non specific troubleshooting, in horrendous circonstances

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evanescenteondine
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non specific troubleshooting, in horrendous circonstances

Post by evanescenteondine » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:54 am

Hi.
My friend, who's a complete idiot in computer, and doesn't want to learn (or would it take, years, seriously, but he doesn't have them since +75),
has a problem with his computer, over there in Portugal, while I'm in France, and I can communicate only through audio/video on phone.
I installed linux mint on his machine, whose debian degenerated I don't know why.
Everything was fine and dandy last weeks, except he had troubles automounting an usb stick, one in particular or all, I'm not sure anymore.
So I added a simple line to /etc/fstab, which was fine for some time. Then there was permanent bad contact (presumably it was the cause, but how can I know abroad and with him unable to follow instructions in less than hours ?), so I removed that line, writing the sharp symbol then a space to comment the entry in fstab.

What happened right after ? It couldn't start up at all anymore ! Asked for either maintenance or let a command line, from which I could do "startx", but neither "lightdm", nor "systemctl start lightdm", as it would blacken the screen completely, and I could only reset the computer. Or tells my friend to so. Mingling with function keys or escape sequences, no thanks...
So I could execute "startx", which would run X with root. And teamviewer, which I used to use in these cases, can not be run in root mode.

how can I run startx with normal user rights ?
Does "su {{{username}}}; startx" suffice ?
Asking my friend to do stuff is hard as painful, for both of us... If I had a surefire way or set of commands to use, I would be highly grateful.

I tried uncommenting the line in fstab, which would cancel the one and only thing I did last time, but it changed nothing. F$c%, it was mean't to be easier than debian, yet it's worse. I'm thinking to get back to windows for him, since apparently there is nothing as easy to handle for a real noob wanting to concentrate on works rather than computer stuff.

Sorry, it was part request part rant, please don't mind :lol:
Thanks for your help :D

deck_luck
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Re: non specific troubleshooting, in horrendous circonstances

Post by deck_luck » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:04 pm

That sounds like a difficult situation. If I get to seventy-five I hope to have the brain cells to even attempt to use a computer. I know it can be very frustrating especially when you cannot see the screen output. Since the last change was the fstab most likely something not obvious to the user in the fstab is probably causing the situation. Did you make a backup of the /etc/fstab file before making changes. You can copy the backup fstab file to the existing one. The simpler way would be to boot your Live image. You would need to manually mount the / (root) on /mnt/root. With an uncooperative user it would probably be easier to copy the backup fstab to the existing fstab. Alternative you could select the grub advanced boot option and run the recovery mode.

Another thought if you put the USB flash device in the fstab did you use the nofail option? If the user forgets to attach the USB flash device Linux will fail the to mount it and stop the normal startup. If you use the nofail option it will continue the normal startup when it fails to mount the USB flash device. Maybe you should check with your user to make sure the USB flash device is attached. Have the user insert the device in the exact same USB port. Also, it is possible the device short name has changed. Did you specify the /dev/sd? short name or use the UUID or label for the fstab entry? Depending on the devices connected the short name might change. Linux does not guarantee a persistent storage device short name across boots.
💡Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. ✝️

evanescenteondine
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Re: non specific troubleshooting, in horrendous circonstances

Post by evanescenteondine » Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:48 pm

ah, no I didn't think of having a back up, since I only comment/uncomment. But I didn't know of the nofail option: I'll uncomment the line and add the option.
I specified the UUID, and asked the user to put the stick in the same place. Didn't seem to change anything.

deck_luck
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Re: non specific troubleshooting, in horrendous circonstances

Post by deck_luck » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:55 pm

I know you are not there, but did you ask him what he sees on the screen when the boot process stops. Maybe he can take a picture with his phone and send it to you.

I am clearly guessing , but by odd chance he may have shut off the computer without doing a shutdown. It may need a fsck on the / (root) file system. You might just try the recovery mode menu option to run fsck on root. Of course this is purely conjecture without seeing the error message on the console when the boot process stops.
💡Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. ✝️

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