ervin's blog

Tips and tricks to try before you strangle yourself with a wireless mouse

Casually removing root files

You’re walking at $HOME, minding your own business.

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Prevent systemd installation on Ubuntu 14.04 and other Debian based distros

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain.”

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Troubleshooting Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3P BIOS freeze

This one started out as a nice morning surprise. A bad habit of mine is to turn on the computer in the morning, almost while I’m stretching after waking up.

Not much later, I was greeted with the following message:

Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key

Naturally, I thought that my SSD drive gave up on me, so I did a reboot and tried to select my mechanical drive with Fedora 25 on it. As soon as the motherboard’s boot menu showed up, everything froze. Strange. Did another reboot to enter the BIOS setup. Again, once the setup screen (this time, partially) loaded up, everything froze. No input was possible from the keyboard or the mouse.

Swim!

The “my left leg is inside a shark’s mouth” version:

Disconnect all your USB peripherals, starting with game controllers.

Finding Controlly

I had similar instances with other PC’s, where hard drives were playing up, and the BIOS refused to POST. This was usually indicated with a constantly glowing HDD activity light. Now, the symptoms weren’t exactly the same, but I decided to disconnect all the drives and give it a go.

Master power off, case out, side down, SATA cables out, reboot. Nothing. Clear the CMOS, do a power drain. Nothing. Everything froze at the setup screen. Load up the harpoon.

So, the drives were fine, the PC POSTed but couldn’t load the setup nor the boot menu, and it spat out the error message above, once it got to loading the OS. A fishy smell filled the room.

Started pulling out all the connected peripherals, leaving only the keyboard and the mouse. Bam! It worked!

It turns out, the connected PS4 controller was causing the BIOS to hang and broke the boot process as well. The night before, I connected my PS4 controller via USB to charge it up, and left it on the cable. The moment I disconnected it, everything was working again. Credit goes to ndisic from Gigabyte forums for the hint.

Lying on the shore

This is an edge case and the freezups can be caused by bad memory sticks or failing drives. The error message above indicates a failing drive in 99% of the cases. However, it’s interesting to see these exotic instances from time to time.

Put the harpoon aside until next time.

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Portable build environments with Docker

Chances are, when you want to compile something from source, you will need to install an exotic dependency or two on your box beforehand. Do this enough times, and your screams won’t be able to penetrate the software bloat you built around yourself.

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How to create custom Unity shortcuts

Application shortcuts can be added to Unity by creating special .desktop files in /usr/share/applications/. These shortcut definitions appear in the Dash from where they can be dragged to the Unity launcher.

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Fixing IOMMU issues on Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty

Installation of Ubuntu 14.04 (or any other distro really) on a configuration with an AMD 970 + SB950 chipset is not as straightforward as you may think. In my particular case, the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3.

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