2012-06-06

PCLinuxOS (Kinda) Saved My Laptop

Yesterday, I was surfing the web in my room as usual, when some exterminators came to my house and advised that I leave the room while the pesticides were applied. I unplugged my laptop from the wall outlet, forgetting that I had also removed the battery. Whoops.

Today, I was alarmed to see that I could not boot into my Linux Mint system; the OS would give a "no init found" error after the boot splash. First, I had to boot into Microsoft Windows 7; thankfully, that worked as Linux Mint was the OS I was [of course] using when I accidentally unplugged my computer. I looked up the error, and it turns out it's a common one that can be solved by a file system check ("fsck") from a live CD. All the guides I saw recommended using a live CD of the same OS whose hard drive partition is affected, but I had left my live CDs and USB sticks in my dormitory room. Whoops again. What I figured would just be a minor inconvenience turned into a semi-major problem.

First I tried making a Linux Mint live CD from within Microsoft Windows 7. The first attempt failed because I didn't use the right tool to burn the ISO file to the CD. The second attempt failed too, but that is because the live CD would hang during the [very long] boot process after the boot splash screen was done.

After that, I figured it may just be an issue with Linux Mint, so I rummaged through some CDs and found an old Fedora 11 "Leonidas" GNOME live CD. That would also hang right after the boot splash, so at that point I became quite worried that my computer may never be able to work with Linux ever again.

Finally, I found an old PCLinuxOS 2009.2 KDE live CD, and I gave that a shot. To my relief, it worked, although it would not connect to the Internet. I entered "su" into the terminal followed by "fsck -y /dev/sda5" (because my Linux Mint partition is "sda5"), and that seemed to work OK. Rebooting into my installed Linux Mint system worked! I was incredibly happy to see my main OS back in working order and to see that I would not have to resign myself to using Microsoft Windows 7. There are only two lingering issues, and both of them are quite minor. The first is that some odd error message involving "PXE" and "PCI" is displayed for a few seconds just before the GRUB boot menu is displayed, but that goes away on its own anyway. The second, which may be related to the first, is that Linux Mint is apparently no longer able to recognize my laptop's ethernet card, so I must now depend on wireless connections to access the Internet, and I will have to train myself to overcome my aversion to wireless connections stemming from numerous failed attempts by my family to send wireless Internet signals to the very room where I am typing this. Anyway, regardless of the fact that I don't particularly care for the newer versions of PCLinuxOS, I salute [the older version of] PCLinuxOS for doing its job when I needed it most!

(UPDATE: I was a little concerned that this accident may have fried my laptop's ethernet card, so as per some advice posted somewhere online, I unplugged my laptop from everything (power, ethernet, even the USB mouse), and didn't touch it again for the next 16 hours (i.e. from yesterday afternoon until now). For one, that weird error message has disappeared. For another, the ethernet card is now recognized in the "System Profiler and Benchmark" program as well as in the output of the terminal command "lshw -C network", although my laptop refuses to connect to the ethernet. Hooray!)

11 comments:

  1. PXE at bootup is usually for booting via network, so yeah, something happened to your ethernet. Could try go into BIOS, check all settings and save changes, even if none made. If that doesn't help, power off for 20 seconds, go into BIOS again, load default settings or optimized defaults (if available) and save changes, again even if none made. No guarantees that it will work, but definately won't harm to try...

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    1. @shem: Take a look at the update. That said, I will go into the BIOS just to make sure that my laptop's ethernet card is able to work. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Try the ethernet in Win7. If id doesn't work there then you know that the hardware is the issue.

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  3. Sorry, but this sounds more like the experience of a clumsy user...

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  4. @Anonymous 1: I'll probably do that soon.

    @Anonymous 2: I don't dispute that as being the cause of the post. If I hadn't accidentally unplugged the adapter from my laptop, none of this would have happened. I'm simply detailing what happened afterwards and praising PCLinuxOS for being there to resolve the issue. Is there a problem with that?

    Thanks for the comments!

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  5. Prashanth,
    Congratulations on the recovery of your cherished Mint. PCLinuxOS has also saved me a couple times already and one can't get enough of a good thing. It is now the main system on my laptop.

    I believe all of us become clumsy when stressed out, so no problem there. Thanks for sharing your story!

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    1. @Mechatotoro: Thanks for the support!

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  6. pclinuxos will always have a special place in my cyberheart , good stuff on getting everything back on track.

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    1. @cirrusuk: It certainly does well to rescue a system from the jaws of defeat. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. I use PCLinuxOS. It had a real software center like Ubuntu or Linux Mint and an automated update manager pre-installed (there is one in the repos, though), this would be my top pick to recommend to new users - even beating out Zorin OS and Linux Mint. It's a rolling release, so there's no need to re-install the OS every year and a half, and it's rock solid. TexStar does a bang-up job maintaining this distro. Too bad the default look is so fugly IMHO. But it's KDE, so it can be made quite beautiful.
    Thanks, @Madison from Free AC/DC Adapter

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    1. @Madison: Unfortunately I haven't had as much success with PCLinuxOS in general as I have with Linux Mint or even Zorin OS, so I can't say the same about recommending this to newbies. That said, it's great that it has worked so well for you. Thanks for the comment!

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