Monday, April 23, 2018

Debian 9.3 weird video problem with ASUS Eee PC 701

I tried my USB Debian 9.3 32 bit hard drive install on my ASUS Eee PC 701 with a Celeron M 900mhz.

The LCD screen is so scragged that you can't see anything on it. It was broken like that when I got it.

So I have it hooked up to an external VGA monitor.

But when I boot debian 9.3 it comes up all skewy and shimmery and you can't read it at all. The computer's working, but you can't see what you're doing.

I can blindly type CTRL+ALT+F1 then my login name and password, then type "sudo reboot" and type my password again to get the computer rebooted.

If I go to grub and edit the boot parameters, I can add


and the system will boot up with a visible and normal screen.

I fired up an LXTerminal and did an xrandr to tell me what resolutions were available.

so I typed

xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 800x600

and then

xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1920x1080

upon which the screen went crazy.

So I hit up arrow twice to bring back my 800x600 xrandr command and hit enter to execute.

By trial and error, I can go up to 1440x900 and also do 1280x720.

Anything higher and it's K-razy. 1600x1200 is a no go.

I made my own resolution at 1366x768 (though it bumped it to 1368x768_60.00) with

$ cvt 1366 768 60
# 1368x768 59.88 Hz (CVT) hsync: 47.79 kHz; pclk: 85.25 MHz
Modeline "1368x768_60.00" 85.25 1368 1440 1576 1784 768 771 781 798 -hsync +vsync
$ xrandr --newmode "1368x768_60.00" 85.25 1368 1440 1576 1784 768 771 781 798 -hsync +vsync
$ xrandr --addmode VGA1 1368x768_60.00
$ xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1368x768_60.00

And what's weird with this system's bios is that the USB drive comes up as /dev/sdc2 so I have to change my root directory to /dev/sdc2 from /dev/sda2

so my command line looks like:

linux /vmlinuz-4.9.0-4-686 root=/dev/sdc2 ro quiet video=1280x720

Debian 9.3 weird video problem on bootup with ASUS 900A Eee PC

I decided to try my USB hard drive install of debian 9.3 32 bit on my Asus Eee PC 900A (which is an Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6ghz).

But weird things happen.

I have a 1920x1080 monitor hooked to the VGA and it has its own 1280x800 LCD.

If I don't specify a video resolution on the grub command list, it comes up as a black screen with just a mouse pointer.

The mouse pointer does weird things, being enclosed in a tiny rectangle on the upper left of the VGA monitor and when you move it it will go so far then magically pop up in the center of the rectangle.

But if I specify a video parameter e.g.


all is well. I get full HD on the VGA monitor. I think the LCD will go grey.

I tried




and that works too. Or whatever your monitor supports.

So my grub command line (hit e when you see the grub boot screen, then F10 when you're done editing and ready to go)

looks like:

linux /vmlinuz-4.9.0-4-686 root=/dev/sdb2 ro quiet video=1920x1080@60

I also had to change the root parameter to /dev/sdb2 (it was /dev/sda2 but the usb drive comes up as /dev/sdb).

Oddly enough, on first cold boot it comes up as /dev/sdc. Each subsequent warm boot it comes up as /dev/sdb so go figure. Crazy bioses.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stupid bioses that won't boot Debian off an external usb drive

I have a usb hard drive that I've installed debian 9.3 on. It's pretty useful to boot off the usb, and I've been able to move the usb drive to different systems quite easily.

However, there are some bioses that are pure #%@#$@#%.

I tried it on an Dell Inspiron 530 and it boots up debian but isn't able to get past the fsck of the boot drive, throwing up weird errors like inode past extent. Which has been fine on a bunch of other systems.

The bios is 1.0.18 dated 02/24/2009.

The other k-rappy bios is on an HP 6742p. For some reason it doesn't want to boot, dropping me to a funny grub console

You'd think that they'd test this. Surely I'm not the only person who wants to run an os off a usb drive.

A couple of times I've had to edit the grub by hitting e upon the debian boot screen and change drives from /dev/sda2 to /dev/sdb2 or something like that.

Booting to a USB drive with debian just works on my Dell Optiplexes and about every Dell laptop that I've thrown at it. So it can be done.

Missile Command Arcade for the Atari 2600

This is the coolest thing I've seen for a while.

Yes it dates back over a decade to 2005, but it's the first I've heard of it.

Nukey Shay made a hack of 2600 missile command that makes it very arcade like. Absolutely brilliant.

I had a heck of a time figuring out how to play it in mame.

The fire button is set to pause. What? No missile launching?

It took me awhile to realize that you launch the missiles with the second joystick controller. But in order to do that you have to enable the second joystick in mame.

./mame64 a2600 -cart MCarcade.bin -joyport2 joy

and for my setup the DFG keys are the joystick 2 directions and they launch the missiles.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fun with a hard drive that doesn't spin up (PUIS = power up in standby)

I got a WD 3200JS hard drive scavenged out of a device and it just wouldn't spin up.

I figured it must have PUIS set (Power up in standby) but I couldn't get it to boot because the bios on my old system was "seeing" the drive but it would hang just before booting the OS since the drive is in standby.

So how could I get past that?

and I downloaded turn_off_poweron_in_standby-1.01.iso

but what to do when it won't boot past the bios?

Well, I figured out that I could power up the drive by using an external power supply. Just supply power to the drive once it's past the normal bios detection routine and before it boots the poweron_in_standby-1.01.iso burned to a cd.

So I boot up with the poweron_in_standby-1.01.iso, then reboot with a knoppix dvd and use hdparm -s0 /dev/sda to turn off that pesky PUIS.

Now all is right with the world.

Thanks to some ideas from this page:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Atari Flashback 8 Gold with wired joystick

I got an atari Flashback 8 Gold at a thrift store but without the wireless joystick controllers that have the reset buttons on them. How do you get back to the menu?

I tried everything I could think of, but couldn't figure it out without finding a manual on the internet.

You hold down on the joystick and press the SELECT button on the console.

I guess it would've been too hard to add another button on the console itself. 8-)

My only complaint now is that they don't have auto-repeat in the selection menu. I hate having to waggle the joystick right a bunch of times to get to the end of the list. (It's a pretty long list).

Other than that, it's sweet.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Legion of Doom or Artful Aardvark background

I've been using 17.10 Artful Aardvark for a while now and I couldn't figure out what that picture on the background was supposed to be.

I kept thinking, what is this thing that looks like the Legion of Doom headquarters?

I realized that it's supposed to be an Aardvark.