button-print-blu20 Oops - Starting Steam Install again (Known Good Hardware)

After getting a little carried away with myself, after the struggle to get Ubuntu and the Steam client installed – I managed to break something and now have an unstable OS & Desktop

My enthusiasm go the better of me and I decided to install XBMC (not sure why as I already had this running on a Raspberry Pi). Anyhow, the upshot is that I now have a corrupt installation on Ubuntu… Arrrghhh

Known Good Hardware

So I have decided to start again BUT this time the massive advantage is knowing that I have “Known Good Hardware” always the best place to start from! The particular Hardware that I am using is not ‘normal’ by any means, the HP Proliant is a server class machine, and as as such has a number of neat features.

  • Rack Mountable – nicely fits into my server 19″ rack in the cellar. This keeps all the noise and cables out of sight and away from meddling fingers.
  • Hot Swap Hard Disks – the frame allows for multiple Hard Disks to be inserted in the front slots. Easy to swap between multiple builds.
  • On-board RAID controller – allowing me to install the software, knowing that I have two copies of the data at all times. This covers me for hard disk corruption, but better than that I can pull a Disk at any time and use that as a restore point if the next step breaks the OS.  Poor man’s virtualisation!

What do I want out of this Gaming platform?

Given that currently the recommended OS release for Steam Client is Ubuntu 12.04, then that is where I am going to start from today. Coming from a Systems Engineering background with a history of support and innovation, there are a number of steps that I personally want out of this Gaming platform.

Stability – The version I have chosen is Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop LTS (Long Term Support) as this is the one that most games are currently listing as the “required/supported” platform. Unfortunately I could not get this version to boot from my USB Key, so I created a DVD and ran from there.  The internal VGA appears to be automatically disabled and both VGA & HDMI outputs on the Nvidia are live!

Repeatability – Documentation, documentation, documentation. Make sure that the steps are clear and repeatable – this article has taken a number of rewrites in order to get this process right.

CPU Performance – Obviously, the faster the processor the better these games will run, but as most of the Games specify a reasonable 2GHz processor, that is where I will begin.

Video Performance – Not been part of the Gaming scene for such a long time, I was blown over and very confused by the number of graphics cards and manufacturers that are out there. Following on from Steam’s press announcement a couple of weeks ago, I stuck with Nvidia and bought their “entry level” GT640.

Extra Packages – Give the issues that I had faced previously in my build attempts, I decided to enable SSH support early on.  This is very helpful when I had no GUI but the Linux OS was booting – 13.10 didn’t appear to install this as standard.  So from a command line type: sudo apt-get install openssh-server

The actual steps I used to build my SteamBox can be found here.

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