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Maytag Repairman's Nap Interrupted


V.T. Eric Layton
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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, it happens occasionally when you're IT for friends or family that you've converted to GNU/Linux. Fortunately, it's very rare.

 

Yesterday, my aunt called me in a panic because she could not get online with her Dell Latitude D810 that I had set up for her with Xubuntu a few years back. I went over to her house last night to check things out. After much snarling and gnashing of teeth, I just decided to bring the lappy home with me to work on it at my own desk where I have the tools needed to t-shoot properly.

 

Turns out that the OS was stable, but with a lock on /var/lib/dpkg. Hmm... looks to me like an update was interrupted. Unfortunately, I could not remove the lock. Also, I had no Ethernet or Wifi capabilities. Well, phooey. I did the Duke Nukem method of troubleshooting and repair... fresh install from ISO DVD (no /home format).

 

All went well, even had Ethernet access after the install. Upgraded/Updated everything with the hard-wired connection, but still no Wifi capability. Then it dawned on me... Broadcom. :( Now, I know how to fix Broadcom in Slackware, but hadn't done it in a Debian-based distro in quite sometime, probably since I set this laptop up for my aunt in 2015.

 

Fortunately, found the means to resolve this issue via DuckDuckGo. It was quite simple...

 

$sudo apt remove broadcom-sta-dkms bcmwl-kernel-source

 

then...

 

$sudo apt install firmware-b43-installer

$reboot

 

And voila! Wifi up and running. YAY! I'll deliver her lappy back to her tomorrow. She'll be a happy clam again. :)

 

Oh, and I found out from her last night that there was a short electrical brown-out in her neighborhood yesterday morning. She was on the computer when this happened. The lock on dpkg tells me that this system was probably in the middle of an update/upgrade when the power went off. Feces occurs.

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5 hours ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

The lock on dpkg tells me that this system was probably in the middle of an update/upgrade when the power went off. Feces occurs.

 

Lock can have several causes. apt creates /var/lib/apt/lists/lock which can just be removed if it gets stuck. Sometimes it can be /var/lib/dpkg/lock

Also systemd can run unattended-upgrades in the background. If that gets stuck, just grep ps aux for its PID and kill it with kill command. I usually just purge the unattended-upgrades package and manage upgrades manually.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Good to know. Hopefully, I won't ever have to deal with this again. I can't complain... I set this system up for her in 2015. She's never had an issue with it since. My brother's Ubuntu system is the same way. I hardly ever hear from my Linux converts. Back in the bad ol' daze, when they were still running Windows, I was forever having to go to their houses to clean 2000+ instances of malware off their systems. ;)

 

I LOVE GNU/LINUX! :) Thank you Urmas and Sweet Lou for talking me into it back in '06... and definitely thanks to Bruno and many other folks here for helping me along. :)

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abarbarian
9 hours ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

I can't complain... I set this system up for her in 2015. She's never had an issue with it since.

 

That is a pretty impressive trouble free run. 🤩

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I haven't used Xubuntu for a while, but I know that with Linux Mint even Broadcom wifi will work right out of the box. If it doesn't, just wire up and use the Driver Manager. With Debian I always use the non-free ISO and netinstall.

As far as automated updates go, I always enable them for any PC that goes to my daughter's place. They *never* update manually. Regular old Ubuntu seems to have unattended-upgrades enabled by default, but that may be another "feature" of the GNOME desktop.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton
1 hour ago, ebrke said:

Do you upgrade them to new versions?

 

I have it set to auto-update. I install LTS 'buntus for them, usually. She got upgraded yesterday, though... from 15.04 to 18.10 (the last 32 bit version of Xubuntu). It's a 32 bit machine.

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V.T. Eric Layton
14 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

but I know that with Linux Mint even Broadcom wifi will work right out of the box.

 

That has always been a "selling point" for Mint; that it's already loaded with everything you'll need. The Xubuntu did not have Broadcom drivers installed from the get-go. Had to activate the commercial repos for that.

 

 

 

.

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3 hours ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

I have it set to auto-update.

*Blush* My experience being almost solely with Suse, I didn't realize that was an option with other distros.

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To be honest, I haven't had to do the Broadcom shuffle for some time. On desktops I can usually install an Atheros card, or if I use a dongle an Atheros USB. Even the little mini adapters are Realtek (or possibly MediaTek.) The older laptops I have either feature Atheros or Intel wifi.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, after upgrading the OS on my aunt's Dell Latitude D810 above, she dug around in her closet and offered me the antique Dell Latitude 100L that was the first lappy I had set up for her with GNU/Linux. I had installed Vector Linux on it because the machine doesn't have DVD capabilities. It only has a CD.

 

I figured what the heck... I'll take it. When my girlfriend saw it here yesterday, she asked me where it came from and what I was going to do with it. I told her I'd probably install and upgraded OS and give it to someone who might make use of it. She suggested her sister, who is not very computer literate and just uses girlfriend's laptop to play games like Solitaire, etc.

 

So, this morning, I fired up that ol' girl. The battery was deader than a door nail. The BIOS clock was all screwed up. I got the BIOS squared away and let Vector boot up. It still booted and functioned. However, Vector is a dead Linux these days - no longer supported, so I decided to install the same Xubuntu in this one that I had in Auntie's other Dell above. I'm doing just that right now. I did have to go to Ubuntu's website to grab a Net-Install CD ISO, of course, because no DVD capabilities, that that''s easy enough. It's installing as I type this.

 

Here are the specs for this dinosaur: Celeron 2.6Ghz, 30Gig HDD, 2Gig RAM. Impressive, huh? ;)

 

Dell%2BLatitude%2B100L-model-number-driv

 

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It'll be ugly. Make sure you have the lightest possible browser you can get. Something like Midori. I might even go with Lubuntu or Maybe antiX on that dinosaur. It'll play solitaire if it's not an online version. Something like PysolFC.

I have an Atom netbook that is 64 bit, with an SSD in it and running Arch Linux LXQt with 2 Gb of RAM and it is virtually unusable.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Yup... looking for light browser right now, actually. Everything went well, but FF is just too much for this machine. It's not the RAM that's the issue, it's the CPU devouring that FF does when trying to render just a simple nearly text-only website. :(

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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, you're right, Ray... this ol' girl is basically a boat anchor when it comes to doing anything on the Internet with Firefox. It's not a RAM thing, though, like I said. FF keeps the CPU at 100% almost all the time, so if FF is trying to load a page with a lot of scripts, graphics, etc., the machine is basically locked up. I can't even open other apps or items from the Menu when FF is hogging the CPU.

 

I removed FF from this OS and installed a light browser that Xubuntu recommended called Arora. It's a little better, but it doesn't do videos, YouTube, or online game sites too efficiently. I installed a bunch of her favorite games on the OS itself, like Solitaire, Mahjong, etc. They all seem to work well, as long as there isn't any other applications or browsers open.

 

The lady I set this up for is NOT computer literate. Her sister usually starts a game or opens a website on her laptop (much more modern one than this one here) and let's Sherry (her sister) play her stuff or check her email, etc. I think my girlfriend will be able to show Sherry the basic simple stuff that she needs to play her games on this old machine.

 

One of these days when my girlfriend upgrades to a newer laptop for herself, her sister can inherit her current HP, and we can put this ol' Dell in the graveyard where it belongs. Sad. Nothing lasts forever... especially computer tech stuff.

 

Oh, well...

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I think you have done pretty well to get those old laptops back in service. Much as I enjoy keeping old machines out of the landfill, I have given up trying with anything that doesn't have a 64 bit processor. Aside from memory restrictions, there are fewer and fewer distros that will run with 32 bit. At least you have Intel CPUs in those Dells; some of the old 32 bit AMD chips won't even run a browser anymore.

What bothers me is that with Windows you can't even run a perfectly good 9-year-old Sandy Bridge quad core and get security updates. Of course, that one makes a great Linux box.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton

It's funny, but when you d-load the Dell specs (.pdf) for this ol' lappy, it says, "Dell proudly recommends MS Windows XP." The real funny thing is I could have installed XP on this machine. I would, of course, have crippled its networking, but I wonder how well it would have run. ;)

 

rsz_242610_bliss_-blazhenstvo_-windows-x

 

Ah... the memories (mostly BAD ones). ;)

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V.T. Eric Layton

HAHA! Thanks for the link, but I was just kidding. I think the little lappy will be fine for this woman's needs for a little while. I wouldn't want to install XP on it. I don't even remember how to use XP. ;)

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I have just pulled my little Toshiba netbook out of the cupboard and updated it.

This is the last of my really hardware challenged machines. I got it about 5 years ago from a neighbor who had a new i5 laptop and was going to throw this one away. It was trying to run Windows 7 Starter on a slow hard drive and it was really a piece of crud.

I saw that it had a really nice keyboard and display, plus it was easy to work on. I replaced the HDD with a cheap SSD, installed Arch Linux. At first I ran Xfce but now it's LXQt. This post is made from it using the Otter Browser.Total memory usage is less than 500 MB with the browser running.

My wife hates it, but she's used to i7 with 32 GB of RAM on a desktop. It seems OK for email and light web surfing still. And it *is* 64 bit.

This one is still too good to recycle.

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Hedon James
18 hours ago, raymac46 said:

I have just pulled my little Toshiba netbook out of the cupboard and updated it.

This is the last of my really hardware challenged machines. I got it about 5 years ago from a neighbor who had a new i5 laptop and was going to throw this one away. It was trying to run Windows 7 Starter on a slow hard drive and it was really a piece of crud.

I saw that it had a really nice keyboard and display, plus it was easy to work on. I replaced the HDD with a cheap SSD, installed Arch Linux. At first I ran Xfce but now it's LXQt. This post is made from it using the Otter Browser.Total memory usage is less than 500 MB with the browser running.

My wife hates it, but she's used to i7 with 32 GB of RAM on a desktop. It seems OK for email and light web surfing still. And it *is* 64 bit.

This one is still too good to recycle.

I would submit that you already have.  Unless you want to distinguish recycle from upcycle.  Yeah, let's not reinvent the wheel.  You've upcycled it, but still too good to recycle!  LOL!  😜

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Recycling to me means taking it to the e-waste depot in Almonte. I probably refurbished this  one a bit.

I had a couple of 32 bit netbooks that went to the recycler - one of them had Intel GMA 500 graphics. I know how much you admire that solution. :fishing:

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Hedon James
2 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Recycling to me means taking it to the e-waste depot in Almonte. I probably refurbished this  one a bit.

I had a couple of 32 bit netbooks that went to the recycler - one of them had Intel GMA 500 graphics. I know how much you admire that solution. :fishing:

POULSBORO!  still raises my hackles!  The experience that put me firmly in the ATI/AMD camp, LOL!

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My worst Linux machine ever - and it came with Linux preinstalled. A Dell Mini 12 with Broadcom wifi and the GMA 500 graphics. Intel had no control over the proprietary graphics card and could not *ever* write a 3D driver for Linux. The brain-dead Ubuntu 9 kludge O/S had no possible upgrade after Dell pulled the plug on netbooks.

Intel eventually made a 2D driver that got into the kernel so I was able to install antiX on this dog. But it was a 32 bit Atom processor so finally the whole shebang got e-wasted.

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