Sunday, November 15, 2009

How I have installed Debian Linux on D945GSEJT

I have recently upgraded my home server, which was running running on an old Via Epia motherboard. I decided to try one of the Intel motherboards - D945GSEJT. It seemed to me as a good solution. It contains Atom N270 processor, which is just powerful enough to run my small server, Gigabit LAN, 2 SATA connectors, 1 PCI for further expansion and one mini-PCIEx for Wlan adapter.

The mainboard contains notebook chipset, which is really power efficient, but be careful when ordering the memory module, because there is only notebook SODIMM DDR II slot. I bought a Kingston 667MHz module, which works just fine. Also note the power connector. There's no big ATX connector, so there's no need for an ATX power source. All you need is 12V power adapter.

The mainboard itself came in bulk with nothing much extra, but there's no need for anything. The first problem I had was, that I didn't mention the lack of 40-pin IDE when I was ordering this mainboard. There's only one 44-pin notebook IDE, which I have used to install 1024MB flash for the operating system, because I don't want to have the system on my RAID array.

So I installed everything into an EMCO mini-ITX case, but for the power I have used one DC/DC converter, because I wanted the server to be powered by 24V. I have already another ATX power source in the case, which I have used to power my two RAID hard-drives. I know, that it is really not necessary to have two power sources, but it feels a bit safer to me, because I don't want to loose any data.

Now here came the time to install the operating system. I have decided to put my favorite Debian Lenny, which is indeed a really great choice for a server. I have booted the netinstall from a flash, but I didn't get too far, because the Realtek Ethernet Controller wasn't properly recognised by the installer. I decided to install the system by installing another PCI Ethernet Controller, using which I have successfully installed the Debian.

After the installation I wanted to make my onboard controller work. I tried searched a bit and I have found out, that the solution would be to install r8168 kernel module. So I downloaded the sources and compiled the module. This way I got it to work, but I have noticed that after few hours of running the Ethernet disconnects. I wondered what to do and I have finally found out, that the issue is fixed in newer kernel and the controller works with r8169 module in recent kernel versions.

I downloaded the 2.6.31-4 kernel source and after successful compilation, which indeed took very long (10 hours) on this mainboard, I installed it. When I rebooted the system I got fully working network running at 1Gbit with no service interruptions like with r8168. So if you have a similar problem, then this is the way to go. Just upgrade to newest kernel and use r8169 module.

Overall I must say, that I quite happy with this piece of hardware. With two hard drives connected it takes about 20W and it's completely fan-less, which is nice. The only problem I had was during the installation, but that was nothing too problematic to solve. So if you're deciding which mainboard to buy for your next server, then I can really recommend you this one.

You can find similar articles from another authors here:


  1. Great to hear about your experiences with the board, and thanks for reading my blog!

  2. to Jonas: Well I should thank you, because it was mainly your blog, which helped me to solve the Ethernet problem.

  3. Nice post, thanks for sharing your experience.
    Can you check what is your file transfer rate over the RTL8111 on the motherboard and the hdparm -tT /dev/sdX values.
    This motherboard doesn't support any kind of hardware RAID, so I guess you made a software one. I wonder if there is really any performance boost of building software RAID.

  4. Yes, you are right. I made a software RAID1 using mdadm. I will check the values you have requested, but unfortunately I am not at home at the time and I will be able to do it on next Monday. As for the RTL8111 transfer rate I remember that I usually get something around 30MBps. But I am afraid, that this is limited by the hard drives I use. I have two WD10EADS, which are low power 5400rpm. So you can't expect any special performance. I will try the data flow with a ramdisk to eliminate the speed of hard drive.

  5. Hi. I have been ripping my hair of for the last couple of weeks over this mobo (SEJT) and OpenFiler. I have the same problem, the NIC isn't recognized by the OS. I have read about some solutions about mounting the whole the drivers in another PC and then upgrade the kerner but I can't do that, simply because I don't have any other available hardware. Do you know if there's anyway you can put the r8168 module on an USB stick and upgrade from that one instead of connecting to the internet? Please send an e-mail to erik.hammar at gmail if you know howto :)

  6. Hi, these are the values you have requested:

    hdparm -tT /dev/sdb
    Timing cached reads: 1010 MB in 2.00 seconds = 505.03 MB/sec
    Timing buffered disk reads: 226 MB in 3.02 seconds = 74.72 MB/sec

  7. Thanks michal, the numbers are like mine:
    /dev/sda - 500Gb Seagate NS version:
    Timing cached reads: 1030 MB in 2.00 seconds = 514.76 MB/sec
    Timing buffered disk reads: 232 MB in 3.01 seconds = 77.13 MB/sec

    I am glad to see that there is no slow down in a software RAID 1.

  8. Hi, Do you have 2G memory on your system? Intel specs say that out of 2G memory space, about 800M is used by the system. So, I'm wondering if you'd be better off with 1G memory. What does /proc/meminfo say?


  9. This is the /proc/meminfo:

    MemTotal: 2065788 kB
    MemFree: 87908 kB
    Buffers: 105204 kB
    Cached: 1739020 kB
    SwapCached: 0 kB
    Active: 766492 kB
    Inactive: 1142972 kB
    Active(anon): 17324 kB
    Inactive(anon): 50736 kB
    Active(file): 749168 kB
    Inactive(file): 1092236 kB
    Unevictable: 0 kB
    Mlocked: 0 kB
    HighTotal: 1177124 kB
    HighFree: 14880 kB
    LowTotal: 888664 kB
    LowFree: 73028 kB
    SwapTotal: 1048568 kB
    SwapFree: 1048568 kB
    Dirty: 48 kB
    Writeback: 0 kB
    AnonPages: 65240 kB
    Mapped: 20780 kB
    Slab: 58184 kB
    SReclaimable: 52492 kB
    SUnreclaim: 5692 kB
    PageTables: 1376 kB
    NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
    Bounce: 0 kB
    WritebackTmp: 0 kB
    CommitLimit: 2081460 kB
    Committed_AS: 361156 kB
    VmallocTotal: 122880 kB
    VmallocUsed: 4068 kB
    VmallocChunk: 116184 kB
    HugePages_Total: 0
    HugePages_Free: 0
    HugePages_Rsvd: 0
    HugePages_Surp: 0
    Hugepagesize: 4096 kB
    DirectMap4k: 12280 kB
    DirectMap4M: 897024 kB