IT Issues

I can get a bit smug about my IT set up but last weekend it all went wrong.

For months when I boot up my desktop there have been a load of error messages, but despite that everything seemed to work OK. I got as far as consulting the local Linux User Group and someone explained it was probably an error on the USB interface, so don’t worry if the the things you use are still working.

Then there’s the Raspberry Pi Server. That lives out in the shed (in case the house burns down) and provides Nextcloud (like any other cloud storage but self-hosted). It has a web interface for normal use, and admin level web interface for tinkering and in extremis I could use SSH to access it, all from my desktop (or laptop or anything at all really with a browser or SSH terminal.

A while ago I lost the special password for the admin dash and couldn’t reset it via SSH. But I could still do updates via the terminal and normal level access was fine. Until last week.

On Thursday I couldn’t access the thing at all. I rebooted it. Still nothing.

On Friday I brought it in from the shed and checked the hard drive by connecting to a PC. Looks fine. I ran an SD card check (the Pi boots from SD but stores data on a hard disk). That took several hours but showed the card was good. The test writes to every block on the card then reads it back so by the time it’s finished there is no operating system left. Under normal circumstances the Pi functions as a mirror site for both Linda’s desktop and mine, everything filed in /home/phil/Nextcloud is mirrored. Ditto /home/linda/Nextcloud. Without it, no backup, so I copied my Nextcloud directory to Linda’s PC and vice versa.

On Saturday I downloaded a new copy of Nextcloud Pi and put it on the SD card. Started the set up process. Once the card boots it sets up the web server automagically so you can do the rest via a web-browser. I got part way through adjusting settings, was trying the set a password for SSH when I lost access again. And then the PC started playing up.

First it told me I had only 500MB free space on the disk and advised I empty recycling bin. Tried that. It crashed. Re-started and booted OK but crashed on starting X. Logged in to a terminal and examined ~/.local/Trash. Seemed to be several copies of the entire operating system, possibly dumped there during upgrades. Did RM on it. Crash, black screen.

On Sunday tried again. Booted to login but didn’t recognise my password. Went to work on Seren in the morning and had a think.

On Monday completed setting up Nextcloud Pi using my laptop. Still can’t set access via SSH but the admin and normal user logins work. Formatted the hard disk, no errors. Started synching Linda’s desktop to the Pi.

Today, Tuesday. Finished Linda’s synch. All seems well. Researched my desktop issues and decided to power off via the mains switch (normal shutdown doesn’t completely stop a PC) disconnect hard drive and remove BIOS backup battery. Left it a while to be sure everything definitely cleared. Tested battery, 3.2V so good. Replaced it. Booted with HDD still unplugged. Normal ‘no disk’ message. Powered off plugged disk in and rebooted. With all the power having been off the OS gave me option to boot into Safe Mode. DId that and checked memory, fsdisk, cleared redundant files, and updated OS. Followed by normal boot, WHICH WORKED!

(EDITED 9 March)

After all the resetting and updating the USB problem has sort of resolved, no error messages but some ports don’t work, including the one the mouse was plugged in to. Fortunately some others work. Could be time to start looking for a new main board?

So now I have to re-synch all my files to the Pi, set up the Phone Tracker again, synch Contacts.

Tomorrow, all being well the Pi goes back out in the shed.

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