Upgrade gone wrong

I went to update my Dell Optiplex 780 USFF from Mint 17.3 to 18.1. It didn’t really need it but I figured it would be an easy upgrade. I should have known better. I know from years of experience that there are no easy upgrades.

When I tried to boot from my Mint 18.1 Serena Xfce flash drive, I got a kernel panic error on every USB port. Then I attempted to boot to a DVD with Serena with Cinnamon, I got a message saying the device was unavailable. I ran the internal diagnostics which gave me an error code: 2000-0152,”Optical Drive (d): – Incorrect status: (x) (s)”. I was unable to find any of my Dell diagnostic CDs. I pulled the drives out of the other USFF I had lying around, put it in and got the same results. Then the power supply died. I took that as a sign that this upgrade was not to be.

I already had a Dell Latitude E5500 on which I’d already installed Mint 18.1 Xfce so I used it to replace the USFF box. I put it on a docking station, connected it up, and got it running. I’d already installed conky so I just added my Dropbox to it. The primary purpose of the machine will be to have something connected directly to the gateway router for troubleshooting connectivity problems or when I need quick access to a computer at that end of the house. This older laptop will work just fine for that.

I’m still thinking about upgrading my E6500. Hopefully, that will go better. I’m planning to install a larger hard drive so I’ll still have the old drive just in case.

As for the 780s, I’ll donate them, along with a couple of laptops I don’t need any more.

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Trying VirtualBox

I’d installed VirtualBox on my HP a few days ago and today I decided to check it out. A friend had told about Peppermint Linux so I figured that might be a good to try on a virtual machine. One of the first things I noticed when setting up the VM was that all of my OS options were 32-bit. When I selected my 64-bit Peppermint ISO and try to install it, the VM would just hang.

I did some research and found the processor needed to support Intel’s VT-x or AMD’s AMD-V hardware extensions in order to support 64-bit operating systems. Further research indicated that my processor, an AMD Pheom II X3 B75 supported AMD-V so it probably needed to be enabled in the BIOS settings. In my HP’s BIOS settings, it wasn’t immediately obvious where to find it. I finally located it under Security -> System Security -> Visualization Technology. It was disabled so I enabled it.

I restarted the computer, opened VirtualBox and my 64-bit OS options were available. I successfully created a Peppermint Linux virtual machine. While in the VM, I installed conky and successfully tested the wget commands to download the .conkyrc and conky.desktop files where I needed them.

I noticed that in the VM I was able to see all the computers on my network but I was only able to access files on Windows shares. On the Linux machines, I could only see the printer shares. I need to look into that. I would think that I should be able to see files on at least the host machine. There was probably a setting I missed in VirtualBox. It’s a learning process and virtual machines are relatively uncharted territory for me.

Keeping the number

The journey to keep the land-line phone number we’ve had for over 20 years was arduous and tumultuous. I had changed my Internet provider from AT&T’s Uverse to Spectrum cable and had set up a new number through Google Voice. Everything was working quite well and I was very happy with it.

But there was pressure to maintain the old number and I discovered that it was possible to also have telephone service through my cable provider and port the number over, so I looked into it. My savings over my old provider would not be as great as they could have been with my original set up after converting back to cable but if it would keep peace, I’d do it.

I changed the plan, picked up the provider’s cable modem that supported the telephone, and installed it. I had to reconfigure my network, changing static IP addresses and default gateway settings but I got everything up and running. The new modem/router/gateway had wireless capability but once I had my WAP configured, I turned off the gateway’s wireless to avoid any potential conflicts. Plus, I didn’t really need wireless coverage in my neighbor’s house. The gateway’s wireless didn’t reach to the other end of my own house.

After waiting a few days for the number to be ported to the new provider, I hooked up a phone to the equipment and got nothing. After spending too much time with tech support and rebooting and resetting the gateway a few times, they scheduled a tech to come out the next day. After doing the hard reset, I had to reconfigure the gateway.

It took a while for the tech to get everything working again. He finally got the phone portion working but I had no Internet access. Then I had Internet access again but no phone. Finally, he closed the work order saying that it might tell the system work properly. After a few minutes, both phone and Internet were up and running.

I also spent quite a bit of time tinkering with the wiring in the phone box on the outside to adapt the house wiring. At this time I don’t know if that’s working since I’m using a set of wireless phones. The main unit is connected to the gateway and the satellite units are on her desk and mine. I’m thinking about moving the VoIP box to my room and connecting the corded phone I have there to it, using the Google Voice number.

Was it worth the trouble and effort? Only time will tell.

Laptop power problem

This evening when I went to install some updates on my laptop, I noticed it had powered down. I pressed the power button and it started to come up but after a couple of seconds it powered down. I unplugged it from the dock, plugged the power cord into it and tried again with the same result.

I decided to try some basic trouble shooting, first removing the battery. Without the battery, it failed to power up at all. It was then that I noticed that the blue ring at the end of the power cord was not illuminated. I traced the cord back to the brick and made sure that the AC cord was firmly inserted, which it was. I traced it back to the power strip which had power.

Figuring that the power brick itself had died (I’ve seen many that have died), I located another power brick and plugged it in. It worked. It’s a good thing I’ve kept a few spares around.

I’m always glad when it’s something simple. I probably should obtain a new battery anyway.

Donated PCs

A couple of days ago I started wiping the hard drives of some excess computers. I also went through my parts tub and filled a couple of large boxes with a lot of outdated parts that I know I will never use. There were a lot of old 3COM NICs, various video cards, some old switches and hubs, and some other junk.

Today, I loaded nine desktop computers, an old IBM laptop (former Windows print server), an old flatbed scanner, an old UPS, and the two boxes of parts into the truck. I took them over to Charitable Recycling on Springfield Street to donate them for Children’s Hospital but the gate was locked with no immediately apparent way to contact them. So I traveled through downtown and made my up to Access Project on Salem Avenue where I’ve donated old computer many times in in the past.

It’s good to have the room they’d once occupied although I had developed feelings of fondness toward a couple of them. I tried to think of possible ways to reuse them but I really couldn’t come up with anything. They were a bit lacking in memory but due to their age, purchasing memory for them is not cost effective.

On the other hand, I did hold on to the last tower that I built. I’m still seriously thinking about turning it into a NAS box by putting three 1-terabyte data drives in a RAID-5 configuration with a smaller system drive running a Linux-based NAS software.

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to collect so many computers. I guess I’m a hoarder.

Win 10 Upgrade

When I did the Windows 10 downgrade a while back, I installed Windows 7 on a different PC and kept the Windows 10 PC around just in case I needed some files or something. Tonight I decided that enough time had passed and that I wasn’t likely to need anything from that PC. It was time to upgrade my Windows 10 PC to Linux. I installed Mint 17.3 on it and started getting it set up the way I want it.

I downloaded my script from the web site to my home directory and all I had to do with it was to rename from conkyrc.txt to .conkyrc. Thanks to the if existing statements in the script, I didn’t have to edit out the WLAN information.

I also installed the chromium browser, Dropbox and curl. I recently read a couple of articles on transfer.sh, a service to upload files temporarily for later retrieval. It uses curl for upload and download from the terminal. I can see where that could be useful. I also installed my printers. Later on I’ll likely be installing some network utilities to troubleshoot network problems. This particularly PC will be replacing the Optiplex 755 in my network area. The 755 will be recycled or donated along with most of my other excess computers (the ones older than the ones I’m now using).

Power down, unplug

Some time ago after a Linux upgrade, my HP 6005 Desktop Pro stopped powering off after doing a shut down. I’d either have to hold the power button for several seconds or reach back and pull the plug. I’ve been unplugging it after shutdown and plugging it back in. It’s a bit inconvenient. By the way, it powered down fine before the upgrade.

I’ve searched for a solution and tried various fixes but nothing so far has worked. I really can’t recall all the fixes I’ve attempted. Today I did some more research and found a couple of ideas I don’t think I’ve tried before. Maybe I have but they didn’t look familiar.

One that looks promising is installing acpi support. I may have tried this before but it’s worth a shot.

Another involved removing an if statement from /etc/init.d/halt. I’m sure I haven’t tried that one before.

I’ll comment with the results. Wish me luck.

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