[mythtv-users] gave up on the Epia
fanmail at micah-wedemeyer.net
Mon Apr 11 17:32:02 UTC 2005
Well, I've finally given up on my Epia frontend/backend. It worked reasonably
well for about 8 months and I got TV and DVD playback to finally work, but it
was a very flaky platform. About a week ago, I was trying to rip a DVD while
watching TV at the same time, and it locked up (DMA bug is my best guess). On
reboot, I found that there was something wrong with the superblock of the XFS
partition where all my recordings were stored.
To make a long story short, when I tried to repair things, I screwed up the
whole partition table and it no longer boots at all.
Anyways, I don't want to bore you any more with my sad tales, but I do want to
put out some warnings to potential Myth builders looking at the Epia platform.
Like me, you will doubtless plunge in anyway, but at least you'll have a litte
(My) Issues with the Epia:
* Getting the Unichrome drivers to work could take a good amount of work. It
may have gotten easier in the last few months, but I sure had a lot of trouble.
If you're going for a trouble-free install of Linux/Myth, then the Epia is
probably a bad idea. (Note: This is not a critique of the Unichrome drivers. I
used them and loved them. It just took a lot of effort to get everything
* The Epia has a known issue with DMA. Check some of the postings at
forums.viaarena.com I never had a problem when recording TV, but I definitely
had a problem when transferring files over the LAN. If I tried to scp a file
from my desktop to the Myth box, it would lock up hard in about 5 seconds. So,
if you're hoping to use your Myth box as a media server (like I was), then Epia
is definitely a bad idea. Again, this is personal experience backed up by
others on the viaarena forums. YMMV
* Many of the Epia MII boards have a bad PCMCIA slot (at least under Linux).
When I plugged in my wireless card, dmesg would say that the slot refused to
respond to requests to apply power to the card. I was able to find a workaround
by using Linuxant's driverloader, but it was still a big hassle.
* Getting the on-board temperature sensors and dynamic CPU clocking to work will
take a kernel-recompile. At least it did the last time I checked. So, if you
want the clock frequency to dynamically adjust to CPU load and/or temp, get
ready for some work.
* The slow speed leaves little headroom for mistakes and halfway kludges. By
this I mean: with a fast system, you don't have to get everything working
perfectly. Who cares about hardware decoding when you've got 2+ Ghz and
software decoding barely registers on the CPU? I have a lot of respect for the
people running the Epia ME6000s. If they can't get hardware decoding to work,
then they're pretty much SOL. Besides, even if everything works, working with a
slow machine can be quite painful. Try compiling a kernel 10 times on one of
these things and you'll see what I mean.
I guess my bottom line here is that getting an Epia/Linux system up and running
can be a lot of work. Plus, in some cases (like the DMA issue), you may never
find a solution. I finally got mine to work, but it was never 100%, and I was
too afraid of screwing up what I had in order to tweak it more. So, if you're
like me, and you just want a Myth box that works, take my advice and skip the
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, and please feel free to voice your
opinions. I just wanted to play devil's advocate for all the people out there
that are eyeing the Epia as their Myth platform. They need to know that it will
not be a cakewalk in order to get it set up.
Now, let's just see if I sing this same tune after I've tried putting together a
Myth box based around a AMD Sempron and an nForce-3 150 motherboard.
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