ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

They call the PC "booksize", but it sure isn't the size of any books I own and it wouldn't fit on any of my bookcases. Still, it's a cute little system, well suited for the living room. This system has a phenomenal range of built-in features. It even offers TV (composite, S-video, and DVI) and 5.1 digital audio outputs. About the only thing missing is a TV tuner/capture card, which I may want to add later to support PVR functions.

I had a bit of difficulty getting the pieces assembled because it's such a small, cramped space. There was a lot of anguish (and cursing) getting the memory modules seated in their slots, nestled between the CPU and the case. The short SATA data cable has L-shaped connectors that bend away from the direction you want. I thought I was going to have to replace it with a longer cable, but I eventually got it together.

The unexpected Fry's run was to pick up the memory modules. I had a spare 512MB memory module that I planned to use. I forgot that Intel machines (unlike AMD systems) need the memory loaded in pairs.

The ASUS case is silver, and I searched hard for a DVD drive in a matching color. Turns out, that wasn't necessary. The drive sits behind a spring-loaded door that hinges open when the tray is ejected. With the tray retracted the hinge closes. I could have got a shocking pink DVD drive and it wouldn't have mattered.

I was concerned about noise, which is why I picked the Hitachi drive. They have a rep for being quiet, and this one lives up to that billing. The system itself is pretty quiet, but not as quiet as I might like. The main culprit is the CPU fan. ASUS provides the fan and heat sink with the system, and warns you not to use something else. So, unfortunately, I don't seem to have any options here.

I installed the Ubuntu "Breezy Badger" (5.10) release candidate, with the KDE desktop. The install went great. I did the initial load with wired Ethernet, and later added the USB Wi-Fi adapter. All I needed to do was edit /etc/network/interfaces to disable eth0 and enable wlan0 configuration at startup.

When I moved the unit from a VGA computer monitor to my TV (via S-video), I ran into two problems. First, the ati driver does not support the TV output. It works alright in text mode, but as soon as X starts the display fritzes out. I later found that the README for the ati driver documents that TV output is not supported.

Fortunately, the fglrx driver does TV output. I used aptitude to load the fglrx-driver and fglrx-control packages, and then ran fglrxconfig. That quizzed me about the setup and generated an xorg.conf file. I copied this into /etc/X11, restarted X, and it worked great. The only tweak I had to make was to remove some of the higher resolutions: 800x600 was about the best I could do with S-video (and even then I had to do some serious adjustment of font sizes). I plan to move to the DVI video output eventually, and I hope to recover some video resolution then.

The other video problem is that the fancy boot splash screen added in this release of Ubuntu seriously screws up the display. I fixed this by editing /boot/grub/menu.lst and removing the splash option.

The biggest problem remaining is that CD ripping is slow. If I turn on DMA, the IDE system gives timeout errors. I will monkey around with the BIOS settings to see if I can resolve this. Otherwise, this will be a big disappointment.

I'm a little surprised at how much slower this system is compared to the Dell Dimension I used for testing. The FLAC encoding seems to take a lot longer. Both systems had the same CPU speed and same amount of memory. I'm wondering if the difference between the Pentium 4 and Celeron D is that significant.

Otherwise, so far, so good. I'm looking forward to digitizing my music collection and putting the CDs in storage. Next steps are to move to component or HDMI video connection, for better display quality, and then investigate adding remote control support.

Oct 12 update: I restrapped the DVD drive for slave (moving it from hda to hdb) and things got a whole lot better. DMA works and CDs rip much faster. Also, system performance has gone from sluggish to zippy.

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re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

It's not necessary to use DIMMs in pair in Pundit unless you want to use dual channel mode

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

I think you are right on the memory. Thanks for the correction.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Thanks to finding this site I finally got my Pundit-R DMA issues sorted out :-) I'd like to add something to this though, which was the reason I was getting tripped up:

a) the drive MUST be jumpered to Slave
b) the drive MUST be plugged into the BLUE connector on the motherboard, not the white
c) the drive MAY have to use the connector at the end of the IDE cable instead of the one in the middle

Doing anything other than a) and b) will result in the drive showing up as either Master, or not at all.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

This article leads me to ask two questions
- Can you insert two 512 MB module to have a total of 1 GB?
-Can one remove the DVD and insert a regular ATA drive to have bigger harddisk space?

At the moment I am using the Asu Pundit dual-boot. Running Linux suse 9.2 20 hours a day and windows xp maybe for 4 hours a day. Works like a charm!

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Hans -

2x512MB would work fine.

You can pull the DVD and use that 5 1/4" bay for another hard drive, but I'm not sure I would. I'd be concerned about heat dissipation of a second hard drive.

If you do, just be sure that if you are using a SATA drive, you put the second hard disk on the secondary PATA connector, not the primary one.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

2*512 MB is good news

The extra harddisk is also good news as it will allow more space in future. Heat would be something to consider of course. I already have a few external HD in my server room that need constant cooling.

Will slower spinning HD's generate less heat?

I found the following on the web at http://www.fujitsu.com/au/interaction/archives/2002/200209-04.html
"With Serial ATA, manufacturers can build smaller, more portable systems that consume less power and generate less heat.
"

Maybe I should ask Asus for advice

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Hi Chip,

(Great info on setting up the Pundit-R! Please keep up the good work.)

I'm trying to get a decent media PC (MythTV) working and I have a similar configuration to you:
Pundit-R
Ubuntu (Breezy)
200GB SAMSUNG SP2004C SATA HD (/dev/hdc - DMA on)
LITE-ON ATA DVDRW SOHW-1693S (/dev/hdb - DMA on)

Do you know of any way of getting the performance of the SATA HD up? I guess it really doesn't matter as much now that I have smooth video from my DVD with DMA on.

root@mythtv:~# hdparm -tT /dev/hdc

/dev/hdc:
Timing cached reads: 2532 MB in 2.00 seconds = 1264.93 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 46 MB in 3.08 seconds = 14.93 MB/sec

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Hi,

I just bought this Asus Pundit-R, and discovered it's a total wossname to get setup. I didn't get any CDs with drivers with it, but you guys seem to be the end all of all knowledge (esp chip) on these beasts.

I'm assuming since I can't change the default res' once I load WinXP on, that I need display drivers, which I don't have. Would anyone know a lovely place for me to find them? Along with the ethernet controller/audio controller/PCI Flash memory/USB controller/Videa controller... which all show up as uninstalled in device manager.

I'm having all sorts of issues sadly. :(

Paul

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Had the same problem with pio vs dma mode. Drive is a NEC ND-3540 as master.

Making the drive a slave solved the issue.

Why isn't this on the Asus website? Took me a lot of time to solve this one. Actually the above people solved this, thanks for that!

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

(Sorry to hijack this blog for support questions).

Paul,

I downloaded my XP drivers from ASUS website:
http://support.asus.com

You will be looking to download and install Part 1 and Part 2 of drivers for the chipset:
ATI Chipset All in one WHQL driver V7.933

Good luck.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

I'm looking at buying one of these and running MCE2005 on it and sticking under the TV, but I'm concerned about processor fan noise - how noisy is it.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

The noise is...moderate.

It's nowhere nearly as bad as, say, my cheap Dell Dimension desktop. In fact, it's probably one of the quietest PCs I have. But it is not silent, and typically that's what you want for A/V equipment.

By the way, although I originally wrote about the CPU fan, the power supply fan is part of the issue too.

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

actually i've found out that the type of processor you use is very important to silent the pundit. a P4 2.66 will result in a more quiet pc than a celeron D 2.8.

using a better heat sink is recommended, i'm using the white sink. i've also changed cpu fan and it gets a lot better.

my main concern is the heat : it's really hot in there !! from 55

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Hello I just bought a Pundit R350. The CPU fan is noisy, this isnt silent at all. I hear that I must flash the Bios for silence? Please help. I've tried to use the utility provided on the Asus disks to no avail. Please please please help? Can I also take the Asus standard heatsink out and buy a better one?? I need silence thanks!

re: ASUS Pundit-R + Ubuntu Linux = Media PC

Hi all,

Been away working so I've just got back to my hunk of metal in the corner. ;)

I tried the Chipset 1/2, plus the ATI drivers and seemingly it's not working still. Assuming they're installing correctly (I don't see any install screen when I do the chipsets for example). The problem with the TFT hasn't changed in that any resolution change results in the monitor saying it can't support a frequency change (LG FLatron L1915S) and even if I plug an old 14" CRT in, the image is stretched.

Another odd thing is, when I looked to update the monitor in Device Manager the Display Adapter 'option' isn't even there, so it's quite hard to just nip in and click upgrade drivers from my monitor cd.

I've got a mate (new found helpful chap on ebay) sending a copy of the original driver disk over to try that, so it'll be clean fresh format and whack CD in, failing that I'll be back here. ;)

Is there perhaps an order to how you should DL and install the files? Same way as the old CS 1.3...1.4...1.5 patches which relied on other patches to work?

Oh noise wise, figure I'll chip in here. Mine runs a 2.8 P4 with 1.5gb DDR, which is pretty quiet with an Asus fan stuck on it. I guess one issue is pentium chips run hotter than AMD chips, so Asus maybe need to stick an AMD chip inside. ;)

Thanks! Paul

Hi Rosso, you can forget

Hi Rosso,
you can forget this. I had dozens of phone calls for this with Asus. The problem is that the thermal system is buggy. My Intel Celeron has right after turning the machine on, a CPU temperature of almost 60 degress celsius. At least, that is what the system thinks. Therefore the CPU fan believes that he has to give it all for the system not to die. AFAIK there is still no bios patch provided by Asus that corrects this error.
Greets

pundit CPU fan noise

The cpu fan WAS the noisiest thing in the box.
I replaced it with a silent 70mm fan from central computers.
It's much better and now the loudest thing in the box is the p/s fan.