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  1. #1

    Dell Dimension 4300 Desktop - wtf just happened?

    Alright, this computer was given to me because a friend said it was "broken" - basically, Windows was slow as hell at the point he had it, he bought a new one, and told me to "have fun" with this Dell.

    Well, I wiped it clean of Windows and installed Ubuntu on it. That was a good few months ago, btw - everything ran fine and smooth on it. I think he upgraded the RAM, or something, because I have around a gig of that, the CPU is decent, around 1.60GHz (or is it MHz?), a good video card. Everything ran great on it.

    After a few months, I tried other distros, including Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and some others I can't quiet remember right now.

    Fast forward to now. I have Xubuntu running (basically I'm a speed freak), decide to run Beryl, and everything seems to work. It goes on for a few days, nothing bad happens. Suddenly, the panels won't load on a boot up. I read up on the problem, and find out that Beryl is exactly as stable as it could be on a Gnome desktop.

    For a while, I just run 'sudo aptitude install ubuntu-desktop' and get rid of the Xubuntu desktop setup. It's fine for a few days, but I just can't get the same feeling and speed out of the Gnome set up. So I throw my Xubuntu Fiesty Alternate cd in the DVD drive and... it can't read it?

    What? A DVD drive can't read a normal CD, and I know it isn't a bad burn? I mean, it was the same CD I used to install Xubuntu before, so it shouldn't be a problem for it to read again, right?

    Apparently, it is. So there is strike one - my DVD drive seems to be busted.

    I go find my old (and I mean old) CD drive (ugh, only reads at 2x!), slap it inside the computer, and try to let it have a go. It reads successfully, and I decide to let it handle the installation - bad idea. That crap took about two days to finish.

    Alright, here we are now, I'm on a laptop typing all this out to you. I will try to explain whats going on here... My OS is loading very slowly. This laptop, with only around 200MB of RAM and a 755MHz CPU can load faster than the desktop... I'm serious, the Dimension used to be able to load things up in a snap, but now it's taking more than thirty minutes to get past the "Starting up..." text at the start of the process.

    That's strike two.

    Strike three will be when I go batshit crazy and throw the thing out in my lawn and beat it with a hammer. What gives? Xubuntu should NEVER take this long to load, especially on a juiced up beast like this. I'm not sure what to do now. I have no money, so I can't just run down to the computer repair store, let alone buy a new computer... What should I do?

  2. #2
    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Hiya SZF2001,
    I would try booting the machine up (yes it gonna take awhile), but check in /var/log/messages for any errors, also check the output of dmesg. Try running fsck on the HD, you might also try booting without the GUI, so you can read the boot messages.
    Keep in mind, your friend did say it was "broken", and If by chance you do make it to strike 3, please post photos of yourself going "bat **** crazy with a hammer". That should be very interesting. I'd use a very small, new hammer to get maximum enjoyment, and minimize the scuff marks left from an old hammer.
    I do not respond to private messages asking for Linux help, Please keep it on the forums only.
    All new users please read this.** Forum FAQS. ** Adopt an unanswered post.

    I'd rather be lost at the lake than found at home.

  3. #3
    Oh God, you were right about the wait - I've had the computer trying to boot into the fresh Xubuntu install since your post, and only now it's gotten into the GUI, showing some icons, no panels yet. I'll get the terminal up in a minute...


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  5. #4
    UPDATE: I had to switch into terminal only mode, it was taking far too long.

    I used vi to check out /var/log/messages, seems like it's in the clear. I'm not sure whats up, what kind of things I should look for, but as far as I could tell, it didn't scream out "HOLY CRAP ERROR" from what I saw.

    I'm looking at dmesg right now, here's a little interesting tid bit - it says:
    [    0.000000] 127MB HIGHMEM available.
    [    0.000000] 896LOWMEM available.
    So I'm only using 127MB of RAM, when I surely could use more? I'm pretty sure it's using 127MB in the installation process and whatnot. I dunno, that's something that caught my attention. At least I know my two RAM cards are in properly.

    SELinux is also disabled, if that means anything. I'm not sure if Ubuntu even uses it, or if it's important for this discussion.

    I've got a Pentium 4 CPU 1.60GHz, and it says it's loading one processor. This is correct, right? There should only be one processor if it's Pentium 4...

    Oh, another interesting thing I found:
    [   162.137577] PnPBIOS: Disabled by ACPI PNP
    I do have some external things plugged in...

    Here's what it says about the hard drive:
    [   459.213823] scsi 0:0:0:0: Direct-Acces   ATA   ST3100011A    3.02 PQ
    Let's note that my HD is around 100 Gigs, nothing fancy. Could my HD be fried or something? I've never seen 'PQ' there before...

    I dunno... is there anything specific I need to tell you from that prompt? I mean, I told you some key things as I read down through it, but I'm just not exactly sure...

    I have no idea what the hell I'm doing with fsck, so I don't want to mess around too much with that... But I think I have a copy of gPartition lying around somewhere, I'm going to check out my partitions and whatnot with it. Anything else I can do? From what dmesg has said, I have everything loaded - the CPU is recognized, so is RAM, my CD drives should be good to go... Where do I go from this?

  6. #5
    I know a triple post is taboo, but could this help?

    How to flash motherboard BIOS from Linux (no DOS/Windows, no floppy drive)? | LinuxInsight

    My BIOS settings are a bit iffy...

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