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Linux Works Even When Your PC is Committing Suicide - page 2

Remote Networking Saves the Day

  • April 15, 2009
  • By Carla Schroder
I pulled the Nvidia card out and found four fried capacitors on it. Check out these two:

The photo was taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and Canon's 100mm macro lens, and hastily edited in Digikam.

I've been hearing mysterious popping noises the past few weeks and they have been driving me nuts. Just one pop, pretty loud, every couple of weeks or so. In a room full of electronics I worry about something failing, or even catching on fire, but there were never fried smells or any other indicator that something was wrong. Well now we know what that was.

Shopping For a Replacement

Back in the late 90s and early 00s there were several good brands of video cards to choose from, and they all used different chipsets, and many of them had good FOSS drivers that were included in the X window system, including 3D drivers. What a concept, customer choice. Now the market for discrete video cards is narrowed down to Nvidia and ATI.

I hate shopping for video cards because I'm tired of not having good FOSS 3D drivers for Nvidia cards, and I do not blame hardworking FOSS devs but Nvidia. So much for the tactic of pandering to closed-source hardware vendors in the hopes that someday they will feel grateful for all the money we spend on them, and open their drivers-- it's worked real well for Nvidia. (That's sarcasm for anyone who missed it.) I think the only reason ATI is even making open source noises is from desperation, since their cards have a lot of problems and Nvidia is dominating the market.

So I ordered the cheapest ATI-based card from Newegg with decent customer reviews. We shall see how it performs.

Warnings

Always turn your computer off before moving it, because you can damage a hard drive by moving it when it's running. Give yourself lots of light; I know you youngsters have eyes like eagles and will live forever, but really, it is better to have good lighting. It will save time and prevent dumb accidents. Be paranoid about static and take precautions: place components on an anti-static mat, ground yourself frequently, or even better wear a grounding strap. Computer components are surprisingly resistant to dirty power and static discharges, but taking sensible precautions is cheap insurance.

Your computer should be able to boot without a video card installed, but you'll probably have to go into the BIOS and find a setting to tell it to boot even with a missing video card.

Moral

There are many ways to do the same thing, so don't be afraid to wade in and try to figure out a problem. Computers are cheap you and can have a fully-equipped Linux spare without breaking the bank. Keep a batch of Linux live CDs handy. Have SSH set up in advance for remote administration. Check out the comments in my blog for good links and good advice. Thanks to the gang at Linuxchix for their expert assistance! The end.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming "Building a Digital Sound Studio with Audacity" (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of LinuxPlanet and Linux Today.

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