LIghtning – It Goes Where It Wants, Regardless

My long absence from my Linux blog:

It’s been a busy 6 weeks on the farm. The first of September saw a huge storm roll through our area, and with it, a lightning strike that took out everything hardwired to our internal network!

We have a 60 foot tower on the farm, that is grounded with several ground rods. My office has what’s called a halo built into it, that usually protects everything inside from lightning strikes as well. Indeed, that tower has been hit many times the last 11 years with no damage.

Did the lightning hit the tower or my office building? Nope, it hit a network cable that run through a cable bridge between my office and the barn! The cable bridge is grounded, but rather than hit the grounded bridge, it hit the network cable that was laying in the bridge.

The resulting hit took out 2 servers, 5 desktops, 1 laptop, 1 television, 7 cameras, a Harris video switcher, my 2, DIN 3 internet relay units, and all of my ham radio equipment. Everything that was in some way hooked to the wired network!

Being in the state insurance pool, filing a claim would be useless, and with my high deductible, wouldn’t help much anyway. So for the past 6 weeks we’ve been cobbling everything back together from scratch!

Pile of blown up equipemnt

Some of the equipment destroyed in a lightning hit

Restoration was made a bit easier, in that none of our hard drives were damaged, so as new computers were purchased, We were able to restore all of our data with zero loss.   For our replacement ownCloud server, I just plugged the old drive right in and booted it up!

Next, we spent a couple of weeks trenching new conduit from our goat pen, into the house, and have moved all of our streaming video equipment and control systems inside. Further, we’ve totally isolated that system from the rest of the network.

All the new computers now run Linux Mint 18, and we’re very happy with the refinements over version 17.3.

So yes, do take precautions with your equipment where lightning is concerned, but they don’t always work.

No Weather On Your Taskbar?

Seems that NOAA.gov has shut down their weather data in the past few days. The weather applet on the Linux task bar used this resource.

Fear not, and be patient, as the developer of this wonderful desktop tool is working on sourcing a new data stream. As soon as it’s tested, I’m sure it will be pushed out to the repositories!

To read the ongoing work, CLICK HERE

Kernel Freezes, Crashes? Try This Quick Fix

I’ve written about kernel freezes a few times lately, and have spent hours and hours researching what others have done to fix them.

In some forums, they blame bad hardware, like corrupt hard drives or memory segmentation faults etcetera. Testing of hardware always showed me as not having any problems in that area though.

My problem with my Acer Aspire was that any 3.* kernel ran fine without freezes, but most 4.*kernels would freeze. Some, like the 4.4.0+ kernels would freeze all the time, and 4.4.15 would freeze only once a day or so.

Really wanting to have an answer to why it was happening, I finally stumbled on this github thread which was explaining about the CPU feature of being able to save power by changing the current CPU state, or C-state for short. Seems that when my Acer computer was being put into a lower power mode, it would instead just shut down completely!

The repair is very simple, and involves a quick edit to your Grub boot menu.

Adding a C=State Parameter to your Grub boot file.

Adding a C=State Parameter to your Grub boot file.

Do a sudo edit of your /etc/default/grub configuration file to find the line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”

As I use medit, the command to edit the file would be:

sudo medit /etc/default/grub

Replace it with this line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash intel_idle.max_cstate=1″

As shown in the highlighted  line of text in the image above, I commented out the original line, and simply added the new one.

After you save the file, do a quick: sudo update-grub to let grub know that you’ve changed it, and then reboot.

This will force the CPU to always run at full power, and in the case of my Acer Aspire XC-603G, preventing the CPU from locking up!

Since I made this change, I’ve had zero freezes on this machine.

 

Kdenlive Crashing Issue Resolved

We  rely heavily  on Kdenlive, as we shoot and edit video for our website, Roku and YouTube channels almost daily.

Kdenlive

Kdenlive

Running version 15.12  became a chore, when about 3 days ago, it started crashing. Either just freezing up, or force closing itself in the middle of an edit. Not something you want happening when working against a deadline!

With nothing showing up in the logs, it was time to figure out what was going on through trial and error.

First thing I did was do a reinstall of the software. reboot, and try again. Same problem…

Next, I tried using  the Package Manager to do a Complete Uninstall of Kdenlive. This is supposed to delete not only the software, but also the configuration files. After doing the uninstall, then a reinstall, I tried running the program again. Still broken…

There was only one thing left to try, and of course that turned out to be the problem.

Because I use a wide array of graphic elements over and over with each new edit project, I always started with a saved master file that would load my most used graphics, ready for use.  After the master file was loaded, I’d then load the video clips I wanted to use, and then save that project to the desired name; usually the current date.

Seems my master.kdenlive file was corrupt! Starting over from scratch, and building a new master project file, cured the problem completely.

Files can get corrupt for a number of reasons. Hard drives starting to go bad, lost bits after a back and restore, or in my case after some reflection; our cat running under my desk and yanking the power cord out of the socket!

Lesson learned , if a much used project file is crashing; build a new one!