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Old 10-10-2003, 12:03 AM   #1
kkathman
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Random freeze ups and USB Controllers?


I wonder if anyone could shed some light on this issue.

I have recently installed RedHat 9 on a machine here at my home. That machine has 2 Hard Drives Windows XP is on the first drive, and RH9 is on my second drive. I boot from a floppy to go to Linux because I dont trust the GRUB loader with Win XP coresidency.

When I boot into Linuz..everything seems to work fine and runs well. However, very periodically, that is to say, almost always, at some point my cursor will freeze, the lights on my keyboard begin to blink and the system is now completely frozen. However, the applications still continue to run...for instance the CD Player app continues to play the CD as if nothing happens, but I have no access...the mouse is dead, keyboard is dead...etc.

When I hit the reset button and reboot, it goes through, but stops at the same point everytime...where it is trying to initialize the USB controller. It wont go any further unless I boot over to Windows, shutdown, and turn the computer OFF. Then reboot. It then gives me a clean boot.

Has anyone experienced this? If so can you help me in deciphering whats goin on...Im still kind of a newbie on this and woruld appreciate any help I can get.

Kork
 
Old 10-10-2003, 03:53 AM   #2
geoff_f
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Next time this happens, try the key combination CTRL-ALT-F1. This will start a console in text mode, in which you will be able to login as root and enter the command 'shutdown -r now'. The '-r' is for re-boot. This will save you having to use the brute force method of Reset, which is not good for filesystem integrity. If you get a command line, can enter the shutdown command and it gives control back to the computer and re-boots normally, then the problem is more likely to be with X, and more probably caused by a problem with your graphics card, not your USB controller. When you try this next, post the following info:

Did you get the console?
Could you enter the shutdown command?
Did it re-boot completely to Linux? Or did it hang at the USB controller as before?
 
Old 10-10-2003, 09:47 AM   #3
kkathman
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Thanks geoff for you reply.

There's a minor problem there,as when this happens, the keyboard and mouse freeze up. So, typing CTRL=ALT-F1 is impossible. That is what is a bit frustrating. Otherwise I would be most happy to do that!!

Kork
 
Old 10-10-2003, 08:57 PM   #4
geoff_f
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OK, I wasn't sure whether the keyboard would lock up in X, but still respond to background OS calls. Obviously, in your case, neither case will respond to the keyboard. For people here to be able help you further, we will need a lot more info; such as:

What mode is your computer in when this happens: console, GUI (KDE, Gnome, or ???)?
What hardware do you have: motherboard, graphics card, sound card, usb devices, etc?
How is it set up: standard, or overclocked?
What are your BIOS settings for: PnP OS, ACPI, APIC, Shadow Video BIOS?

It could be something as simple as a corrupted boot floppy loading a dodgy USB module on boot. It would be good if you could try another boot floppy, preferably made from another working RH 9 system, as making one from your system - if this scenario is true - would only produce another dodgy boot disk. How did you create your boot disk?

That should be enough info for the moment.
 
Old 10-11-2003, 02:00 AM   #5
kkathman
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Geoff..thanks again for your reply, I will try to answer your questions here.

What mode is your computer in when this happens: console, GUI (KDE, Gnome, or ???)? -- GUI, both Gnome and KDE


What hardware do you have: motherboard, graphics card, sound card, usb devices, etc?
Athlon XP1800+ CPU
MSI K7T266A PRO 2 MB
512 MB DDR Memory
ATI Rage Fury Pro (Rage 128 Pro)
Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum
SONY CDU 5211 CD-ROM
SONY CRX175E CD-RW
WD 40GB Drive (used for Win XP only) - primary
WD 100GB Drive (used for Linux) -Secondary
Realtek Ethernet Card
PS2 Mouse and Keyboard
No USB devices in use

How is it set up: standard, or overclocked? Standard

What are your BIOS settings for: PnP OS, ACPI, APIC, Shadow Video BIOS?

Here is a list of my current BIOS settings that I thought would be important:

Quick Boot = Enabled
S.M.A.R.T. for HDD = Disabled
APIC Function = Enabled
C000, 32 k Shadow = Cached
AGP Fast Write = Disabled
AGP Aperture = 64MB
IPCA = Yes
ACPI Standby State = S1/POS
USB Wake up from S3 = Disabled
Call VGA @ S3 = Enabled
Power Mgmt/APM = Disabled
CPU Crit Temp = Disabled
PnP Aware OS = No
DMA Channnel0,1,3,5,6,7 = PnP
IRQ3,4,5,7,9,10,11,14,15 = PCI/PnP
USB Controller = Disabled
USB Legacy Support = Disabled

I made my boot floppy from the Red Hat install process. However, the first time I installed RH9 the boot floppy didnt work. However, the second time I installed, it did.

Another thing, which may or may not mean anything...My second HDD is a 100GB drive, and was empty when I installed. I used only about 30GB for the install. I wanted to use the other 70GB for a FAT area so I could share WIndows and Linux Files, but when I use Partition Magic on that Drive, it gives errors for some reason and I cant use it. I may just need PM8.

Hope this helps, Geoff..and others to help diagnose the problem. Again...many thanks for your time and willingness to help.

Kork
 
Old 10-11-2003, 03:38 AM   #6
geoff_f
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Some items of interest I've gleaned from your post:

ATI Rage Fury Pro (Rage 128 Pro) - This is not a bleeding-edge card, so I would not expect that support for it would be lacking. So, for the moment, strike that out as a prime suspect.

APIC Function = Enabled - This is a different story though. APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller) is normally associated with multiple CPU boards, but is known to cause problems with single-CPU boards. An eminently suitable suspect, this one.

C000, 32 k Shadow = Cached - I gather this means that Shadow Video BIOS is cached to RAM. Caching video ROM to RAM is also known to cause problems sometimes, and not just with Linux. Another suspect.

Power Mgmt/APM = Disabled - Although turned off in the BIOS, Linux sometimes decides to activate it on boot (who knows why - Mandrake 9.1 activates my on-board sound, even though it is turned off in the BIOS). Again, power management can cause problems with some motherboards. Another suspect worth of further inspection.

boot floppy - A possible source of the problem, but a really long shot not worthy of consideration at the moment, especially as we have more likely suspects.

My second HDD is a 100GB drive ... but when I use Partition Magic on that Drive, it gives errors for some reason... - This will happen if you partitioned the drive with something other than Partition Magic - say, the RH installer? Partitioning tools - especially the commercial, non-open source ones - use 'special' ways of writing to the partition table so that they are the only ones that will be able to re-work the drive once partitioned. The general rule is to partition your drive, and stick to that one partitioning tool to avoid this situation.

The best way to troubleshoot your system is to investigate the suspects in order of: Shadow Video BIOS, followed by APIC, then Power Management; this order from a combination of ease and liklihood. Try these fixes one at a time, so that cause and effect can be successfully established. The first one, Shadow Video BIOS, can only be altered in the BIOS (from memory). So go into the BIOS and disable the caching of Video ROM. Then re-boot the computer and see if the problem has disappeared.

If no joy with Shadow Video BIOS, leave it disabled and turn off APIC. If you don't want to turn it off in the BIOS (if, for example, you want to leave it enabled for Windows) then it can be turned off by passing a kernel boot parameter in the bootloader. You do this by adding 'noapic' to the 'append=' line in /etc/lilo.conf (or the 'kernel =' line in Grub). So if your /etc/lilo.conf (or the Grub equivalent) has a line:

append = "quiet devfs=mount hdc=ide-scsi"

change that to read:

append = "quiet noapic devfs=mount hdc=ide-scsi"

Then open a console as root and enter the command:

lilo

This will incorporate your lilo.conf changes into the bootloader, after which a re-boot will start your computer with APIC ignored (effectively turned off), even though it is still turned on in the BIOS. Re-boot your computer to see if your problem is fixed.

If not, then leave the 'noapic' entry in lilo.conf and try the last fix: turning off ACPI (not to be confused with APIC). This is done in a similar way to 'noapic', but inserting 'acpi=off' at the end of the lilo.conf file and running the 'lilo' command. Using the above example, the line would become:

append = "quiet noapic devfs=mount hdc=ide-scsi acpi=off"

After running 'lilo', re-boot your computer to see if the problem is gone. If not, come back and let us know so we can look further.

BTW, why do you have this entry in your BIOS: S.M.A.R.T. for HDD = Disabled? Since you have relatively modern drives, it would be a good idea to have that turned on, as it can give useful info if your drives become troublesome. This is just an idle query; it has nothing to do with your current problem, just something that I would turn on in due course - not now - after this current problem is sorted out (don't want to complicate the troubleshooting process for now).
 
Old 10-12-2003, 08:52 PM   #7
kkathman
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Hi Geoff,

I want to thank you very much for your thorough reply, I have already read it once and will read it a few more times before trying a few of the things that you suggest.

Some of the settings I had, were set that way, because this particular workstation was used at one time exclusively for a music workstation. It requires alot of special OS tweaks as well as BIOS tweaks for optimal performance. One of which, was to disable the USB controller and all that.

After visiting those settings, I went back and ENABLED that USB controller again, and noticed when I booted Win XP Pro it added a few hardware setttings. I am wondering if I am going to experience the same thing with Linux and should just reinstall from scratch??

Another point you alluded to, was the partitioning. Before I installed Linux, I took some great pains to clean off all 100GB of my second drive. At the request of someone around here in the forums, I used the Linux Install partitioner (Disk Druid?) to create my parition. Unfortunately, I only wanted to use around 30GB for Linux and desired to use the other 70 for a big FAT32 area so I could put "shared" files. But now Im kinda stuck, because Partition Magic reports the entire 100GB drive as "bad". I bought Partition Magic 8 yesterday, so Im thinking maybe I just wipe the whole 100GB drive clean again, and parition the whole 100Gb drive first in 30/70 and then reinstall Linux in the 30GB partition and a FAT in the 70 with Partition Magic, and use Disk Druid ONLY to create the partiions...though I think PM is capable of creating them.

Any comments on this arrangement? Will I need to reinstall Linux each time I change a BIOS setting, or only this once when it recognizes that the USB Controller is "alive"

Thanks,
Kork
 
Old 10-13-2003, 03:36 AM   #8
geoff_f
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I wouldn't worry about the USB settings; the boot script in Linux has a hardware check that should detect it, and, provided your kernel has USB support compiled in, or has a USB kernel module compiled, it should handle it OK. I would be surprised if RH 9 did not have it covered either way. So don't worry about re-installing just because of the USB issue; go ahead and just try to boot it. And no, you shouldn't need to re-install just because of a BIOS tweak; Linux should take such tweaks in its stride, especially if you are changing them to accommodate Linux.

For your stability problem, if the BIOS settings I mentioned are not as I suggested, I would strongly recommend you try changing them, in the order I suggested. Don't worry about harming your computer's configuration; these settings are not showstoppers as far as computer operation goes. If something doesn't work, then it can be re-set back to the original setting with no harm done. Of the BIOS settings I mentioned, how are they currently configured, BTW?

The only time I would consider a re-install of RH 9 would be if you have changed the BIOS settings and it still behaves the same. Then it may be that a fresh install with the correct BIOS settings might produce a better result.

On your partitions, you need to use one disk partitioning tool exclusively, as I explained in my previous post. Since you have already used Disk Druid to create the 30GB partition, I would just use it to create the other 70GB partition and format it as FAT32. Don't be concerned about Partition Magic's error report; it is only reporting your drive to be 'bad' because it doesn't have PM's proprietry format on it. I'm pretty sure your drive isn't bad, just not behaving as PM would like it to; ie, by its rules. It is quite OK to create a FAT32 partition with a Linux tool, as the format is well known to Linux and Windows will not know the difference. If for some reason your drive can't have the remaining 70GB partitioned with Disk Druid, come back and let us know; there are a few things we can do to fix that.

Last edited by geoff_f; 10-13-2003 at 03:38 AM.
 
Old 10-13-2003, 07:38 PM   #9
kkathman
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Geoff...I have taken the first step...I changed the Shadow setting. That particular setting, by the way, is a cache of the ROM (not necessarily Video ROM I dont think). But I went ahead and changed that. I am in linux as we speak trying it out.

It DID dawn on me that the last two times that the "hang ups" have happened, it was during idle time. In both cases I was listening to a CD using one of the players...and Im sorry I dont remember which, but it was the audio CD off the GNOME menu I believe. Funny thing was that the CD continued to play, but the mouse and keyboard just lost it. It was almost like the system had lost the interrupt or something.

In any case, Im seeing if setting that Shadow ROM setting helped. As you predicted, the change of USB controller didnt cause Linux any problem. It simply was detected on boot up (Kudzu) and was installed just fine. I also took your advice and turned on the S.M.A.R.T disk option.

I will let you know what happens.

Thank you again for your patience.

Kork
 
Old 10-14-2003, 12:14 AM   #10
kkathman
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Geoff..et al...

Well it looks like either that USB controller being turned on, or me disabling the Shadow RAM did the trick. I have been on it all night, left it idle a few hours while watching some TV, then came back and it was still live and kicking...I went ahead and played some CDs using KSAudio and had no probs. Even surfed the web and chatted on GAIM to my daughter and still no probs. Now to try to findout why I cant hear streaming audio from Internet web sites!!

Perhaps this has stabilized the system. Thanks very much Geoff!!

Kork
 
Old 10-14-2003, 03:28 AM   #11
geoff_f
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Kork, yes you are quite right - the term should have been Shadow ROM BIOS, which is the BIOS cached in RAM for supposedly faster operation, except that it can cause problems sometimes. (My error, because of rushing a reply). My bet would be on Shadow ROM being the cause rather than the USB being turned off, but the only way of confirming that would be to turn the USB off and re-boot. If you're like me, you wouldn't feel too kindly to that suggestion only a couple of microseconds after getting it stable after all this trouble. No worry, some day perhaps. Anyway, it is great to see you have some success, with your persistence paying off.

As a general comment, there have been a few times when I have considered throwing Linux away because of some perceived showstopper, when in actual fact it turned out to be something quite minor and was easily fixed. All that was needed was a little knowledge, which mostly came from LQ. So I'm glad you have been able to experience some reward for hanging in there and seeking the knowledge.
 
Old 10-16-2003, 12:20 AM   #12
kkathman
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Oh well...guess it wasnt that shadow C000 ROM setting after all. After a couple of days, I was in my system tonight..and was toggling back and forth in a terminal session looking at a few things, and BOOM...lock up again.

So I tried the next thing on the list...the APIC setting and disabled that. Trying to see if that works.

Geoff...maybe we'll get this nailed down after a while, but Im getting skeptical that its some weird glitch. When I rebooted...it went through the boot but again stopped on that USB Controller initialize. So this time I just rebooted again, and it went through to a clean boot....go figure.

Kork
 
Old 10-16-2003, 02:52 AM   #13
geoff_f
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Quote:
It DID dawn on me that the last two times that the "hang ups" have happened, it was during idle time.
I'm starting to think it may be connected with power management, because that would try to kick in if the keyboard and mouse have been idle for a while. Add the 'acpi=off' parameter as well.

I'm thinking that APIC is a long shot because if that was a problem, you would probably be having much more hardware problems at boot, perhaps not even booting successfully; and since you are sometimes, it's not likely to have been that. APIC can have the effect of allocating IRQs above 15, which Linux doesn't like. In my case, having APIC enabled caused the boot to hang very early on in the sequence - just after 'checking module dependencies'.

It's possible that none of the things I've mentioned will fix your problem; it's just that it's better to rule them out first, before investigating other causes. Don't lose hope.
 
Old 10-16-2003, 03:23 AM   #14
geoff_f
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I might as well raise the chestnut of random freezeups - the power supply. If your power supply is not powerful enough, then it could cause these sorts of symptoms. More info here:

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...lys#post323816

Another suspect would be overheating, either of the CPU, memory or North/Southbridge chips. Your board probably has a section in the BIOS where you can check the CPU and case temperatures.

An even more likely suspect is a motherboard capacitor fault. There was a bad batch of motherboard capacitors a couple of years ago, which cause problems with voltage stabilization on the motherboard; again, producing random freezing and bootup troubles. Look at the capacitors on your motherboard, especially those near any circular toroids with wire wrapped around them, near where the power supply plug connects to the motherboard. These capacitors should be ruler flat on the top. If any are bulging on the top - ie, rounded - then you have the faulty capacitors. More info here:

http://www.timcousins.com.au/

It seems that MSI are one of the manufacturers affected. A friend of mine had a problem with an MSI motherboard and these faulty capacitors.

Last edited by geoff_f; 10-16-2003 at 03:24 AM.
 
Old 10-16-2003, 07:28 AM   #15
kkathman
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Thanks again Geoff...I'll look into those things too. I DID try the APIC=Disabled thing and as you said it didnt even boot, into Linux OR Windows, so I'm afraid that has to stay on.

The power supply can be ruled out, I'm sure, as I just replaced it not too long ago and put a 300W in there where I had a 250 before.

Doesnt seem like I can do much more. It ran pretty well for 2 straight days. I will admit that while running windows I will occasionally get an explorer error but Windoews, bless its proprietary heart, fixes itself on the spot and never fails.


Kork

Last edited by kkathman; 10-17-2003 at 12:18 AM.
 
  


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