Arch follow up post

April 24, 2010 | categories: Pcs

So, after a few weeks of using Arch, I've gotten my system to the state that I don't want to reinstall it instantly. So this post is a list of problems I've encountered and what I did to fix them for anyone who has these problems again.

The first problem I came up against was during installation. To install, I needed wifi, and to use the wifi, I needed some drivers from the AUR, and for the AUR, I needed an installed system with wifi. My wireless card is a Broadcom BCM4312 which needed the wl driver. #archlinux led to a user which advised me to use the latest testing version which supported the card.

Of course, the card still needed the b43-firmware, which had the same catch-22 issue. The solution was to finally load the firmware onto a flash drive, and copy it onto the system while running the LiveCD (and it had to be a LiveCD, for some reason, it wouldn't work running from USB).

That done, I installed away, and had to repeat the process to get wifi on the installed system.

My next problem was the screen resolution was stuck at around 1152x864 . The problem was solved by using this guide from, of all places, Ubuntu. After that, I had the problem where scrolling things had all the pace of a dying snail. Turns out the answer was that I shouldn't have listened to all the people saying radeonhd was as good as the fglrx driver. It wasn't anywhere near up to the job on my ATI Radeon HD3650. To install the fglrx drivers, see this guide on the Arch Wiki. That fixed the scrolling issue straight away.

My next issue was the installation of Wine. To install from the AUR you need the bin32-wine package on x86-64. Of course, at the time of installation (not sure if it's still true), the lib32-jack problem, on the AUR, is set up wrong. I had to edit the pkgver and pkgrel variables in the PKGBUILD to match that listed on the AUR itself.

Building a PC

January 12, 2010 | categories: Me, Pcs

A while back I decided to build a PC from parts for the first time. Why didn't I ever do so before? (a) Lack of money, and (b) Worry I'd screw something up. Of course, what kind of computer nerd would I be if I never built my own?

So first things first, the specs (some components old, the rest ordered from

  • MSI G41M-F Motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 (2.5Ghz)
  • Geforce 210 (512mb)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 630W PSU
  • 500GB HDD
  • Nox Saphira Case
  • DVD±RW drive

Nothing astounding there. A decidedly below-par graphics card for a new system, but considering it was my first buld, I didn't want to spend loads in case I screwed up. Plenty of room for expansion later however.

The first part of the build went easy enough. A minor beginners mistake when I didn't check which way I was putting the heatsink beforehand, so I had to unwrap more of the CPU fan cable than otherwise needed (which meant I later had to cable tie it to another cable to keep it away from the fan blades).

The system was assembled and wired up, hassle-free. Turning it on first time yielded spinning fans, spinning hard drive, running graphics card, no CD drive and no display. After a minor panic attack, it turned out I'd forgotten to plug in the extra 12V power cable for the motherboard. That solved, the system booted up fine.

System setup was the next step. The first OS to go on was Windows Server 2008 R2. Why Windows Server? Because I'm a cheapskate, and could get it for free from Microsoft Dreamspark. That started installation. Everything looked fine, but it froze at expanding Windows files. A quick install of Fedora 10 proved the system was capable of running an OS, and even Windows XP ran fine. Then it dawned on me. I burned a new disc, and Server 2008 R2 installed fine.

A little tinkering was needed to get a decent desktop experience from the Server OS. This is actually so common, there are websites for converting Server 2008 to a Vista-esque PC and the same for Server 2008 R2 to 7.

The system runs fine, and can handle all my games without any difficulty, except Fallout 3. I don't know what's causing the Fallout 3 problem, but it freezes randomly within the first 5 minutes. A quick google reveals some people have the same problem with Windows 7, so it may just be an incompatibility, so I'll have to hang on and wait for another patch.

in total (remember, some parts are from old systems), this build cost me just under €350. could i have gotten a comparable system for €350? checking on dell, the same money would buy me a pentium dual core e5300 and integrated graphics, so probably not.

Footnote: I've written this post while trying out Windows Live Writer. It seems cool. My one problem is it doesn't quite render my theme right in the edit section, but apart from that it is fine. Anyone know of any Linux programs with similar features?