Ultimate Linux Box 2004
If you buy no other hardware this year...
...get a pre-ban HDTV card. In a major setback for those who choose to build their own entertainment devices, the US Federal Communications Commission has approved the so-called Broadcast Flag regulation for high-definition television (HDTV). That's bad news for Linux boxes, Ultimate and otherwise. Future HDTV-capable tuner cards will be required to enforce a to-be-determined digital rights management (DRM) regime. This is one product category that won't get better next year; it'll be worse because of mandatory DRM. If you live in the US, if you buy no other PC hardware before the end of 2004, pick up a pcHDTV card.
The pcHDTV HD-2000 Hi Definition Television Card works with the open-source player Xine and it will be illegal to sell next year. You'll still be able to use the card you stashed this year, though. We give you fair warning right now that in 2005 Linux Journal will cover projects that require pre-ban cards. Buy now or kick yourself next year.
Motherboard/chassis: Celestica A8440 (AMD-8131 Chipset)
High-end motherboards are going to onboard Gigabit Ethernet. As with other server-oriented hardware, all the commonly used chipsets have good Linux support.
Memory: 16x PC2700 2048MB ECC REG (32GB)
Network interfaces: BCM5704 10/100/1000 x 2
RAID: Adaptec ASR2200S
Storage: Seagate ST336607LC 36GB U320 SCSI HDD x 4
These aren't the fastest Seagate drives available, but with 32GB of memory, if we touch them we're either doing something wrong or running a benchmark. It's an easy upgrade to 15,000 RPM drives.
Video: Appian Rushmore Quad-DVI PCI
Appian's Rushmore card offers four displays at up to 2048×1536 resolution. With everything working correctly, that would be 25,165,824 pixels or 32 times the area of a conventional 1024 × 768 screen. At press time, we still were dealing with an interesting issue with XFree86 support for this card. Instead of four displays, we were getting two identical copies of two displays. Check out our Web site for the resolution to the X issue.
Audio: Creative Labs SB Audigy
Power Supply: 500W Hotswap x 3
Miscellaneous: PC Floppy drive, IDE DVD-ROM, USB
With Fedora Core release 1.92 (FC2 Test 3) installed, the Ultimate Linux Box put up good numbers on the benchmarks, as might be expected.
Yes, with this much RAM we took the opportunity to build a kernel in a tmpfs partition. 2.6.4 with all defaults set completed in 1 minute 41 seconds. More detailed benchmark results follow.
#/usr/sbin/dbench 100 Throughput 133.97 MB/sec 100 procs
#bonnie++ -s 65536
#openssl -speed sign verify sign/s verify/s rsa 512 bits 0.0003s 0.0000s 3720.8 42628.2 rsa 1024 bits 0.0010s 0.0001s 1005.9 16850.9 rsa 2048 bits 0.0057s 0.0002s 174.5 5674.7 rsa 4096 bits 0.0375s 0.0006s 26.7 1691.6 sign verify sign/s verify/s dsa 512 bits 0.0002s 0.0002s 5506.3 4731.3 dsa 1024 bits 0.0005s 0.0006s 2033.5 1695.7 dsa 2048 bits 0.0016s 0.0019s 641.4 520.0
#hdparm -t /dev/sda Timing buffered disk reads: 170 MB in 3.02 seconds = 56.28 MB/sec
This year's Ultimate Linux Box team from Pogo except Don Marti, all are credited as authors of this article. Cosmo King did the hands-on integration, testing, troubleshooting and benchmarking. The text (and errors) was written by Don Marti.
Resources for this article: /article/7614.
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