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March 7th, 2011

03:59 pm - Un-Fun with OS Update

Late in the evening on Sunday was a bad time to decide running "aptitude".

I have been happily running Debian Lenny but I forgot that I was actually tracking "stable" in /etc/apt/sources.list and they released Squeeze as stable. Many things started breaking:
  • I seem to be getting many "EDAC MC0: UE page 0x0, offset 0x0, grain 107..." errors, and this seems to be marked at kern.emerg level, splattering two lines of such logs every second to any tty I open. Tentatively told syslog to send kern.emerg to dustbin, but a quick Googling indicates that this is not coming from actual memory failure, but from a misconfigured and/or buggy BIOS. Need to try rebooting with "QuickBoot" turned off (whatever that is) when I get home.
  • The initial boot fails and drops me to the maintenance mode (requiring root login), but it is impossible to diagnose what is wrong due to the EDAC log messages coming from the kernel (there is no syslog at that stage, it seems). I suspect that this will become a non-issue once I sort the "/boot" partition issue (next item in this list) out.
  • My /boot partition is on /dev/md0 (RAID-1) across all physical disks; it doesn't seem to be detected at the boot time. It seems to have something to do with the suggestion the OS update procedure made to update /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf file (it listed a wrong number of disks).
  • The host somehow lost its (fake) FQDN, causing many things to break, including:
    • my emacs configuration that changed behaviour on my home environment vs my work environment;
    • msmtp and leafnode (these want to see the host has FQDN for obvious reasons) refuse to run;
Added an entry for to work this around.
  • The (admittedly obscure) Japanese input method I use in Emacs (again) got broken;
  • Either the message mode in Emacs or msmtp changed and .emacs needed adjustment until I can send e-mails out again;
  • The Gnome UI has "Shutdown" immediately next to "Logout" on the System menu, which invited my wife to accidentally shut the box down while I was looking the other way. I need to find a way to hide this from users.

The moral of the story? There is actually none.

Unfortunately, no time is a good time to do a major OS update.

 [edit: March 8th, 2011]

My wife lost e-mail connectivity and it took embarrassingly long time to diagnose what went wrong. After wasting a lot of time clicking around to see what kind of configuration items are offered for the program, I decided to Google it, but I didn't know what that GUI e-mail thingy my wife uses is called (neither did she), as I don't use the GUI thingy myself. After figuring out that it is called evolution, I logged in to my wife's accout, opened a terminal and manually ran it from there, to be greeted by "evolution-shell-Message: Network disconnected. Forced offline."

It turns out that evolution was reading from NetworkManager and blindly trusting its misinterpreted version of what NetworkManager said and decided to gray out the Send/Receive GUI control. My network setting on the machine predates NetworkManager, configuring all the interface statically and manually, and everything runs just fine, even though the GUI Network thingy says "unmanaged". Even evolution itself, when asked to check what authentication methods are supported by outgoing smtp server in the outside world, talks to the outside world without paying attention to that "unmanged" status. It is criminally stupid not to understand the distinction between "unmanaged" and "not connected"--sheesh.

Uninstalling NetworkManager was all it took, as I don't need it on that box that does not have any dynamic network interfaces.


Current Mood: tiredtired

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