with the KDE sound system to choose the correct (PCM) channel for audio instead of the sliderless (speaker) channel. I would not mind to spend some additional time researching the situation later, but I really need to get back to work on non-audio stuff (a.k.a. AtS) right now, so that will have to wait.

Incidentally, the Debian KDE desktop task includes PulseAudio now (I believe this wasn’t the case with Squeeze). Rather unsurprisingly, PA continues to be a considerable annoyance for my usage (e.g. lockup during KDE login, 1% extra CPU usage during playback from any application), so I ditched it after a day or two for plain ALSA. I don’t really have a need for the extra layer of indirection since PA uses ALSA anyway and my sound needs are very basic — basically, just playing sound from media players, games, and application notifications.

For graphics I’m using a decidedly inexpensive NVIDIA graphics card for the sake of having an NVIDIA graphics card and parting ways with Mesa for a good while. And while I had intended from the get-go to install the proprietary drivers, a forced and thankfully short Nouveau intermission confirmed that Nouveau indeed eats kittens. And that’s really all there is to say on the matter.

Both the machine and Debian wheezy can do UEFI, but I quickly stumbled upon a couple of issues:

  • Using the EFI version of GRUB means the only way to get a working text console on Linux is to use a framebuffer console driver such as efifb. This is not supported by NVIDIA and the driver complains quite loudly about it.
  • The machine appears to enumerate my (USB) 3G modem’s built-in storage as the first and second hard disks when it is connected, breaking GRUB’s expectations about the location of the disk from which it will boot, which becomes the third (SATA) hard disk in such a situation. The PC BIOS version of GRUB only gets to see the real hard disk drive.

Since this is my first time dealing with an UEFI-based system yet, I don’t really know whether the second point is a bug in GRUB, or the platform itself. Regardless, the first point pretty much convinced me to not spend any further time on that and just go back to the BIOS flavor of GRUB. This doesn’t seem to have done anything for my broken Windows 7 installation, which I probably don’t really need.

I have been working on transferring my configuration and files from Reicore since this Monday, approximately, and I think I’m nearly ready to get back to business now.

(I actually wanted to post this on the 7th but I got sidetracked by the system migration and testing.)