AM2 and MythTV war stories, a continuing saga

Warning to Linux users who want to upgrade to socket AM2 motherboards: You will almost definitely run into problems with Linux. I have an ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. I upgraded the BIOS to the latest version, and that broke IO-APIC on all versions of the Linux kernel I've tried, including 2.6.17.7. I couldn't boot Linux without the "noapic" boot parameter. I solved this problem by restoring an older BIOS, and I lost a fancy NVidia acceleration feature in the process. That's no big deal for me because the feature primarily benefits Windows games and I don't play Windows games often enough to care.

I'd still like to see this problem solved, and I don't see a solution coming anytime soon. Based on what I've read in the Linux kernel developer mailing list, few people have AM2-based boards and little if any work is being done to deal with them. Thanks to a spinal problem, I'm in too much pain to mess with BIOS versions and debugging APIC problems, so the kernel developers can't get help from me. In fact, typing this is an exercise in masochism. But I'm hoping someone out there will get an ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard and help out.

MythTV becomes reality

You may recall from a previous blog entry that I've been putting together a MythTV box. I ran into numerous problems based on the fact that no capture cards exist to capture the output of my cable box. In case you don't remember the details, my Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000HD shuts off the AVI, S-Video and cable outputs when you put the box in HDTV mode.

I tried a HD5500 pcHDTV card from pcHDTV, which captures digital cable signals. There are two problems with this card. First, you guessed it, it has problems with my socket-AM2 board. Linux locks up frequently when I have this card installed. That, alone, wouldn't be a big issue because I only installed it in the AM2 box to experiment with it. The MythTV box uses a much older motherboard.

The real problem is that this card only captures the very few digital channels that are unencrypted. That makes it pretty much useless for my MythTV box. I should have known this would be the case before I bought the card, but my unrealistic optimism drove my decision to try it.

Disaster strikes gold

As if I didn't have enough problems, my Explorer 8000HD cable box died. I visited my nearest Time Warner office to replace it when I noticed that they carry a newer model called the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD. I asked for the new model, and they had one available.

Now I'm thrilled that my 8000HD died, because this new cable box solves all my problems. It continues to output a standard definition signal from the cable out, and I'm assuming also from the S-Video and AVI connections, even when this box is in HDTV mode. All I have to do is hook up the output of this box to my Hauppauge PVR500 card, and I should be in business. I haven't done it yet (see pinched nerve, spinal problem), but I expect it to work fine.

I even have an IR receiver and an IR blaster which I'm hoping I can configure to have my MythTV box change channels on the cable box. This way, my MythTV box will get every channel the cable box can receive. I can use MythTV to schedule recordings and trust it to change the channel on the cable box when the program airs.

I'm assuming that the HDTV channels will be sent to the MythTV box in standard definition (rather than not being sent at all), but that doesn't bother me.

If all goes well, I should have the ultimate MythTV box up and running once I get my pain under control. I'll keep you posted, and eventually write up all the details in Linux Journal for the benefit of others who want to accomplish the same goal.

If you want to get a jump on me, and you're interested in building your MythTV box based on Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake (which is what I have installed), I strongly recommend that you download the MythTV sources and compile them yourself. You can get Ubuntu-based MythTV using apt-get or any of the installers on Ubuntu, but it's an older version that doesn't work nearly as well.

That's it for now. To be continued...

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M2N32-SLI BIOS

brugy's picture

..MP-BIOS bug: 8254 timer not connected to IO-APIC
Kernel Panic - not syncing - IO-APIC + timer doesn't work!
Please set for pic mod

I found possible solution unofficial BIOS. I dont try it yet!!!
http://www.frontosa.co.za/support.htm.

M2N32-SLI BIOS

bbooth's picture

704 is good here too. Who do we thank?

BIOS version 704 found at

Niol's picture

BIOS version 704 found at http://www.frontosa.co.za/support.htm works great.

M2N32-SLI BIOS

brugy's picture

Working well.

knoppMyth?

johnboy68's picture

Have you looked at the knoppMyth distro? It is a full linux distro with everything MythTV installed scripted and ready to run. I am 80% noob when it comes to Linux but I tell you, with this distro I had Linux and MythTV up and running in less than an hour. This includes many add on modules like MythWeb, MythStream, etc... and they have a great support forum. I have been using it for almost a year and have been through about 3 upgrades and I just can't say enough about this distro... I love it! Here is their URL: www.mysettopbox.tv

knoppMyth

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I have it and even burned it on a CD. It wouldn't boot on my AM2 box, which is what I used to test it out. But the MythTV box is based on a much older motherboard, so I really should try it on that box. Thanks for the suggestion - I only burned the CD a couple weeks ago but I almost forgot I had it.

Another development

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I tossed together another AM2-based PC for someone and used the Gigabyte NVidia 590 motherboard (I don't recall the model). Same problem with apic. Even the latest 2.6.18-rc4 won't boot unless I use "noapic".

GA-M59SLI-M5 Problems with

Gerald Cox's picture

Still seems to be a problem after all these months with AM2 boards. https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=237376
Does anyone know what the problem is? I would think that AMD and nVidia would be all over this...

Solution

comet's picture

http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=linux-kernel&m=115674436212855&w=2

There you go. Btw, I have the same M/B as you have. Even sensors work fine. The it87 is already in the lm_sensors svn and it will be in the kernel from 2.6.18 it will have support for the chipset our M/B uses (MCP55). For now I've been using a patched 2.6.17.11 kernel to get the sensors working.

AM2 and M2N32-SLI, The Empire Strikes Back

Fernando Sanz's picture

I have got a computer with this motherboard and I can't get internet properly working in Linux. I get IP address from DHCP, and can ping all machines in my lan an in the Internet and DNS works fine, but when I open a Firefox and try any URL the connection try for a while and get a timeout error.

I post the problem in www.asus.com and the answer was "we do not support linux in Our products".

Well, another victory for the Empire ( but I will not surrender ).

Network problems on the M2N32-SLI

Nicholas Petreley's picture

The only network problems I have with this board is that Linux can't make up its mind which port to use. For some reason, Linux sees the two LAN ports as eth2 and eth3. Linux seems to switch the order of the ports almost at random, such that my network scripts attempt to use eth2, but Linux assigned the first LAN connector to eth3. The next time I boot, it assigns the first LAN connector to eth2. So I'm constantly using ifconfig to reconfigure the interfaces, depending on how it boots up.

I can probably get around this problem by using ifplugd (which looks for a signal in order to bring up an interface) but I haven't gotten to trying this yet.

Anyway, consider the possibility that it's using the wrong connector. It will "appear" to work but you won't get an outside connection because it's listening on the wrong interface.

The easiest way to deal with this, IMO, is to disable the second LAN port in the BIOS config (assuming you only need the one connector). Then it only sees one port, and assigns it to eth2, I think.

Depending on your distro,

Anonymous's picture

Depending on your distro, you may be able to assign a MAC address to the interface in the config files. That should prevent your switching interface problems.

should have stuck w/ the 6150 based AM2 boards

Ken Yee's picture

A lot of them like the Asus M2NPV-VM are basically the same as the Socket 939 equivalent and have been supported in Linux for a while. MSI's AM2 6150 board is also good. Both of these have proper ACPI tables in their BIOS. I've been happy running my Asus A8N CSM for almost half a year now, and it's running 64-bit Linux w/ Marillat's MythTV binaries.

As for your cable TV, the Fusion5 card can supposedly receive unencrypted QAM (I just use OTA since I don't care too much about cable)...not sure if this works under Linux, but it works w/ their Windows UI (but not Windows MCE).

Hmm...maybe I should write a Linux Journal article... :-)

What about the M2n4-SLI

Anonymous's picture

HI - I have been reading this thread with some concern because I am planning to build a linux box using an Athlon X2 with this motherboard.

However, since the M2n32-SLI is giving such problems, has anyone tried using the Asus M2n4-SLI motherboard instead? It appears to have an nforce4 chipset, so hopefully that works instead of the nforce5.
http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?l1=3&l2=101&l3=0&model=1266&modelmenu=1

Please share your thoughts and comments. Thank you

I have this board (ASUS

Patrick Hohmeyer's picture

I have this board (ASUS M2N4-SLI) and it also had problems.
Works fine with 2.6.16, but didnt boot with 2.6.17 (just hangs after the io scheduler registering).

After a lot of debugging I found out about and tried the enable_8254_timer kernel-parameter. With it, it works fine.
This parameter might fix other nVidia boards too (but according to Andi Kleen breaks ATI boards, which is why it was made disabled by default in the 2.6.17 kernel).

The M2N32-SLI works fine for

comet's picture

The M2N32-SLI works fine for all intents and purposes. The only problem has been APIC and support for the sensor chip, and these have been solved now.

Still Lame

sucellus's picture

I’m not trying to flame you here, but you still aren’t building the "ultimate" MythTV system. What is the point of even worrying about HD when you aren’t going to get most of the HD channels on your MythTV box? The TV/Movie industry is really pissing me off with this broadcast flag business. They are making me choose between my DVR and HDTV, and you know what? DVR wins. Until we can get all the available HD channels on our DVRs its not going to be worth moving to HD.

They're winning

Anonymous's picture

The cable and satellite companies are winning this war. I've had a Myth box for years only I don't use it as a DVR (pictures/music/video only). Dish Network recently reduced the price of their ViP622 by $100 (it's currently $199 to lease), but before I pulled the trigger on that deal, I looked in to possibly using Myth instead. But as you guys have discovered, no capture card exists. So I went with the ViP622.

I still want to archive HD content someday though so I'll be watching this saga as it develops.

Good point.

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I probably shouldn't have used the word ultimate. You're right. It isn't going to be ultimate until I can pipe the HDTV stuff into it.

I’ve wanted...

sucellus's picture

I’ve wanted to do this for months now, but when I found out that I wouldn’t be able to record a lot of HD channels I just gave up. It would be such an easy problem to solve. Someone simply needs to produce a video capture card that takes Component In.

Ehhh, not likely

Andrew's picture

Too bad the hardware for that would be ridiculously expensive and then you lose the digital aspect of the signal. On top of that, the cable and movie companies would protest if it could take DVI in or a digital signal. What needs to be done is make a capture card that uses CableCard, lets you receive all your subscriptions without a cable box, and possibly puts some sort of DRM on the recordings to make cable companies happy. Then you would have mpeg2 files with only a cable input with no more IR Blaster Woes either.

New development

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I hooked up the cable and I don't get a signal on the Hauppauge card. Could it be that the box is transmitting a decrypted digital signal on channel 3? The only way to find out is to drop the pcHDTV card in the box and try again.

I'll let you know.

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