Sunday, August 10, 2014

I Got My Ubuntu Box Working Again

When I moved last year, I went to set it up at the apartment, only to discover that it wouldn't finish the boot process.  I was worried something had gotten fucked up when I drove it across the city, and the most obvious of methods to diagnose and fix what was wrong completely escaped me at the time.

In fact, it wasn't until I was setting up SpillPass-Pi and in need of a working SD card reader that I decided to try again to get it to work.  After a few fumbles, one of which strangely got me to the GRUB menu but no further, I remembered something.  Something critical, something useful.

Good old Ctrl+Alt+F1.

You see, in console mode, *nixes have a few virtual consoles that you can switch between by holding Ctrl+Alt and hitting the function keys.  GUIs typically run on the one presented by Ctrl+Alt+F7.  So when it was stuck during the boot process, I hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 and got greeted with the text-mode login screen.

Now, a long time ago, when I had it hooked up to my parents' plasma monitor, I'd had to do a small tweak using xrandr to force the Ubuntu login screen to use the proper display resolution.  I said to myself, "well, I'm not using the computer on that monitor anymore, so let's go disable that...".  Disabled it (I had aptly named the script "") and rebooted, and surprise!  A GUI.  A finished booting process.  "IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIIIVE!".  Etc.

The strange thing is, when I moved, I thought to myself "I wonder if that xrandr script is going to mess things up", but then as soon as I was trying to get the computer going again, that thought completely exited my head.  I was actually more worried about having to hook up a monitor and keyboard to my server so I could go and change the static IP that it was configured to use, even though I never bothered to do anything with my server and it spent the entire time I lived there holding up a box fan so it could blow air over my lofted bed.  Trivia: that box fan is now serving as a cooling fan for my main computer and I need to go get another one to keep myself cool while I sleep.

I can watch anime again, guys.  It's been a year.  I can finish Railgun S.  I can watch UTW-Mazui's release of Kill Me Baby.  I can watch the Steins;Gate movie.  All because all of that is encoded in 10-bit h264 which this single-core computer can't decode in realtime.  My Ubuntu box is a 64-bit 1.8GHz dual core Intel processor, and even though its major chokepoint is its single gigabyte of RAM, that extra CPU core makes all the difference.

Now I just need to procure myself a network switch, a spool of cat5, and some RJ-45 crimping tools so I can have all my shit hooked up to the network at the same time.

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