28 Mar 2005 dfenwick   » (Journeyer)

PC Noise

A couple weeks ago I finally got fed up with computer noise in my home office. It was literally a sound dungeon in here, with the biggest culprit being my dual Xeon machine. I built this box myself, using an Intel dual Xeon motherboard, and putting it in the Intel-recommended server chassis - an Intel SC5250-E. While I love the layout of the case and all of the options I've dropped into it, the fans in it were horrendously loud.

So I did a pile of research into quiet computing. Apparently I'm not alone with regard to overall machine noise in my work environment. The 2 biggest culprits in this case were the 120mm exhaust fan, and the 92mm intake fan for the hard drive bay. Both of these fans were running at approximately 3000rpm, and they were making a heck of a racket.

One site in particular had quite a lot of information. Silent PC Review is a great resource for information regarding quiet PC components. I highly recommend looking around that site if you're interested in quieting your PC down. Especially look at the forums. There are a lot of people out there that have done trial and error with a variety of hardware components to find the quietest stuff they can find.

After reading a lot of reviews on both the site and in the forums, I decided to go with a Nexus 120mm exhaust fan and a Nexus 92mm hard drive bay fan. Total cost was about $45. The standard mounting space for the 120mm fan in the back of the case requires a 38mm deep fan, but it's a replaceable plastic bracket, so I opted to remove the bracket and directly mount a 25mm deep fan on the case.

The fans came in on Thursday. I installed them Saturday night. It's by far the best $45 I've spent in a LONG time. The noise dropped from about -50dBa down to about -24dBa. It's astounding. The only thing that makes noise now is the power supply, and that noise is manageable.

Next up is to replace the hard drives in my 4 older-model Linux boxes. One of the drives in particular is relatively noisy. But I have to try to find some time to do the replacement on that machine. I'm currently overwhelmed with projects.

Another Project

I've looked at nearly all of the open source Linux distributions that can be installed in roughly 128MB of disk drive space, and I can't find any that I like. As I posted before, I have a bunch of thin clients that have 128MB of compact flash ram on them. What I'm looking for is a build that basically acts as a complete redirector, allowing users to connect to XDM machines via XDMCP, or to Windows boxes via RDP. It sounds simple, but it seems pretty hard to find something that covers all of these bases. I've also been looking at Xfce4 as the main interface, and putting all of the X sessions and RDP sessions in a window.

Unfortunately all of the distributions are just missing one thing or another. I could easily build a GUI for doing the lab machine selection, but the distributions all seem to be somewhat behind on the kernels and software versions. LTSP provides a stable environment, but it uses an NFS mounted root directory for the clients. I've done some hacking to see if I can get it in an embedded state, but that's an ongoing project that's taking more time than I figured it would.

Having said all of this, I did download the Metrowerks distribution builder for the HP5515 thin client. It's ok, but it's expensive (~ $15k for the deployment environment) and all it really is is a simple GUI for package management along with some scripts for deploying the BCP. I don't know if there's an open source package for doing this type of thing. I've done some research and haven't come up with anything yet, so I've been planning a distribution builder for building up Linux distributions using existing binary packages.

Advogato Trust Metrics

***tap tap tap*** is this thing on? Do the metrics work? I know it's an esoteric question regarding metrics, but just how many certifications are required before one actually GETS certified at a particular level? It also appears that people aren't certifying people very often. I try to certify when I read something that justifies the certification, but it's hard to judge a person's merit based solely on a perceived inclusion in a particular project.

It might be worthwhile to have the certification selection at the TOP of the diary pages rather than at the end of the diary pages. I generally read the latest diary entry for people, since I've generally already read their previous few diary entries.

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