Friday, November 04, 2005

I must master hibernation.

My Linux PC stays on 24/7 - it gets used mornings, lunchtimes, and evenings most every day, and I'm not going to sit thru a bootup every time I want a PC. Plus the HD gets fscked every 30 mounts, which also slows down bootup. It stays on the whole time, therefore, so it's instantly available whenever.

On the down side, that does mean I'm using power to keep my computer going even when it's not needed.

There are two potential workarounds for that.

Firstly, there's ACPI - used by laptops & stuff, this basically kills your computer except for a trickle of power in the RAM, keeping the information stored. Then you can restart it, and go back to a fully working system, no bootup needed.

Great idea, ideal in many ways, and supported by my MoBo. However, it's never that easy, and the one time I tried putting my PC into hibernation, it wouldn't wake up. Well, actually, it would: I heard everything start spinning again. But the display remained resolutely blank.

It appears that some devices need to be specifically stopped & started so they'll work properly with an ACPI hibernation. I keep meaning to getting around to trying to find out more about what is and isn’t working: Start up SSH access on my computer, and then log in remotely and try to figure out what is and isn't working, and how to fix it.

But I'm lazy, and haven't gotten around to it yet. And I gather that some devices just never work with ACPI, and it's not impossible mine are amongst them.

But there's another alternative to ACPI. It's software suspension: You install the software, and when you hibernate, the memory contents get saved to the swap partition. Then the machine shuts down completely, using no power.

Upon the next bootup, the swap partition is read back into RAM, and so you get back everything that was in memory before you shut down. Result: Bootup is much faster, and it also loads other stuff that was cached, saving time when you start it up again.

Either would be useful to get working, both would be ideal.

I'd like to get ACPI sorted. Because if I can get it working on my PC, I can get serious about another Linux PC I've been contemplating for a while. A DVD player.

I already have a DVD player, of course. But it has a drawback. It does what the manufacturers tell it to do, and not what I tell it to do.

I don't mind that, when it's showing me the opening blurb before the movie starts, or such. It's the recent ones that really hack me off. The ones that spend a couple minutes blasting me with "Downloading movies is theft" messages.

Now, I don't know what beancounting big-media employee came up with this particular anti-piracy stunt. But I do know he (or she) is a total prat.

Firstly, copying movies over the Net isn't theft. Theft implies deprivation, and I don't deprive the original DVD owner of his DVD if I download a copy. Downloading copied DVDs is copyright infringement. In fact, their accusations of theft mean I could probably sue for libel if I were that way inclined ;o)

Secondly, downloading is tedious, and unnecessary bumpf gets cropped out. Anybody who makes a movie available for downloading will strip out the irrelevant material. Such as the "Don't download movies" message.

In short, the only people who will ever see this message are the people who bought the DVD fairly in the first place, i.e. the ones who are already doing what the makers want. The people who the message is targeted at will never see it. So all they're doing is putting an annoying, can't-be-skipped bit of garbage in the way of every honest buyer, and accomplishing nothing but encouraging people to download the damn thing so they can skip all the accusations of theft just because they bought a DVD fairly.

And it's happening on more and more DVDs. And you can't buy players that will skip them. However, you can install a Linux DVD player, and because this is made by viewers rather than the media dinosaurs, you can start watching the DVD at any point, instead of putting up with all the deathly-dull messages you really couldn't care less about.

Of course, there's nothing stopping me from building a Linux PC with a DVD drive right now. But it'd be noisy and power-hungry, or take so long to boot up that I'd've saved no time over the annoying messages.

But with ACPI hibernation, it's different: It can be shut down for silence any time, but still come back at the drop of a hat. IR enabled, it can have a remote control, and an RC which is 100% programmable at that. A graphics card with TV out & a DVD drive, and I've got a great little DVD player. A decent sized hard drive, and I can rip every CD in the house to Ogg, and I've then got a good music player player. A network connection for streaming media & podcasts, and I've got a great all-around media center.

It's tempting. But not until I figure out ACPI.

I must master hibernation.


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