Category Archives: Administrative

Computer Problems, Continued

This post and comments were getting to be too much, so I’m starting a new one.

So when we last left our intrepid hero, he couldn’t reinstall grub because the shell wouldn’t talk to the Internet.

So I rebooted the live USB again, and after I did so, I could ping the net. So I went to this suggested page, and tried to do what it said, but his lsblk issues this tree:

Continue reading Computer Problems, Continued

Computer Problem

I’m posting this from Patricia’s machine, because mine died in its sleep last night. When I got up, it had reset for some reason, and was ready to boot. But it wouldn’t. It just spins forever. I tried reverting to previous kernels, but still no joy. It even fails when booting to rescue it. Not sure how to even start to diagnose it. I could try booting her machine with it (very similar hardware), to see if it’s a software issue, but I’d have to figure out how to edit the fstab, because it overmounts a separate drive as /home, and her machine wouldn’t have it.

Anyway, fun times.

[Update a while later]

Definitely not a software problem; I tried booting it from the drive I use to boot my laptop, and the same issue. I looked at the hardware monitor in the BIOS, and not seeing any issues. The CPU temperature seems fine. And the CPU seems to be working well enough to get to the boot menu. I suspect it is a motherboard issue (though it could be memory). I should see if it will boot with memtest.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Per comments, in the BIOS setup, I am seeing all three drives (the SSD that the OS lives on, the hard drive that is /home, and the SSD that Windows lives on for the VM), 32G of RAM. All looks fine from that standpoint. Next step is to find a stick and put memtest on it.

[Update a while later]

OK, I’m posting this from the machine. It seemed to boot fine from a Fedora 33 live USB (i.e., it doesn’t seem to be a hardware problem). Now to figure out why it won’t boot from its own drive, or from the other Fedora drive I tried. Any diagnostic suggestions?

[Update a few minutes later]

So I ran fsck on /dev/sda (my system drive). It said there was a dirty bit set on the first partition, but other than that it found no problems. But it still won’t boot.

[Afternoon update]

So, using the instructions on this page, I tried reinstalling grub2. On the last command, I got this error message:


[root@localhost-live /]

# grub2-install /dev/sda
Installing for i386-pc platform.
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda2”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda2”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda3”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
grub2-install: warning: ../grub-core/partmap/gpt.c:190:this GPT partition label contains no BIOS Boot Partition; embedding won’t be possible.
grub2-install: warning: Embedding is not possible. GRUB can only be installed in this setup by using blocklists. However, blocklists are UNRELIABLE and their use is discouraged..
grub2-install: error: will not proceed with blocklists.


[root@localhost-live /]

# ls /dev/sda1

So I don’t know why it’s having trouble knowing the device (sda1 is my boot partition). Any ideas?

[Update a few minutes later]

Wait a minute. Why is it installing for an i386 platform? This is a Ryzen. [Off looking up man on grub2-install]

Weird. It says the default platform is the one that the installer is running on. I’m pretty sure that this live USB is x86_64.

Here is the boot partition:

EFI grub2 mach_kernel System

[Update a while later]

OK, weirder and weirder. I’m following the instructions on this page (just the last one to reinstall grub and shim), but when I do the dnf, it times out getting to the repositories. And I can’t ping Google. Yet I’m able to web surf. Riddle me that, Batman.

Very weird. I cannot access the website from this computer. It’s not a route issue, because I can get to it from her Windows machine, but on my Linux machine, it times out. Traceroute output is:

$ traceroute
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
1 * * *
2 ( 17.514 ms 17.540 ms 17.560 ms
3 ( 19.775 ms 17.523 ms 19.857 ms
4 ( 19.543 ms 19.665 ms 19.535 ms
5 ( 20.183 ms * *
6 ( 26.906 ms 27.243 ms 27.196 ms
7 * * *
8 * * *
9 ( 57.537 ms 54.337 ms 55.683 ms
10 * ( 54.432 ms 57.155 ms
11 ( 82.146 ms 84.211 ms 85.019 ms
12 ( 72.644 ms 74.857 ms 72.502 ms
13 ( 77.715 ms 74.947 ms 74.869 ms
14 * * *
15 * * *
16 * * *
17 ( 88.314 ms ( 90.802 ms ( 84.928 ms
18 * * *
19 * * *
20 * * *
21 * * *
22 * * *
23 * * *
24 * * *
25 * * *
26 * * *
27 * * *
28 * * *
29 * * *
30 * * *

When I ping it, I get this:

$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=233 time=79.8 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=233 time=80.7 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=233 time=79.8 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=4 ttl=233 time=82.8 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=5 ttl=233 time=79.7 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=6 ttl=233 time=78.7 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=7 ttl=233 time=79.2 ms
— ping statistics —
7 packets transmitted, 7 received, 0% packet loss, time 6005ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 78.697/80.101/82.796/1.235 ms

When I try to browse to that IP address, I get this:

Your connection is not private

Attackers might be trying to steal your information from (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards). Learn more


This server could not prove that it is; its security certificate is from * This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection.


Anyone have any idea what might be going on? This only started in the past day or so.

Note: I have the same problem on my virtual Windows machine. I simply cannot access Amazon from this hardware.

[Update a while later]

None of the proferred explanations so far explain why it’s only (AFAIK)

[Afternoon update]

OK, the problem is with ExpressVPN. When I disconnect it, and put Google’s nameserver in /etc/resolv.conf, it works. So I guess I need to talk to them.

[Late afternoon update]

OK, the problem seemed to be the San Francisco VPN server (the default). When I connected to LA instead, the problem went away.

Fedora Problem

I’m running Fedora 31 (I know, I should update to at least 32), with two monitors. One monitor is always in Workspace 3 (its primary function is to display a virtual Windows installation). Sometimes, when the machine wakes up, only the main monitor will wake up. I can activate the other one by going into settings, changing it from “Join” to “Mirror,” then reverting. But the problem with this is that, in addition to being a PITA, it for some reason jumbles up my work spaces, moving things around that I then have to rearrange the way I want them. Does anyone have any suggestions?

[Update on November 6th)]

I upgraded to 32, and the problem seems to have gone away. So I guess it wasn’t just me.


Continued Light Blogging

I’m sort of on vacation this week. I gave a talk in Omaha on Friday as part of a space panel with General Kwast and Joel Sercel, on the economics of space, to a Free Market Forum sponsored by Hillsdale College. It seemed to go well, and seemed to be an eye opener for many in the audience, so it was great to preach to someone other than the choir.

We’re in Michigan now, visiting family and checking out the fall colors for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, I’m also boning up for my deposition next week in DC by Mann’s lawyer. So I’ll keep an eye on things, and post if something noteworthy happens, but consider this an open thread for now.

Virtual Box Woes

I just did a Fedora reboot after a kernel upgrade, and when I try to start Windows in Virtual Box, I get this error:


Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908)
The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver is either not loaded or not set up correctly. Please try setting it up again by executing ‘/sbin/vboxconfig’ as root.

If your system has EFI Secure Boot enabled you may also need to sign the kernel modules (vboxdrv, vboxnetflt, vboxnetadp, vboxpci) before you can load them. Please see your Linux system’s documentation for more information.

where: suplibOsInit what: 3 VERR_VM_DRIVER_NOT_INSTALLED (-1908) – The support driver is not installed. On linux, open returned ENOENT.


When I run /sbin/vboxconfig, I get:

****************************************************************** Stopping VirtualBox services. Starting VirtualBox services. Building VirtualBox kernel modules. failed: Look at /var/log/vbox-setup.log to find out what went wrong.

There were problems setting up VirtualBox. To re-start the set-up process, run /sbin/vboxconfig as root. If your system is using EFI Secure Boot you may need to sign the kernel modules (vboxdrv, vboxnetflt, vboxnetadp, vboxpci) before you can load them. Please see your Linux system’s documentation for more information.


Here’s the log:


Building the main VirtualBox module.
Error building the module:
/tmp/vbox.0/Makefile-header.gmk:100: *** The variable KERN_DIR must be a kernel build folder and end with /build without a trailing slash, or KERN_VER must be set. Stop.


Now what?

[Noon update]

So I followed the instructions here, including the reboot, and still no joy. Now the error log is (click on “continue reading if you want to see it):

[Update a while later]

OK, it was the new kernel. I reverted to the previous one and it’s fine. I wonder if I should report this to Oracle, or Fedora, or both?

[Update a while later]

OK, I updated to the new version of VirtualBox, and it now works with the new kernel. I guess VB doesn’t automatically update when I do a general update. I should probably add the repository for it.

Continue reading Virtual Box Woes

Computer Problems

So the parts arrived today, and I’m installing the motherboard. The problem is, in addition to the 24-pin power connector, there are slots for an 8-pin and a 4-pin, right next to each other. But the PSU has no 4-pin connector; it only has an 8-pin, and four 6+2s. What am I supposed to do? I see that on my own X570 board from MSI (similar to the new one, but a different model), I didn’t use it, and it seems to be running OK. So just ignore?

[Update a while later]

Well, it seems to be running fine without it.

The good news: It works. The bad news: The new processor isn’t compatible with Windows 8.1; it says it needs to upgrade to 10. And I can’t get good screen resolution, which will probably get fixed after an upgrade.

[Wednesday-morning update]

OK, $200 later, we upgraded to 10, but still crap resolution. Had to install Nvidia drivers to clean things up. But now all seems well. So far.

Computer Fun

Patricia’s machine has been acting up for months, dying unexpectedly. I tried replacing CPU, memory, and power supply. Also cleaned the CPU heat sink. But to no avail, and now it shuts down almost immediately after boot. So it’s probably the motherboard.

And of course you can’t buy new FM-2 mobos any more, so it means new processor and memory as well, plus a graphics card, because the Ryzen doesn’t support on-board integrated graphics. So we just had to lay out about $600 for an upgrade, but it will be a much better machine, with a Ryzen 5 3600X (same as mine) and 32G of RAM in a single stick (upgradable to 128G). It will also be able to support multiple monitors. Unfortunately, it won’t be here before Tuesday.

[Sunday-morning update]

Wow, time flies. I just realized from an old blog post that her mobo was five years old.