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Fan speeds under LinuxThursday 29th May 2008
I've just upgraded my home server with some spare bits from my interim upgrade on my PC. And a couple of new big disks (1.5TB of storage now).

I'm running openSUSE 10.3 as the operating system. Most things appear to be running ok, apart from the CPU fan. My BIOS has an option to throttle back or slow down the CPU fan when the chip goes below a certain temperature. This is great, as it's a particularly noisy CPU fan, and as it's a server, I don't want it whirring away all the time, as it's annoying.

This works fine, until the threshold is met, currently 60°C (it takes quite a bit to get it to that temp). At this point the CPU fan correctly speeds up to full power, cooling the chip back down to under this threshold. But the fan does not slow down again. Instead it stays at full speed, and full noise!

I followed the usual approach for getting support with open source projects. I did some Google KungFu, and cried for help in various official, and unofficial IRC channels. But as we all know, if the question isn't "how do I compile this app I've downloaded" you don't get very far.

Luckily the Google KungFu finally came up trumps with this how to posted on the Ubuntu forums. This guide details how to use the "fancontrol" feature in Linux (was already available on my distro, didn't need to download anything).

Essentially, you run the "pwnconfig" script, which tests your fan control (careful, I did this and my BIOS triggered a shutdown as it detected the CPU fan stopping). Once you've identified which control you're interested in (by looking and listening at the right time), it guides you through creating some rules for that sensor/fan.

If the app closes, all the fans will go to maximum (although no idea what happens if the app just goes wrong).

As I am far from comfortable in the reliability of Linux (especially when it comes to hardware things), I've set my BIOS to shutdown the system if the CPU reaches 80°C; which should never happen.

Nintendo Wii DHCP requestsFriday 23rd May 2008
I've just been tiding up my configuration on my DHCP configuration on my home server when I noticed my log files full up with DHCPREQUEST from my Nintendo Wii.

Fair enough, the Wii stays online waiting for messages etc; but the frequency of the requests are a little insane. Literally every two minutes. Quite bizzare, and very annoying if you're trying to read logs. Woods for all the trees etc.

No idea why, a quick search of the net shows a number of people reporting the same thing, but no real answers, some suggestions on increasing the lease times etc. If I figure it out, I'll make a post.

Ubuntu 8.04 - nvidia driver problemsFriday 9th May 2008
I recently bought a Dell Inspiron 1520, along with a spinky GeForce 8600 GT Mobile graphics chip.

Dell sell some of their systems with Ubuntu installed on them, and I quite fancy giving it a try, so I slapped on the latest version of Ubuntu - 8.04.

The installation was very quick and painless, I slotted it in between my existing Windows, Swap and Data partitions on the disk (hopefully not wiping out my existing data as I had with Linux a year or so ago).

Everything works fine, including all the special/media buttons on the laptop, such as screen brightness, battery status etc.

The only problem was the graphics. Although the resolution was up to the expected, the colour depth wasn't and the interface was sluggish. This seemed fairly obvious to me that there was no drivers for my card.

A little exploration found the "Hardware Drivers" section which listed a non-open-source nvidia driver as enabled but marked in red as "not-used". This is was due to a missing package.

In order to fix this, the package called "nvidia-glx-new" needs to be installed. This can be done from "Synaptic Package Manager"; but the extra Third Party Software repository has to be included before it will be picked up. This will also provide you with a bundle of updates and patches - it seems.

Everything is working wonderfully now. Very impressive OS so far - probably better than Vista. I'll have to see if it's better than Windows XP.

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