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Old 02-17-2009, 01:03 AM
Martin Willcocks
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

I have an older Debian Linux version that came with Corel WordPerfect 8,
and it had been working satisfactorily on my somewhat ancient 170MHz
Pentium computer system with 128Mb RAM, but Lilo stopped working about a
year ago. Despite several attempts, I've been unable to run it since
this happened. I then tried installing other Linux versions, but none
would work. I am trying to reinstall the Corel/Debian disc but it (a)
will not run the floppy disk intall, because the floppy disks are giving
a "Floppy disks fail" error on bootup (they appear to work normally when
Windows 98 is booted up and running, however!) When I try to install
from the CD only, the CD boots up, and starts the installation but hangs
up after it reaches "Detecting Hardware" (item 3 on the startup menu). I
also tried making a new boot diskette in a different computer from the
CD and this is not working either. The original boot diskette does not
work either. I want to use this version because it will run in 128Mb
RAM, while Ubuntu requires 256MB minimum as doe most other distributions
I've tried. I also want to run Corel WordPerfect 8, as it has features
that are not available in OpenOffice or other word-processing programs
I've tried. The computer is networked and is capable of accessing the
Internet.


Is there a utility program that can determine the faulty system
component and/or install Linux without that component working?

Any other suggestions welcome, but don't talk computerese, please!

Martin Willcocks
Taylorsville, UT. USA.


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Old 02-17-2009, 02:02 AM
Ron Johnson
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

On 02/16/2009 08:03 PM, Martin Willcocks wrote:
I have an older Debian Linux version that came with Corel WordPerfect 8,
and it had been working satisfactorily on my somewhat ancient 170MHz
Pentium computer system with 128Mb RAM, but Lilo stopped working about a
year ago.


Error message?

Despite several attempts, I've been unable to run it since
this happened. I then tried installing other Linux versions, but none
would work. I am trying to reinstall the Corel/Debian disc but it (a)
will not run the floppy disk intall, because the floppy disks are giving
a "Floppy disks fail" error on bootup (they appear to work normally when
Windows 98 is booted up and running, however!) When I try to install
from the CD only, the CD boots up, and starts the installation but hangs
up after it reaches "Detecting Hardware" (item 3 on the startup menu). I
also tried making a new boot diskette in a different computer from the
CD and this is not working either. The original boot diskette does not
work either. I want to use this version because it will run in 128Mb
RAM, while Ubuntu requires 256MB minimum as doe most other distributions
I've tried.


Netbooks are pretty cheap.

I also want to run Corel WordPerfect 8, as it has features
that are not available in OpenOffice or other word-processing programs
I've tried. The computer is networked and is capable of accessing the
Internet.

>
Is there a utility program that can determine the faulty system
component and/or install Linux without that component working?

Any other suggestions welcome, but don't talk computerese, please!


I'd look for Damn Small Linux.

--
Ron Johnson, Jr.
Jefferson LA USA

Supporting World Peace Through Nuclear Pacification


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Old 02-17-2009, 07:03 AM
Martin Willcocks
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply, Ron.

I have been looking at DSL this evening and it may be a good option, but
not if it, too, hangs up in the middle of loading without any error
messages. I've downloaded the relevant versiona nd plan to try it later
this week.
The Floppy Disks fail error occurs when booting Windows 98, but
afterwards, the floppy drives will read and write normally. There is a
5-1/4" amd a 3-1/2" drive, also a CD-RW and a CD-ROM, plus a 1GB SCSI
drive, also an external SparQ drive. The SCSI card also runs an HP
scanner. The system connects directly to a Netgear Wireless N router,
thence to cable Internet service. The motherboard firmware was updated
before the original Linux install to allow adding the second HDD. There
is a 10Gb HDD (C) and a 20Gb HDD partitioned into three logical drives
D, E and F. The older Debian system added a LILO boot partition, the
Linux OS partition, and a Linux data partition all below the C Windows
partition. I may need to repartition the drive with Partition Commander
10 (with its own Linux version) since I can't use the FDISK that came on
the Linux floppy boot diskette.
Corel Customer support pointed me to several kowledgebase articles, but
of course support for the product is long gone (the disks were dated
1999, but I don't recall the version number.) None of these has
anything applicable to the installation issue I'm having.


Error message? None, the installation simply hung. In the bottom right
of the screen is a "spinning disk" graphic that stopped spinning about
30 seconds into the third part of the installation, Detecting Hardware.


Regards
Martin Willcocks
Taylorsville, UT, USA.


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Old 02-17-2009, 12:06 PM
Ron Johnson
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

On 02/17/2009 02:03 AM, Martin Willcocks wrote:
[snip]


Error message? None, the installation simply hung. In the bottom right
of the screen is a "spinning disk" graphic that stopped spinning about
30 seconds into the third part of the installation, Detecting Hardware.


Then maybe a h/w issue? It is, after all, getting old.

--
Ron Johnson, Jr.
Jefferson LA USA

Supporting World Peace Through Nuclear Pacification


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Old 02-17-2009, 04:54 PM
"Douglas A. Tutty"
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 07:06:28AM -0600, Ron Johnson wrote:
> On 02/17/2009 02:03 AM, Martin Willcocks wrote:
> [snip]
> >
> >Error message? None, the installation simply hung. In the bottom right
> >of the screen is a "spinning disk" graphic that stopped spinning about
> >30 seconds into the third part of the installation, Detecting Hardware.
>
> Then maybe a h/w issue? It is, after all, getting old.

Try running the installer in non-GUI mode so that you can switch to the
syslog output and see what you get. I've never run the GUI installer
(your "old" box is newer and more powerful than most of mine) to know
how to access syslog with the GUI.

Open up the box and reseat anything that can move: power cables, memory
simms, expansion cards. Blow out the box; you may have zinc fibres (I
forget the technical term) which can grow off the galvanizing of the
case, or you may have lead fibres off the contacts.

If the box will boot a CD, try a live CD like grml. Its text mode
(although you can start x with it) and has lots of diagnostics programs.

I'd suggest once you get a live system running, that you run e2fsck -c
-c on all ext2/3 filesystems while watching the syslog output. The -c
-c will cause a non-distructive read-write-read check of all blocks in
the filesystem. You actually shouldn't see any errors show up in
syslog; the hard drive firmware should move bad sectors around if it
finds any that it can't write to reliably.

The grml CD also includes a memtest+ boot option so that you can test
all the memory; let it run overnight to get in a few passes.

I'm running Etch on the following hardware:

plot: PII-233 Asus MB with 64 MB ram, 8 GB hard drive.

blitz: dual-PII-450 HP NetServer LPr, 1 GB ram, NetRaid 1si hardware
raid with two 72 GB SCSI drives (hot swap) with two virtual drives (one
raid0 one raid1).

Any box which won't run Debian any more now runs OpenBSD. Since OBSD
has the ability to run most linux programs, you may want to consider it
as a later (not necessarily last) resort. Since OBSD installs from a
floppy boot (or CD), a simple and short download of the installer image
(then put on floppy with dd) gives a simple test. The OBSD dmesg is
particularily detailed.

Doug.


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Old 02-17-2009, 11:50 PM
Greg Madden
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

On Monday 16 February 2009, Martin Willcocks wrote:
> I have an older Debian Linux version that came with Corel WordPerfect
> 8, and it had been working satisfactorily on my somewhat ancient 170MHz
> Pentium computer system with 128Mb RAM, but Lilo stopped working about
> a year ago. Despite several attempts, I've been unable to run it since
> this happened. I then tried installing other Linux versions, but none
> would work.
snip
> I also want to run
> Corel WordPerfect 8, as it has features that are not available in
> OpenOffice or other word-processing programs I've tried. The computer
> is networked and is capable of accessing the Internet.

i know you mentioned no 'computerese' , but...

corel wordperfefct 8, requires libc5 to run. corel linux was built with a
combination of debian releases of slink potato, pretty old stuff. i
think debian woody had libc5 in old-libs section and wp8 ran in woody.

imho, if you 'have to run wp8, then running an older version of debian,
would be better than using corel linux, if available, maybe here;

http://www.debian.org/distrib/archive
>
> Is there a utility program that can determine the faulty system
> component and/or install Linux without that component working?
> Any other suggestions welcome, but don't talk computerese, please!

hardware prolems can be diagnosed with a disc such as;
http://www.sysresccd.org/Main_Page




--
Peace

Greg Madden


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Old 02-18-2009, 03:23 AM
Martin Willcocks
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

Hi Greg and Douglas:

Many thanks for the additional information about diagnostics and the
older Debian Linux. There is probably a hardware issue with one of the
floppy drives that is somehow corrected once Windows 98 has fully
booted, but which still affects booting from a floppy disk. I did try
the memory test on the latest ubuntu release and no errors appeared in
over a half hour, so I don't think the memory is bad yet. I have a
friend who is looking out for some 128MB 72-pin SIMMs for me, which
would allow me to run a less lean version of Linux e,g, ubuntu.
However, the earlier Debian release sounds like a good option, and the
explanation about how wp8 runs and what modules it needs was very
helpful. I will look at the grml CD and the hardware diagnosis disk
that Greg recommended and see if they can establish the problem. What
is or was Debian woody?
Doug, it's tin whiskers, by the way, and I don't think that's the
problem, as they are worse when there is no lead in the solder (probably
not true of 1988 vintage computers!) There doesn't appear to be any way
to enter a non-GUI mode with the Corel distribution when booting from
the CD, and since it does not fully load, I can't run any diagnostics
from it either. My friend is also an OpenBSD and GNU guru, so I can ask
him about the options you mentioned.


Regards,
Martin Willcocks
Taylorsville, UT, USA.


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Old 02-18-2009, 03:55 AM
"Douglas A. Tutty"
 
Default Older Debian Linux version hangs when detecting hardware

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 09:23:29PM -0700, Martin Willcocks wrote:
> Hi Greg and Douglas:

Martin, don't cc me; I subscribe to the list.

> floppy drives that is somehow corrected once Windows 98 has fully
> booted, but which still affects booting from a floppy disk. I did try

You can probably find someone with a spare floppy drive; most people
don't use them anymore. Seriously, try your town dump/transfer station
or wherever people take old computers.

> What is or was Debian woody?

Debian 3.0. I still have CDs for it, it can run on all my old boxes.
Debian didn't do as many things automagically (no udev, no devfs, a
simpler installer, etc); I really liked it. The problem now will be
that it doesn't get security support anymore. However, if the box isn't
used directly on the internet (i.e. separated either physically [no
connection at all] or by a well set up firewall, then you'll be somewhat
safer. However, a firewall doesn't protect you from e.g. exploits in a
web browser.

> Doug, it's tin whiskers, by the way, and I don't think that's the
> problem, as they are worse when there is no lead in the solder (probably
> not true of 1988 vintage computers!)

Whiskers, thats it. I know about the tin whisker thing. There are also
zinc whiskers from galvanized metal. Of course the biggest source of
the zinc whisker problem was in data centers with raised floors (the
support structure and the underside of the floor tiles were zinc
coated).

I'd still unplug and reseat everything except perhaps the CPU (don't
want to mess up the heat-sink goop).

> There doesn't appear to be any way
> to enter a non-GUI mode with the Corel distribution when booting from
> the CD, and since it does not fully load, I can't run any diagnostics
> from it either. My friend is also an OpenBSD and GNU guru, so I can ask
> him about the options you mentioned.

The debian woody media and manuals will be in the debian archives. I
made up a boot-floppy tool set (since my old boxes don't boot CDROM)
that uses 3 floppies. I can email you the image files (make the
floppies with dd) if you like, each is 1.44 MB and I suppose I could
tarball it up. The first floppy is the standard woody installer floppy
(kernel only). It prompts for the root floppy. The second floppy is a
root floppy. This brings you to a normal prompt with a basic
filesystem. The third floppy is a set of files. You mount the floppy,
and run the install script that copies everything over to /usr/local/.
The whole thing ends up sitting on a ramfs so that you then unmount the
floppy and have access to the drive for other stuff.

IIRC it has busybox with all the links which provides all the usual
tools including nano-tiny. There's e2fsck, fdisk, wipe, dd. No
networking though.

Doug.




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