Ryzen so far…

So my first iteration ended in a failed BIOS update…  Now I have a fresh MB.

Iteration 2 – disable everything

Ryzen machine is running pretty stable now with a few tweaks.   I was getting some memory paging bugs but one of things worked around it:

  • Moved from 4.10 (stock zesty) to 4.11 mainline kernel
  • Remove 1 of my 2 16 GB sticks of memory
  • Underclock memory from 2400 -> 2133
  • Re-enable VM Support (CVM)
  • Disable the C6
  • Disable boost

It was totally stable for several days after that..

Iteration 3 – BIOS update

Trying to have less things disabled (or more specifically to get my full 32 GB of ram) I did the latest (7A37v14) BIOS update (with all cables not important for the update removed).

Memtest had also intermittently shown bad ram… but I can no longer reproduce…  Both sticks tested independently show nothing is wrong..  Then I put both back in and it says it’s fine.

Part of that was resetting the settings above and although it was more stable I was still getting random crashes.

Iteration 4 – Mostly just underclock the RAM

  • Underclocked 32 GB of  memory from 2400 -> 2133
  • On 4.11 kernel mainline kernel with Nouveau drivers (previously on Nvidia prop. driver, but didn’t support 4.11 at the time)

So far it’s been stable and that’s what I’m running.

Outstanding things

  • CPU Temperature Reporting on Linux is Missing.  (AMD has to release the data to do so – see some discussion here.  That is a community project, posting there will not help AMD do anything)
  • Being coreboot friendly with these new chips
  • Update BIOS from Linux?
  • Why is VM support disabled by default? (It’s called SVM on these boards)
  • MSI please document/implement BIOS recover for these motherboards

Overall

Ryzen 1700 is a pretty powerful chip.  I love having 16 threads available to me (VMs/Compiling faster is what I wanted from ryzen and it delivers)   Like many new products there are some stumbling blocks for earlier adopters, but I feel like on my hardware combinations+ I’m finally seeing the stability I need.

*Stability testing was just leaving BOINC running (with SETI and NFS projects) with Firefox open.  And doing normal work with VMs, etc.
+ MB: MSI B350M MORTAR AM4
Ryzen 1700
2 x Patriot 16GB DDR4-2400  PSD416G24002H

Who we trust | Building a computer

I thought I was being smart.  By not buying through AVADirect I wasn’t going to be using an insecure site to purchase my new computer.

For the curious I ended purchasing through eBay (A rating) and Newegg (A rating) a new Ryzen (very nice chip!) based machine that I assembled myself.   Computer is working mostly ok, but has some stability issues.   A Bios update comes out on the MSI website promising some stability fixes so I decide to apply it.

The page that links to the download is HTTPS, but the actual download itself is not.
I flash the BIOS and now appear to have a brick.

As part of troubleshooting I find that the MSI website has bad HTTPS security, the worst page being:

Given the poor security and now wanting a motherboard with a more reliable BIOS  (currently I need to send the board back at my expense for an RMA) I looked at other Micro ATX motherboards starting with a Gigabyte which has even less pages using any HTTPS and the ones that do are even worse:

Unfortunately a survey of motherboard vendors indicates MSI failing with Fs might put them in second place.   Most just have everything in the clear, including passwords.   ASUS clearly leads the pack, but no one protects the actual firmware/drivers you download from them.

Main Website Support Site RMA Process Forum Download Site Actual Download
MSI F F F F F Plain Text
AsRock Plain text Email Email Plain text Plain Text Plain Text
Gigabyte (login site is F) Plain text Plain Text Plain Text Plain text Plain Text Plain Text
EVGA Plain text default/A- Plain text Plain text A Plain Text Plain Text
ASUS A- A- B Plain text default/A A- Plain Text
BIOSTAR Plain text Plain text Plain text n/a? Plain Text Plain Text

A quick glance indicates that vendors that make full systems use more security (ASUS and MSI being examples of system builders).

We rely on the security of these vendors for most self-built PCs.  We should demand HTTPS by default across the board.   It’s 2017 and a BIOS file is 8MB, cost hasn’t been a factor for years.

RSS Reading – NewsBlur

Bye Tiny

Some recent hacking attempts at my site had convinced me to reduce the number of logins I had to protect on my personal site.   That’s what motivated a move from the -still- awesome Tiny Tiny RSS that I’ve been using since Google Reader ended.   I only follow 13 sites and maintaining my own install simply doesn’t make sense.

* None of the hacking attempts appeared to be targeting Tiny Tiny RSS ~ but then again I’m not sure if I would have noticed if they were.

Enter NewsBlur

My favorite site for finding alternatives to software quickly settled on a few obvious choices.  Then I noticed that one of them was both Open Source and Hosted on their own servers with a freemium model.

It was NewsBlur

I decided to try it out and haven’t looked back.  The interface is certainly different than Tiny (and after 3 years I was very used to Tiny ) but I haven’t really thought about it after the first week.   The only item I found a bit difficult to use was arranging folders ~ I’d really prefer drag and drop.   I only needed to do it once so not a big deal.

The free account has some limitations such as a limit to the number of feeds (64), limit to how fast they update, and no ability to save stories.   The premium account is only $24 a year which seems very reasonable if you want to support this service or need those features.  As of this writing there were about 5800 premium and about 5800 standard users, which seems like a healthy ratio.

Some security notes: the site get’s an A on  SSLLabs.com but they do have HSTS turned explicitly off.   I’m guessing they can’t enable HSTS because they need to serve pictures directly off of other websites that are HTTP only.

NewsBlur’s code is on Github including how to setup your own NewsBlur instance (it’s designed to run on 3 separate servers) or for testing/development.   I found it particularly nice that the guide the site operator will check if NewsBlur goes down is public.  Now, that’s transparency!

They have a bunch of other advanced features (still in free version) that I haven’t even tried yet, such as:

  • finding other stories you would be interested (Launch Intel)
  • subscribing to email newsletters to view in the feed
  • Apps for Android, iPhone and suggested apps for many other OSes
  • Global sharing on NewsBlur
  • Your own personal (public in free version) blurblog to share stories and your comments on them

Give NewsBlur a try today.  Let me know if you like it!

I’d love to see more of this nice combination of hosted web service (with paid & freemium version) and open source project.  Do you have a favorite project that follows this model?   Two others that I know of are Odoo and draw.io.

When should i386 support for Ubuntu end?

Are you running i386 (32-bit) Ubuntu?   We need your help to decide how much longer to build i386 images of Ubuntu Desktop, Server, and all the flavors.

There is a real cost to support i386 and the benefits have fallen as more software goes 64-bit only.

Please fill out the survey here ONLY if you currently run i386 on one of your machines.  64-bit users will NOT be affected by this, even if you run 32-bit applications.
http://goo.gl/forms/UfAHxIitdWEUPl5K2

Ubuntu 16.04 LiveCD Memory Usage Compared

The latest Ubuntu LTS is out, so it’s time for an updated memory usage comparison.

1604MemoryCompare

Boots means it will boot to a desktop that you can move the mouse on and is fully loaded.  While Browser and Smooth means we can load my website in a reasonable amount of time.

Takeaways

Lubuntu is super efficient

Lubuntu is amazing in how much less memory it can boot in.  I believe it is still the only one with ZRam enabled by default, which certainly helps a bit.

I actually did the memory usage for ZRam to the nearest MB for fun.
The 32 bit version boots in 224 MB, and is smooth with Firefox at only 240MB!   The 64 bit boots at only 25 MB more (251), but is needs 384 MB to be smooth.

If you are memory limited, change flavors first, 32-bit won’t help that much

Looking just at “Browser and Smooth” because that’s a more clear use-case.  There is no significant memory  difference between the 32 and 64 bit varients of: Xubuntu,  Ubuntu Gnome, Ubuntu (Unity).

Lubuntu, Kubuntu, and Ubuntu Mate do have significant deltas, which let’s explore:
Kubuntu – If you are worried about memory requirements do not use.
Ubuntu Mate – It’s at most a 128MB loss, likely less.  (We did that to 128MB accuracy).
Lubuntu 64 bit is smooth at 384MB.  32 bit saves almost 144 MB!  If you are severally memory limited 32-bit Lubuntu becomes your only choice.

Hard Memory Limit
The 32-bit hard memory requirement is 224 MB. (Below that is panics)
The 64-bit hard memory requirement is 251 MB.  Both of these were tested with Lubuntu.

Check out the 14.04 Post.   I used Virt-Manager/KVM instead of Virtualbox for the 16.04 test.

Extras: Testing NotesSpreadsheet