BIF's Linux Adventures

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BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:07 pm

I thought I'd start a new thread for this. So here goes!

I started today by downloading ISO's and burning them to DVD and CD as follows:

1. Ubuntu 8.10 - for use in a borrowed old Dell laptop.

I downloaded the ISO and burned it to a CD. Worked like a charm, and I am typing this post from an instance booted from the CD on that same laptop.

2. 64 Studio 2.1 - It is my goal to ultimately put this one on my quad-core 64 bit workstation. It was a good day to do other things while downloading from the web, so I obtained the ISO and put this one (it's bigger) on a DVD.

The workstation has removable SATA drives, so I probably won't bother with a multi-boot environment. I'll just start with 64 Studio on an old 74 GB Raptor drive, or maybe a slightly larger WD (non-Raptor) SATA drive.


Time to play around a bit on the laptop, and if the live one seems fine, I'll install it, wiping all of the contents of the hard drive in the process (it has an old, non-viable Win/XP environment on it at the moment).
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:55 pm

Heh heh... welcome to the adventure!

I've been using Ubuntu 8.04 at work for a few months, and just set up 8.10 on a Phenom quad core here at home. Ubuntu still has a few quirks and rough edges here and there... but overall it is quite impressive IMO.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:50 am

Well, I hit a wall. Hard.

It seemed to install okay on the laptop, and the reboot was fine. But as soon as I went into system/preferences/appearance to see if I could change my screen resolution to something more readable, and it locked up. Numerous reboots brought forth all manner of "kill init attempt" messages. Eventually, I got it to boot again, but then it locked up again after a minute or two.

Now I get is a very loud CPU fan and a very HOT laptop (it happens very fast with each boot) accompanied by a bizzare message about ACPI failing because of some bad "GZIP magic numbers." And I thought Windows messages were dumb. Does anybody remember why am I doing this? Oh yeah, I wanted to learn something...

Well, the live / installer CD no longer works. It brings up the menus, but none of the options work. Each option seems to produce a dialog box that echos the path or something. All that's there is an "ok" button, but it has no effect. Even a reinstall attempt has no effect. I think the grub boot loader on the hard drive is corrupted, and that's messing with the boot order or paths somehow. So I think I'm going to have to dig up my Acronis Disk Director boot CD and try to wipe the laptop's hard drive and/or MBR so I can start all over.

The live CD part seemed to work fine. The trouble began when I tried to use it after installation.

More later. But now it's time for sleep.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:05 am

Best of luck, running Ubuntu on my laptop results in half the battery life and a system that only gets hotter after running WoW for hours... oh well. I hope you have at least some portion of success.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:06 am

BIF wrote:
More later. But now it's time for sleep.


LMAO, welcome to many late nights playing with linux. Linux can be so frustrating to new users and I know for me I stayed up all night on many occasions trying to get something to work, for example dvd playback with 5.1 sound mapped to all the right speakers with Red Hat's Fedora, back when Fedora was still pretty new.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:49 am

If the live CD used to work (and doesn't any more), it sounds like perhaps something in the laptop (hardware) has actually failed.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:29 am

I would like to echo the suggestion that hardware is failing (or failed) in the laptop. Was it previously running Windows issue-free, or has it been in storage somewhere?
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:14 am

I think I was about to get fired from laughing so much . . . .not laughing at you BIF for I have been in your place numerous times. It sounds like some sort of hardware failure to me as well. If the laptop is that old, then warranty is not an issue. Time to CAREFULLY open it up and blow out all the cobwebs.

Don't give up yet BIF, It took me five years and many, many, many hours to reach my title of intermediate NOOB. I haven't reached the Beginner title yet, that'll take a few more years I think.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:27 am

Hahaha, thank you all for the support, and for the humor; it made my morning. :D

Okay, the laptop; it's my old (old old) work laptop. It was running Windows XP fine when I put it in the closet about three years ago. The intent has always been to learn Linux on it (to the extent that I can in a couple months), and maybe to learn some relational database (Oracle or some such) under Linux; then wipe the hard drive and return it to the company.

Procrastination being what it is, I'm finally getting around to doing this. Luckily for me, there's no impending rush to return it to the company, so I can (continue to) take my time.

The old XP password had long since been obsolete/expired/forgotten, so there was no point in trying anything other than booting it up to the windows password entry screen; but I do remember that the laptop was working fine when I put it away.

My gut feeling at this point is that there's not enough evidence that this is a pervasive hardware issue. I plan to proceed with my aforementioned plan to wipe the hard drive and re-attempt a fresh install of Ubuntu. If the lockups come back, then I'll try to isolate the hardware by trying another distro or maybe even one of my unimpinged XP licenses. If the lockups continue with other OS's or distros, then I'd say that there is a hardware problem after all, and I can amend this plan accordingly.

I'm taking my own advice here. Patience and perseverance! :)

But thanks again for the humor; it's why we have communities...to keep us from taking ourselves and our own problems too seriously!

More to come!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:49 am

Do you see a boot grub menu? If you do, then maybe try editing the Ubuntu command ('e' in the boot menu) and then add acpi=off to the kernel parameters.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:41 am

Good luck on your adventure Bif!

Do not give up! You and I can make the journey at the same time!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:00 pm

flip-mode wrote:Good luck on your adventure Bif!

Do not give up! You and I can make the journey at the same time!


You can add me to that journey. The road I am climbing is long and has alot of pot-holes.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:41 pm

Hi, re-install went smoothly.

I used my Acronis Disk Director boot disk to delete the Linux EXT and swap partitions from the laptop hard drive. Just to have something valid for the partitioner to fiddle with, I created a single large NTFS partition, then I rebooted to the Ubuntu disk and proceeded with the re-install.

I'm typing this post from that machine right now, and there has been no lockup in about five minutes of use.

I hesitate going into the system settings...that's when the lockups happened before.

Maybe I'll just let Ubuntu apply its updates first. Yes, I AM a scaredy-cat. :)
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:59 pm

Haha, screen resolutions seem to be Ubuntu's achilles heel. That's what put me off Linux until I bought a widely supported LCD monitor, and there seem to be so many posts around the net about Ubuntu failing at being able to detect the resolutions a monitor is capable of.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:31 pm

So far, no lock ups; I applied some 219 updates and I have been exploring the gui interface.

And I have some insight...I believe now I know why my first installation got knucked up. When I did my first install, I removed the install CD from the drive before the system fully shut down. This time around, I waited for the system to shut down, and conveniently, it ejected the CD and issued a message to remove the CD and close the tray.

So I think that maybe the OS wasn't done closing files, applying updates, and/or shutting down completely, and that's probably why I had those headaches.

But now, so far, so good! The GUI appears to be quite a nice little basic system, with FF and OO ready-to-go. The laptop does not appear to be heating up, and it's "reasonably" fast, at least compared to how slow it was with a fully-loaded XP environment.

So now I'm going to goof off with it for a bit.

I already know how to use Fire Fox and Open Office, so can anybody give me a task or two to do...so I can learn "somepin?"

Thanks!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:34 pm

VirtualBox?????

I went through all of the packages available in the add/remove program. There is alot of stuff there. Then I just started typing in stuff like "java" and "radeon" in the synaptic package manager . . just to see what all would come up once I checked off all the repositories. . . . . . more interesting stuff came up.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:46 pm

NICE!

I'm installing asciidoc to see what I can do with it. Thanks for that tip!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:20 am

I may have spoken too soon about the lockups. Got one right now. I had just opened the music player to see what it offered; clicked on a few things, then when I selected "music", it locked.

Not quite certain what the right thing to do is...reboot yes, but then what? Is there a trace, log, or crash file I can look at to see what may have gone wrong?

For now, I think I'll just see if it will reboot...


...well, that's the end of that. "ACPI: Aborted because junk in compressed archive." Several times now. Even when I hit ESC and try a recovery boot.

Oh well, if in doubt; start drinking. No, just kidding. 8) The next best thing is to go to bed. Perseverance can wait for a day or two. ;)
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:25 am

Really sounds like something is unstable and causing disk corruption. I suggest running memtest overnight as a first step.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:25 am

Great suggestion; I'll do that when I get home tonight.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:05 pm

So if memtest checks out okay, I think my next task would be to install a different OS to see if the lockups persist. It just seems wrong to install XP on a box that I wanted to use for Linux training and education. Is there another distro that would be "different" enough to make this a valid isolation test, or should I go with Windows/XP?

Thanks in advance...
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:01 pm

If I'm not mistaken, they should all use the same kernel . . . . . . . . .just had to say that . . . . . . . . . I find Fedora to be quite different than Ubuntu - never tried the others.

You know . . . you could always install XP and just don't activate it - use it for a day or 2, then blow it away and try your Linux install again (if no problems persist that is).
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:05 pm

Yeah, I thought about that too. Or just leave a small XP on it and put Linux on a second/extended partition. I don't expect I'll use this laptop any longer than the 30-day dropdead time for XP activation anyhow.

Well, I have plenty of time to think about that. I won't be able to start memtest until late tonight, probably not until after the game. So I probably won't be doing any more OS building until Friday sometime.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:37 am

"System heal thyself"

That's what seems to have happened; although I'm not confident that it will stay fixed.

Here's what I did:

Got home last night; popped the Ubuntu CD in, booted, then took the "check memory" option. Let Memtest run all night. It made 25 passes, no errors of any kind were reported.

So I left the CD in the drive and I hit "ESC". The system rebooted to the CD boot selector. For grins, I wondered what might happen if I chose the "boot from first hard drive" option. It booted and entered the GUI like nothing was wrong!

So I shut the whole thing down, removed the CD, and rebooted again, thinking that maybe the boot loader on the hard drive was all that was messed up. Nope! This time it booted from the hard drive with no problems!

So now I am at a loss. But here's what I want to do (If I can).

1. See if I can determine what broke it two nights ago.

Is there a crash log or event log that I can look up? If so, how do I find it?

2. If I can't do "1" above, is there a way I can invoke a trace or debug mode so that when it crashes again I may have a popcorn trail to follow?

Thanks again!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:52 am

BIF wrote:1. See if I can determine what broke it two nights ago.

Is there a crash log or event log that I can look up? If so, how do I find it?

All of the system logs go under /var/log. If the system was still healthy enough to write to the log files while things were going south, there may be some clues there.

One other possibility... and I mention this because you indicated that one of the crash messages said something about ACPI... power management on older systems can be kind of wonky. If this is the issue, disabling ACPI may improve stability (at the expense of battery life). There may be a BIOS setting for it, and IIRC there is also a way to disable it in the Linux kernel boot options (we can figure that one out if you don't have a BIOS option for it).

Edit: Oh, duh... randomhack already posted the ACPI boot option. Nevermind the last bit of what I posted above. :lol:
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:58 am

Hi, been browsing the logs folder as you suggested. Not really sure which one to look at or even what I'm looking for.

Laptop has been booted all weekend, so the lockups don't appear to happen under "idle." I've had no troubles using FF, so whatever triggers the hang, it's something uh.. "deeper."

Now watch, I just typed that, and it'll hang the moment I go pay my bills... :lol:
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:26 am

Hello!

I wasn't sure where I should post this...here or in the Windows forum, but then I decided to just slip it to the end of my "Linux Adventures" thread.

For my quad core workstation, I have a 250 GB hard drive that I'd like to use for testing Ubuntu/64 Studio or other Debian distros.

But I also wish to use it for Windows 7 Beta testing.

The question is; which OS should I install first? I'll probably reinstall Win7 several times between now and its August 1st deathdate, then after that, I probably won't use Windows on this drive.

As for the Linux side of it, I plan to install one or two or three distros over time, then eventually settle on one (the ultimate goal is to start using 64 Studio) and maybe continue to use this spare hard drive for Linux on an ongoing basis. Sometime in the fall or winter, I'll probably build my "production" 64 Studio system on a brand new drive.

How do you think I should set up the drive? Linux first? I'm thinking maybe yes, since one version or another of Linux will be on this drive for a number of months.

But then won't Windows 7's boot loader be slapped on the drive? And what happens when I need to (or want to) wipe out an OS and re-install? Or when I ultimately delete the Windows 7 environment? And what happens if I want to temporarily add a third OS down the road?

Hmmmm, maybe I just need a crash course on boot loaders.

By the way, this is just an old drive that I used for disk image backups. My music sample and MP3 libraries got really big though, so the 250 GB drive was too small for that purpose, so last year it went into a storage box. But now I'm taking it out of retirement to do some testing. At first, I'll have no production work or applications on this environment. It's only test for now, so I'm not afraid of shooting off my foot or anything, but at the same time, I'd like to avoid wasting extraordinary amounts of time with dumb beginner bootloader mistakes... :)

Thanks in advance for any direction you can give me!
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:13 am

Mmmm... yeah, that's a bit of a conundrum. The general rule of thumb is to install Windows first if you want to dual-boot; reinstalling Windows later will probably hose the Linux bootloader. But repairing the bootloader when this happens shouldn't be a big deal (I don't think). I'm not much of a bootloader expert though... I know just enough about GRUB (Linux's "GRrand Unified Bootloader") to be dangerous.
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:30 am

Hi, JBI!

Well, curiosity got the best of me so I installed WIN7 Beta first. Lost some time because the beta build didn't include a driver for my motherboard's onboard network adapter. What a cussfest! The ONE device I needed, and there was no trace of the driver! :roll:

I had to boot my Vista 64 system and zip my motherboard drivers up and put them on a USB camera memory card. Luckily 7 was able to read my card, and by trial and error, I got the old Vista 64 driver installer to run. It enabled my network adapter and allowed me access to the web. I'm typing this post with Win 7.

And I really love those removable drive caddies. Makes life EASY! I'm going to pick up one or two more this week.

Anyhow, I figure I'll just mess around here a bit and maybe try putting Linux on and just see what happens. Why not, breaking this thing could be the most fun I've had since the circus!

Bye for now...
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Re: BIF's Linux Adventures

Postposted on Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:35 am

dustyjamessutton wrote:
BIF wrote:
More later. But now it's time for sleep.


LMAO, welcome to many late nights playing with linux. Linux can be so frustrating to new users and I know for me I stayed up all night on many occasions trying to get something to work, for example dvd playback with 5.1 sound mapped to all the right speakers with Red Hat's Fedora, back when Fedora was still pretty new.


Fedora 10 installation was able to put me to sleep :lol:
I chose Developer things and it took so long time.
When I woke up, the OS was waiting for my login. 8)

My adventures on Fedora 10 is quite impressive.
If I don't have Windows games to play
I can say that I don't need Windows
and able to use Fedora 10 (or higher) as my primary OS.

On the hardware side,
The latest Linux driver for Creative X-Fi Sound card is working fine for me.
But ATI's Radeon Linux support is still far behind Nvidia's.
(No 3D support and no Linux Driver on Catalyst download page yet
but I heard that ATI is just more serious on open source things)
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