[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Correct binary for Intel Core i5

Peter Tenenbaum put forth on 2/21/2010 10:01 PM:
> Stan --
> It sounds like, if the Realtek drivers are not present on the Debian
> distribution, I have at least two options:  going to the Realtek site and
> downloading their linux 64 bit drivers, or compiling my own kernel from
> source on kernel.org.  Does that sound about right?

Hay Peter.  It's not quite that simple, I'm sorry to say.  The drivers are there
in the Debian kernels, and load properly.  The problem is that nearly every
intelligent ASIC in a system has firmware that executes on the chip--its own
local OS if you will.  With many networking chips, instead of including this
firmware on the card or mobo burned into an eeprom or flash memory chip, some
vendors ship the firmware binary with the driver.  It is then up to the host
operating system to upload the firmware binary to the peripheral chip upon each
boot cycle, when it executes the driver code.  There are a couple of advantages
to this:

1.  Eliminates the cost and complexity of an additional chip (eeprom/flash)
2.  Distribution of firmware updates is almost seamless, users oblivious

The problem with the Realtek 8168/9 is that apparently the Realtek folks have
made no firm declarations about the trademark/copyright/patent status of the
firmware code, or if they have, the statements are confusing to the Debian
kernel team.  The Debian project is (forcefully) guided by Richard Stallman's
FSF ideals, and thus, any software that doesn't meet the "Free" criteria isn't
included by default.  For kernel drivers, this creates a huge problem.  There is
no way to include "non-free" in your Debian kernel like you do in
/apt/sources.list.  The Debian kernel team makes that choice for your.

The really odd thing is that this firmware blob is included (was?) with the
standard Lenny kernel, 2.6.26.  During development of the Squeeze and SID
kernels, the Debian kernel team decided this firmware blob was no longer
considered "free", so they removed it.

> As far as video cards are concerned, I have a (probably) ignorant question:
> how do I put the integrated northbridge video support to use on these
> motherboards, since they do not appear to have any video output spigots on
> them?

Don't get one of those boards.  If you're dead set on getting an i5 CPU, the
board linked below is the best bang for the buck by leaps and bounds.  And it's
a true blue Intel board.  It has an Intel GigE chip, so you'll avoid any of the
Realtek 8168/9 firmware issues discussed above.  It has DB-15 VGA, DVI, and HDMI
video connectors on the back panel, so you can connect to pretty much any
computer monitor or HD TV display manufactured in the past 20 years.  It uses
the H55 north bridge, so as Mark said, you may/might have to wait a while for
full xorg and 3d support.  $99 USD


If you haven't picked out a case yet, I recommend this Apevia:

I just built a dual core AMD system for my Dad a few months ago with this case.
 It's geared toward LAN gamers, but I find it a perfect average user desktop
case, that's just a little bit different enough to be cool yet not tacky.  It's
so quiet you must strain to hear it.  It has excellent front-back airflow.  The
PSU has more connectors than you need, _but_ it includes two SATA drive power
connectors so you don't need to buy adapters.  All PSU wires are sheathed in
black braided plastic tubes, which is a really nice touch.  It's all aluminum
except for the plastic front face, and the cover which is really lightweight
stamped steel, and can bend somewhat easily if you're not careful with it.  The
cover attaches via 3 thumb screws, no screwdriver required.  Just a great little
case in my opinion.


Reply to: