eRacks Systems Tech Blog

Open Source Experts Since 1999

eRacks – Another vendor that has been around since 1999, eRacks offers quite a few desktop, server, and laptop options with Linux installed. Its website gives you full customization over just about everything from motherboards to extra software. eRacks will install a number of Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, CentOS, and Gentoo, several BSD variants, and even Windows. It offers laptops starting at $879 and desktops starting at $395.”-http://maketecheasier.com

September 5th, 2012

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FlightGear Open Source Flight Simulator

On August 17, developers officially unveiled FlightGear v2.8. For the uninitiated, “FlightGear is an open source flight simulator with more than 400 aircraft, a seamless worldwide scenery database, a multi-player environment, a flexible open aircraft modeling system, multiple display support, and an open architecture.  Best of all, being open source, the simulator is owned by the community and everyone is encouraged to contribute.” The community has been around for over 15 years now, so the simulator has a ton of people contributing to the project.  It’s easily one of the best flight simulation programs in the world. As always, FlightGear is available for download completely free of charge through their website.

FlightGear 2.8 sports a number of new features. My favorite is a new automated system that allows users to make changes to the scenery. Users can now also select between summer and winter textures in-sim, and an improved atmospheric scattering and terrain haze model means the lighting of the terrain is more realistic.  The world scenery now includes over 20,000 airports. It has gotten so large and detailed that it now takes 3 DVD’s to hold the entire scenery database.

Want to know if your computer can support FlightGear? You’ll probably need a computer with a dedicated GPU. I imagine that the any computer with the new integrated Intel HD 4000 would be able to run FlightGear at a playable level.  According to the developers, “FlightGear requires a reasonable hardware accelerated 3D card with OpenGL drivers to achieve smooth frame rates. Software-only rendering typically yields frame rates in the neighborhood of several seconds per frame. But, with a 3D accelerated card you can expect much higher. On a 2-3Ghz class CPU with a GeForce card, frame rates in excess of 60 fps are reasonable to expect in most situations. The actual frame rate varies of course with scene complexity (which changes from area to area and changes as your view direction changes) and the specific details of your hardware.”

August 29th, 2012

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I recently bought a laptop from Amazon. I found a really good deal on a Sandisk Extreme 240GB solid state drive, so it only made sense to swap out the hard drive.  Rather than going through the hassle of re-installing Windows from scratch and then installing a dozen drivers, I decided to go the easy route and just clone the hard drive with Clonezilla onto the new SSD. I loaded the SSD into an external hard drive enclosure, connected it to the laptop, and fired up Clonezilla. In less than an hour, I had a perfect copy of Windows on my new drive. Well, almost perfect.

I ran a quick test with AS SSD Benchmark and it became clear that my write speeds of 85 MB/S were a slot slower than they should be.  The SSD was clearly not aligned properly.  After doing a little research, I found a great open source program calledGparted that was able to align my SSD.  The program runs off a bootable disk, so you have to download the file, mount it as an ISO with PowerISO, and then burn the program to a CD/DVD.  Then, re-start your computer. You’ll probably have to change your boot order in to force your computer to run from the Gparted live disk.  I wasted five minutes trying to open Gparted in Windows until I realized that it was bootable disk.

 

Lifehacker has a great tutorial on how to use the Gparted software, so I’ll borrow some of the instructions from them.  “Start up Gparted and find your SSD in the upper-right dropdown menu. Select it, and click on your first partition in the menu. Hit the Resize/Move button in the toolbar. Change the “Free Space Preceding” box to 2MB, uncheck “Round to Cylinders”, and hit “Resize/Move”. (If you’re using a newer live CD, check the “MiB” box). Hit Apply once and let it do its thing.” If you have a ton of data on your hard drive, this might take a while. Gparted has to move all of the data on your drive.

 

“Now hit Resize/Move again, and change the “Free Space Preceding” box to 1MB. Uncheck Round to Cylinders again, hit Resize/Move, then click Apply. Note that if you have multiple partitions on your SSD, you’ll need to repeat this process for each partition, not just the first one on the disk.” Again, all of your data has to be moved, so this step is going to take some time. After the program is finished doing its thing, your SSD will be perfectly aligned. You can verify this by running the AS SSD Benchmark test again and checking your read/write speeds. After alignment, my read speeds went up 30% and the write speeds on my SSD increased by over 300%. I definitively notice the speed increase. Windows 7 is booting in less than ten seconds. I’m going to run some speed comparison tests on Ubuntu this afternoon. I’ll do another post on the results.


 


August 20th, 2012

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eRacks Open Source Systems announces a new custom line of pre-configured ‘ready to ship’ desktop computers, rackmount servers, and Network Attached Storage servers. The new line was designed and assembled by eRacks expert team of computer engineers in their Southern California facility. Consumers will now have access to the same custom built enterprise-level computer systems used by NASA which were previously unavailable to the general public. The entire line of systems is also fully upgradeable. The ability to upgrade will typically extend the life of most systems by several years, saving consumers substantial time and money.

One of the highlights of the new Amazon storefront is the AresPro Dual Xeon Sixteen Core
desktop workstation. The AresPro line is the undiluted resolution for engineers, striking designers, video editors, high-end gamers, and video diversion designers seeking for an affordable and entirely upgradeable system. The eRacks AresPro line delivers more estimate power, better graphics performance and more storage options than anything else on the market. The sixteen core AresPro features a fractal design tower with a 1000watt PSU, SuperMicro X9DAI-0 Motherboard, dual Intel Xeon E5-2650 2.0GHz eight-core processor,32GB 1600MHz DDR3 Memory ,2 x 2TB SATA3 7200rpm hard drives, RAID 1, Nvidia 560TI Graphics, Asus Xonar DG 5.1 Sound Card, Blueray Burner, and Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit OS. All eRacks systems come with a Standard 1yr full / 3yr Limited Warranty, which includes one full one year parts and labor, and up to 3 years of individual components’ warranties as included by the manufacturer.

July 30th, 2012

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June 13th, 2012

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TheAresPro line of desktop workstations is now available online. Using the Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 Family CPU, this advanced desktop increases performance with more cores, larger cache, greater memory, and new technologies like Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. Whether the system’s main purpose is gaming, engineering design, or other intensive computation, the E5 CPU will accelerate performance when you need it, and improve efficiency when you don’t.This high-performance system is expandable, upgradeable, convertible and quietizable. Just let us know what components you would like inside. We’ll build your system to order, install your choice of Operating System, and test it thoroughly.

 

This eRacks/ARESPRO8 system uses a single socket motherboard and supports up to 8-cores. If you need more power, see the AresPro Dual Socket systems: eracks/ARESPRO12 and the eracks/ARESPRO16 .

 

 

May 30th, 2012

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eRacks Open Source Systems announces the AresPro line of high-performance fully customizable desktop workstations powered by the Intel Xeon chipset. The AresPro line is the perfect solution for engineers, graphic designers, video editors, high-end gamers, and video game designers looking for an affordable and fully upgradeable system. The eRacks AresPro line delivers more processing power, more graphics performance and more storage options than anything else on the market.
The 16 core AresPro will easily be able to handle even the most demanding programs such as Maya, CAD, SAS Enterprise, 3ds Max, Ableton, and Avid. It features two 8-Core Intel Xeon processors, 8GB DDR3 SDRAM expandable to 768GB, NVIDIA GeForce 560ti graphics card, and expandability up to 10 4TB hard drives. SSD, liquid cooling, rackmount chassis and quietization options will also be available online through the eRacks website. AresPro is compatible with the entire line of M-Audio hardware and supports Windows 7, Ubuntu, Centos, Linux Mint and many other Linux distros. The AresPro line is also fully upgradeable, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it in a few years.
eRacks customization options make the AresPro line one of the most cost efficient purchases available in the high-end computer market. Every system is built in-house by eRacks in their California facility. Users will be able to work closely with the experts at eRacks regarding any questions about capabilities, compatibility and special system requirements. The unparalleled level of customer service ensures users get exactly the system they need.
eRacks focus on an upgradeable design is good for the environment too. Reducing waste during the assembly process, the focus on sustainable design, and a trade-in program for old computer systems all helps to keep harmful e-waste out of landfills.

May 16th, 2012

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In 2008, the VAR Guy named eRacks as one of the top 50 Open Source companies. He just updated his list with some current stats. Only 2 of the 50 companies on his list have tanked, while 6 have been acquired by larger companies. I was not surprised to see that nearly all of the companies on his list are now focused on some aspect of cloud computing.

http://www.thevarguy.com/2012/05/09/top-50-open-source-companies-where-are-they-now/

 

May 9th, 2012

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eRacks recently designed a custom series of g-force tolerant servers for NASA, so we were especially excited when these photos popped up in our Facebook news-feed. Photo credit goes to Constantine Kyrou.

April 18th, 2012

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eRacks is set to begin testing a Linux Ubuntu based tablet. The 7 inch tablet would retail for around $200 and would include several key features missing from the Kindle Fire: including a micro SD slot, a built in ip cameras live 24/7 while the battery has power, HDMI out and GPS support.  If you’re in the market for a tablet, you may want to keep an eye on the eRacks website. An upcoming software update would make it possible for the tablet install and run Android apps.

April 13th, 2012

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