HP Firmware Updates (or lack thereof)

HP recently announced that they are no longer offering free firmware updates for their ProLiant line of servers.

I have a HP ProLiant G7 N36L MicroServer at home (running Debian stable, naturally) which I got back in early 2011. While it has, and continues, to serve me well, I'll have to reconsider my options when I go looking for a replacement. This is a pity because I really like the MicroServer form factor.

As recently as November 2013, HP released a BIOS update to fix random lockups when installing Windows 8.1/2012 R2 on a MicroServer (I'd never ever be running these operating systems, but the point still stands). I'd be worried if I couldn't upgrade my system for fear of uncovering a bug in firmware that I couldn't get an update for.

Non-free firmware is bad, but in certain circumstances, it can be tolerated. Non-free firmware behind a paywall is worse, and can never be tolerated.

DVB-T on Linux using DVBStreamer

I've tried most of the DVB streaming solutions for Linux, including VDR, MuMuDVB, DVBBlast, dvbstream, DVBStreamer, GNOME DVB Daemon. I've only managed to find one that does this well though, which is DVBStreamer.

Getting started with DVBStreamer is pretty easy. First of all you need a DVB adapter that works with Linux. I use a USB ITE IT913x-based adapter, which works well for me.

Once you have a compatible package, you need to install necessary (Debian/Ubuntu) packages:
apt-get install dvb-tools dtv-scan-tables dvbstreamer vlc

Use the scan tool to create a DVB channel configuration file using the DTV initial scan file for your nearest transmitter. I'm based in Dublin, Ireland, so I've used my nearest DVB-T transmitter, Three Rock in this example:
scan /usr/share/dvb/dvb-t/ie-ThreeRock > /tmp/channel.conf

Once you have your channel.conf file, you can pass this to setupdvbstreamer which creates the necessary DVBStreamer config files:
setupdvbstreamer -t /tmp/channel.conf

Create a startup file to auto tune to LCN 2 to on startup and output some useful DVB-T information. LCN 2 currently corresponds to RTÉ Two HD on Saorview:
printf "set udp://localhost:1234\nselectlcn 2\nfeparams\nfestatus\nstats\nlslcn\n" > ~/.dvbstreamer/dvbstreamer.conf

Now you can start DVBStreamer using the following:
dvbstreamer -f ~/.dvbstreamer/dvbstreamer.conf

DVBStreamer is now streaming over UDP to localhost:1234. You can view this using vlc:
vlc udp://@localhost:1234

I don't like keeping a terminal open just to run DVBStreamer, so usually I start it in daemon mode by passing '-f -d' at startup, and control it using the remote interface to control instead:
telnet localhost 54197

Desktop Upgrade

After serving me well for the past four and a half years, I've finally upgraded my desktop computer. The main driver for this upgrade was that I needed more than 4GB RAM for testing my VMs. Given that DDR4 is due soon, I really wasn't willing to spend money to upgrade my already obsolete DDR2 RAM.

I have no interest in overclocking, so I went with a Intel Core i7-4770 CPU, Gigabyte H87-D3H motherboard, and 16GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to get rid of my tiny Coolermaster Elite 360, and replace it with an Antec One. I was able to recycle the rest of the parts from the old machine to keep costs down.


Full specifications available here.