The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
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Offline tinkerer

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The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
« on: April 09, 2019, 01:27:09 PM »
Hi

First, here are the specs of my laptop:

Hardware: Asus X751N Notebook, 8GB ram, 1TB hard drive
Linux version: Manjaro 18.0.04 xfce - NOT dual boot.

Hardware error on startup, but boots up OK into Manjaro log in:

 0.750548] mce: [Hardware Error]: Machine check events logged
[    0.750554] mce: [Hardware Error]: CPU 0: Machine Check: 0 Bank 4: a600000000020408
[    0.750568] mce: [Hardware Error]: TSC 0 ADDR fef62580
[    0.750580] mce: [Hardware Error]: PROCESSOR 0:506c9 TIME 1551497221 SOCKET 0 APIC 0 microcode 36

The laptop seems to work ok with no lagging and I can have numerous apps open. I only had one Microsoft game (now removed) called FlatOut (a brilliant race car simulation), which I downloaded from GOG.com using their Linux installer.  This game worked perfectly in my old Compaq desktop PC but on the Asus, it stutters on every lap.  As you round a bend at speed, the game stops for a split second and then you're suddenly heading for a tree!

I did the obligatory search online for these hardware errors.  It was suggested that it could be a CMOS problem.  As my laptop is only 2 years old but out of warranty, I doubted that it could be the CMOS.  However, one night I had gone out and left the laptop running on battery power only and had forgotten to re-enable power management (for the life of me I can't remember why I switched power management off :().  When I powered the laptop up on mains power, the time and date had reset.

As I've mentioned before - I am a tinkerer. (just keep me away from anything mechanical). As the laptop was out of warranty, I decided to replace the CMOS battery to check if that had any effect.  I found a YouTube video on how to open a similiar but older model to mine and proceeded to open the laptop, boy was that an experience!  Everything is soldered on except the RAM, even the main battery cannot be removed.  After finally removing the motherboard I had to flip it over to where the CMOS battery should be - only there wasn't one.  If I had spent more time trying to find the motherboard schematics I would have known that Asus have replaced the CMOS battery housing with power being supplied by the laptop battery, which is why you can't remove that battery. I personally don't think that is a good idea, because you'll get some idiot like me running down the battery before it had a chance to go into hibernation or switch off the laptop.

Having reassembled the laptop and finding to my amazement that I hadn't broken it, I then e-mailed Asus UK listing the hardware faults above.  They replied the next working day advising me to send the laptop to them by courier, which would cost me £45.  No mention of what the faulty components were, no indication of the cost of repair or timescale.

Still the Asus laptop chugs away merrily, running multiple apps does not seem to be a problem.  I daresay that the hardware faults will manifest themselves into something more serious in time, but I have my trusty old Compaq to fall back on, my backups taken care of by Timeshift and my own script for backing up personal folders.

The Number One rule if you are a tinkerer is to make sure you have backed up everything before embarking on your voyage of discovery - oh - and it helps to read the manual. :)

Frank
 
The first law of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.
(Aldo Leopold)

Offline fraterchaos

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Re: The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2019, 09:59:19 PM »
if you don't know how to break it, you don't really own it!
Science, like Nature, must also be tamed... with a view towards it's preservation. -- Rush

Offline Spatry

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Re: The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2019, 07:31:10 AM »
I have to agree... you are not learning until you break things... clonezilla is your friend.... it has saved my neck from the chopping block on quite a few occasions recently =D
Windows assumes the user is an idiot... Linux DEMANDS Proof!

Offline tinkerer

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Re: The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2019, 07:55:55 AM »
I quite agree.  In fact as one who breaks things all the time, I consider my stripping and rebuilding the laptop a failure - because it's still working.

That is why I like Linux so much.  It's great fun trying to find out where you messed up, which is often, as I have a reputation to keep. Windows was no fun as it did not give you the same clues and possible solutions as the Linux CLI.  And when Windows could not handle my insistent poking about, I got the infamous Blue Screen.  I genuinely offered to be a tester for Windows updates, because if anyone can find a fault, I can.  Sadly they did not pick up on my generous offer.

My friends all agree that it's just as well I did not take up medical surgery - there would be some patients out there going about with only 3 limbs, some with 5.

The central heating seems to be a bit noisy. Now where's my toolbox........

Frank
The first law of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.
(Aldo Leopold)

Offline fraterchaos

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Re: Re: The Tinkerer - a cautionary tale
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2019, 09:59:14 PM »
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I quite agree.  In fact as one who breaks things all the time, I consider my stripping and rebuilding the laptop a failure - because it's still working.

That is why I like Linux so much.  It's great fun trying to find out where you messed up, which is often, as I have a reputation to keep. Windows was no fun as it did not give you the same clues and possible solutions as the Linux CLI.  And when Windows could not handle my insistent poking about, I got the infamous Blue Screen.  I genuinely offered to be a tester for Windows updates, because if anyone can find a fault, I can.  Sadly they did not pick up on my generous offer.

My friends all agree that it's just as well I did not take up medical surgery - there would be some patients out there going about with only 3 limbs, some with 5.

The central heating seems to be a bit noisy. Now where's my toolbox........

Frank

are you my younger brother in disguise?

cause you sound a lot like him... he's the guy that has the motto "if the bolt won't turn, you need a bigger hammer"
Science, like Nature, must also be tamed... with a view towards it's preservation. -- Rush