Kernel Update today, Downtime, Multiple Reboot-Attempts

Today, the PC which is hosting my site and blog, which I name ‘Phoenix’, received a kernel update.

Debian Team has not been following standard guidelines in their propagation of kernel updates, as the last 3 updates produced the same kernel-version number:

 


3.16.0-6-amd64

 

Because even Linux computers require a reboot after a kernel-update, this blog was temporarily off-line from about 13h05 until 13h25. I apologize for any inconvenience to my readers.

There is a fact about the build of Linux on this computer which I should bring up. I have the following on-board graphics-chip:

 


GeForce 6150SE nForce 430/integrated/SSE2

 

And this proprietary graphics driver is the only one, capable of working with the said graphics-chip:

 


NVIDIA 304.137

 

The graphics driver is installed from standard Debian repositories.

Somewhere between these software-packages there is a problem, which Debian Team has never been aware of, but which has existed ever since I installed Debian / Jessie on this computer. Directly after a reboot, the ability of the X-server to start, is not reliable. Sometimes, the X-server starts on the first try, but on other occasions I need to make 7 reboot attempts, before the X-server will start, and from one reboot-attempt to the next, I change nothing.

Once the X-server has started successfully, this graphics-chip will work 100% for 30 days !

I have been reluctant to point this out for the past few years, because if a Debian developer finds out about it, he will try to fix this problem. And when he does, he will brick my computer.

This afternoon, 7 reboots were in fact required, before the X-server started. That is why the reboot-procedure took 20 minutes of time.

(Updated 07/14/2018, 16h45 … )

Continue reading Kernel Update today, Downtime, Multiple Reboot-Attempts

Kernel Update Yesterday, Downtime

I use the uncommon methodology of hosting my site, and this blog, on a home computer. And this means that the reliability with which my Web-pages can be fetched, is only as good as the reliability of this home computer, which I name ‘Phoenix’. I don’t necessarily recommend that other people do this; this is just how I do it.

Yesterday (05/08/2018) , the Debian maintainers pushed through another kernel update. After a kernel update, even a Linux computer needs to be rebooted. And the result from that would have been, that my site and blog would not have been accessible to the Internet, from about 19h55 until 20h05.

The last kernel update only took place recently.

I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused my readers.

The kernel update itself seems to have been uneventful on any level that I was able to observe.

Dirk

 

Kernel Updates Today, Downtime – VirtualBox Maybe Affected

I take the unusual approach, of hosting my Web-site, and this blog, on my personal computer at home. This implies that the visibility of this blog on the Web, is only as good the reliability of my PC, which I name ‘Phoenix’. Along with the computer I name ‘Plato’, Phoenix received a kernel-update today, which required a reboot.

The kernel-update took place uneventfully.

But, my site and blog would not have remained visible, from 20h20 until about 20h30 this evening.

I apologize for any inconvenience to my readers.

(Update 05/02/2018 … )

Contrarily to first appearances, this kernel-update did seem to have a side-effect: On one of my computers, it prevented the VirtualBox kernel-modules from being built…

Continue reading Kernel Updates Today, Downtime – VirtualBox Maybe Affected

Kernel Update Today, Downtime

A fact about mys site which some people may not know, is that I take the unusual approach of hosting it on one of my PCs at home. The computer which acts as my Web-server, is also the one I named ‘Phoenix’, and which is still running Debian / Jessie. What this piece of trivia means in practice, is that any downtime of this one PC, also causes the site not to be accessible on the Internet. This is very different from how it would be, if I was to pay a professional hosting service.

Today, ‘Phoenix’ received a long-awaited kernel update, With which the package maintainers hope to be mitigating the ‘Meltdown’ vulnerability. What this does, is complete the work that some of the System Programmers have been doing, on the ‘Meltdown’ vulnerability, since as it stands, all the kernels on the list here have been patched now.

The fact is somewhat ironic, that ‘Phoenix’ has an AMD processor, and was therefore never directly susceptible to this form of attack. However, the computer which I name ‘Plato’ has an Intel CPU, and received its kernel update on January 5.

I congratulate the kernel-programmers on a milestone in their work.

Now an unanswered question remains, as to what will be done – if anything – about ‘Spectre’, which is a related vulnerability, in which a hypothetical attacker would ‘attack’ other processes running on the same machine, but not the kernel. The problem with ‘Spectre’, as far as I think I understand it, is that it involves “Speculative Execution” of code, but does not involve ‘system calls’ per se. What that means is that, unless somebody comes up with something brilliant, the only ways to patch that would either be to disable Speculative Execution entirely, or, switch to new chips, which have been designed with ‘Spectre’ taken into account, but which haven’t been designed yet in fact.

‘Spectre’ may also affect some AMD CPUs.

In any case, my site was unavailable from about 15h30 until 15h45.

Dirk