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Saturday, June 2, 2007

openSUSE 10.3 might finally meet my requirements

I have been running openSUSE as my primary desktop OS since the 10.1 release. For the most part the experience has been positive, but definitely not for the technically challenged.

I initially started using openSUSE as the platform for my mythtv media server. That server sports a Pentium D 920, 1GB of RAM, a Hauppauge PVR 350, a 80GB system drive and a Hardware RAID 5 array using the Areca 1210 PCIe Raid Controller. Total RAID capacity is 900GB (4x300GB drives).

The first major problem that I encountered was that the arcmsr driver was not included in the upstream 2.6.16 kernel used by 10.1. This meant that it was not easily possible (believe me that I tried) to install onto the RAID array, since the driver is needed at BOOT time to configure the array.

The second problem that I encountered was the absence of the firmware for the hauppauge TV card in the default install. Moreover, the default ivtv driver was buggy and hard crashed the system whenever I attempted to change channels.

So cutting short the long story of how I manually built and installed updated drivers and dealt with multiple configuration issues we arrive at openSUSE 10.2.

Guess what....

The arcmsr is STILL not in the upstream kernel (2.6.18 this time) mostly because Erich Chen at Areca dropped the ball and didn't push the driver into the kernel (disappeared from the mailing lists for months at a time)

The ivtv driver is not yet ready for integration into the mainline due to numerous missing APIs in the V4L2 universe.

So I did not bother upgrading. Primarily I felt that I would only have to deal with those same problems all over again.

That brings us to the present day.

I have upgraded my Laptop and Desktop Workstation to openSUSE 10.2, and things are more or less totally peachy on both those systems. The MythTV Media Server is still somewhat stable at 10.1.

More or less, my present configuration is very pleasing. Except for the stability issues on the Media Server.

So what next?

openSUSE 10.3 Scheduled for October 4, 2007

Finally with enough community grumbling and pushing, the arcmsr driver was included in 2.6.19 so I can reliably install onto the RAID controller of my media center.

If the development schedule gods are in a good mood, then openSUSE 10.3 will include a shiny new 2.6.22 kernel. If they are in a slightly grumpy mood, then openSUSE 10.3 will include the old fashioned, and slightly ruffled 2.6.21 kernel.

Why am a cheering for 2.6.22? Well, the ivtv guys have done a spectacular job of integrating ivtv into V4L and also worked with intel/hauppauge to provide a very sleek firmware redistribution license!

This should make the upgrade of my media server one of the sweetest things to watch.

Now if only I could get a discrete graphics accelerator from Intel with Open Source drivers...


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