New build - Which is the best Linux distro??

04 Oct 2016 11:49 #31362 by ScottBouch
Hi guys, I asked this on the flightgear form, and had no replies yet, so thought I'd ask here.. I know a lot of FGUK guys use Windows, but there may be some people on here who can advise me.

I'm soon to be acquiring a second hand HP Proliant ML150 G6 server computer, which I intend to configure for Flightgear use.

I am a Linux Mint user, and have also been an Ubuntu user, but don't mind trying new things (apart from Windows).

Which distro is recommended for Flightgear - ie: best support for graphics cards, and minimal additional software t slow it down - ie: a lightweight OS..

Cheers, Scott

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04 Oct 2016 15:37 #31365 by enrogue
Hi Scott

It's a hard question to answer, because everyones answer is going to be coloured by their experience with Linux :)

I just checked the specs of the server & it looks good - do you know which processor(s) it has installed?

I take it you're going to install a PCI-E graphics card - I think everyone would recommend an Nvidia card of some sort due to the crap support of ATI graphics cards in Linux

I personally use Ubuntu & have done for a very long time - probably since it started. Before that I used Debian (still do on development virtual machines)

There are 'lighter' versions of Ubuntu - Mint used to be based on it but has since separated a bit more from it - like Xubuntu & Lubuntu - they each have different default apps installed, and run different desktop environments (XFCE & LXDE respectively - I have Lubuntu running on an old Netbook & it runs fine, the netbook is not really capable of running flightgear though). The idea is that graphically they are lighter than the normal Ubuntu Unity interface as they don't have snazzy graphical bits enabled (they don't use compiz - a compositing window manager)

I saw on the forum here somewhere that Alex runs Arch Linux - I have this running on some embedded devices for testing, and while it works fine I think it's not for the faint of heart when something goes wrong (it's a rolling release distribution rather like running debian testing) - you may have to downgrade something if an upgrade breaks. I have no idea how the graphics support works, but there are very good instructions on the arch website for pretty much everything

Another alternative I have seen that is based on Ubuntu is Elementary OS - it is designed to be lightweight - although the webpage asks for money, you can just put in $0 and click download. It looks a lot like MacOS, and that could either attract you or put you off depending on your feelings towards macs

As for graphics support the only ones I can comment on are the Ubuntu based ones - they all use the same packages. The Nvidia drivers that come with Ubuntu (enabled by going into the software & updates part in settings & selecting additional drivers - don't use the nouveau drivers!) work fine as long as you don't have a bleeding edge card - there is a PPA from the graphics driver team here launchpad.net/~graphics-drivers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa if you're feeling like you want to try the bleeding edge stuff!

A while back I used to use the driver installer directly from Nvidia, but I have no idea whether this still works well on Ubuntu based systems - someone else may be able to comment
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04 Oct 2016 16:05 #31366 by ScottBouch
Hi Enrogue,

Thanks for the guidance!

I was looking at Lubuntu earlier thinking it may be a good option, and you mentioning it has kind of reassured me of that (but I'm still very open to suggestion).

Thanks for the info on Arch, I'll avoid for now - I've been using various flavours of Linux for about 3 years now, but am in no way an expert!

As for looking like Mac, I'm really not fussed, as long as it's functional that's all that matters, I'm not really sold by fancy swooshy desktop graphics like Ubuntu Unity / compiz.

Great tip on going for Nvidia over ATI, that rules out at least one graphics card I had lying about.. There's another in the garage somewhere I saw the other day, and now must find again!

I don't know what processors this machine has, It's free, and comes with an extra dose of dust, but beggars can't be choosers! It was used as a server in an office environment, and was working till it was replaced by a 19" rack - that's all I know unit l I physically get hold of it and look inside.

Thanks again, Scott.

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04 Oct 2016 16:44 #31367 by ScottBouch
Just found the second card in the garage.... and it's an NVIDIA!

However, it's fairly basic, but probably better than the on-board VGA graphics though.

This is the card I've found: www.xgcdb.com/cards/xfx/geforce-5200-pv-t64k-uaf7.html

Cheers, Scott.

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04 Oct 2016 20:06 #31371 by Avionyx
I was a big Mint user for years until about 18 months ago when suddenly I couldn't get it to work with the latest nVidia drivers.

I then switched to an arch based distro called Manjaro.

I have to say it was one of the best things I've ever done. The hardware support is much better than a *buntu derivitive and it runs FG like a dream.

Strongly recommend you give it a go. One of the best "out of the box" distro's I have ever tried, it simply works.

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04 Oct 2016 21:08 #31372 by ScottBouch
Thank you - I've just read the in initial intro to Manjaro - It's Arch for the lesser experienced, which does sound good to me!

I'm willing to give it a try when the computer arrives!

The beauty of this is that if I fond I don't get on with a certain OS, it's not he labours of Hercules to try another and re-install FGFS.

But, willing to try something outside the Ubuntu / Debian / Mint field... Are there any big differences such as adding repos, installing packages, general terminal commands? ie: Is it an apt-get based system?

Thanks, Scott.

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05 Oct 2016 09:10 #31376 by enrogue
Manjaro & Arch have a package manager called pacman :)

Manjaro have a little tips page up here:

wiki.manjaro.org/index.php?title=Pacman_Tips

It works a bit like apt-get - syncs the local database of packages with the remotes & can update & grab what you want from the upstream repositories
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05 Oct 2016 10:23 #31377 by ScottBouch
Thank you very much.. It'll be a new learning curve, but I welcome all Linux learning!

I should have the computer next week, really looking forward to having a play with it!

I may treat it to an SSD for the OS and FGFS, with traditional HDD for scenery - would this be a good way to go, or does FGFS prefer the scenery to be on the same drive?

I suppose could always Bind the scenery drive to the scenery folder using Fstab Symbolic Link, if that works on Arch...

Cheers, Scott.

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05 Oct 2016 14:43 #31378 by Avionyx
FlightGear gets a bit funny with some scenery objects not being on the same HDD as the main program.
I'd strongly suggest keeping it together if possible.

FG also prefers the sim to be on the same HDD as the OS. Which is a huge pain in the backside.

Whenever I start splitting things out to more drives it always ends up in pain somewhere down the line.
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05 Oct 2016 15:01 #31379 by ScottBouch
Thanks... right, I'll just stick with a traditional HDD then, was just hoping to squeeze a bit more performance out of it with an SSD, but I'll play by the rules on this one!

Many Thanks, Scott

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05 Oct 2016 16:51 #31380 by Richard
If anything a separate SSD for FG is going to get you the best performance; maybe an SSD would improve boot times but once it's running the benefit of loading data (scenery, aircraft) from an SSD is quite significant.

There are two reasons; firstly it's quicker to transfer; that's not as important as FG tends towards loading lots of smaller (<60mb) files. The second reason is seek time and latency - which are effectively very close to zero.

So an SSD for FG *and* scenery *and* aircraft is going to get you the best ingame experience in terms of minimising delays. Putting your paging file on an SSD will also help.

Of course all of this is insignificant compared to the difference that a graphics card makes to the framerate.

My priority list is
1. Enough RAM. 8gb is a minimum and you'd be better off with 12 or more - as running short of RAM means paging which means slow
2. Graphics Card. obv.
3. SSD. ideally more than one in RAID-0 for that extra performance boost.

I think I checked out your CPU - it should be at the OK end of the spectrum, but a GTX 460 is where I'd want to be starting with graphics cards for FG these days.

If you can't get a decent enough graphics card you always have the option of V1 scenery (if you can find it).

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11 May 2017 23:00 #33976 by ScottBouch
Just tried to resurrect this computer....

h20564.www2.hpe.com/hpsc/swd/public/read...gOid=8&swEnvOid=4064

Well, ahem... POST is as far as it gets. Nothing on the monitor.

I get some diagnostic beeping, 8x long beeps, which isn't so useful as I can't find out what the beeps mean in the user manual or online. And the red flashing light of doom, which is in the user manual as a big ass hardware issue:
"Critical system failure detected (processor, memory, regulator, thermal event, fan, NMI)"

So, tomorrow, I'll fetch the motherboard out, give it a scrub with solvent and try again (that believe it or not has worked for me in the past with a previous machine). This computer is quite filthy inside, and since it last worked, it's had a car journey, so you never know, could be something shorting out or similar.

Still... the fans run, so if I need to move some air around, I could always use it for that. But they are bloody noisy, so will have to look into quieter alternatives to use this as a desktop PC.

Cheers, Scott.

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12 May 2017 06:21 #33977 by timi
Personally I'd just go with Ubuntu. I go from one Ubuntu long term support version to the next every two years which is pretty smooth sailing.

NVIDIA supports Ubuntu with various projects like CUDA and Deep Learning so the driver support is good and comes right within the Ubuntu's package manager.

Also there is a package repository for FlightGear as well for the current version.
launchpad.net/~saiarcot895/+archive/ubuntu/flightgear

Some older version comes with the default repositories as well.

So my recipe for trouble free FGFS experience is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and FlightGear installed from this PPA.

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12 May 2017 09:11 #33980 by ScottBouch
Thanks Timi...

I've used Ubuntu in various forms in the past too, but always willing to give something new a try which is the main reason why I'm going to give Manjaro a stab.. I can always switch to Ubuntu or even back to Mint (my current OS of choice for desktop computing) in the future if I don't get on with it.

(My home server (for Zoneminder and Plex) is going to become CentOS very soon too, has been Ubuntu Server for a couple of years).

My new "gaming PC", this HP Proliant, is not getting past POST though, so I can't even get to BIOS to tell it to boot from my Linux ISO USB stick! Arghhhh!

Will take me into next week to find the time to strip the HP Proliant down now... It's never easy when trying to resurrect old computers! (I also have an old 32 bit WXP machine (needed to run old-school controls software for) that I've also inadvertently buggered by changing the on board battery.. now got BIOS issues with it.)

Cheers, Scott.

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13 May 2017 16:23 #34016 by Tom
I have tried a couple of Debian based distros, but Gnomebuntu really was quite pleasing to work with.
All the drivers (proprietary ones as well) were suggested by the OS itself, so there was not a lot of configuring going on. Plug and play for most of the things.

What surprised me the most was, that my Thrustmaster Warthog has way better Linux support by FG compared to Windows. Everything mapped from the start.

So if you are looking for a hassle free experience, definatly go with Gnomebuntu (or Ubuntu once they finally switch to Gnome in the next release).

Greetings from Germany

Tom

Linux Ubuntu 16.10

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14 May 2017 20:37 #34046 by Avionyx
My vote still goes for Manjaro.

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16 May 2017 13:15 - 16 May 2017 13:21 #34068 by ScottBouch
This server computer is doing my nut in now... It's broken itself even more.

It now doesn't respond to pressing the power button, so no beeping or red flashing LED of doom, or fans.

I have the Standby 5V to the motherboard (PSU violet wire). I have 3.3v from the motherboard to the power button, and it gets shorted to 0V when pressed, so I know the Motherboard is receiving the "please turn on" signal, however, when pressed, the PSU green wire does not go to ground as you would expect to turn on the rest of the power supply... Indicating a possible issue with the motherboard..

So now, the PSU won't even turn on.

At least last time the PSU was turning on and the fans were running....

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