Computer Role Changes

2009-October-27th

This is mostly just a note to mention that for whatever reason, I can't get any OS other than Windows XP to install on the OptiPlex GX270. At all. The reason this was important was because I wanted to use the 270 as our new Hulu computer, especially as Glenn has recently been taking every possible opportunity to disable SETI on Flatdell as though it were something over which he had control, or even permission to have control.

Admittedly, switching the roles of the 270 and Flatdell is maybe a bit of a harsh response to my own desire for more SETI points, but I don't think it's necessarily unerasonable within the context of the fact that these are machines that I personally own and paid for. It's a lot like my desire to continue to use Tacgnol as my server, regardless of whether or not that is or ever has been a good idea. Ultimately, what it comes down to is "It's my Perogative."

... Anyway. Fortunately, I was able to just update the graphics driver in the GX270, but not after trying about a half dozen times to get various operating systems installed, including the very same iDeneb distribution I had used with the T42p, Windows Vista 32-bit, and Ubuntu 9.10 Beta (from a flash disk) as well as Ubuntu 8.10 from a CD I had. None of them installed on any disk I was able to put in the machine, PATA or SATA. Fortunately, Windows XP did restore using Acronis, which is just about the universe's best disk imaging utility. XP didn't even complain about being moved from a PATA disk to a SATA disk, which I suppose is probably a side-effect of Service Pack 3.

After having gotten the 270 running as the TV computer with the correct display resolution, it was time to test Hulu. Fortunately, it turns out that when you are running SETI/BOINC within the same user account on Windows XP, BOINC scales back beautifully and Hulu had no problems at all playing back episodes of The Cleveland Show as well as Family Guy and later on in the night, Glee.

The only problem I forsee is that Glenn has still got it in his head for what ever reason that SETI causes buffering problems for videos he may want to see, and is therefore still on a crusade to shut down SETI every time he uses the machine. However, based on what I've seen so far, it does look as though he's now a bit more mindful of the fact that he needs to turn SETI back on, so I am not sure about whether or not to worry about this behavior. It may even just be that he's interested in seeing the work units in progress, but I'll maybe bring it up at some point to just make sure.

And so the question then is what is Flatdell up to? I let it finish all of its SETI units and then worked on deciding what to do with it. Right now, just so I can get something else installed, it is running a single pass with Acronis Drive Cleanser, writing zeros to both of the 750gb hard disks.

The next thing I am going to do, for right now, is probably just install the original Dell copy of Windows Vista Home Premium. I may even hook up the TV tuner and see how well that works out, but ultimately my goal is to get it running again with something interesting, which I think in this case really does just mean Mac OS X. I've already spoken to a friend who has said it should be fine for me to borrow his Snow Leopard disc. If that works fairly well, I will probably use Snow Leopard on the machine for what I am going to call "the forseeable future" which essentially means "until I get a real Mac."

My definition of "works fairly well," it's worth noting, will be that it works better than it did on the T42p, with a fairly minimal amount of glitches. Save for the fact that I'll probably be unable to run Apple's updates, I would actually really like it if it ran just about as well as a real Mac would. A pipe dream, yes, mostly unattainable, also yes, but it would be nice anyway.