Category Archives: Linux-Ubuntu

Posts about linux; specifically, the Ubuntu distribution.

I just picked up an old Dell Precision 690 workstation, which I intend to develop into a file server, a Windows IIS server, and an Ubuntu LAMP server. This monster was built in 2006, but it still has some neat specs and tons of capacity (7 PCI slots, 4 hard drive bays, etc…), should I want to expand further.

Dell Precision 690

Dell Precision 690 Workstation

The main specs

CPU: Dual Core Intel Xeon 5060 3.2GHz, 4M Cache, 1066 MHz FSB
RAM: 2GB DDR2 PC2-5300, CL=5, Fully Buffered, ECC, DDR2-667
HD: SAS Fujitsu MAX3073RC 73GB, 15000 RPM, 16MB Cache
Video: Nvidia Quadro NVS 285 PCI-Express, 128MB

This is not a normal tower

Right away, the size of this thing suggests it isn’t a normal tower. It’s about up to my knee and weights 70 lbs. It feels like it’s made with heavier gauge steel than the typical chassis, but that may be me projecting.

I immediately shopped around for more RAM, obviously. 2GB seems a little thin, even by 2006 standards, when considering the way everything else is high-end. The mainboard has 8 slots and supports up to 32GB, but I figure 6GB is a safe place to start.

The workstation has three enormous fans, like, big-as-your-hand big. Running it with the chassis open causes some sort of thermal protection system to kick in and it spins the fans up to the point that they were blowing stuff on the floor half-way across the room.

The CPU has a big, passive heat sink with six copper pipes and sits between two of those fans. I’m tempted to buy a second CPU, but I’ll hold off.

I’m still on the fence about the SCSI drive. It should be super fast, but I’m a little spoiled by the SSD in my machine at work, so it’s hard to get excited about a mechanical drive, even one running at 15k RPM.

The Nvidia Quadro card is also fanless, and has a bizarre DMS-59 connector. An adapter converts the DMS-59 connector into two DVI outputs.

I was trying to create a bootable flash drive with Ubuntu 11.04 using the Universal USB Installer utility from on a Windows 7 64-bit machine with a 16 GB flash drive (mapped to G:), but I kept getting an error that the drive wouldn’t be bootable.

The message in the command line window read:

Execute: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Temp\[random].tmp\syslinuxnew.exe -maf G:
Syslinux Errors 1

A message box would then appear with the following warning:

Universal USB Installer Setup

An error(1) occurred while executing syslinux.
Your USB drive won’t be bootable…

When I opened a command prompt and ran syslinuxnew.exe -maf G:, the result was zero FAT sectors. When I ran syslinux.exe -maf G:, I got a much more informative message, or at least one that I could better understand: this doesn’t look like a valid FAT filesystem.

And of course, the flash drive wasn’t FAT32, it was NTFS. I had forgotten to format the drive as FAT32 before running the utility, but I also managed to not check the box next to “We will format G:\Drive as FAT32.” in the utility itself.

No wonder Google wasn’t returning any results when I searched this – who’s going to have missed properly formatting the drive not once but twice?

In the event that a quick format as FAT32 doesn’t work for you, you can try running a few diskpart commands in Windows to really thoroughly format a flash drive, including the MBR and partition table.