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The Problem that would not quit.

My story of the Saga, getting my system back to what it was before my Power Outage from June 12, 2008.

Initial Setup before LMCE

  1. Unraid Server Static IP serving movies two XP MCE PC at 1Gb
  2. 2 XBOXES running XBMC at 100Mb
  3. Windows workgroup for all pc’s
  4. Linksys 4 port 10/100 router
  5. Linksys 1gb EG005W 1Gb switch

I need to tell you the above to explain the rest of the story around June 10, 2008 I started reading about LMCE in the middle of May 2008.

LMCE Hybrid initial Setup

  1. Asus P5K3 Main board
  2. Intel C2D 8400 3Ghz Wolfedale
  3. Patriot DDR-3 1333 Ram
  4. WD 500Gb Sata II Drive
  5. Dual 1gb Nics on board (Marvell and Realtek)
  6. Asus NV 8600Gt 512 DDR PCI-E Video Card
  7. Win-TV MCE PVR-150 capture TV card.
  8. Zalman HD-135 Chassis (stripped and modded for better cooling)
  9. Zalman 600W heat pipe psu
  10. MCE remote kit version2
  11. Gyration MCE Remote.

On the network:

  1. 2 Windows Worksations
  2. 2 Xbox’s
  3. 2 Unraid Servers – Basically a flash drive with a stripped down Linux version and some prop. Software. One server is for Media and the other for data.

This is where the story starts.

When I renovated my basement some 7 years ago we also had to upgrade the hydro service with a 200Amp panel and new wiring as the house was quite old with two 60 amp panels. I installed all the cat 5e wiring and addt’l cables and terminated it all in an On-Q panel in the rack closet in the basement. The is the demarc for sat and alarm etc. The network and two servers are also in that closet.

I spent a couple days getting the initial hybrid setup taking my time to make sure that everything was right. This was still a learning curve. The system-installed fine I then setup my windows shares from the Media Unraid server that was fine as well. The db sync’d all my movies but never would sync all 10 drives to the point I had check marks on all the drives in the /public/data/other dir. After some very frustrating days ahead and some very frustrating points posted in the forums regarding the Files and Media Sync use, I figured that out and got my Movies catalogued. Sorry Guys! With this all done I was happy. Movies were playing back fine sync was no problem everything was working well. I was using a Sony RPTV that fought me tooth and nail with overscan problems etc, So I upgraded to a Aquos 52” panel and believe me I have not looked back since.

So the better half and I go out to my in-laws for a Sunday Dinner having a great day and I cannot wait to get home and fiddle some more with the system. To my surprise (NOT), when we get home the power had cycled off and the hybrid was running but the servers had gone down and I could not get anything on the screen for the hybrid although the pc was on. That’s right I did not have the new UPS installed on the hybrid yet. No problems right, So I reboot all the machines thinking nothing but the norm. Later on I try to do some more updating on some media and this is where it all starts, The first Media update starts and takes nearly 15 minutes to update one title unless I close the browser and open a new session, fed-up with that I decide to go and watch a movie. The movie starts and then every so often I get a pause or loss of sync or just like it was running is slow mo. Reboot all again and retry same issues. So after the frustration of all this I decide that is enough for me. I reload windows on the same gear the hybrid was on load up xbmc and voila all is peachy, but damn I have to keep shutting the TV off in the middle of the night and I have to turn it all on again when I want to use it later, so something keeps pulling me back in the LMCE direction. So about July 1st or so I decide to reload LMCE on that same machine and reset it all up. So I spend about a day resetting it all up. I installed the ups this time as well. Installed the Nvidia driver, setup apcupsd, and a bunch of other stuff after reading some more. Setup the servers, luckily all my id3 files were still there from the last build. This time I also setup a MD in the master bedroom. So all was good until I tried to update a movie in FAMS and or tried to play a movie on either machine core or md.

Of-course I am grasping now, as I just came from a perfectly working XP MCE with XMBC system, so I am at a loss for a solution. In the next two weeks with out any road map of Diagnostics and not really 100% sure how to diagnose Linux properly, I read, and read and read some more. I start the first of a few posts on the LMCE user groups forum, where I got many of you guys involved to try and help solve the issues. Thanks Colin, Roy, Jon and all the rest who replied. I tried, reysncing from command lines it seemed to work but still bad playback. In the next two weeks. I re-installed the hybrid system almost 15 times and every time it was the same issue. I also tried this on Several hardware platforms with completely separate machines. I was removing video cards, nics, sound etc.. to try and find the problem at the LMCE end to no avail.

I replaced my router with a 1gb wireless D-link-655 not the problem, I replaced, my 5 port Linksys twice once with a Linksys 8 port which has many great reviews and then again with a D-link green 8 port all still with the same problem. I had initially thought it was DB corruption from the previous install as well so after some searching I found a Linux Command to type on the servers telnet window to go through and delete all the .id3 files at once, Now in retrospect I really wish I had not done this – LOL. It was not db corruption at all.

So everything continued to point to the network BUT it was working all fine just a couple weeks or so ago with windows and xbmc. So I had three runs of cat 5e to the living room I re-terminated those to 568B spec for 1gb link up and try them all out on both the int and ext with no luck, finally I plug in the 5 port Linksys at the hybrid and plug the internal lan into it and then that cable to Linksys 8 port in the basement feeding the rest of the house. Whew! I get resync working in FAMS, so I think we go this licked. Still no video playback or I should say proper video playback.

In the meantime, I have swapped patch cables, rebuilt the hybrid with an M2N-SLI Deluxe again all this is because I did not follow a flow chart of repairs fixed or tested, I also added another video card. Then I figure it is time to get the system on it’s own so I assemble a core on a complete new machine in the basement in the same room as the servers, get it all loaded up, rebuild the machine in the living room as an md and get them talking. Setup the servers and bam same problem as all the other times. Well the syncing was little better. BUT in this instance after 24 hours of the server being on the system I had one movie that had been sync’d to the system and then when I issue a ctrl-alt-f2 to a command prompt on the core and I start typing I get interrupted by a ton of CIFS errors, this is pointing to the network again. By now I had read a ton of stuff and knew how to run ifconfig, ethtool, tops etc… so I was atleast getting some kind of info on the machines and what they were doing.

At this point I was sure the problem was not LMCE related but still could not understand how it all worked before. The last thing I checked which should have been the first thing were the cables although, I had tried all three runs to and from the hybrid when it was in the living room. I go get a cable installer chum in and we check all the cables with the tester and they all come back fine. OK! Now what do I do. Finally a break-through, with that big long wait for the system to sync with the latest install of the server and amidst all the CIFS errors the system finally tells me it cannot find the server. I go down and take a look and the server is in a constant reboot state, so I replace the mainboard and power supply and all this was connected to a APC 900 all along. I put that all back together and plug it into the external lan so I can access it without it being seen on the internal network. I run a parity check over night and it returns no errors, but with the new core acting up as well I know that my original hybrid install was fine so I reinstall the system one more time on the hybrid get it all setup and running fine but do not add the servers yet. I do a bunch of reading on the Unraid forums about guys having trouble accessing there shares from Unraid in Ubuntu and this was do to DFS being added to the latest builds of Unraid, so hey I’ll try anything at this point.

To disable the dfs on the server I needed to edit the go script which boots along with Unraid to tell it any special things to do upon boot, remember at the beginning of this story I said I had a windows workroup and all my servers were static IP’s well when I set-up LMCE I changed the servers to DHCP. Well! What the server does not do with this change is remove the echo lines from the go script, so my original STATIC ip and gateway addresses were being echoed to the internal lan whereas LMCE was trying to resolv and force the addresses it was supplying to the servers and the servers were trying to find the machines with that gateway. WOW!!! All of that for just this simple issue, well not quite.

I had all my cables checked right and they all passed the 5 led test. I seemed now to have better playback and better sync speeds but still not as good as before for some reason, so I run a telnet window to the server, I run a ssh windows to the hybrid and look at ifconfig I have a ton of RX errors and frame drops, so again I think switch and replace the d-link green switch in the basement with the Linksys 8 port again. Oh and by the way within 72 hours of having the green D-link hooked up I lost a port on it (just dead) with the linksys up I reboot all the machines and run ifconfig again and still I am getting RX errors and Frame drops. I Pull all the cables cut off the terminations and twist all the pairs up and join each pairs conductors to each other and I go to the other end and get an OHM meter and I am getting all kinds of resistance on every cable pair which should not be on less than a 30’ run of each. I get my chum back to test the throughput on these cables and here is the whole issue. I bought this cable in 1994 or 95 when Cat5e was gold pricing, heck! We were still using BNC back then. The cable I bought and used was in a box marked cat5e and the sheave of the cable says cat5e, but the throughput tests showed the cable not even on par with a bad cat5 run. So the bottom line some wholesaler or cable manufacturer was remarking boxes and twisting cat5 inside cat5e sheaving. To fix this I ran two new CAT6 runs to the hybrid in the living room and replaced the patch cables to each server. rebooted and checked ifconfig and my errors are gone.

So in the end, this problem had many trials and tribulations over all the issues. Looking back, I am glad it happened. I have learned alot about Linux and the system. Obviously Linux is much more precise about sharing or talking at 1gb then XP Might be. I am not sure if there is a moral here. But If I can help any of you guys with something in advance. Always check your CABLES – LOL.

The system is now up and running with no ifconfig problems, I setup the md in the bedroom as well. The Asus M3N78-VM motherboard was a NO GO for me (it would run diskless setup but upon reboot it could not link up the network) I also tried a Biostar 7050 board which loaded fine with hdmi but I could not get audio from the hdmi output and after searching a couple hours, I just reinstalled the M2NPV board with component video and analog audio and it all works great. I was watching movie in the living room and the better half was watching some Melrose Place episodes on the MD from the server at the same time with NO issues. Now I need to move on to setting up my Denon AVR-988 via RS-232.

Thanks to all who gave me any kind of hints or tips with this issue. Thanks to the devs for there patience and continued effort towards this project – It Is Awesome.

As I am typing this my USB-UIRT just showed up in the mail. Very nice piece and looks very well put together. Time to get Myth setup with my Express VU 6000. More on this later.