August 2005: From the Editor - Did You Hear That?

by Don Marti

I know you're more interested in the parts list for the Ultimate Linux Box (page 44) than this column, so go ahead and check it out. I'll wait. Like it? And now that we can run a four-way SMP, 64-bit monster in silence, shouldn't noisy fans be a thing of the past for ordinary systems too? My Commodore 64 didn't need a fan. The original Apple Macintosh didn't need a fan. But almost all of today's supposedly more advanced systems come with them. And who let the power supply fan and the CPU fan mate and spawn the north bridge fan and the video card fan? Enough.

Hard drives do make noise, but we have ways to deal with the impact. Laptop mode, which Bart Samwel covered last year, lets you keep your hard drive spun down most of the time. And NFS, ATA over Ethernet and other technologies mean that you can move noisy disks to the other end of a long wire from your long-suffering ears.

Pretty much all desktop systems have more processing power than we can use, so now it's time to think about our quality of life. We have to thank the lm_sensors development team for making it possible to measure temperature safely—a must for fan-free cooling experiments.

Now that I think about it, my Commodore 64 booted pretty quickly too. Ron Minnich has part of the answer: replace the legacy proprietary BIOS with the fast-booting LinuxBIOS. Every motherboard is a little different, though, so getting LinuxBIOS working on a new one is a challenge. Get started on page 323232d check in with our Web site for details and further steps.

Since the theme of this issue is faster hardware, we made a point of bringing back kernel developer Paul McKenney, of RCU fame, to fill you in on what the CPU is doing behind your back. Your instructions in a different order putting. Make the CPU do a sanity check on page 52.

Now that you have your Linux system running as quietly as possible, Dave Phillips has some gnarly details on ALSA sound. Learn how you can do mixing, MIDI and more, whether you have the pro sound hardware from this year's Ultimate Linux Box or an ordinary PC sound card (page 58).

Toshiyuki Maeda is back with more on running ordinary applications as part of the kernel. This time he's using the x86-64 architecture and running a real application, MySQL, in kernel space to look for possible performance improvements (page 20).

We got our columnists and contributing editors together for Editors' Choice Awards 2005 (page 82). Disagree? Check out the Readers' Choice voting now happening on the Web site (

Our Paranoid Penguin column is going through a change. Mick Bauer, star of DEFCON, Linux Lunacy cruise talks and two editions of an O'Reilly book, is taking some time for other projects, and Paranoid Penguin will be written by various contributors, as Kernel Korner is now. Mick, thanks for all the good advice over the years and for the look to the future on page 28.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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