Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Trouble with ASUS hardware


While my refurbished-at-home Apple iBook is happily running I put myself in the trouble waters of replacing my aging computer. But first things first: a few months ago I bought my wife an ASUS EeePC subnotebook. While it worked out of the box we quickly realized something was not quite right with it, as any minor impact (as hitting the surface with your fingernails) could trigger either a reboot or completely hang the system. After an RMA, the replacement unit seems to be working happily (after I figured out how to get WPA working first; BTW, do the system upgrade over Ethernet connection BEFORE trying to log onto a WPA wifi network whose passphase contains spaces!!).

For my new desktop (replacing an old Pundit-R) I chose a mini tower barebone PC again from ASUS with a new E8200 Core 2 Duo processor. The system works nicely most of the time, however there is trouble: The Marvell Gigabit Ethernet adapter on the motherboard still has some issues with GNU/Linux kernel. Even the Intrepid Ibex beta (next release of Ubuntu) exhibits frequent network lockups. Interestingly I'm only experiencing this behavior on one of two similar systems (though other colleagues with the same Ethernet controller are feeling the pain too).

Lastly, I'm glad my new computer has a multi-card reader. Pundit-R had one too but unfortunately it didn't work in Linux. However, and again another point less for ASUS, mine refused to accept SD cards to be written. I've check my system logs and I realized all the time the card is sensed as write protected, no matter what the write-proctect tab is located. Fortunately I've found a couple of solutions that work: a) tape b) move the tab to an intermediate position.

I'm not yet sure whether network driver problem will go away or I will need to add a known-to-work network card. For the moment, try to stay away from Marvell Ethernet card.

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