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F911 March 28, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, Xandros.

Had a bit of a scare with my Eeep yesterday. I’d somehow rendered it unusable, and had to figure out how to fix the thing.

I fixed it after an hour of twiddling with it at home, not to worry, but at one point I thought I’d have to use the Xandros F9 reinstallation option. Or maybe, finally, make that Xubuntu-on-a-stick dalliance a bit more of a permanent committment. Of course my data was backed up and safe (I’d learned that lesson eons ago). It’s just the hassle of reinstalling everything I already had again, and losing my settings and preferences and bookmarks and all the little things that make up my digital life on the Eeep.

So what happened? How did I bork the Asus? Torrenting did it, my friends.

I was at the office. Since the office network is blocked and firewalled (and it wasn’t fair to use it), I got the Eeep to leech off an open signal in our building and got BitTornado running to get something off the net while I worked. Everything went fine.

Except I didn’t bother to double-check the settings of the client. I didn’t see that the destination folder wasn’t the one on the external WD Passport it’s normally set to. Unbeknowst to me, the 350mb file was going straight to the SSD! It was 10mb short of finishing when it tanked.

I was to find out that in a case like this, an Eeep will promptly hang, then will go on an endless reboot loop since the was no room on the SSD to properly set up the reboot. Argh. At least an error message screen told me the problem right off. So it should be a matter of deleting some files (or that pesky torrent download), and everything should be back to normal.

After a half-hour of fruitlessly trying to get it to run, I hit upon the idea of getting it to boot off a Xubuntu live USB stick – and give me access to the full-to-bursting SSD. And it did boot up properly – but then I couldn’t find the damned SSD directory off the File Manager so I could delete the offending fiile.

Was the SSD even mounted? I called some EeePH friends who didn’t really know how to help me – one of my gurus said I could boot off a dual-boot SD into Windows and fix it from there. Fine, but I didn’t have a bootable Windows SD card. Besides, I was already trying that approach from the Xubuntu angle.

So I went to a neighboring iMac and researched how to mount SSDs. Armed with the info, I went into the Xubuntu console and did some hacking into the structure, carefully because I was a babe in those woods. (It would later turn out that the SSD was mounted after all, and in my fluster I didn’t see the proper /home/user/ folder.)

So I did find my stuff, but when I got to my files, discovered I didn’t have the proper permissions to trash them. Godalmighty. Another couple of calls netted me the advice that I’d need to log on as the proper user so I’d get access to the files to delete them. So I tried it, and discovered that I wasn’t quite sure what name I had used. Whatever I SU’ed only got me an Unknown ID error message.

Throwing in the towel, I went home – but still tried to figure it out on the long drive home, with the Eeep on my lap, running off a Xubuntu stick, with a USB gooseneck light plugged in so I could see the keyboard.

In the house after dinner, I went at it again, determined to fix it before finally surrendering to F9. Or as I like to call it, F-911.

With Terminal open in front of me, the cursor blinking, I figured – why not just SUDO the damn thing? Get the right path and just RM the damned file. Surely it would bypass permissions. Which is what it did, and it worked. The file disappeared. The SSD loosened up. After that my EeePC booted up in Xandros as usually does, and it was as if nothing had happened.


Must’ve been the food that kicked my brain into gear. In hindsight it was the obvious, simple solution, and you veteran Linux users are probably thinking what a bozo I was not to have thought of it in the first place. True. Noobs move in mysterious ways.

At least I figured it out before I took the F9 plunge. Moral of the story, gang? Don’t fill up the SSD if you can help it. That’s bork city, especially under Xandros.



1. Ade - March 28, 2008

That’s a close call! Well, you got that fixed. Awesome!

2. reverseengineer - March 28, 2008

Thanks, Ade. But like Captain Kirk said on the bridge of The USS Reliant in ST II: Wrath of Khan, I did nothing – except get caught with my britches down. Good thing I didn’t mess it up that royally.

3. bernie - March 28, 2008

hmmm… makes me want to get a copy of that Xubuntu-sd-thingie in case of emergency… 🙂

perhaps it would be easier if I drop by your office and copy the SD card one of these days 🙂 🙂

4. reverseengineer - March 28, 2008

Berns, it’s a USB stick. You can make one yourself using a Xubuntu live CD. The instructions are somewhere on this blog.

BTW, I heard you’re back on the EeePC wagon. True?

5. Lawrence - March 29, 2008

I have been deathly afraid of doing this….so I have a shortcut pointing to the disk utility app…but i was wondering if you have any suggestions of a disk capacity monitoring widget or application so that you can see the available disk space in your SSD or whatever drive you have mounted.

Oh by the way…veering off topic from your post…a nice new and simple mercury/quicksilver/finder app for the eeepc was just released…check out kysrun (http://colabti.org/kysrun). Im still figuring out how to make it run in KDE (xandros advanced mode). When I click the app it always runs within a terminal window…

Maybe the linux aficionados who frequent your blog can help.

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