Poor man's Jeep PC work-in-progress and nGhost troubles
Please excuse me if I have inadvertently posted this in the wrong place, as I'm not sure where to place this question. I've been tinkering with various pieces of hardware I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on this year in an effort to build a prototype automotive PC for my jeep. It's been slow going, mainly because of a video issue stemming from finances. I don't have a job at the moment, and I'm on a fixed income. As you can pretty well guess, this has limited my options, but it HAS had the added benefit of dramatically improving my prayer life. As many of you can attest, when you're so broke you can't pay attention, you have a tendency to see options you never knew were there. For instance, a dear friend of mine has had an automotive DVD player with two headrest mounted monitors for a few years and finally told me of it late last year. The DVD player itself does not work, but the AV inputs were fine and the displays were in good condition, so I slapped down $30 for them. Well, even though I'm a trained computer technician, I never did learn the finer points of video signals, sync frequencies, and the like beyond resolution and refresh rate, so inevitably when I plugged the displays into my Mini-ITX board, the image rolled into incoherence. Needless to say, I was quite disheartened, but prudence won out and I kept the displays, thinking that I would get a PCI card with composite video out or something. In the following months, I kept researching various software options before stumbling onto two solutions that would solve not only my video problem, but would upgrade my displays to full touchscreen capability. A trip to ebay landed me with a video converter module for $32, which has just arrived and the displays worked fine. Luckily, the new LinuxICE2 alpha's desktop shows up perfectly, even if I wouldn't be able to use the terminal application without hefty font resizing. When combined with a touchscreen film that I will be purchasing in a few weeks, the display setup will be a poorman's touchscreen and will have cost me about $120 to build altogether. When compared to an absolute MINIMUM of $220 or so that I've seen them go for on the Internet and on Ebay, I'd say that's a good deal. This will be going with the now discontinued Intel 201GLY mini-ITX motherboard I bought from Logic Supply for $74 and a 1gig stick of DDR2.
For the software side, I intend to use OpenICE from the nGhost project, which is perhaps the most elegant front end I have ever seen, even compared to such proprietary front ends as Centrafuse. It would seem a no-brainer to use the nGhost, either by installing it in a custom Linux install, or by using the Live CD that the openice site offers, but alas... the last beta did not boot at all on the laptop I'm using to test my configurations with. The new alpha boots however, and it is gorgeous! However, looks aren't everything, especially when almost nothing works. I have no idea where the nghost configuration file is, so I cannot point to where I want my music stash, the Thunar file manager seems to be suffering from a bad startup script which generates the error "cannot locate '%F' " before exiting, and the nGhost configuration utility hangs every time I try to use it. I've been a frequent visitor to the openice.org website, and have found that many of the links are either broken or lead back to the front page, the forum's layout is confusing and easy to get lost in, and virtually all of the howtos are hopelessly outdated. It appears that the development team is understaffed and overworked. The fact that they've been able to roll out a new Live CD based on Ubuntu 9.04 at all is amazing, and I tip my heatsink to them. Kev000, I see that you're a member of the development team and frequent this particular forum, and I hope you don't take what I've said in the wrong way. I'm very frustrated, but I don't fault you or your associates for it, and would love to help in any way that I can. Since I'm working on an automotive PC and have chosen to build it with nGhost, I'll gladly document my progress as I build and test it with the openice distribution, Ubuntu, and Gentoo. When I have learned how to set it up properly, from packages and source, I'll be happy to write up a guide and post it for you. All I ask is for some patient tutelage. Please pass my gratitude to the rest of the development team for all the hard work that has gone into the project. I'm eagerly await your response. God bless man.