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Introducing eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD 4D resolution, high power Ultrabook with Linux or BSD operating system

Introducing eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD 4D resolution, high power Ultrabook with Linux or BSD operating system

We wanted to start the month in style. So, we thought what better way there is than introducing a great looking Ultrabook with powerful specification?   Then the light bulb went on: “eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD”.

This really stylish and elegant eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD laptop that comes with a screen resolution of 3840 by 2160 — four times FHD (full high-definition) resolution – really started looking mighty good.

This Ultrabook by Asus can be delivered by eRacks with up to 24 Gigabytes of RAM and up to 1 or even 2 Terabytes of SSD hard disk space. With its 15.6 inch 4K Ultra High Definition IPS screen and a view angle of about 170 degrees, eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD is really a great looking and powerful Ultrabook.

As with all eRacks Systems products, this elegant looking Ultrabook will be delivered with your choice of Open Source operating system & software pre-installed and pre-configured. The operating system can be any flavor of Linux or BSD (We can even do other OSes like Haiku, etc on request). We will install and configure the OS fully before packaging your Ultrabook and sending it off your way.

In fact, you can be sure that with your Ultrabook ordered through us, you will receive a powerful open source system, configured to the highest specifications according to your requirements. And you can also be sure that no one else can or will offer anything close to the laptop you will get from us.

So, why not expand your laptop computing power to the next level with us. Contact us and ask about eRacks/ZENBOOK15.UHD. We’ll be happy to hear from you.

info@eracks.com

October 8th, 2015

Posted In: FreeBSD, Laptop cookbooks, New products, News, Products, Upgrades, Zenbook

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Zenbook with beverage - IMG_20131019_231446531Minty Zenbook

I am typing this on a nifty new eRacks/ZENBOOK13, with Linux Mint15 installed.

This is a slightly newer rev of the very pretty Asus Zenbook line, with twin 128GB SSD modules installed in a small carrier which screws into the standard 2.5″ HD space (it could also be replaced or upgraded with one of our standard HD/SSD choices, here: http://eracks.com/products/laptops/ZENBOOK13/)

This post will walk you through what we had to do for the installation, with the details.

Installation Cookbook

  1. Boot to an Ubuntu 13.04 install disk. (13.10 should work, or Ubuntustudio works too, that’s what I used).  For some reason, the Mint installer doesn’t install the default EFI boot choice properly, so you have to start with Ubuntu, then replace it with Mint. Read on.
  2. Using gparted (fdisk could work, too), delete the partition tables on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb, and replace the GPT-based partition tables with with msdos-type partition tables.
  3. Install Ubuntu on the 1st of the two SSDs. Don’t worry about the 2nd disk (_yet_).  Be sure to check the “Install with LVM” box after you select the default “Erase and install…”.
  4. Reboot into Ubuntu, and note the partitions cerated.
  5. Boot into a Mint 15 Install disk.
  6. Install Mint15 into the same partition structure – in other words, do NOT select the default “erase and install…” , but rather the “Something else” choice, and tell it to put the root partition on the same partition you noted in step 4.
  7. Install rEFInd (http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/) from a rEFInd install disk, that you downloaded and burned from there. (I used v0.74). Be sure to install it in the /boot/efi partition (typically /dev/sda2) created earlier. The reason to install rEFInd, is it’s an invaluable tool to use to boot from any EFI-capable location on your computer, and will be used later on.  I put mine in EFI\refind\refind_x64.efi
  8. Be sure to also copy shell64.efi into /boot/efi/EFI/tools/, so rEFInd can find it, and show you the EFI Shell choice & icon.
  9. Boot from rEFInd.
  10. Choose the EFI shell.
  11. Using the bcfg command, (help -v bcfg is your friend!), list the boot choices, and verify that “ubuntu” is there.
  12. Add “mint” as a boot choice, pointing to EFI\linuxmint\grub64.efi – mimic the way the “ubuntu” boot choice is done.
  13. Reboot into the boot menu (hold Esc down during the Asus logo) and verify that “mint” and “rEFInd” are there.
  14. Test them both out – rEFInd should also give other interesting choices you can try out.
  15. You should be able to launch Mint from either the “Mint” choice in the Asus boot (holding Esc), or from the Mint choice in rEFInd.
  16. Optionally, you can add the 2nd SSD (mentioned in step 3) to the main volume using LVM, to use the full 256GB.

That’s it!

Wrap and Beverage

I must say, this is a BEAUTIFUL machine – I want one myself!

Between the FullHD display, and being roughly the same thickness and sizeas the magazines I often carry into any given bar / restaurant here in Los Gatos, this is a joy compared to my regular 1920×1080 Asus laptop..

…And it beats the heck out of a tablet..

…And the battery life seems great, it barely made a dent in the hour or so I spent surfing with it while drinking my beverage of choice at one of the local establishments here.

…And did I mention it’s screaming fast, with the i7 CPU and 10GB RAM?!

Bon Appetit,

j

 

 

October 20th, 2013

Posted In: How-To, Laptop cookbooks, New products, News, Open Source, Products, ubuntu

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eRacks Open Source Systems new website design

eRacks new website is officially live and fully functional! We completely redesigned the old website. We’ve added a ton of new products, including a custom line of high end gaming laptops.

 

Fremont, CA (PRWEB) January 14, 2013

Have  a look at our Product Lines:
Product Showroom

About eRacks

eRacks strives to return the control of the IT department back to the business owner, by providing quality open source enterprise-level applications on easily-upgradable industry-standard hardware. eRacks believes businesses should not be required to rely on third-party closed-source software vendors

For More Information contact eRacks at info@eracks.com or visit http://www.eracks.com

Dennis
eRacks

January 14th, 2013

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks, News, Open Source

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We’ve had a long and arduous search for a usable resolution (at least 1366×768) portable netbook, that will run Ubuntu smoothly,  and we’re pleased to report our findings! The MSI U230-040US netbook fulfills all our requirements without so much as a hiccup.

eRacks/CUMULUS: MSI U230-040US

Most netbooks have a 1024 x 600 pixel display. This fails miserably with some applications that are designed for higher resolution, like Eclipse, for example. Working with Eclipse can be annoying enough, but in a lower resolution display, important fields in certain windows are unusable and almost completely hidden.

Portability is important and this system weighs in at 3.3 pounds. It’s got a good solid feel to it, and the display bends back to an angle of about 135 degrees. The keys are next to each other, not spaced out like the Sony Vaio. The netbook’s measurements are 11.71″(L) x 7.49″(D) x 0.55~1.22″(H).

This system passed all our tests and is available, as a complete dual boot system from eRacks, called the eRacks/CUMULUS. We’ve got Ubuntu and Windows 7 on this one.

The built-in Webcam is 1.3MP and works with Cheese Webcam Booth, both photo and video. There is a 4-in-1 Card Reader (XD/SD/MMC/MS), and three USB2.0 connections. Bluetooth is working without any special configurations.

I’ve set the processor for 800MHz at OnDemand. The other settings are Conservative, Performance, and Powersave with a higher 1.6GHz is available.

All-in-all this system gets top marks for usability and portability.

October 5th, 2010

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks, New products, ubuntu

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I will relate a recent battle I had with a laptop that uses the Prism54 wireless chipset and runs Fedora 10. For quite some time, I could not get it to connect to a WPA protected network. With an open network, it would connect just fine. I didn’t bother with WEP. I wanted to find out what was causing it to fail with WPA.

This is an older eRacks CENTRINO laptop (Pentium M 1.6ghz, 1GB RAM and an 80GB hard drive.) This post will also hopefully help anyone else who has a laptop with the Prism54 chipset (mine specifically is a PrismGT mini-pci card.) Note that Prism54 is also available in PCI and USB wireless devices.

At first, I thought it might be a problem with the GNOME NetworkManager.  So, I tried other methods of connecting, such as using the command line (for iwconfig/ifconfig), wicd, Wireless Assistant and WiFi Radar. Some of these seem to work better than others, but again, none would allow me to connect to my WPA protected network at home. Thus, it was time to dig deeper.

After some sifting through forum posts, blogs, and bugzilla, I finally came across something that might help. Apparently, the prism54 drivers have several different modules that are loaded. For some reason, there is a module (prism54), which might be an older version of the complete set, and then there are other separate ones: p54common, p54pci and p54usb. So in my case, it was loading prism54, p54common, and p54pci. According to what I have read, the prism54 module causes conflicts with the newer p54common and p54pci set. The suggestion for now is to add prism54 to the module blacklist, located in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist. You add the following entry at the bottom:

blacklist prism54

Once I did this and restarted networking, I could connect to my WPA-protected network using the default GNOME NetworkManager. All is well again in WiFi land.

Hopefully, this little jaunt with prism54 will be able to help someone else.

March 13th, 2009

Posted In: How-To, Laptop cookbooks

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This article is geared toward eRacks customers who have a desktop or laptop system, i.e. a personal workstation.  It is not intended to serve as a guide for customers wishing to upgrade a server.

With the above in mind, for those who use Linux on  such a machine, your choice of distributions that cater to this niche is growing nicely.  You have the “Big Boys” such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva or OpenSUSE, as well as a host of more specialized distributions, the main focus of most being on user friendliness and “up-to-dateness.”  What this usually leads to is a faster upgrade cycle than what you would typically find on a server oriented distro such as Debian (stable), RedHat Enterprise, SuSE Enterprise or CentOS.

I myself have been tracking RedHat (including Fedora) since version 5.0, doing a mix of upgrades and fresh installs.  I have also kept up with Ubuntu since 6.04, and have had similar experiences with it.  I have found that one way of making regular upgrades easier is to keep a separate /home partition.  This way, you have a choice of an upgrade or a fresh install, without losing valuable data.

My experience, and that of many other salty seasoned Linux gurus, is that upgrading from a previous version tends to be a bit messier and usually takes longer to do than a fresh install.  This can be true, especially if you use third party repositories, if you install software not maintained by your distro package manager (DEB or RPM) or if you do a lot of tweaking.  Doing so may leave you looking at a broken system when the upgrade finishes.  For this reason, it is usually more desirable to do a clean installation and install your third party applications afterward.

How then to keep from losing your data?  Many system admins would suggest the multiple partition method, which has been used on servers a lot, yet not so much on the desktop.  The multiple partition method can have advantages and disadvantages, but since hard drives are so big these days, many of the disadvantages are no longer prevalent.

While most modern desktop distros have a default partitioning scheme that gives you just a swap partition (usually about 2x the amount of RAM, or physical memory) and a large root partition for everything else, most server configurations have multiple partitions for directories like /usr or /var, which can have many advantages.  For example: if you wanted to have /usr mounted as read-only to prevent unauthorized system-wide software installs, if you wanted to keep /boot separate for a RAID array or if you wanted to keep /var and /tmp separate to avoid corrupting the core system files; these are all examples of why one might want to make use of multiple partitions.  In this case, however, the partitioning must be very carefully planned according to the intended use of the server, what programs need to be installed, how many users will be logging in, etc.

Luckily, there is a happy medium that works well for desktops, and that is to use a swap partition with 2x the amount of RAM, a root partition for your operating system and a very large /home partition for all your data.  When you do a fresh install, all you have to do is make sure you don’t format /home, and your data will be safe across installations.  If you want to save any system-wide tweaks, you will, of course, also have to backup important configuration files and check them against their replacements, making changes where necessary.

In my case, I have a 120GB hard drive for Linux, which makes use of the following partition scheme:
20GB /
75GB /home
1GB /swap
14GB “other” (at times it has a Gentoo install, other times it has FreeBSD, depends on my mood…)

I have found through experience that this setup works well.

When I do an OS update, such as my recent one to Fedora 9, I usually backup important configuration files to /home, do a fresh install and finally install any third party programs I need.

In the past, when upgrading systems without doing a fresh install, things for me have tended to get rather wonky.  However, I have recently tried upgrading Ubuntu, and I must say that the recently improved Upgrade Manager, a graphical front end to the apt-get dist-upgrade functionality, is a nice touch.  It allows you to upgrade to the next version of Ubuntu, while still allowing you to run your system so you can go about your business as it downloads and installs all the packages.  When it’s done, you simply reboot, and voila, new version!  Upgrades on Fedora, by contrast, are still usually done by the tried and true method of booting the install disk and running the upgrade procedure.  Fedora does have the capability to do upgrades using the yum package manager, but that functionality isn’t as mature as apt-get dist-upgrade, and thus is not for the faint of heart.

So now, what if you have an existing Linux installation utilizing only a single partition and you want to do a fresh install while keeping your data safe?

Of course, you could just back your data up to a large external hard drive, but not everyone has one at their disposal.  In this case, what you could try is resizing your root partition, create a new partition for /home and copy your personal data to it before starting the upgrade.  Then, just run through the installation as usual.  This is, of course, only if you have enough space to resize.  If not, you may still require an external drive, at least temporarily, to copy your data to before starting the installer.

If you want to make use of multiple partitions on a new eRacks system purchase, just ask for it during your order.  This way, your system will be ready when the next OS update rolls around!

Matt

June 27th, 2008

Posted In: How-To, Laptop cookbooks, Upgrades

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NOTE: Do NOT install the ports tree during the installation. We’re going to install the latest ports tree (complete with security updates) later on.

*** Step 1: Install FBSD 6.3 or 7.0

1. Insert the CD
2. Choose the standard install
3. When the installation is finished, you’re done!

*** Step 2: Installing the Nvidia Drivers

NOTE: The open source ‘nv’ driver doesn’t work on the GeForce 8 series of cards, so don’t even bother trying.

1. Type the command ‘sysconfig’ and install the ‘compat5x’ package via FTP. This is a pre-requisite for the nvidia driver package.

2. Download the FreeBSD x86 drivers from www.nvidia.com for the GeForce 8 series.

3. Untar, cd to the resulting directory and type the command ‘make install’

4. Type the command ‘nvidia-xconfig.’ You’ll get some errors about Gnome libraries not being installed, but it still manages to create a good xorg.conf anyway.

5. Open /etc/X11/xorg.conf and change the following:

In Section “Input Device:”
Change Option “Device” “/dev/sysmouse” to “/dev/psm0”
Change Option “Emulate3Buttons” “no” to “yes”

6. Test the xorg server by typing ‘startx’ and verify that you get a working display

7. Close xorg and pat yourself on the back for a job well done 😉

*** Step 3: Install the Ports Tree

1. Go to ftp.freebsd.org and download the latest 6.3 or 7.0 ports.tgz file (under /pub/releases/6.3 or /pub/releases/7.0 I believe, but I can’t remember exactly.)

2. Cd to /usr and extract ports.tgz

*** Step 4: Configuring the Soundcard

1. Edit the file /boot/loader.conf and add the line “snd_hda_load=”YES”

2. Reboot and grep dmesg for Realtek. If it shows up, try to play an MP3 to make sure sound is really working.

*** Step 5: Wireless Configuration

We no longer need to do anything. As of FreeBSD 7.0, the wpi driver works by default! Wireless will not work,
however, under 6.3

March 31st, 2008

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks

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Ubuntu 7.10 Installation on the Micro Express IFL90 Laptop

1. Go into the BIOS by hitting the F2 key during post and make sure it can boot from CD

2. Insert the Ubuntu CD and reboot the system (make sure you use the amd64 version, since Intel's Core 2 Duo is x86_64.)

3. When the install menu for Ubuntu comes up, choose "Safe graphics mode install."  DO NOT try the normal install, or the system will hang.

4. Once the LiveCD is fully booted, you will see a desktop with an icon labeled "Installer."  Double click on it and wait for the installation application to open.

5. You will be presented with a series of questions related to the configuration of the system.  Making sure you setup the proper timezone and the sysadmin username, leave everything else at their default values.  When it tells you it's ready to install, click "ok" and wait for it to finish.

6. When the installation is complete, click on the "reboot" button.  The disk will be ejected, and the system will boot from the CD.

7. When you have booted successfully from the hard drive, and are presented with the graphical login prompt, hit ALT-F1 to drop down to virtual terminal and login as sysadmin.

8. As the sysadmin user, type the command "sudo passwd root."  Enter sysadmin's password when prompted to do so, then enter the root password for the system (eracks.)

9. Logout of the virtual terminal and hit F7 to go back to the graphical console and login as sysadmin.

10. You will be notified that there are updates available.  Go ahead and install them.

11. You will be notified that there are "restricted drivers" available.  Click on the little icon on the top right that looks like a little circuit board and click on the "Restricted Drivers" tab.

12. Make sure the intel wireless adapter is enabled, and also enable the Nvidia accelerated graphics driver.

13. On the system menu at the top, click on "System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager"

14. Install the package "linux-backport-modules."  This is required to make the sound card work.

15. Edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base, and add the following line at the bottom: "options snd-hda-intel model=toshiba"

16. Reboot the computer, and make sure to test the wireless adapter and sound card (by playing a sound) 

You're done!

March 31st, 2008

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks

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How to Install FreeBSD 6.2 on an Acer Aspire 3690

First Step: Install a fresh copy of FreeBSD 6.2

1) Getting the sound card to work:

The soundcard uses the snd-hda module, which is not supported by the 6.2 kernel. However, the latest snapshot of the 6.x series kernel does support it, so we must update our kernel. To do so, do the following:

1. Create a CVS sup called supfile file with the following:

*default tag=RELENG_6 #(do NOT use RELENG_6_2, or you won’t get the new kernel)
*default host=ftp.freebsd.org
*default prefix=/usr/local
*default base=/var/db
*default release=cvs delete use-rel-suffix compress
src-sys

2. Now, issue the command ‘cvsup supfile’

3. When the updated kernel source tree is fully downloaded, copy /usr/src/sys/crypto to /usr/local/src/sys/crypto (for some reason, this subdirectory is missing from the more up-to-date version of the kernel source tree, which results in compile-time errors.)

4. Edit the file /usr/local/src/sys/conf/newvers.sh and change ‘RELEASE’ from 6.3 to 6.2 and ‘BRANCH’ from PRERELEASE to RELEASE. This is a rather clumsy hack, but it’s the only way to ensure that the user will continue to be able to download packages for the 6.2 RELEASE version of FreeBSD, since, while the userland is 6.2, the OS’s version is determined by the kernel’s version.

5. Copy /usr/local/src/sys/i386/conf/GENERIC to /usr/local
src/sys/i386/conf/ERACKS

6. Open the ERACKS kernel configuration file and do the following:

– delete all the ‘cpu’ directives at the top except for I686_CPU
– change ‘ident GENERIC’ to ‘ident ERACKS’
– disable unneeded device drivers (be careful to only disable those you know for a fact won’t be used; you can get rid of the serial and parallel port drivers for example, since there are no serial or parallel ports on the laptop)

7. When the source tree is prepared, move /usr/src/sys to /usr/src/sys.old, and move /usr/local/src/sys to usr/src/sys

8. cd to /usr/src and type the command “make buildkernel KERNCONF=ERACKS”

9. If the build was successful, type the command “make installkernel KERNCONF=ERACKS”

10. Reboot the computer and make sure it comes up successfully

Now, the sound card should be working.

2) Getting the wireless to work:

Unfortunately, there are no native FreeBSD drivers for the wireless. However, there is an ndis wrapper in the FreeBSD kernel that will allow us to use Windows drivers for this card.

1. Download the file http://ftp.us.dell.com/network/R94827.EXE. Just in case this link doesn’t work, a copy of this driver will also be kept at eRacks. Even though the laptop is an Acer, trying to use the Acer driver will fail (not sure why.) The Dell driver, while intended for another laptop, supports the same wireless chipset, and will suit our needs.

2. On a Windows machine (or with WINE), run the self extracting archive, and copy bcmwl5.inf and bcmwl5.sys to the FreeBSD laptop (these files will be extracted when you run R94827.EXE.)

3. In the directory where the two above mentioned files are stored, issue the command “ndisgen bcmwl5.inf bcmw5l.sys”. Accept all the defaults, pressing enter for each one, and a resulting .ko kernel object will be built. This is the “FreeBSDized” Windows driver that will support the wireless card.

4. Copy the resulting object file to /boot/modules

5. Edit /boot/loader.conf and add the following line: “bcmwl5_sys_load=”YES”

6. Reboot the machine, and verify the wireless card is working by issuing the command “ifconfig -a.” Observe that there is a device named ndis0.

That’s it! All the other devices are supported out of the box. The only exception is that the graphics adapter is only supported through generic VGA. The Intel 945GVM is supported in FreeBSD 7.0, but that is currently unstable.

March 31st, 2008

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks

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