Internet is Back

It took a while, but I managed to get my home PC network up and running again last night.

After the problems with the power, it left my mini-ITX PC in a less-than-healthy state and it refused to boot. I managed to fish out an old monitor and pilfered the keyboard from my main machine, connected them to the mini-ITX PC and began troubleshooting.

In the end, it was all my fault. At startup, Linux checks that all file systems which are listed in the /etc/fstab file are present and it refuses to start otherwise. Unfortunately, I’d removed one of them a couple of months ago but forgotten to update this file. Because /etc/fstab is only checked on startup, the system can run happily without the file system, and the first you know about it is when the system needs to restart and things grind to a halt.

That doesn’t mean to say things were easy though. My mini-ITX PC accesses a hard drive in a USB enclosure which caused some problems too. The USB logic doesn’t seem to like the mini-ITX PC being reset with the reset switch, causing weird device read errors at initialisation time otherwise. Even switching it off and on again with the (hard-wired) power switch doesn’t fix things. You have to physically unplug the power supply, wait, and then plug it in again. It took me a while to remember that.

What could have been avoided actually took me 90 minutes to sort out. But I have my Internet fix back now and all is well.

I say all is well though, but tonight we’ve had 2 further “brown-outs”, where the supply voltage dips enough to cause a noticeable dimming of the lights for a couple of seconds. That’s not funny when there’s a whole collection of delicate electronics hanging off the mains supply. Surely by now they can sort this out?

Back to black-outs

I’m getting sick and tired of our electricity running out.

Last night we had three (count ’em) black-outs. Each only lasted about 60-90 seconds, but that’s enough shortage of electricity to cause all mains-powered devices in the house to shut down. They were also spaced-out enough so that you think everything is back working normally, only for it to go again.

What has really suffered is my mini-ITX PC. That’s the little server which sits in a corner managing my e-mail, access to the Internet, providing back-ups, network management, and a whole host of other such goodness. I was in bed early last night, so I didn’t bother powering it back on after the last power cut. I tried to start it up again this morning, which is when I discovered a (hopefully only) minor issue.

By design, the PC is “headless” – i.e. it has no monitor and no keyboard. That’s because it normally runs happily and I can do everything I ever need to it remotely from my other computer. Unfortunately, when I tried to power-it back on this morning, it refused to start. I’m assuming it’s because there’s a problem with the disk needing attention because of the sudden power-off last night. As mentioned earlier though, this has no keyboard or monitor, which means I don’t know what questions it’s asking me, and I have no means of telling it what to do.

Normally, this is only a trivial hurdle – I pick it up off the shelf and put it next to my “proper” PC. Swap keyboard and monitor cables and everything’s tickety-boo. The problem now, however, is that I recently bought a rather magnificent 22″ LG widescreen LCD monitor. This is great when retouching my digital photos, giving me plenty of screen “real estate”. Unfortunately this has a DVI monitor connection, which physically doesn’t fit the old-style D-sub connector on my mini-ITX PC. So I also need to fish out the correct cable from wherever I chucked that, or use the old monitor which is currently lying in a box cluttering up the nursery. Only then can I fix the mini PC and get the home network back up and running.

So at present we have no Internet-capable PC at home, which is Yet Another Thing which needs doing when I get in tonight. So a total of 5 minutes of missing electricity has resulted in a complete e-mail and Internet black-out for 24 hours. It’s a good job I was coming into the office today, because I’d need to fix all of this before I could start this morning.

Talking of work, time to do some… 🙂

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