Update for Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Silverlining, Varnish and “Vary” header: spending time in varnishlog is totally worth it. Came across an issue with mod_rewrite adding stuff to “Vary” response header and rendering Varnish cache pretty useless. Was good fun hunting this one down. It’s fixed in SilverLining’s upstream already.

Big VirtualBox disk image on FAT32 partition: FAT32 has file size limit of 4GB. So if you want to store a VirtualBox box disk image bigger than 4GB on it, you’ll have to split the image in chunks.

VBoxManage createhd --filename /path/to/images/my-big-image.vmdk --size 12000 --format vmdk --variant split2g

The quest for silent PC. This be the big one! The desktop PC I recently assembled–soon after turning it on I realized I’ll need to make it run much quieter. Preferably no noise at all! Few things I did right away:

  • Antec 300 case comes with 120mm and 140mm case fans, each with a low-med-hi speed switch. Disconnected the bigger fan and set the 120mm fan to “low”. Still plenty of airflow and temperatures look fine.
  • Found and enabled an option in BIOS that adjusts CPU fan speed based on CPU temperature. This is now much like as in laptops–if the CPU is idle, the fan is slow and almost inaudible. When I run something heavy and CPU temperature exceeds configured threshold, fan spins up
  • Discovered the magic command to slow down fan on the Radeon HD6850 graphics card in Linux: aticonfig --pplib-cmd "set fanspeed 0 0". After this it gets much quieter. Just have to remember about this before running GPU-intensive stuff. On Windows fan noise is not that much of a problem, with all the explosion sounds and car engine roars coming from games.

Also, slightly noise-related, overclocked the AMD Phenom II X2 555 from 3.2 to 3.5GHz and undervolted it slightly. I haven’t spent much time to find the overclocking limits–just pushed it a bit, ran stability tests and left at that. Might come back later when I encounter a game that is seriously crippled by CPU performance, or when I’m feeling particularly geeky. Core unlock didn’t go so well though. It did boot as X4 but was unstable. Again I haven’t explored the options there, perhaps with voltage tweaks it could be made stable and usable.

The quest is not over until the PC is completely silent though! After some serious research on silentpcreview.com, and after some “stick-finger-in-a-fan” experiments, I have the following tasks lined up, more or less to be done in that order:

  • My PC currently sports a 32GB OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD as system disk and an old 160GB ATA HDD I dug out from a dark corner. The HDD is probably the noisiest component at the moment, so it’s going to be replaced with newer, bigger 5400RPM disk. To stop vibrations from propagating, the new HDD will be hung in elastic straps instead of being screwed to case.
  • To silence the graphics card further, it might get aftermarket heatsink, Gelid Icy Vision perhaps.
  • To silence CPU further, it might get aftermarket heatsink and fan, Scythe Mugen 2 perhaps.
  • If I’m still not content with noise levels then, the remaining two noise makers are case fan and PSU. Various options there too.

StackExchange site for motor vehicle maintenance and repair is live: mechanics.stackexchange.com! Time to get all my noob questions out. Starting with car battery concerns (Pros/cons of higher capacity car battery?, How to assess battery charge level and alternator performance?).

And lastly, winter is finally retreating. Cycling outdoors now, feels great. Although turbo trainer or stationary bike might still get some consideration, after coming across this, quoting:

I must be crazy, but it works for me idea: I created an exercise bike with a terminal in front of it! I can walk over to it (in the other room with a nice view) and ride the stationary bike WHILE continuing to work! That’s right! I’m getting my workout in without having to stop working!!! The local network allows me to pick up where I was without skipping a beat. It’s awesome. Imagine if, in the middle of your day, when you’re slumping, that instead, you could get your heart pumping. My gawd, after 30 minutes, I’m ready to take it all on again!