After some stability problems and an unresolvable PCI IRQ problem with my Debian
server at home (Internet gateway, mail, PostgreSQL, LDAP and NFS server and test system), I decided to get a new mainboard and wireless card last week. I did some research to get hardware that is properly supported and where I can use the rest of my current components. I had
- a AM2 socket AMD Athlon64 3500+ CPU
- 2 1GB DDR2/667 DIMMs
- a ATX chassis
- an IDE Transcend 4GB SSD for my root partition
- 2 750GB SATA hard disks (software RAID-1)
- a Intel EtherExpress 100 Server PCI adapter (that I wanted to use to separate the internal and external networks but which did not work due to the above mentioned PCI trouble)
So I had to find a mainboard with at least 2 DDR2 DIMM sockets, an AM2 compatible CPU socket in ATX format with SATA ports at least one IDE Port, a Gigabit ethernet port (serving NFS home directories) and at least 2 PCI slots (one for the wireless card) that is well supported by the current Debian Squeeze Linux kernel. As I had some issues with the previous board's nvidia SATA chipset I wanted to get something else that is AHCI compatible. After some research I decided to buy a Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2H (rev. 3.0)
which is available for a good price and fits all my criteria (2 DDR2 DIMM slots, 6 SATA ports, an RTL8169 based Gigabit ethernet ports, 2 PCI slots, ...). The mainboard uses an AMD 740G + SB710 Chipset. It has an integrated graphics chipset which I don't really need because I run the machine as a headless system.
As I use the server as a wireless access point I need a wireless network adapter that supports AP mode. There are not many chipsets that are properly supported in AP mode and allow good data rates so I decided to get an Atheros ath9k based card, because I don't need non-free firmware like with broadcom based cards and could find some affordable hardware. The previous was a Netgear WG311 ath5k card that had issues that it lost its connection under more than minimum load and could only be reanimated by a system reboot. I looked at the Linux Wireless
pages and found out that D-Link has a matching adapter the DWL-G520
. Unfortunatelly they don't tell about the used chipset (as almost all other vendors too) and write about possibly changing hardware at the product sheet. To be sure I looked at their Windows driver's .inf files and found nothing indicating that there are any non Atheros variants of the card.
I also ordered two Fantec MR-35 SATA
mobile racks for more comfort when one of the RAID1 discs crashes (had 2 crashes last year) and a 12" chassis fan to keep the system cool.
Today the package arrived and after unpacking and putting everything together I started the system (with keyboard and a display attached) to see how it works. All hardware was automatically detected by the current Debian Squeeze system and I only had to remove the entries for the old onboard network adapter and the old wireless adapter from
and fix the device names for the new network cards. I added a new stanza for the Intel ethernet adapter in
and setup a set of ferm
rules to have a working firewall (thanks to Formorer for the suggestion to use ferm). After this was finished everything worked fine so far and I put the machine at its normal place without keyboard and display.
To verify that the stability situation had really improved, I copied some huge files over the network (both wired and wireless and in both
directions). Afterwards I did a bonnie++
benchmark to test the SATA and hard drive reliability. Everything went well and I'm happy with my investment.