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CompuLab (Fit-PC) Intense PC

Jim Carter, 2012-03-16


In the Box

Assembling the Machine

Steps in assembling the machine:

BIOS Setup

To get into setup, turn off power, then hold down F2 on the keyboard and turn the machine on again.

I didn't change anything in BIOS setup, but here are some tidbits of information:

I experimented with Quick Boot, but all it seems to do is to not show the splash screen, which is on for at most 2 seconds, so messing with this is not worth it.

Partition Planning

Partitions on the old Diamond: Total size 160Gb.

Nbr Size Type File system Flags Content
1 57.5MB primary fat16 type=06 Dell Diagnostics
2 53.7GB primary type=07 Windows-7
3 10.8GB primary ext4 type=83, boot Linux root
4 95.5GB extended type=0f, lba (Extended)
5 1958MB logical linux-swap(v1) type=82 Linux swap
6 13.7GB logical ext4 type=83 Linux /home
7 79.8GB logical type=07 Windows Vista

On the new machine: Total size 500Gb.

Nbr Size Type File system Flags Content
1 15Gb primary ext4 type=83,boot Linux root
2 8Gb primary swap type=82 Linux swap
3 20Gb primary ext4 type=83 Linux /home
4 455Gb extended none type=0f (Extended)
5 100Gb logical ntfs type=07 Windows-7
6 355Gb logical ext4 type=83 Storage (/s1)

Installing OpenSuSE 12.3

BIOS Update

There is a worrisome symptom: you can't turn off the machine. If you use normal means to shut it down, e.g. the poweroff command, it will turn off power, but after about 5 seconds it will boot again. Temporary workaround: in the Grub menu press any key, like the down-arrow key, to stop the auto-boot timer. Now unplug the power, hiss, boo.

The same thing happens if you suspend to RAM or disk, which is going to be a big problem for me since I want to put the machine to sleep when it isn't being used.

It turns out that the Intense PC uses a rebranded Intel DH77EB motherboard, and there is a bad interaction between Wake on LAN and suspend/shutdown. See this thread about reboot instead of shutdown, OP is gbarrios (2012-09-29), responses from Susan Sharp of Intel. gbarrios got relief by turning off WOL (not a good solution for me), and also by upgrading to the latest BIOS version, Intel's v00097.

See these instructions to update the BIOS. Basically you are going to prepare a bootable USB storage (flash) device with MS-DOS on it, download the new BIOS onto it, boot it, and execute the flasher.

I updated the BIOS successfully, and now I can suspend to RAM and it will stay suspended. However, it still boots 5 seconds after power off. There was an issue with the Fit-PC-2 in which there was a factory-soldered jumper; if absent the machine would stay off if power went off and then returned, or with the jumper it would boot automatically. Later variants all do the auto boot thing. I suspect that's what I'm seeing: power is on, the machine isn't, and so it boots. That's not a bug, that's a feature! I'll just have to live with it.

In fact, if you unplug the machine, then replug power, it will boot automatically according to its plan.

Finishing Setup

These issues remain to be set up, that are not covered in the checkout script:

Missing Packages

Quite a number of wanted packages could not be installed. I have a feeling that many of them are back-version packages that should be updated from SBS, perhaps by an open dist-upgrade. This was done and the downloaded packages were saved on the distro server. Now the only wanted but missing packages are the ones that are actually unavailable anywhere, and no installed but unwanted packages remain either.


The printer presently is hosted on Diamond. Move it to Orion and deactivate the print server on Diamond. This requires the Canon printer driver to be installed. Leave the USB cable extender in place, since Orion will soon migrate to Diamond's present physical location.

Virtual Machine

Backup and Distro Storage

The webserver is needed for distro storage. Copy from Diamond. Set up HTTPS, needed for the future accounting server. [Done.]

For the backup role, these items need to be taken care of:

The role of distro storage includes these items:

Sleep and Wakeup

When the machine is not running and power is on, the machine will boot. That's not a bug, that's a feature, intended to recover from a power failure. But if you really want the machine to be off, you need to unplug it. Shut it down and wait 5 seconds for it to boot. In the grub menu press any key to stop the auto boot timer. Then unplug power.

Testing sleep.

Slave Directory Server

Diamond is a slave directory server. Those services need to migrate to Orion.

Miscellaneous Setup

The definition of Baobei for VirtualBox is /home/alice/.VirtualBox/Machines/baobei/baobei.xml . /home/finance is exported to Baobei as \\vboxsrv\finance.

Power and Thermal Issues

The power used by the machine generally matches what's in the specifications. These were measured with a Kill-A-Watt pass-thru power meter and are believed accurate to ± 1 watt, although I do not have any independent calibration of the device.

Activity Power Comments
Power off 0 W
Booting 21 W Maximum; power varies
Doing nothing 14 W
Fan low add 1 W
Fan high add 2 W Fan high for these tests:
SpeedSHA (I/O) 18 W Saturating the disc
SpeedSHA (CPU maxed) 21 W One core in use
Wastetime X1 24 W 1 core, took 18.0 sec
Wastetime X2 28 W 2 cores, 18.0 sec
Wastetime X4 30 W 2 cores hyperthread, 32.4 sec
Wastetime X8 30 W took 76 sec

Wastetime is a simple CPU-only integer benchmark, configured in this case to fit in the L3 cache. The two cores ran without slowing each other down, as expected with no use of memory. When hyperthread was used, i.e. 4 simultaneous processes, they squeezed out about 10% more CPU power. 8 simultaneous processes suffered about 5% slowdown compared to 2 processes, probably because their data didn't actually fit in the cache.

I studied cooling of this machine, since 30 watts natural convection seems improbable. In the following table temperatures are in degrees C. The CPU has a thermometer for each core, but they were always identical. The criterion for reached steady state was that the temperature did not change for 5 minutes.

Activity Fan CPU Disc Comments
Doing nothing None 48 46
Light web surfing None 52 46
Wastetime 1X None 57 46 10 second test
Wastetime 2X None 58 46 Jumped up within 5 secs
Wastetime 2X None 66 51 Steady state in 20 mins
Wastetime 2X Low 62 50 Steady state in 14 mins
Wastetime 2X High 53 44 Steady state in 17 mins

For comparison: Dell Studio 15 laptop, 30 watts at idle: CPU 75C, disc 43 C.

The rotating disc is quiet but not silent. For truly silent operation you need a flash memory (solid state) disc. The fan on low is quieter than the disc. But on high it is significantly noisy and moves a lot of air.

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