Posts Tagged linux

RapidDisk – Improved Hard Drive Caching

πŸ“… February 14, 2017
coverDo you have some extra RAM in your system?

Want better read speeds from slower mechanical hard drives?

How about adding a RAM drive to your system?

 

RapidDisk is an open source tool for Linux that enables you to create RAM disks for general purpose usage or use them as caching systems for existing hard drives.

I have been using RapidDisk myself on desktop systems, and I can say that it greatly improves the read performance of slow hard drives whether they be single drives or RAID arrays. You can even set up a RapidDisk RAM cache for a USB device. RAM disks are surpringly useful despite being volatile. Best of all, RapidDisk is free to obtain and simple to use after a little reading.

Here is how to use RapidDisk in Linux Mint 18.1 in a simple configuration so you can experience faster read speeds from your hard drives.

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Asus Xonar DSX and Linux

πŸ“… January 23, 2017
coverBuzzzzz. Whiiiiiine. Zzzzzzzzpt. Beep. Beep. Bi-bi-bi-bi-biiiiiip.

On an inexpensive, low-end motherboard utilizing an ALC892 audio system, these are the analog sounds heard through headphones when moving the mouse.

Dragging windows. Selecting portions of an image in GIMP. Moving the mouse cursor. Every time the wired USB mouse moves, electronic interference is heard in the form of annoying beeps and buzzes.

Would a dedicated sound card improve the existing motherboard audio? I was immensely impressed with the superior audio quality of the Asus Xonar DX sound card, so I thought I would try a lower-priced version: the Asus Xonar DSX sound card.

Here are my results with Linux Mint 18.

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Experience Better Sound in Linux with the Asus Xonar DX Sound Card

πŸ“… January 13, 2017
coverSo, you have finally constructed your ultimate tower of silicon greatness featuring quad SLI, NVMe storage, 4TB SSD data, 4K monitors, the latest multi-core CPU, maxed out RAM, and…what? You’re still using motherboard audio? You poor thing. Let’s fix that.

This article looks at the Asus Xonar DX PCIe sound card running in Linux and compares it with existing motherboard audio featuring the ALC1150, which is found on most higher-end motherboards these days.

Is there a difference in sound quality between a dedicated sound card and motherboard audio? Here are my tests and opinions from using the two myself.

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Adding USB 3.1 to Linux

πŸ“… January 10, 2017
coverLinux supports USB 3.1 in the kernel. Why not show Linux some love and give it the hardware to use?

‘Tis a pity, but USB 3.0 is slow. Well, slow compared to SATA 6Gbps and the blazing fast M.2 NVMe. USB 3.0 tops out at ~440 MBps for external SSDs while SATA maxes out at ~540 MBps…depending upon the quality of the SSD.

Let’s go faster!

That is what USB 3.1 is for. The best part is that the prices have fallen, and you do not have to wait for future USB 3.1 motherboards. If you are running Linux, then you can add USB 3.1 to your existing system now. Even if your motherboard is an older model that only supports USB 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0, you can install inexpensive PCIe USB 3.1 cards to provide the faster ports and reap the benefits.

This article looks at the QICENT Dual-port USB 3.1 PCIe card and tests its performance on two different motherboards with PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 2.0.

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Link Aggregation in Linux Mint 18.1 and Xubuntu 16.04

πŸ“… January 7, 2017
coverDo you have a few spare network interface cards?

Want to increase your local network throughput and handle more traffic?

Link aggregation, or bonding, is a technique that combines two or more network interface cards (NICs) into a single virtual network interface for greater throughput.

For example, two gigabit NICs result in 2 Gbps throughput. Three gigabit NICs allow 3 Gbps throughput. Four allow 4 Gbps, and so on. While these are theoretical maximum values and other factors affect network transfer rates, the point is that multiple network cards acting as a single “card” can transfer more data at a time. As an example, more users can access the same server simultaneously without seeing any noticeable drop in transfer speeds.

Linux supports link aggregation out of the box with only a few modifications. Regular, inexpensive network cards and switches can be used, so there is no need to purchase expensive, specialized hardware. This allows you to reuse existing hardware that you might already have on hand. And yes, it works well.

While link aggregation has worked in the past, newer Linux distributions tend to change a few things, so older setup techniques need revision.Β This is the case with Linux Mint 18.1. For details regarding the benefits of link aggregation, please have a look at the article describing link aggregation in Linux Mint 17 and Xubuntu 14.04Β (July 12, 2014). The information is still relevant.

Link aggregation works well in Linux Mint 18.1, but a few changes are needed in order to make it work. However, it is easier than expected!

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Are You Smarter Than Chess for Linux?

πŸ“… December 29, 2016
chess07The classic, time-tested game of pure skill called chess is available for Linux, and it is called…Chess.

Chess games are plentiful on many different platforms, and this is one version that is available for Linux. It features a GUI, simple pieces, and simple play mechanics.

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Hide Text in Text Files Using stegsnow

πŸ“… December 14, 2016
coverSteganography is the practice (or art) of hiding secret messages in plain view.

Take an image file of a flower, for example. Opening the file shows a flower. Whoopie. However, there might be a hidden message encoded inside the bits and bytes of the image data that is not visible unless certain software is used to decode it.

The same can apply to text files. You could write an innocent readme.txt file that looks like any other text file of instructions when opened normally. With steganography, you could encode a secret message within readme.txt that includes game cheat codes, secret contact information, a cookie recipe, ASCII art, or whatever else you wish to convey to your accomplice who receives the file.

stegsnow is a fun command line program that encodes secret messages in ASCII text files.Β Use stegsnow to encode a text file with a hidden message, and then use stegsnow again to extract the message from the file. The file’s text contents are not altered, so the file reads the same as it did before encoding. Anyone unaware would open the text file and see the innocent text contents in a standard text editor, but “those who know” would run the file with stegsnow to see a completely different message.

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