For many months, my custom-built WinXP desktop has been giving me blue screens of death, and more recently, random restarts. Since I can’t use it to build Mozilla anymore, I decided I might as well take it into the shop for repairs. The company that built it is closed on weekends (grrr), so I dropped it off at Fry’s Electronics for a diagnostic.
Several days later, I spotted a computer deal that was pretty hard to beat: a Gateway GT5676 computer, 64-bit AMD processor…
Out with the old, in with the new
From the Fry’s webpage:
- AMD Phenom 9600 Processor (Quad Core Processor) (AMD LIVE!) Operates at 2.3GHz | 2MB L3 cache | 3600MHz System Bus
- Windows Vista® Home Premium 64-bit edition with Service Pack 1
- AMD 780G Chipset
- ATI Radeon HD 3200 Integrated Graphics
- 4096MB DDR2 Memory, Dual Channel (2 x 2048MB), 667MHz (PC2-5300) Expandable to 8GB, 4 DDR2 Slots (Total) | 2 DDR2 Slots (Available)
- 640GB (2 x 320GB) SATA II (7200RPM, 8MB Cache)
- 18x DVD?R/RW SuperMulti Drive featuring Labelflash Technology
- 8-Channel (7.1) High Definition Audio
- High-Performance 15-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader:, xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash I (CF), CompactFlash II, Secure Digital (SD), Mini Secure Digital (Mini SD)1, Multi Media Card (MMC), Reduced Size MMC (RS-MMC)1, MMC Mobile1, MMC Plus, Memory Stick (MS), Memory Stick Duo2, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Pro Duo2, SmartMedia, IBM Microdrive
- 6 – USB 2.0 Ports (2 Front, 4 Rear)
- Amplified Stereo Speakers (USB Powered)
- Elite Multimedia Keyboard
- USB Optical 2-Button Wheel Mouse
- Premium System Design with Carbon Fiber Faceplate
- Gateway® Portable Media Drive Bay
- 56k ITU v.92 ready Fax/Modem (RJ-11 port)
- 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port)
The price tag? $749.99! No wonder they’re currently sold out.
At that price, I figured, why the hell not. So I bought the new machine, and arranged to have the techs throw another four gigabytes of RAM in there, to max it out at 8 GB. With that thrown in, the machine still cost me under $1,000.00 (before taxes, of course). I purchased it a week after I’d brought the old box in for service.
Fast forward two weeks, and I finally get the diagnosis on the older box. I quote:
Completed hardware diagnostic. Found that the unit has a short in the board. After multiple attempts to replicate the problem, the motherboard eventually shuts down at random intervals. Unit may be uneconomical for repair.
Translation: It restarts randomly (which I already knew) and it’s not worth fixing. I regretfully agreed with the last point, since it is three years old. I bought the newer machine in hopes that I’d gradually transition from the old box to the new one… not so gradually now.
That was about three weeks ago. Why would I buy such a souped-up machine? Well, the price was undeniable. But I buy powerful machines to build Mozilla code.
64-bit: Ahead of the curve?
Unfortunately, I can’t get everything working yet to do that. MozillaBuild spins itself off into the weeds, for reasons as yet unknown.
There’s another site that supposedly tells you how to set up a build environment on 64-bit Vista, and it’s appropriately named: http://www.mozilla-x86-64.com/. It relies on the older CygWin build setup routine, which anyone who’s been around the project long enough knows is a pain in the byte. Having installed one set of prerequisites for the MozillaBuild environ, now I have to install another set for the CygWin one – and they don’t line up all that well.
The website also feels like it’s lacking in documentation – although technically everything might be listed there, just following the instructions is a bit harder than I hoped for. What’s worst about this website, though, is there’s no obvious contact information for whoever writes these pages. So where I might need a little more hand-holding, especially since not many people have done 64-bit Mozilla builds before, I can’t find anyone to hold my hand.
Hopefully, whoever wrote this documentation will contact me. Otherwise, I bought myself a thousand-dollar paperweight.
Eight gigabytes? Why?
“Not to mention the most important reason for climbing a mountain.”
“And that is?”
“Because it’s there.”
— Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Kirk and Spock)
There’s three reasons. One, because it’s 64-bit as opposed to 32-bit, I figure everything takes up about twice as much memory. So it’s equivalent to 4 GB on a 32-bit system. Two, Windows Vista, I’ve heard, has one hell of an appetite for memory. Three…
I’ve often wondered how fast a RAM disk would compile and run Mozilla Firefox, as opposed to a hard disk. So I figured, why not, let’s see where it takes us. Too bad I can’t build right now (see aforementioned paragraphs).
“I think this ‘new’ ship was put together by monkeys. Oh, she’s got a fine engine, but half the doors won’t open, and guess whose job it is to make it right?”
— Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Scotty)
I hope there are some others out here who have tried doing Mozilla builds on 64-bit operating systems, and can lend me a hand. I think I bought a nice system for the future. I’d just like to be able to use it for that purpose.