Soyo Dragon SY-K7V and Linux

OK, I'll admit it. My wife and I read the Fry's ads every day in the newspaper. It's like the Sears Catalog when we were kids; we read through it dreaming of what we'll ask for for christmas. My wife's computer is an eMachines 300, but its power supply fan died last month, so we replaced the case with a mid-tower ATX with plenty of room, two fans, and a 350 watt power supply supposedly rated for use with Pentium 4 and Athlon, in preparation for the day when Fry's had some irresistable motherboard on sale. That day came on August 24th; Fry's had a 1.4GHz Athlon + Soyo Dragon motherboard combo on sale, and I couldn't resist any longer. After reading positive reviews like the one at Newsforge, I decided to give it a try, and purchased that combo plus some DDR RAM.

I started by firing up the new motherboard under Windows 98. Had to download new sound drivers and whatnot, and reboot several times, but it all worked fine. For about ten minutes, anyway, at which point it crashed and would not boot anymore; it keened a slow beep on the speaker instead of displaying the BIOS boot screen. Even with all the I/O cards and cables unplugged, and even after I plugged in a new stick of RAM, it did the same slow beep, so it was either the CPU or the motherboard. Since I was within the 15 day return period, I went back to Fry's with the motherboard + RAM + processor, they verified that the motherboard was bad, gave me a new one, and made sure it booted.

Next I booted under Red Hat Linux 7.1. Kudzu noticed the new hardware and loaded all the proper drivers, and everything worked like a charm except for the sound card, which was silent. (I'm not using the built-in ethernet interface yet, so I don't know about it.) Looking at that Newsforge review, I noticed that they used kernel 2.4.7 for sound card testing -- guess the 2.4.2 in Red Hat 7.1 is too old. So I installed the kernel-source RPM from the Red Hat 7.1 disc (for the config files), then downloaded kernel 2.4.9 from, did something like

rpm -i kernel-source*.rpm
cd /usr/src
tar -xjvf ~dank/linux-2.4.9.tar.bz2
rm linux-2.4
ln -s linux-2.4.9 linux-2.4
ln -s linux-2.4.9 linux
cd linux
cp ../linux-2.4.2/configs/kernel-2.4.2-i686.config .config
make oldconfig
and just hit ENTER to all the questions. Then I did make menuconfig, enabled the kernel's C-media CMI8738 driver, configured it for 2 speakers, and turned off support for the SPDIF loop. Then I built and installed the kernel and its modules as usual, rebooted, ran sndconfig, and had working sound.

Maybe there was a simpler way, but that's what I did, and the sound really is quite good.

We haven't yet tried video editing, so we haven't set up the onboard RAID yet, and I'm sure there will be complications, but for now we're happy with the motherboard.