Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

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JayLesch
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Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by JayLesch » Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:50 am

Hello world!

I'm trouble-shooting an Asus Eee PC 1001PXB, which was purchased by the owners apparently pre-owned with a factory reset performed. However, the factory installed copy of Windows XP absolutely would not activate, no matter what method I attempted to do so (so much for continuing to honor legitimate activation codes for purchases while not supporting the now dead OS), leaving them with a locked up notebook after the 30-day period expired. To give them functionality back to their now unsupported machine, I installed Linux over the top of Windows (currently Mint 17.3-Cinnamon 32-bit). This performs beautifully aside from the following and another separate issue.
The touchpad will only function for one single boot, then requiring the notebook to be reset multiple times before it will function again. This is onset immediately on login (set to do so automatically, so direct to desktop, no login screen). The cursor is visible onscreen before timing out from lack of input, but will not budge. Likewise, the buttons do not appear to function as well. On the boots that the touchpad decides to function, it does so flawlessly without any glitches whatsoever for the entire time the machine is on regardless of duration; hence I doubt it's a physical hardware issue, almost seems like an intermittent sequencing problem on initializing devices during boot that randomly doesn't occur only on some boot-ups.
Needless to say, I do not want to return a machine I'm supposed to have made operational with the side-note that the users have to boot it again and again until the mouse will respond, however I'm also pretty green regarding trouble-shooting hardware with Linux.
It should be noted that this malfunction occurs across any other distro I've tried (including Ubuntu 14.04.3 & 15.10 and also Zorin 9 lite), both installed to disk and on live sessions via a USB drive; indicating this is a system incompatibility with Linux of all different flavors and not just a lack of a needed driver being compiled into just one of them.

I'll be happy to run commands in the terminal to obtain any specific specs requested for suggestions :) (nothing seemed relevant to me at the time for an input device)

Thanks for reading and hopefully in advance for responding!

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Pjotr
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by Pjotr » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:05 am

Did you try a BIOS upgrade?
Tip: 10 things to do after installing Linux Mint 19.2 Tina
Keep your Linux Mint healthy: Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes
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All in all, horse sense simply makes sense.

JayLesch
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by JayLesch » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:55 pm

BIOS upgraded to latest available from the manufacturer per your suggestion... no effect sadly. Same symptoms. Happenstance randomly had the next boot after upgrading be functional for the track-pad, but I performed a restart and it was back to not working again =/ But at least that nail is hammered down. Still unsure what problem is tripping the system up though.
Thanks for the suggestion Pjotr.

OlivierM
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by OlivierM » Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:44 pm

I have an old laptop that would make a load of random errors with latest Mint/Ubuntu.
I installed an older version of Lubuntu on it and all issues disappeared.
It might work with an older version of Mint as well, I don't know. I just had this 2+ years old Lubuntu CD at hand (I think it's 12.x or 13.x).

Maybe try with an older distribution (you have to manually add the archive as new source for packages).
XFCE Mint 17.3 & 18.1. Various laptops and desktops.

JayLesch
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by JayLesch » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:12 am

OlivierM wrote:I have an old laptop that would make a load of random errors with latest Mint/Ubuntu.
I installed an older version of Lubuntu on it and all issues disappeared.
It might work with an older version of Mint as well, I don't know. I just had this 2+ years old Lubuntu CD at hand (I think it's 12.x or 13.x).

Maybe try with an older distribution (you have to manually add the archive as new source for packages).
Sounded reasonable. The oldest version of Mint offered on the official site was Mint 13 Maya (got the 32 bit MATE version). Seemed to install fine (albeit a little bit laggier than the newer version of Mint from before), but on reboot once again the trackpad was unresponsive. Did a ton of scrolling lines of commands being run by the kernel that seemed to rapidly cycle starting and stopping different operations repeatedly before moving to the next. Took like 3 solid minutes before Mint launched.
I could experiment and see if an old Lubuntu works like it did with you, I just have limited internet access at my location so I have to download ISOs elsewhere.
Thanks for the suggested avenue of experimentation OlivierM, I'll keep poking at older distros with the hope of one clicking.

Still a mystery to me as to why the touchpad would only not work on some boots. If it does at all, why not always? What could be disrupted at boot? Likewise the keyboard never loses functionality, only the trackpad.
Was hoping these symptoms might resonate with somebody with more experience troubleshooting hardware glitches.

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LinuxJim
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by LinuxJim » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:34 am

JayLesch wrote: indicating this is a system incompatibility with Linux of all different flavors and not just a lack of a needed driver
No, this is more indicative of a hardware problem, as that model of netbook is known to work well with Linux. For example:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/ASUS_Eee_PC_1001px

If you're able to crack the case, I'd check the cable going to the Synaptics touchpad (both ends). Could also be a failing USB controller (the trackpad is a USB device internally). Can you plug in a USB mouse and use it without any problems?

EDIT: Another thought - you may want to try disabling the "boot booster" function in the BIOS setup. It apparently skips a lot of hardware initialization/detection, leaving it up to the OS to take care of it. This "boot booster" may only work with Windows...

JayLesch
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Re: Intermittent Touchpad Failure on boot

Post by JayLesch » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:38 am

Excellent feedback, thank you LinuxJim!
LinuxJim wrote: No, this is more indicative of a hardware problem,...
I'm more than willing to accept correction on my conclusions, so that's awesome if you think this is actually indicative of a hardware problem. I'm looking for indications of anything as long as its a direction to look into! My other reasons for thinking it wasn't hardware related however is the fact I've been experiencing some display glitches as well which I find unlikely to be just coincidental, and neither of these issues were present ever while the machine had Windows XP on it. Seemed unlikely these issues occured only at the time I installed Linux, but again I openly accept pointers if you actually recognize symptoms.
LinuxJim wrote: ...as that model of netbook is known to work well with Linux. For example:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/ASUS_Eee_PC_1001px
I did notice a lot of mention of the ASUS Eee PC 1001px (Seashell) on the internet. However, the only thing I've found on this specific model, the 1001pxb, is a Newegg product posting which has the exact specs of the unit I'm working with:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834220880
It might be absolutely nothing, I initially assumed the added 'b' was just meaning it had a black case, but I consistently find the specs for the plain 1001px is always packaged with Windows 7 Starter (while this one is XP from factory) and sometimes is listed as having more RAM than this unit (only 1GB here). Obviously this could just be a variant of the same base model and crucial hardware and just as viable for Linux, but then again maybe there really is a slight difference and the 'b' model is shipped with the earlier OS because it has less capability.
I'm happy to operate with the assumption that if the 1001px is known to work well, this one should too if nothing was malfunctioning inside. Just found it interesting that even Asus's support page has no results matching the variant I'm working with, and only good 'ole Newegg has any mention of it that I can dig up.
LinuxJim wrote: If you're able to crack the case, I'd check the cable going to the Synaptics touchpad (both ends). Could also be a failing USB controller (the trackpad is a USB device internally).
I'll get back on trying to make it happen, but when I tried to open it before I was stumped by a badly rusted/stripped screw that absolutely would not budge for me. I was concerned that potentially there was an insect that crawled inside and shorted something out (that honestly is a recurring issue here in Hawaii). Likewise I'll see if I can detect any failing controllers, thanks for that pointer.
LinuxJim wrote: Can you plug in a USB mouse and use it without any problems?
Plugged in a usb mouse (only one I have handy is a Razer gaming mouse, so don't know if that complicates things with its added features), and instantly the xserver crashed and I got an error screen. After a reset with the mouse still plugged in to see if it initializes on boot better, it got stuck in an unending loop of starting and stopping processes indefinitely. Had to do a hard shut down after letting it run for over 20 solid minutes.
LinuxJim wrote: EDIT: Another thought - you may want to try disabling the "boot booster" function in the BIOS setup.
Haven't tried this yet, sounds promising. Although, the link for Arch Linux you posted earlier mentioned people were having issue getting a usb drive to detect with that boot booster on, while I've never had an issue as long as I switch the boot order in the BIOS settings.

Thanks again for your suggestions, more avenues for me to explore.

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