More toys…

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005 at 9:33 am | 624 views | trackback url

My shiny new Thinkpad T42p came with an UltraBay Slim DVD-RW drive, which is nice and fast. Unfortunately, it also came with a 60gb primary IDE drive, which isn’t enough to hold my source, documents, projects and all of my VMware images for development and testing. On my Thinkpad T23, I had always used the UltraBay slot to hold a second IDE drive for these images.

This puts me in a quandry, because I’d like to use the DVD-RW, but also use my VMware images..

I decided to look into getting an external 2.5″ usb2.0/Firewire enclosure to hold a spare 60/80gb drive for the VMware images. I went with one based on the Oxford chipset, because I’d read that they were the fastest external chipset out there for these kind of enclosures.


I received the enclosure yesterday, and there were a few problems with it right off the top:

  • The Firewire interface was 1394b, not 1394a (Firewire 800 vs. Firewire 400). I only have Firewire 400 peripherals, so this connection is useless to me, and the Firewire 800 pcmcia cards out there don’t have a usb2.0 combo interface, so I’d be swapping out pcmcia cards for each device. Not fun.
  • The enclosure doesn’t run without external power when using the usb2.0 connection. One of the selling points of this enclosure was that I could use it without having to carry around a separate power “brick” with me when I travel. With usb2.0 being the only possible connection interface, this was important. Unfortunately, it requires a wall plug to power up the drive when using usb2.0. Ugh.
  • It doesn’t work with Linux. Double-ugh. I thought it would “Just Work™”, but apparently not. I found this informative post from someone who had done some pretty extensive testing, and found that the Oxford 922 chipset is buggy, and doesn’t work with Linux. I wish I found this before I bought the enclosure!

The errors I’m getting look like this:

Apr 11 17:04:15 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: khubd timed out on ep0in
Apr 11 17:04:15 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: device descriptor read/8, error -110
Apr 11 17:04:15 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 10
Apr 11 17:04:20 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: khubd timed out on ep0in
Apr 11 17:04:20 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: device descriptor read/8, error -110
Apr 11 17:04:25 angst kernel: usb 5-2.6: khubd timed out on ep0in

These are fatal, and the drive isn’t recognized. I use a LOT of external usb and firewire peripherals, so this was unusual for me. I tried about 7 different kernels and different suggestions from the community about ACPI and noapic at boot, but those didn’t seem to help.

So now I’ve got an enclosure that seems flaky with Linux, and doesn’t have the interfaces that work with the rest of my peripherals.

But.. I found a possible solution, a bilingual cable! Basically this cable takes Firewire 800 (1394b) and transforms it to Firewire 400 (1394a).

Firewire Bilingual Cable

It was fairly cheap, so I ordered it. Hopefully this will let me use the drive on bus-power only, and in a way that Linux will recognize. Otherwise, I’m going to have to eBay the device. The company I purchased it from had a policy (that only showed up after my order was confirmed) that allows repair or replacement of the same device, but no exchanges. Ugh.

Last Modified: Tuesday, April 12th, 2005 @ 09:33

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