In part of my line of work - web application development - you tend to develop software that needs to work (properly) on an awful lot of different web browsers. If these all adhered to web standards, a simple run through the W3C Validator would suffice. Unfortunately life sucks, and as such there is a need to test all sites on as many browsers as possible.
I use virtualisation to run a bunch of windows browsers in their native environment. However, testing this way took an awfully long time, as my desktop computer had a "mere" 1.5Gb of ram and only a single (Athlon64) CPU core. By the time you add GNome, Evolution or Thunderbird and Firefox to this, not a great deal is left for virtual machines.
What with DDR2 ram prices being pretty much at an all-time low and CPUs not being far behind in cheapity (wrong, but sounds nice) I decided it was time for some new tools of the trade.
I had originally set my sights on an Intel branded mainboard, but the one I wanted wasn't available at short notice, so I instead opted for an Asus model, the P5E-V-HDMI.
I did a bit of a web search and there seemed to be a spot of confusion about whether this mainboard was properly supported under Linux or not. I was pretty confident it would be though, so I went and got one. Turns out it works just fine, and this blog aims to inform others who are also not sure.
So, first off we have the guts of the beast, here is the output of lspci:
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82G35 Express DRAM Controller (rev 03) 00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 82G35 Express Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 03) 00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation 82G35 Express Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 03) 00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 02) 00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 (rev 02) 00:1a.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #6 (rev 02) 00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 02) 00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 02) 00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 02) 00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 5 (rev 02) 00:1c.5 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 6 (rev 02) 00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 02) 00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 02) 00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 02) 00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 02) 00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 PCI Bridge (rev 92) 00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801IR (ICH9R) LPC Interface Controller (rev 02) 00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 82801IR/IO/IH (ICH9R/DO/DH) 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 02) 00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 02) 01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Attansic Technology Corp. L1 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (rev b0) 02:00.0 IDE interface: JMicron Technologies, Inc. JMB368 IDE controller 04:03.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): VIA Technologies, Inc. IEEE 1394 Host Controller (rev c0)
This board has an intel X3500 graphics chip. It's automagically detected by dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg and uses the intel driver. GLX works dandy and I get around 50 frames per second in UrbanTerror at a resolution of 1440x900. Both Google Earth and SecondLife run just fine.
This is detected as an HDA Intel by the snd-hda-intel driver and it appears to just work, as well.
The board has six SATA connectors and allows for legacy (IDE) mode, SATA mode (optionally ahci) and raid. All my old disks were detected and work fine, though it seems to swap sda and sdb no matter which way around the cables go. I've not yet had time to triple-check if maybe I'm on crack and it works just as it should after all.
Still, with UUIDs and not devices in fstab, who cares.
Sensors are provided by a Winbond W83627DHG chip and the w83627ehf and coretemp drivers seem to report moderatly accurate-ish values.
This was a bit of a concern initially, as some people reported the Atheros L1 (formerly Attansic) as not working. However, the atl1 driver detects the hardware and dhcp assigns an IP. As I don't have a gigabit switch, I really don't know whether its transfer speeds are as advertised, though.
Legacy IDE is provided via a JMB368 sata-to-ide bridge chip (as I understand it). The pata_jmicron module detects it and my DVDRW drive works.
All my previous systems have had Texas Instruments firewire controllers, whereas this one has a VIA one. However, when plugging in my Firewire harddisk it pops up on the Gnome desktop and I can transfer files, so it all works fine.
I guess this is a conclusion you could see coming miles away, this is a lovely mainboard that just works with Linux. With 4GiB of ram, I now happily run a handful of virtual machines without any slowdown. :-)