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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 04-26-2006, 12:05 AM   #1
grenier
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USB is erratic (works half the time)


Hi all,

My problem is that I'm never sure, when I boot my computer, whether the usb ports will work or not.

Going into a little more details, my box is a HP Pavillion (laptop, ZV5000 serie). its main specifications are:
- Athlon XP2800 (64bit proc, but I use a 32bits kernel to avoid problems with some of my softs)
- geforce4 440
- Integrated nforce2 sndcard

I use USB for:
- external mouse (must be plugged-in before booting if I want it to work).
- various external drives (usb keys, external hard drive and my mp3 player that can interface with linux as a drive only)
- External soundcard (Soundblaster MP3+, if I'm to believe harddrake. When it does work, it uses the usb_audio module).

My distro is Mandriva 2006, with the 2.6.12-15 mdk kernel.

Usually, when I boot, I plug the SB MP3+ right after I get to the login screen (if I plug it in before booting, neither it nor the onboard soundcard will work). That's when I know whether eveything is alright or not: about half the time, it works right away, with no problem, and it's the same for eveything else (I plug a drive, and within a few second, new directory(ies) have been created in /mnt and the fstab has been updated appropriately. everything will disappear when I unplug) .
The other half, it doesn't work and won't, no matter how many times I'll try to plug it in and out. Worse, this is when even my various usb drives won't work as well. As I've no idea why it does such a thing, my only solution is to reboot, crossing my fingers.

One thing of note is that when it doesn't work, it doesn't work at all - i.e. the flashing lights that usully indicates an USB device is plugged in don't flash at all.
I've tried loading and unloading the appropriate modules through modprobe for no result.

Thanks in advance
 
Old 04-26-2006, 07:44 AM   #2
satinet
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i can only suggest that you try trouble shooting with another distro (a live cd) and see if it still happens.

sounds like you could be having hardware trouble, like a loose connector.......
 
Old 04-26-2006, 05:03 PM   #3
Crito
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When I've had probs like this in the past it was usually because some of my USB device didn't play well together. Usually mixing low power and one high power usb device is OK. But try putting two high powered USB devices on same controller and there's a good chance you'll either exceed the maximum power or maximum bandwidth limits.
 
Old 04-26-2006, 06:24 PM   #4
grenier
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Thanks for the answers, but the problem arises immediately after booting, when the only device I plug-in is the sound card (and the mouse, of course).

Latest devellopment. Yesterday, I didn't to be able to make the SB work. I rebooted 4 or 5 times, changing the physical plug I used (I have 3). No luck. Desperatly, I tried booting with the card already plugged in, and 'lo and behold, it worked (and the onboard sound card worked as well). Up 'till now, each and every time I tried that, I had no sound at all (from either cards).


 
Old 04-26-2006, 07:11 PM   #5
ScottReed
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Make sure you're not using a USB hub.

Scott
 
Old 04-28-2006, 08:44 PM   #6
grenier
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Well, I mentionned that I tried every physical port to answer the question about the loose connector. Of course, if all of them are basically hub ports and there's something loose on the mobo itself, I guess I'm prettty much screwed.

That said, I can't help but note that I have everything not working, and then working without me doing anything physical to the computer (reboot through external mouse command). Furthermore, as I said in my previous post, lately I've been booting up with the usb soundcard plugged in, and it just works.

So once again no consistency, which really (really) grates.

I would switch distro, but mandriva is the only main one (as in large repositories) that has a good Windowmaker support.
Could anyone indicates what I'd need to do te reinitialize the damn USB without having to reboot each and everytime?
 
Old 04-29-2006, 12:36 PM   #7
ScottReed
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I'd be about 95% positive this is a hardware related issue.

What to do...

- Boot linux from some livecd distro and see if the problem goes away (as already suggested)
- Pop a USB 2.0 card in your box and see if the problem goes away.

Scott
 
Old 04-30-2006, 11:11 AM   #8
grenier
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Well, the few times I gave it a try with a livecd, the external card worked without any problem. But, as the problem happens with no apparent consistency, I'd be tempted to say it doesn't mean anything either way.

That said, my computer is notebook, plugging in a USB2 card means buying a PCMCIA one which isn't very convenient where I live right now, but thanks for the answer.
 
Old 04-30-2006, 12:34 PM   #9
ScottReed
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Have you tried the process of elimination yet?

I'd start by removing ALL usb devices from the system. Boot linux (your regular dist, not a livecd). Then, plug in your mouse. See what happens.

What i'm getting at is that some piece of hardware that communicates through USB that you have plugged in could be causing issues.

I know you say the problem is sporadic, BUT, let me give you an example I dealt with with a windows customer of mine. He has an external usb 1.0/2.0 audio recorder. His system is quite old and sporadically he would plug in the device and the system would lock... windows XP way of saying something is wrong. Other times it would work fine. If we plugged in a USB mouse, everything worked fine, for days and no lockups. As soon as we plugged in the audio recorder, LOCKUP. We disabled the onboard USB 1.0 ports via BIOS and popped a USB 2.0 card in place, all problems solved.

All your hardware MAY be fine. However, one (or more) of your USB components may be a culprit in the overall problem and the only solution may be to replace the ports (pcmcia card). Order one if traveling to buy one is inconvienent.

Again, I believe the problem is hardware, but not necessarily FAILED hardware, more down the lines of a compatibility issue. I think im safe the say that the creative MP3+ device would be your culprit.

Scott

PS: Let me know if i'm not helping and i'll stop posting to this thread. =)
 
Old 05-01-2006, 08:03 AM   #10
grenier
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First of all, let me assure you that any help is welcome.

Getting on with it. I've been unclear: I know the problem is directly linked to the USB soundcard. As far as I can tell, it sometime doesn't quite startup for whatever reason.

So my latest 'hope', I guess, would be to know how to reinitialize USB when it fails for whatever reason without having to reboot. A stopgap measure, but at least somewhat better than the one I have to rely on right now.
 
Old 05-23-2006, 05:14 AM   #11
mbourne
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In case it helps.... I have also been having USB problems lately. I've found low-speed devices (eg. a USB mouse) are fine, but full- and high-speed devices work inconsistently (high-speed worse than full-speed). When they fail to work, under Linux a message in /var/log/messages suggests that the device is refusing the address it is assigned, while in Windows the device is simply detected as a new unknown device with vendor and product ID both zero (Windows doesn't seem to be very helpful when it comes to malfunctioning USB devices!). I have decided this must be a hardware problem, since I have problems in both OS's, and am currently looking at getting a PCMCIA card (found this thread while looking for advice as to which ones work in Linux). Have you tried using your hardware under Windows? If it fails there too, it is probably a hardware problem.

Hope that helps!
 
  


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