Tuesday, January 28, 2014

some days it just doesn't pay to be a nerd

Fair warning there is a lot of Linux geek talk in this one

I am not only a Linux user I am an advocate, an open source evangelist, and a true fan. I think Linux on the desktop is great and I love being able to use my computer on my terms in ways that the other choices don’t allow me too. I love being able to tinker, and I even enjoy troubleshooting the odd quirk that can (and does) pop up from time to time. I even know a fair amount, and savvy in the terminal, and can generally get everything I want to get done accomplished.

I also know enough to really get lost in the woods; as such I just spent 4 days trying to fix my box. It started when my curiosity over this whole bitcoin phenomenon finally won out over my better sense, and I decided to try installing a bitcoin mining application. Even though I knew the application was going to use the graphics processor in the system I for some reason didn’t think about what that would do to my system (which was using the proprietary driver for better performance). What I didn’t know is that it was going to hijack all but one of the GPU cores available, and make it impossible to undo what I had done. Somewhere in the process of trying to get my system back to normal I managed to break the system, and so I decided to do a fresh install.

Ubuntu is my distro of choice, it works well out of the box and has a comfortable interface, but to change things up I chose to go with Fedora 20 since I was installing fresh, which looked nice but was slow for no reason on my system where Ubuntu ran much better also getting steam to run was turning into a pain, so I chose to return to ubuntu. I downloaded the 13.10 ISO and attempted to install which appeared to be working fine right up to the point where I told it to use the whole drive, then I got a warning box full of question marks….not helpful.

I re-downloaded the ISO, I burned a new disk, I used three different flash drives, I tried installing the gnome and KDE variants and none of them seemed to be working, so I decided to take the long way and downloaded 12.04 (the current long term support version), which installed….but failed to install the bootloader. I tried twice before I decided to install Grub manually which did work (ah ha! Progress) .

This worked right up to the point where the OS decided it wanted the dvd in the /media/ directory, the problem is my DVD drive is USB and not located in that directory, I downloaded the ISO again and used loop mount to mount the image to the directory which worked! A ha we made it to 12.10, now to 13.04, however now it wants that disk in the drive, and now it won’t see the ISO mounted to the drive, I located the upgrade config file and gave it the path of my DVD drive and upgrade after the upgrade to 13.04 I logged in and…..black screen with my mouse cursor and nothing else. I was able to get the TTY interface up where I reinstalled Unity, rebooted and logged in and….desktop wall paper with a mouse cursor. Restarted unity reboot and we are in business. At some point I had installed the driver for GPU using the utility in ubnutu  but I wanted the proprietary driver back on the box so before I upgraded to 13.10 I downloaded and tried to install the driver. The system told me that I needed to remove the previous version first.

Now one of the things I like about Linux is that I can make it do what I want, I can also make it do what I want without talking back to me about it. And so I reissued the install command with “–force” and installed the driver, rebooted and.....when I tried to login in would bounce me back to the login page. I jumped back to tty logged in started x and tried to fix it and rebooted, and I had broken the boot loader.

Needless to say my adventures in Linux-land this weekend were not too fun, I finally got a terminal installer and installed the system with no issues, it is sitting vanilla box right now waiting for me to finish the set up.

The takeaway on this one for me is this, just because you know what your doing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look before you leap. also get a good image pulled together so next time I don’t have to go through this whole mess.


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