“New” mediamachine

Put an Atom 330 (a D945GCLF2 Little Falls motherboard) in a tiny, tiny mini-ITX box to be used as a mediaclient. Added a 1 GB stick of RAM (maxed at 533 MHz), and a 40GB 2.5″ IDE lap-top disk. Stuff lying around, basically. The Atom used to be a router and fileserver, but now that it’s replaced by the VIA mITX board… it’s of better use hooked to the TV.

After having struggled trying to boot it from USB (there’s something funny about the BIOS and USB-booting, according to forum posts), I just grabbed an old CD-ROM reader from the scrapheap downstairs, and installed Ubuntu 9.10 64bit without any issues.

Since that worked, I did a dist-upgrade to 10.04. This since the board didn’t seem to get along with the Ubuntu 10.04 disk I tried to boot it from… Dist-upgrade, however, worked perfectly!

Running a 42″ plasma as screen is kind of fun. 🙂 Once the machine was up, I installed getdeb and ubuntu-tweak from the GetDeb homepage. Using ubuntu-tweak it was no problem at all adding Flashplayer + plugin for my 64bit environment, adding XBMC and a lot of multimedia decoders.

Also did an apt-get on xubuntu-desktop, to get xfce instead of Gnome (less resources consumed). Xfce is my preferred desktop anyway.

Still didn’t help much, since XBMC moved like it was in syrup… and movies were sloooow. Even avi:s were real bad. So… looking for a solution, I installed mplayer, and tried running the movies from the commandline instead. Not much better.

However, once I installed VLC and its decoders… the machine was flying again! Still couldn’t do HD in full screen (OK, “2012” in 720p worked, but “Avatar” in the same format was no good…). Avi’s and whatever else I threw at it worked perfectly, though.

Since I still want XBMC (loved the way it worked when I tested it), I’m going to bring the “labserver” from downstairs up here, connecting it to the TV and seeing if that is any better. Even more interesting would be putting a 2GB memory stick in the Atom, see if that improves matters (CPU hits 133% sometimes, but memory seems like a worse bottleneck…). But, that’s for later.

Now, I’m just pleased with the current results.


About magvar

Technical guy, worked with computers since I was twelve, complete nerd, but managed to get married and am now the happy father of three kids.
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