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

How to Add a Web-browser to GNURoot + XSDL.

In This earlier posting – out of several – I had explained, that I’ve installed the Android apps “GNURoot Debian” and “XSDL” to my old Samsung Galaxy Tab S (first generation). The purpose is, to install Linux software on that tablet, without requiring that I root it. This uses the Android variant of ‘chroot’, which is actually also called ‘proot’, and is quick and painless.

However, there are certain things which a ch-rooted Linux system cannot do. One of them is to start services to run in the background. Another is, to access hardware, as doing the latter would require access to the host’s ‘/dev’ folder, not the local, ch-root’s ‘/dev’ folder. Finally, because XSDL is acting as my X-server, when GNURoot’s guest-software tries to connect to one, there will be no hardware-acceleration, because this X-server is really just an Android app, and does not really correspond to a display device.

This last detail can be quite challenging, because in today’s world, even many Linux applications require, direct-rendering, and will not function properly, if left just to use X-server protocol, à la legacy-Unix. One such application is any serious Web-browser.

This does not result from any malfunction of either Android app, because it just follows from the logic, of what the apps are being asked to do.

But we’d like to have a Web-browser installed, and will find that “Firefox”, “Arora” etc., all fail over this issue. This initially leaves us in an untenable situation, because even if we were not to use our Linux guest-system for Web-browsing – because there is a ‘real’ Web-browser installed on the (Android) host-system – the happenstance can take place, by which a Web-document needs to be viewed anyway – let’s say, because we want to click on an HTML-file, that constitutes the online documentation for some Linux-application.

What can we do?

Continue reading How to Add a Web-browser to GNURoot + XSDL.

System Maintenance Today, Downtime

I take the somewhat unusual approach, Of hosting this Web-site, and therefore also my blog, on my personal computer at home. Therefore, any downtime of my home computer, also affects the visibility of the blog. And, as long as the actual Web-server is not online, I also cannot make it display a maintenance-mode page.

Just in recent days, I took the more-unusual step, of running the command:

 


root@Phoenix:/home/dirk# update-initramfs -u -k 3.18.0-14-generic

 

What was unusual about this, was the fact that this was not the command:

 


root@Phoenix:/home/dirk# update-initramfs -u -k 3.16.0-4-amd64

 

While it seemed nice for some time, to be running a kernel-version named ‘3.18.0-14-generic’, the mainstream version which a Debian / Jessie system is supposed to be running, is ‘3.16.0-4-amd64′. So, while the mainstream kernel had been receiving regular updates, I was running a kernel, which had not been receiving any updates, for years now. This helped reduce the number of reboots which I needed to carry out, due to frequent updates on the ‘3.16.0’ kernel.

But just because this was the first time in ages, that I had run the ‘update-initramfs’ command on the running kernel, I next needed to attempt a reboot, just to see whether the computer could still boot.

Therefore, readers would have experienced problems accessing my blog or site, from about 16h40 until about 17h10 today.

And No, My system Failed to Reboot.

Continue reading System Maintenance Today, Downtime