Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE][SOLVED]

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nonkreon
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Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE][SOLVED]

Post by nonkreon » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:05 pm

Howdy, folks.

My mom has an old laptop, an ASUS F5SL bought in 2008. Although the battery is dead for a long time all other components used to function perfectly to this day. I just made a fresh install of Mint 18 XFCE to keep the 4.4 kernel series (Mint 19 wouldn't recognize the atheros wi-fi card no matter what I did, ath5k just wasn't there even when I installed the kernel headers and extras and there wasn't any other instruction to get it other than compiling and installing a vanilla kernel), and upgraded to 18.3 while keeping the kernel at 4.4.131. Now, I'm experiencing these problems and I don't even know which one to attack and how anymore given the computer's "quantum" state of things sometimes working, sometimes not, so I'll throw a list:
  • The computer "sometimes" does not boot, and I'm suspecting whatever is wrong happens before GRUB. Sometimes, after the BIOS splash, there is just a cursor blinking and nothing happens. Other times, grub shows up, LM splash screen comes up and computer boots perfectly.
  • The computer "sometimes" cannot suspend. I realize that the most common reason is the swap being too small, but the computer has 2 GB ram and 4.1 GB swap, so that's not an issue. Other than that, I have no idea.
    When I say cannot suspend, the screen goes black but is not turned off and the computer just keeps on running indefinitely. Magic REISUB does not work in this case (even if there's no kernel panic), the computer does not come back from suspend and the only way to get out is turning off the computer. This happens randomly, all suspending methods including inactivity, closing the lid and calling pm-suspend sometimes work and sometimes fail.
  • The computer randomly turns off "sometimes", just while surfing the web using Firefox and doing nothing fancy.
  • The computer "sometimes" cannot shut down, most cases experiencing a kernel panic while others just freeze like the cannot suspend case. Other times, the computer just shuts down, and it does it fine and real quick.
After fiddling for hours, when I tried to get to 4.4.0-131 recovery mode today, it told me this and froze there (didn't turn off) before reaching recovery mode and I just stopped messing with it.
memtest returns fine and the SMART of the HDD is fine except high airflow temperature (turkish).

I'd appreciate any comments on where to start. I checked a lot of logs but when I searched for the stuff I found interesting over the net, I didn't have any meaningful hit backs from search engines. Just name it and I'll post the log here.

Thanks for your time,
Last edited by nonkreon on Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by catweazel » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:16 am

nonkreon wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:05 pm
My mom has an old laptop, an ASUS F5SL bought in 2008.
  • The computer "sometimes" does not boot
  • The computer randomly turns off "sometimes"
  • The computer "sometimes" cannot shut down, most cases experiencing a kernel panic
After fiddling for hours...
Stop fiddling and buy your mother a new machine. The one she has is on its last legs.
¡uʍop ǝpısdn sı buıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ os ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ ɯoɹɟ ɯ,ı

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by michael louwe » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:38 am

@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote:.
.
If you did an inplace upgrade from LM 18 Mate to LM 18.3 Mate, try a clean install of LM 18.3 Mate. Avoid using btrfs, ie stick with ext4.

If the laptop has an AMD Radeon graphics card, stick with the open-source driver, ie avoid the proprietary fglrx or Catalyst drivers. Be careful of any updates for the display, eg xorg and mdm. Stay with LM 18.x or 17.x.
....... Some background information about AMD graphics cards drivers ... https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2016/03/ubu ... iver-16-04
https://askubuntu.com/questions/815591/ ... d-graphics

Try using a Linux kernel lower than 4.4.0.131, eg 4.4.0.115, ie the ones without the Melt-Spec patches.

Avoid using Suspend-to-RAM and/or Suspend-to-Disk(= Hibernate). Suspend and other Power Management(= acpi) features for laptops are CPU features. CPU OEMs do not much support Linux.

Avoid installing Level 4 & 5 updates unless you are sure they are safe.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:35 am

michael louwe wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:38 am
Some good advice.
Thanks a lot Michael, those are all great advice, I didn't know about the 4.4.0-115 being a stabler kernel without the melt-spec patches. One question though, can I install 4.4.0-115 if I do a fresh install of 18.3? Wouldn't that break compatibility with the X-stack? Or should I just install 18.1 and never upgrade to later releases?

I'll stick to all your advice and see if things get turned around.

If all fails, @catweazel could be right as well

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by michael louwe » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:27 am

@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote:.
.
Yes, if a clean install of LM 18.3 Mate(= with the newer Linux kernel 4.10/4.13) does not fix the problems, then stick to a clean install of LM 18.1 Mate(= kernel 4.4), ie do not do an inplace upgrade to LM 18.3 Mate. Inplace upgrades can be error-filled.
....... Hardware Enablement stacks are to provide support for newer hardware via newer Linux kernels in new Point Releases. In general, old computers should stick with old LTS kernels. ... https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel/LTSEnablementStack

After a clean install of LM 18.3, kernel 4.4.0.115 should be available for install via Update Manager. ... https://sites.google.com/site/easylinux ... el-updates

Any Linux kernel update that results in your system becoming unstable should be reverted.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:03 pm

catweazel wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:16 am
nonkreon wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:05 pm
My mom has an old laptop, an ASUS F5SL bought in 2008.
  • The computer "sometimes" does not boot
  • The computer randomly turns off "sometimes"
  • The computer "sometimes" cannot shut down, most cases experiencing a kernel panic
After fiddling for hours...
Stop fiddling and buy your mother a new machine. The one she has is on its last legs.
Just came back home to do a fresh install of 18.3. Prepared the bootable USB, inserted it and powered the machine on. It can't even get past the BIOS splash screen anymore, just powers off at the boot device selection pop-up menu. I guess catweazel was right, time to give up.

Thanks anyway for all your comments Michael, I'll be converting my old i7d1 for her use now, I'll still stick by your comments. Hopefully it won't give this much problems :)
Peace out folks,

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by Joe2Shoe » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:05 pm

I would personally replace the CMOS battery on the motherboard. 2008 model, that battery is 10 years old and probably dead, causing the laptop to shutdown randomly for no reason. That's a good place to start.
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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:29 pm

Joe2Shoe wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:08 pm
I would personally replace the CMOS battery on the motherboard. 2008 model, that battery is 10 years old and probably dead, causing the laptop to shutdown randomly for no reason. That's a good place to start.
It can keep track of time perfectly though, isn't that the first thing that drops when the CMOS battery dies? The poor thing went to internal dusting from time to time, they might have changed the battery there.

Nevertheless, I'm checking what type of battery it uses and ordering it :D Thanks for the tip, Joe!

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:14 pm

nonkreon wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:29 pm
Joe2Shoe wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:08 pm
I would personally replace the CMOS battery on the motherboard. 2008 model, that battery is 10 years old and probably dead, causing the laptop to shutdown randomly for no reason. That's a good place to start.
It can keep track of time perfectly though, isn't that the first thing that drops when the CMOS battery dies? The poor thing went to internal dusting from time to time, they might have changed the battery there.

Nevertheless, I'm checking what type of battery it uses and ordering it :D Thanks for the tip, Joe!
My quest for the type of battery used has led me to this video and I realized that unlike a desktop which only involves removing 2 screws, sliding the case lid off and replacing the battery, this device requires to be almost completely disassembled before you can reach the battery (including disconnecting the monitor), involving steps not for the faint of the heart :oops: . I don't have the guts, the equipment, the space and the time to do this, and I still don't know the type of battery required :D it'll take some time before I can get what's required to do this and actually do it, maybe a weekend project when I'm done with my PhD :D

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by rui no onna » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:30 am

nonkreon wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:14 pm
My quest for the type of battery used has led me to this video and I realized that unlike a desktop which only involves removing 2 screws, sliding the case lid off and replacing the battery, this device requires to be almost completely disassembled before you can reach the battery (including disconnecting the monitor), involving steps not for the faint of the heart :oops: . I don't have the guts, the equipment, the space and the time to do this, and I still don't know the type of battery required :D it'll take some time before I can get what's required to do this and actually do it, maybe a weekend project when I'm done with my PhD :D
Unfortunately, too many laptops are like this nowadays. If you do end up replacing it, I think the Lenovo ThinkPads and Dell Latitudes are still quite user serviceable.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by bjmh46 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:29 am

Suspend problems on certain laptops are very common and tough to troubleshoot. I had 2 (much newer than yours) 2nd generation i5 thinkpad l520's that frustrated me so much with never knowing whether or not they would resume, that I finally gave up and installed a non-systemd distro (MX-17.1) that suspends/resumes perfectly every time just like Mint 17 did for four years on the same laptops. Funny thing is, I could run the latest 4.4 kernel on 17, same as 18.3, and suspend with 100% reliability on 17, but unpredictably on 18.3. Go figure!
Believe it or not, I also have a laptop of about the same vintage as yours running Mint 19 xfce flawlessly. HP g60-230us, 4gb ram, 120gb ssd, 2 ghz dual core intel processor (pre-core2 duo) with atheros wifi card.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:14 pm

bjmh46 wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:29 am
Suspend problems on certain laptops are very common and tough to troubleshoot. I had 2 (much newer than yours) 2nd generation i5 thinkpad l520's that frustrated me so much with never knowing whether or not they would resume, that I finally gave up and installed a non-systemd distro (MX-17.1) that suspends/resumes perfectly every time just like Mint 17 did for four years on the same laptops. Funny thing is, I could run the latest 4.4 kernel on 17, same as 18.3, and suspend with 100% reliability on 17, but unpredictably on 18.3. Go figure!
Believe it or not, I also have a laptop of about the same vintage as yours running Mint 19 xfce flawlessly. HP g60-230us, 4gb ram, 120gb ssd, 2 ghz dual core intel processor (pre-core2 duo) with atheros wifi card.
Hmm so you're suggesting that the problem is with systemd, not with 4.4 kernel series and I should stick with LM17? Great piece of advice!

Which WiFi driver does the HP laptop use, did you get ath5k on Mint19? Why didn't I have it then? Can you post the output of your iw list? BTW your HP looks much more advanced then what I even currently use myself :-D
rui no onna wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:30 am
Unfortunately, too many laptops are like this nowadays. If you do end up replacing it, I think the Lenovo ThinkPads and Dell Latitudes are still quite user serviceable.
Duly noted :-) Thanks for the advice

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:13 am

I've added the SMART test results to the first post, the HDD is fine but fails the airflow temperature test. The CPU also decided it was time to go because of the core temp. Poor thing is experiencing heat issues then? It was dusted from time to time, what might be the cause of sudden temperature rise?

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by bjmh46 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:17 am

nonkreon,
FWIW here's the "inxi" on that HP, if you really need it, I can post the "iw list", but it sounds like you are giving up on the old lt. Edit: BTW, I didn't mean to suggest that systemd was to blame for the problem. I did lots of testing, and the only systemd distro that didn't have the suspend problem was Manjaro. All the non-systemd distros seemed ok. This is only true for the particular hardware that I tested. I'm neutral on systemd--I feel there is merit to the old "do one thing and do it well" adage, but I base my distro/de choice on much more than systemd.

Code: Select all

System:    Host: mnt19 Kernel: 4.15.0-29-generic x86_64 bits: 64 gcc: 7.3.0
           Desktop: Xfce 4.12.3 (Gtk 2.24.31) Distro: Linux Mint 19 Tara
Machine:   Device: laptop System: Hewlett-Packard product: HP G60 Notebook PC v: F.36 serial: N/A
           Mobo: Wistron model: 3612 v: 09.51 serial: N/A
           BIOS: Hewlett-Packard v: F.36 date: 03/12/2009
Battery    BAT0: charge: 48.1 Wh 100.0% condition: 48.1/47.5 Wh (101%)
           model: LGC-LGC EV06047 status: Full
CPU:       Dual core Pentium T4200 (-MCP-) 
           arch: Penryn rev.10 cache: 1024 KB
           flags: (lm nx sse sse2 sse3 ssse3) bmips: 7980
           clock speeds: max: 2000 MHz 1: 1237 MHz 2: 1380 MHz
Graphics:  Card: Intel Mobile 4 Series Integrated Graphics Controller
           bus-ID: 00:02.0
           Display Server: x11 (X.Org 1.19.6 )
           drivers: modesetting (unloaded: fbdev,vesa)
           Resolution: 1366x768@60.00hz
           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Mobile Intel GM45 Express
           version: 2.1 Mesa 18.0.5 Direct Render: Yes
Audio:     Card Intel 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller
           driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k4.15.0-29-generic
Network:   Card-1: Realtek RTL8101/2/6E PCIE Fast/Gigabit Ethernet controller
           driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: 3000 bus-ID: 01:00.0
           IF: enp1s0 state: down mac: <filter>
           Card-2: Qualcomm Atheros AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express)
           driver: ath9k bus-ID: 02:00.0
           IF: wls1 state: up mac: <filter>
Drives:    HDD Total Size: 120.0GB (7.3% used)
           ID-1: /dev/sda model: SATA_SSD size: 120.0GB
Partition: ID-1: / size: 59G used: 8.2G (15%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda1
RAID:      No RAID devices: /proc/mdstat, md_mod kernel module present
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 40.0C mobo: 40.0C
           Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info:      Processes: 171 Uptime: 1 min Memory: 376.2/3848.7MB
           Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 7.3.0
           Client: Shell (bash 4.4.191) inxi: 2.3.56

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by michael louwe » Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:23 am

@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote: It was dusted from time to time, what might be the cause of sudden temperature rise?.
Faulty fan.?

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:48 am

bjmh46 wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:17 am
nonkreon,
FWIW here's the "inxi" on that HP, if you really need it, I can post the "iw list", but it sounds like you are giving up on the old lt. Edit: BTW, I didn't mean to suggest that systemd was to blame for the problem. I did lots of testing, and the only systemd distro that didn't have the suspend problem was Manjaro. All the non-systemd distros seemed ok. This is only true for the particular hardware that I tested. I'm neutral on systemd--I feel there is merit to the old "do one thing and do it well" adage, but I base my distro/de choice on much more than systemd.

Code: Select all

System:    Host: mnt19 Kernel: 4.15.0-29-generic x86_64 bits: 64 gcc: 7.3.0
           Desktop: Xfce 4.12.3 (Gtk 2.24.31) Distro: Linux Mint 19 Tara
Network: Card-2: Qualcomm Atheros AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express)
           driver: ath9k bus-ID: 02:00.0
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 40.0C mobo: 40.0C
Just wanted to check if the driver was ath5k, no it is ath9k, so the problem with Wi-Fi doesn't come from me not being able to install LM19 correctly, LM19 still wouldn't work for me. You're right, I should stick to the oldest version that's still receiving security updates. Beautiful system you got there. I checked your message on my phone and decided to check ASUS's temperatures. Mom was playing Aisleriot for half an hour or so, I ran sensors, it gave
ACPI virtual sensor temperature 86C (critical 90C)
CPU core temperatures are 84C and 80C (critical 85C)

you might think why am I just not posting the command output and writing them by hand, before I copied this and opened the forums, the computer shut down again. Seems like before I tackle the software problems and find the right kernel again I need to solve the temperature problem, Aisleriot shouldn't push the temps this much :-D
michael louwe wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:23 am
nonkreon wrote: It was dusted 5 months ago, what might be the cause of sudden temperature rise?.
Faulty fan.?
The fan gets to full speed about after 10 minutes we start the laptop, so I know that it runs. I've never done this before, but considering that we never messed with the internals, would the computer require application of new thermal paste? I checked other forums, some rad people think one should reapply thermal paste every 6 months, some says 3/5/10 years and some say if you didn't take the heatsink off and messed with the old paste you shouldn't have to worry about it. The computer still has its stock thermal paste on it, which might have been applied in 2006 given the uncertainty in its production date. Should I reapply thermal paste?

If yes, I'd take it to a service, and while it's there I'll also make sure they change the CMOS battery although it might not be necessary :-D

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by michael louwe » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:47 am

@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote: .
The overheating problem could be caused by non-compatibility of the open-source driver for the AMD ATI Radeon graphics card = try the fix at this link ... https://askubuntu.com/questions/403965/ ... eon-driver

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:06 pm

michael louwe wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:47 am
@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote: .
The overheating problem could be caused by non-compatibility of the open-source driver for the AMD ATI Radeon graphics card = try the fix at this link ... https://askubuntu.com/questions/403965/ ... eon-driver
OK, I see your point, that's why we should read the release notes I guess.
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver#Ubuntu_12.04.5_LTS_.28Linux_kernel_3.13.0.29.2C_Ubuntu_14.04_LTS_and_later wrote: For the most recent ATI/AMD graphic cards supported by the Radeon driver, DPM (Dynamic Power Management) should work automatically without additional steps.

Instead if you notice overheating problems and/or you have an old Radeon HD graphic card, you can enable DPM by adding a boot parameter.
Then explains the same workaround provided by the post you linked. Going to try it as soon as I get home.

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by nonkreon » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:00 pm

nonkreon wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:06 pm
michael louwe wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:47 am
@ nonkreon, .......
nonkreon wrote: .
The overheating problem could be caused by non-compatibility of the open-source driver for the AMD ATI Radeon graphics card = try the fix at this link ... https://askubuntu.com/questions/403965/ ... eon-driver
OK, I see your point, that's why we should read the release notes I guess.
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver#Ubuntu_12.04.5_LTS_.28Linux_kernel_3.13.0.29.2C_Ubuntu_14.04_LTS_and_later wrote: For the most recent ATI/AMD graphic cards supported by the Radeon driver, DPM (Dynamic Power Management) should work automatically without additional steps.

Instead if you notice overheating problems and/or you have an old Radeon HD graphic card, you can enable DPM by adding a boot parameter.
Then explains the same workaround provided by the post you linked. Going to try it as soon as I get home.
Booted the computer up, did what is told on the askubuntu post, rebooted, waited for 5 minutes or so to let it stabilize and this is what the temps read:

acpitz-virtual-0
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1: +84.0°C (crit = +90.0°C)

coretemp-isa-0000
Adapter: ISA adapter
Core 0: +82.0°C (high = +85.0°C, crit = +85.0°C)
Core 1: +81.0°C (high = +85.0°C, crit = +85.0°C)

What am I missing :-(

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Re: Multiple Problems on Old Laptop [Mint 18 XFCE]

Post by MrEen » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:41 pm

The running fan might not help much if something is blocking the vents. For example, are the vents on the bottom and the laptop is in your lap?

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