Build tips

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Hard drives


symptom: The system does not go into grub, but instead chants GRUB GRUB GRUB GRUB ad infinitum.
solution: Go into the BIOS, change the hard drive detection from auto to user, and change LBA to LARGE. Dave says this works 90% of the time, and the remaining 10% might be able to be fixed with a BIOS upgrade but - who's got the time for that? ditch the hdd. we have more. --User:ideath 13:06, 12 May 2005 (PDT)

Hard drive clicks

symptom: cool noises
solution: recycle that drive!

SMART warning

if the SMART utilities say the drive is gonna die, replace it. --User:ideath 13:06, 12 May 2005 (PDT)

bad cables

When trying to enter Bios, and you can't, try swapping out the IDE cables. I think this needs more detail. There are many cases when it is difficult to get into BIOS; i don't think i've seen one where the culprit was the IDE cables. -laurel


not finding sound card

symptoms: message reading "/dev/dsp can't be found"; onboard sound; IRQ 5 has nothing on it; alsaconf doesn't detect a PCI or PNP soundcard. This happened on two Dell Optiplexes.
solution: Google says they use a Crystal ISA sound card, which was an option in alsaconf. You may be able to find information about the sound chip used for your onboard sound. --User:ideath 13:06, 12 May 2005 (PDT)


X tries to start & fails

symptoms: you get the grey screen as if kdm were starting, but it eventually blinks out and drops you to the text login.keyboard and mouse are PS/2
solution: make sure the mouse is plugged in properly and in the correct port. X won't start if it doesn't think it has a mouse. --User:ideath 13:06, 12 May 2005 (PDT)

symptoms: you're returned to the console with the message "no screens found" and you're using certain kinds of ATI card (including the Riva128 card)
solution: Change the default color depth to 15, in /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 --User:Jeff

X won't start; video driver for onboard chip identified as "unknown"

Video problem with onboard video chip : VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8623 [Apollo CLE266] integrated CastleRock graphics (rev 03). So what's the suggestion? modify XF86Config-4 to use the via driver? or disable onboard video and use a different video card? -laurel

X overdrives monitor

symptoms: monitor presents high frequency scan lines and displays squished version of x
solution: check for IRQ conflict and set IRQ 3 only to legacy. Magix identified the chip but chose "unknown" driver. X wouldn't start. When we substituted "via" for "unknown" in the XF86Config-4 file, x windows would start but the only resolution we could get was 600x480. A bunch of googling later we tried "vesa" for the driver and kdm worked fine. --Roy Marshall

symptoms: everything's fine until you try to go into X; then the monitor says FREQ OUT OF RANGE. it's the first time this previously-configured system has been used with this particular monitor.
solution: run magix to reconfigure X with the proper frequencies.


Flaky ethernet card

Some ethernet cards will work to install the image, but not to connect from the OS. I generally end up swapping out the NIC and it will work fine. -- MW


Not detecting PCI modem (ttyS14)

symptoms: modem isn't found. or, modem shows up on the "serial" step in basiccheck (at ttyS14), but modem doesn't respond. and anyway, what the heck is ttyS14? or - if the modem isn't found in the serial step (you only have one serial port detected), you can check if this applies using dmesg. try

guest@freekbox:~$ grep dmesg ttyS | less 

(this searches dmesg for lines that contain the string ttyS) and see if you have a line that refers to ttyS14. If you do, this is your issue.
solution: To talk to this modem, you gotta create ttyS14:

guest@freekbox:~$ su
freekbox:/home/guest# cd /dev
freekbox:/dev# MAKEDEV ttyS14
freekbox:/dev# ln -s ttyS14 modem

CD Burners

to configure a cd burner, i suggest the following.

set the regular cdrom to secondary master, the cd burner to secondary slave. i usually don't plug the cd burner into the sound card.

boot up. log in as guest. copy and paste the cdrom icon, renaming it 'cdrw'. edit the properties of the icon to have the URL point to 'file:///media/cdrw'.

open a terminal, 'su' to root, and edit the /etc/auto.removable file. down towards the bottom, you'll want to first remove the letters 'cd|' from the cdrom entry, then you'll want to copy all the lines that constitute that case entry (from 'cdrom)' to ';;'), and paste it in underneath. then you'll edit the new entry to say 'cdrw)' instead of 'cdrom)', and to say '/dev/hdd' instead of '/dev/cdrom'.

exit your editor and execute '/etc/init.d/autofs restart'. then double check to make sure the icon works on a data cd.

the previous instructions would be equally applicable for any second cd device.

for burning software, install k3b: 'apt-get install k3b'