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Upgrade Home Desktop Computer, Still Running Linux

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  • Monday, July 01 2013 @ 11:02 PM UTC
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Linux, Open Source, and Tech Stuff

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I've been musing about getting a faster computer ever since Steam for Linux was released. As mentioned previously, TF2 (Team Fortress 2) was playable on my old computer... but I had to run at a reduced resolution. At about the same time, I was doing some intensive graphics editing in GIMP and Inkscape and for the first time in a while (ever?) I had a productivity (rather than gaming) need for a faster processor. I also edit video from time to time which always wants more compute power.

I last blogged about my desktop computer in 2010. Some of that has not changed (mouse, keyboard, computer case, ...), but I finished upgrading motherboard, CPU, memory, hard drive, and graphics card and WOW this machine is BLAZING FAST! The SATA3 SSD helps my system boot to the login screen in under 10 seconds! I'm pleased that I got so much use out of those old components but now I will hand them down to another Linux user.

The nVidia GTX650 Ti BOOST graphics card that I bought from NewEgg was new enough that the standard drivers available for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS did not support it. After some struggle, the driver package nvidia-319 from "Edgers" PPA did the trick and I have amazing graphics for gaming. Here are some screenshots of Linux gaming, all running natively...

Portal:



Dungeon Defenders:



Serious Sam 3 BFE:




These screenshots of the nVidia control panel (nvidia-settings) show some details of the graphics card and drivers:

Spring 2013 - Alachua County Friends of the Library Book Sale

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  • Tuesday, April 23 2013 @ 09:44 PM UTC
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Reading and Writing

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It's time again for the Alachua County Friends of the Library Spring book sale.

I have not been reading nearly as much lately, mostly due to my running habit, but I do still like to go to the book sale just to browse. I only bought a few books this year as I still have a few on my shelf from last year.

This time I noticed that they had dozens and dozens of old Science Fiction magazines. At first I skipped over them, but then I saw the publication dates included the 1970s.

I thought "Hey, I should try to find one from the year I was born." I ended up going through all of them, finding two magazines from the month and year I was born. There were a bunch of magazines I hadn't even heard of, so I tried to get at least one of each. Here's a picture of my treasures:



edit: The photo includes magazines dated from the 1950s - 1980s.

There's still time left to find a bargain. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is 10 cent day!

Trail of Payne 10k 2013 - Race Report

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  • Thursday, March 21 2013 @ 10:23 PM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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Saturday was perfect for racing at the Lloyd Clarke Sports Trail of Payne 10k, held at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. It was a brisk morning, with temps in the 40s at race start and a nice fog rising off Lake Wauburg.



Before the race, I felt good and ready to run.



On your marks, GO!

Steam and Team Fortress 2 on Linux

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  • Saturday, February 23 2013 @ 12:57 PM UTC
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Linux, Open Source, and Tech Stuff

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The Steam software distribution network and native games are finally available on Linux!



I stopped gaming a few years back when my dual-booted install of Windows crapped out. I decided I wasn't going to re-install Microsoft Windows again. I started spending time doing a lot of things other than playing video games.

My desktop computer is somewhat old. I'm still using the same hardware I posted in 2010. The graphics card is an ATI 4850 (DIAMOND 4850PE3512 Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 to be exact) which I bought in 2008 for $195 and is the most I have ever paid for a graphics card. The motherboard and CPU are hand-me-downs, so most of the components in the system are at least 5 years old. One of the things that I love about GNU/Linux is that my computer is still quite happy running the latest editions of the open source operating system.

However, getting Steam and TF2 running on this older hardware was not completely trivial. As of a few days ago, the Steam client provided by the Steam web site is 32-bit and does not install correctly on my 64-bit Ubuntu workstation (complaining about Wrong architecture 'i386'). Once I made it past that obstacle, I installed TF2 from my Steam Library, but it would quickly error out because the Ubuntu-provided ATI proprietary drivers were missing a required OpenGL feature:

'Required OpenGL extension "GL_EXT_texture_sRGB_decode" is not supported. Please update your OpenGL driver.'



Many of the suggestions on the net did not work on my system (for example, using the Ubuntu-provided experimental driver packages). However, I'm encouraged that the folks at Canonical, Steam, and AMD are continuing to work on the issue and improve the situation. I would expect that the Ubuntu Software Center may have updated package and drivers over the next few weeks / months (if it does not already) so the solution below may not be required.

But in the meantime, I found a way to get Steam and TF2 working on ATI Legacy adapters (in particular the 4xxx and 5xxx series). Most of this information is available via searching google and reading various forums. Thank you, Internet!


Here are the 3 steps that finally worked for me:

Newnan's Lake 15k 2013 - Race Report

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  • Friday, February 22 2013 @ 01:18 AM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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This year was my first time running the Newnan's Lake 15k organized by Lloyd Clarke Sports. The course is relatively flat (there are a number of long gradual inclines) but generally is known to be a good place to get a fast time! The weather is almost always cool like it was for the race in January. We had temps in the 40s at the start and a bunch of runners ran PRs (Personal Records). To top it off, the weather warmed up nicely for the awards ceremony. It's a great time of year to be racing in Florida.

Going into the race I was hoping to run under an hour for the 15k. For some reason I had "6:22 per mile" in my head as the pace I needed to hit that time. I became a bit discouraged during the race because my splits were slow and every time I clocked a 6:30+ mile I knew I was falling further and further behind. I pushed miles 6 and 7 with a 6:17 and 6:18 and then did my best to hold on. Meredith DeFranco passed me on her way to win 1st place female and I tried to catch her but she was on a mission and ran fast and strong to the end.

When I caught my first glimpse of the finish clock it read 59:50, so I sprinted like crazy, finishing just under an hour at 59:57. That works out to 6:26 per mile. I didn't quite break into the overall awards but I did win my age group and feel great about my race performance.

This is most likely a lifetime PR for me since I didn't race these longer distances when I was younger.



Newnan's Lake itself provided beautiful scenery:



Official results by Half-Mile Timing posted here: http://www.halfmiletiming.com/Datafil...3/Results/

My First Marathon - Jacksonville Bank 2012 Race Report

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  • Saturday, January 19 2013 @ 12:29 PM UTC
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Running and Fitness

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I finished my first marathon! Here I am crossing the finish line of the Jacksonville Bank Marathon with a chip time of 3:26:14.


Photos copyright brightroom, Inc.

I received a nice finisher medal and t-shirt. Some people may wonder about wearing minimalist shoes for 26.2 miles, but I have to say that the lightweight Inov-8 Bare-X 150 shoes were just great for this race.



For those interested in more detail, allow me to describe the events leading to an event that I can only describe as the "Full Body Cramp"...


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thatlinuxbox.com is the home of Dan Stoner's Personal Blog, Photos, and More (opinions, rants, techno-babble, and possibly a few useful tidbits of knowledge).

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