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05 January 2008 @ 09:24 am
The computer is a doorstop.

I opened it up, dusted it out, made sure all the internal power and data cables were secure, and yanked out the old CD-RW which hasn't worked properly in three years.

I plugged it back in, turned it on... and got nothing but the case lights. No BIOS screen. Nothing.

Just to see if the video card was screwed up, I unplugged one of the monitors from the card and plugged it into the onboard video (which was a workaround when I was having all the troubles with the Card From Hell that never did work in this machine).


I cycled the power button rapidly several times.

That had an effect: It now does nothing when I press the power button. Not even case lights.

That particular problem might just be a loose wire in the case power switch.

Or it could be the power supply.

The other problems I've been having make it almost certain that there are hardware issues besides a bad on/off switch, but whether they're in the power supply, the RAM, the motherboard, or the shiny new hard drive I just installed along with Ubuntu... I have no way of knowing.

And, in all likelihood, the problems in one part of the system have probably CREATED problems with the rest.

New Motherboard, at this point, means New Computer, since the old RAM and the old video card are obsolete.

And now, a Public Service Announcement.
"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"
"Well, don't do that!"

If someone posts something saying that they're having trouble with Linux, comments to the effect of "Don't use Linux!" are not helpful in any way, shape or form.

I was very careful to phrase the first paragraph of my last post as "I don't know how to do X, and can't find any information on it", rather than "this doesn't work in Kubuntu."

That's because I want to learn this stuff. It's complicated, and it's kind of a pain in the ass, and the documentation is about as clear as sixty centimeters of reactor shielding, but I wouldn't be messing with Linux in the first place if I didn't want to learn new things.

At the moment, that's trumped by the need to have a computer that I can use comfortably for several hours at a stretch, looking for work and learning new work-related software. (The Transnote does not qualify. Squinting at this tiny screen gives me a headache.)

Once I find a Real Job (read: not consulting, most especially not consulting in a job that expects me to have my own hardware, I can take the time and effort to learn the ins and outs of X-Windows Configuration Scripts.

I should also note that Ubuntu installed seamlessly and is running smoothly on my grandspawn's system -- which is theoretically older, slower and more abused than my own.
I feel: stressedstressed
Ursula Messerschmitt: Bear-Oh Bloody Hellsnobahr on January 5th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
I have nothing helpful to contribute, aside from letting you know that your words have been read and there is some level of understanding and sympathy. I would offer a rawhide mallet if you were nearby.
Your Obedient Serpent: happyathelind on January 5th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
Understanding and sympathy are, in cases like this, every bit as welcome as technical advice.
Reveille D'Giovanettireveille_d on January 5th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
I have a hodgepodge of computer parts from my previous system, including a very good MB, very good RAM, very good heat sink and processor, and a known-good powersupply. I was saving them to run a new server on, but honestly, I'm sick to death of having a server in my kitchen, since it really servers no realistic purpose other than to say "I have a server!" I also have two other motherboards, and two other processors, not so recent, as well as some older RAM, if you wanted to try to swap out parts to get your old system up and running. I could bring over my box of stuff and you could paw through it and wheel and deal, if you like, rather than forking out for something brandbrandbrand new.


Edited at 2008-01-05 06:37 pm (UTC)
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on January 5th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
This might be workable, especially if the mobo has an AGP slot so I can use my current video card (or, gasp, maybe that brand new AGP card that's just sitting in the box because it wouldn't work with the current mobo).
Reveille D'Giovanettireveille_d on January 5th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
It is indeed AGP and should work with any of the more recently manufactured cards. It was running an x800 pro when I upgraded to a PCIE system.
Tombfyretombfyre on January 5th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, once the computer starts doing that there's obviously problems afoot. :p Most likely its the power supply, as thats exactly what prior computers I've serviced have done when said supply was blown. Next it could be the motherboard. Just make sure the big cable plugged into the motherboard is secure there. If its even a little bit loose, it won't start the computer.

You might wanna see about snatching up a spare power supply from somewhere and checking that out too.
Rustitobuckrustitobuck on January 5th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Probably the power supply. If it's a no-name power supply that came with the computer or case, it was probably pretty lame and underpowered.

One sign of the PSU going bad would be that you might catch a fan twitching when you hit the power button.

A good PSU for $50 or less would fix the problem. Aim for 400W or more; if you have an addon video card, it's drawing a lot of power too.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on January 5th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
I actually don't remember if it came with the case or not, but it's a 500W model.
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on January 5th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you built what the authorities call a Hoax Device. Something that looks like it will do something but does not.

Expect a prompt visit from your DHS.

Wywy on January 5th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Hey, wait a sec .. I'm IN the DHS :P
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on January 5th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
OMG, they're here!

Your Obedient Serpent: fnordathelind on January 6th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
JP Sugarbroadtaral on January 5th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
+1 PSU dead. 20% chance of collateral damage to video card and/or memory. 5% chance of needing replacement motherboard or CPU.
silussa on January 5th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
It would be SO pleasant if power supplies didn't die so often.
JP Sugarbroadtaral on January 5th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, one can't assess power supply quality at a glance. I have heard that some brands are in fact more reliable than others.
Wywy on January 5th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Anything I can do to help?
KehzaFox: Squishedkfops on January 5th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
Actually, last night sort've hearkened back to when I first started trying to learn Linux. My Unix mentor at that time strongly recommended that I have a computer dedicated to Linux (instead of dual boot), and that I save myself grief by having known working/new equipment. That way I wouldn't be learning a new system at the same time I was might be diagnosing a problem.

Of course, that's easier said than done, considering finances and the like.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on January 6th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
I was hoping I'd done enough by replacing the nearly-decade-old hard drive with a shiny fresh new one, but it seems not.
Bennie "Big Tig" Tiger: Computingbigtig on January 5th, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
A system that has stopped dead with no bleeps or boinks or anything is usually a dead power supply.

If the fan does not spin up on the power supply that's a point in the right direction.

If it's soft-power controlled, (The power button goes to the mother board, not the PSU) and there is no LED or other diagnostic on the board to show power at standby there is a less techy diagnostic to check for the power supply:

The power supplies are your basic electric coils and are often packed in oil and plastic. When they fail spectacularly, this is what melts or vaporizes and produces the dreaded "magic smoke." Even your minor power-supple blow-outs involve some shorting in this medium or blowing a heavy capacitor on the control board or something. So... burnt oil/plastic.

Get your nose to the fan grill of the power supply and take a good sniff. It's a hard scent to describe, but it's somewhere down between used motor oil and burnt cooking oil in a frying pan. If the smell is decently present, you've fried a power supply.

If the power supply is fried, and more than a few years old, it was likely just the jostling of the case as you worked that finally caused it to go. Check that cables aren't backwards or mis-wired, of course, but in all likelihood you just need a new PSU from Fry's and the rest is OK.

One other silly thing to check. Most PSU's have a 110/220 switch on the back. Did you accidentally bump it to 220 and it's now intelligently ignoring the 110 power?

Here's hoping it's simple.

Edited at 2008-01-05 10:17 pm (UTC)
Richardf8richardf8 on January 6th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
"somewhere down between used motor oil and burnt cooking oil in a frying pan."

With faint hints of Ozone, and a spicy, almost feisty, finish. ;)
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on January 6th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
I had Feisty installed, but I've been trying to upgrade to Gutsy.

Your Obedient Serpent: techathelind on January 6th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Oooh, good and useful diagnostics. I've seen nor smelt no trace of Magic Smoke.

I'm pretty sure that the power button on the front of the case goes to the motherboard, since I can change what it does by changing software settings. I'll have to dig out the manual for both mobo and case, and see what I can figure out.

It COULD just be that the cable 'twixt case button and mobo is askew. This could conceivably be the root of a lot of my observed problems (particularly the fact that this thing hasn't done a full software shutdown since installing Ubuntu, and would often not quite turn all the way off back when I had Windoze).
Richardf8richardf8 on January 6th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
Once, a long time ago, Morgan's Win2K box was acting flaky. We installed Redhat 7.2. It worked OK for a bit, having a more robust kernel than Windows, and then it crapped out. So I did something I should have done in the first place, opened the case. I noted that the capacitors that filter the processor's power had "boiled over." 1 New Mombo later, and Linux and Windows were running fine in a dual boot configuration, and continued to do so until the HDD died a few years later.

The thing this taught me is that OS's are so complex and fussy that it is so often tempting to troubleshoot them first, but sudden failures, or intractable issues often call for a physical inspection first, as a sort of short-circuit evaluation of the situation.
Dendewhitton on January 6th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
I can offer nothing but sympathy, having also just gone through this.

All you can do is sit there, staring at the thing, and thinking "Bugger."
ArchTeryxarchteryx on January 6th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
I really can't say anything diagnostic others haven't already said (power supply problem most likely, chance of collateral damage) but I do offer the best hugs I can give. I hope that this resolves with a minimum of expense or pain.

(And anyone that would say that this is a Linux SOFTWARE issue is a complete moron. This is as blindly obviously a hardware issue as it gets)