Archive for January, 2008

VMware is a marvelous software, especially those who (like me) needs to setup test environment quickly and efficiently. Using it, there is no need for me to search/prepare hardware, there is no need to fix or troubleshoot any potential hardware problem (e.g. disk failure). It really helps my work a lot.

I would consider myself as a new comer/newbie for using VMware. Like anyone of us who started using any new, we tend to select default options, as we don’t really have much experience to really figure out which configurations are the best. Sometime, some default selection is even mark as “recommended” by the system supplier.

This prove to be problematic for me…

The story started when I need to perform an upgrade from version 1.0.3 to 1.0.4.

To start, check out this thread:

http://communities.vmware.com/message/757780

Basically, in version 1.0.3, the default SCSI emulation is done using Buslogic. However, once upgraded to 1.0.4, it generate a lot of errors in scanning SCSI disk. It will still boot eventually, but will take a very long time to finish all the scanning of SCSI disk. We need to change the SCSI emulation from Buslogic to Lsilogic. Though it solve this problem, it has another problem.

My VMware host server has > 10 guest OS. I don’t run all of them concurrently, but there would be situation where I may need to run more than 5 guest OS. This is when problem starts to appear. From time to time, I would get the following messages in the guest OS:

mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=c411c640)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=c411c780)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 b0 d5 af 00 00 08 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=c411c780)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=c411c8c0)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 b0 e7 1f 00 00 08 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=c411c8c0)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=c411ca00)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 b0 ee e7 00 00 08 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=c411ca00)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=cf8ae280)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 6c e6 57 00 00 08 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=cf8ae280)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=cf8aeb40)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 21 92 cf 00 00 10 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=cf8aeb40)
mptscsih: ioc0: attempting task abort! (sc=cf8aea00)
sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: cdb[0]=0x2a: 2a 00 00 69 c0 d7 00 00 08 00
mptscsih: ioc0: task abort: SUCCESS (sc=cf8aea00)

Worst, in some situation, the entire guest OS may hanged and gave out filesystem errors of disk I/O failure.

I believe these messages are due to high disk I/O operation. So, I did a complete “tar zcvf” of the entire filesystem to test the system. Predictably, these warning messages appeared. Worst, even other guest OS which was idling also showing these messages. If I try to compress a filesystem that contain a large file, say is about few hundred MBytes of file size, the system would became unstable and sometime, generate kernel panic of disk I/O errors.

I spent a lot of my time checking through host and guest OS kernel configurations and trying out newer version of Linux kernel, which I thought would be the root caused of the problem. But after many attempts, the situation remains.

Thankfully, I know someone who is been using VMware long before I started using it. According to him, he always select IDE as the disk emulation, and he never experience such problem. So I decided not to follow the default and “recommended” option for disk emulation, and manually change my installation into IDE disk emulation.

I run a few round of testing (like I did earlier), IDE perform much more stable than SCSI emulation.

I did a few google search, I don’t find anyone facing similar problem as I did. I start wonder how likely for me to face such issue alone. There maybe something else that I am not aware of, but at this moment, I don’t really have the time to continue the investigation. Projects (emphasis plural) deadlines are coming soon, I guess I will revisit this again later, when I have the time.

Weird Intel-HDA!

Posted: January 29, 2008 in Intel, Linux

I am the kind of Linux user would try out the latest Linux kernel whenever there is a new release. So, with the new release of kernel 2.6.24, I download it and install into my laptop.

Everything seems to be working fine. Unfortunately, the onboard sound card went silence after the update.

Some background information before I continue:

  • Laptop: Dell Vostro 1400
  • Card: HDA Intel
  • Chip: SigmaTel STAC9228

In order to get it working, I need to install ALSA version 1.0.15 and add “model=5stack” into the sound card module options. This was done with considerablely many trial-and-error attempts in order to figure out the proper option for my box. This setup been working since kernel 2.6.21.x to 2.6.23.x, until now…

Below is a summary of what had happened:

  • First I try the driver comes with kernel 2.6.24 – This does not work.
  • I tried alsa-1.0.15, but it can’t be built – This does not work.
  • I must download the latest RC in order to get it build and installed into my system. But, still no sound. – This does not work either.
  • I remove the “model=5stack” option and run alsaconf to redetect my sound card again. This work! Finally!
  • But, the “Front” and “Surround” got swapped! I have to goto GNOME sound preference to change the default Mixer – to get sound buttons working again for my laptop.

Searching HDA Intel or Intel-HDA at Google, I notice many users also complaining about this card (for various other problem). I must say, of all my years of playing with Linux, I never had this kind of weird problem for a sound card.