Seeking advice about filesystems, SSD, NVidia, VMPlayer, etc. for new desktop installation

Hi there,

I’ll be getting a new ASUS H87M-E MB next week (if the post delivers, that is), and I’m planning to rebuild my main desktop at home, that currently doubles as a file/media server and I also use to work.

The main reason for the new MB is to get two more internal SATA ports and RAM slots. Curiously, SATA PCI boards that could be an alternative to a new MB are not much cheaper than the same as the MB here, besides being from second rate suppliers. Market demand, I suppose.

This machine is currently running oS 12.3 x86_64 KDE 4.14.2 only (no dual boot) with 8GB RAM on a Haswell core i3 I intend to keep for now, and a discrete NVidia 520 video card (as you can see I’m not much of a gamer/overclocker/poweruser). / and /home reside in a 1TB 7200 RPM SATA HDD.

There are also two 2TB HDDs for media storage, mounted as shares both by NFS (for the other linux computers) and SAMBA (required by a WDTV live media box), plus another two currently unused. The desktop network connection is cabled through a gigabit switch to the other desktops (and one mostly stationary laptop), although there is WIFI for the mobile devices and a WII console.

What I want to do is:

A) install a dual boot with W7 and oS 13.2, both 64-bit, in a new Samsung 840 EVO 265 GB SSD, still in the box. C:/ and / would be on the SSD, and perhaps part of /home (and swap?). The 1TB 7200 RPM HD could have D:/ and the rest of /home files, including a backup of the current /home in it that I intend to restore partially (to the SSD and itself) after installing the OSes.

B) populate de remaining 4 SATA ports with one DVD-RW and three 2TB HDs, all “green” IINM. The PSU is a 600W Wise, relatively new. Not top of the line, but should be good for this load, even considering an eventual future upgrade to a core i5, at most.

C) substitute the crappy NVidia 520 card from ZOTAC with a not-so-crappy new ASUS Geforce GTX 630 I already got.

So I’m seeking advice on:

  1. file system for SSD partitions. I don’t really care for snapshots and such, as most of the important files are synced to the cloud and two other machines off home.

I will also keep the media content of the two 2TB HDs, both EXT4 but AFAIR one was migrated from EXT3 a couple years ago, when I reinstalled oS, so it has some limitation I don’t remember right now (journalling, perhaps). The third 2TB drive is new, unformatted.

I’m afraid of getting the SSD config wrong (sector alignment, trim, suff like that I’m not sure of).

  1. should swap be on the SSD also? The system would start with the same 8 GB RAM it has today but would eventually have 16 to 24 GB RAM (for running larger finite element analysis cases in W7)

  2. I intend to put a couple virtual machines that I run (not constantly) with VMWare Player in the SSD /home part. What else should preferably be there?

  3. I’ve seen conflicting advice on keeping /tmp and /var/tmp out of the SSD. Is it still relevant to SSD life?

  4. I’ve seen that VMWare Workstation needs a patch to run in oS 13.2 (https://communities.vmware.com/thread/494201). Anyone have tried WMWare Player yet? If it doesn’t work it will be a show stopper for me.

  5. Since it’s W7, I don’t need to use UEFI mode, correct? Are there complications if I try the legacy mode? I understand this may probably depends on the H87M-E BIOS implementation.

Thank you,

Bruno

Hi
I would go with UEFI (but that’s me), looking at the Motherboard manual there is a lot of tweaks and tools available… On my old ASUS M/B I tweaked the RAM voltages to spec in the BIOS and then ran prime95 to make sure all was ok.

I would stick with btrfs, during install you can switch off the snapshots.

You shouldn’t have to do anything with the SSD, the partitioner takes care of it (not sure about windows), else pre configure via the rescue cd/usb both for the windows and openSUSE install. Maybe just make sure the SSD has the latest firmware installed?

I just wrote a blog on the forum about using bcache with rotating disks, may be an option allocating some of the SSD to this feeding the rotating drives, or at least tweaking the i/o scheduler for ssd and rotating drives.

I wind the swappiness down with the SSD, with 8GB of RAM on my systems it doesn’t get close to using it.

I would put in an old disk to start with and have a play first, then add the ssd and your other drives how you want them.

I’ve given up on vmware and the likes, just use kvm, no need to fluff around after a kernel upgrade…

Oh, and my HP Pavillion system (Athlon X4 965) I stuck a dual channel PCI-e SATAIII and a dual port 1Gb ethernet card and create bridges for the vm’s, brought new life back into an old system :wink: as well as a 8800GT Nvidia card.

Looks to me as though you are going to have a nice system!
I just did a new 8.1 / openSUSE 13.2 install.
Intel I7-3770 CPU, ASRock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard, 32GB Crucial Ballistix memory, AMD Radeon R9 270X 4GB DDR5 GDR, Samsumn 850 Pro SSD 256GB, etc.
I too would go with UEFI. Zero issues on install. Install Windows first, be sure to mount /boot/efi if you custom partition.
The 840 Evo takes advantage of overprovisioning. You will use unformatted space at the end of the disk for this. Samsung Magician in Windows will explain.
(It can also use Rapid mode in Windows see above software)
I’m using Ext4 as I find no use for BTRFS on my desktop. fstab: noatime,acl,user_xattr,discard
I use a single partition (I never upgrade an OS, always new install). This makes image backups fast/easy.
As for swap, normally I would say it doesn’t matter as I’ve yet to see my rigs even touch swap. Even though I have a ton of RAM on my main rig I do keep a swap file else Vmware willl whine about it. The whole purpose of the extra RAM is to be able to run multiple VMs at once. Anywho, I put the swap file on a secondary SSD.
As to /tmp etc. I’ve never understood treating SSDs like they are made from delicate china. Use that speed!

Hi Malcom,

Thanks for replying, very helpful.

As Jack the Ripper would say, let’s proceed by parts:

I’m inclined to it too, if only for gathering experience. I not really interested in tweaking hardware anymore, today I find that even an i3 is more than enough for 99.9% of my needs.

Anyway, should I set secureboot on? W7 will not have constant access to the network after installation, and certainly will not be used for casual browsing, email or banking, the most adventurous use would be, perhaps, to install some steam games. I don’t even plan to use a 3rd party anti-virus system hogger…

However I’m not sure W7 suports secureboot OOTB, does it?

OTOH, in https://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php/502626-openSUSE-13-2-initial-experiences?p=2676446#post2676446 flymail posted that although W7 installed OK in his workstation, but openSUSE didn’t work with UEFI, he had to resort to BIOS mode. As this was in a Xeon system, it may not be relevant here.

There’s the question of the default installation creating a multitude of subvolumes. I understand this is desirable if snapshots are on, but in this instance I don’t it would aggregate much, so I’ll probably edit the proposed partitioning to something more “normal”.

Could you point me to some more current info? I’ve no real idea how this pre-configuration should be done. Is this the openSUSE rescue CD?
I suppose it’s related to sector alignment, 4K x the 63rd byte or so, but there’s a lot of conflicting info around.

I suppose I’ll need a working windows installation for that. If so, would a VM in a linux host do? <— On second thought probably not, as I don’t think I can add a second unit with raw access (as opposed to a virtual disk) in VMPlayer.

Thanks, I’ll check.

I used to, but since 12.2, I think, I didn’t notice much swap activity so I stopped (forgot) doing it. However a couple days ago libreoffice went ballistic in this 8GB RAM system, filling up almost all the 4GB swap. This AFAICS is a bug when you have an active selection in one type o LO document and past it in another type, or something like that. Not easily reproducible, thou.

But then I’d have to reinstall anyway, since the SSD will have both C: and /.

Yes, using vmware does require that you patch it or wait for it… most important for me is performance in a XP VM I use for a couple engineering software. Do you see better performance in KVM?

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It’s harder to find a decent PCIe-SATA card where I live than an honest politic in congress…

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I still use an Athlon X2 5000+ with oS 13.1/KDE4 at the office, it’s perfectly good for day-to-day work and light entertainment.

Thank you,

Bruno

Hi, tweakhound,

Now yours is a nice system for sure. Game on!

I’ll check out the Samsung references you mentioned, thanks.

About vmware, do you have it working OK on openSUSE 13.2? Is it workstation, player or something else?

Thank you,

Bruno

Using Vmware Player VMware-Player-6.0.4-2249910.x86_64.bundle works great.
I forget to mention that the 840 Evo also has a “performance restoration software” that you may want t investigate.
http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/minisite/SSD/global/html/support/downloads.html