Monday, December 15, 2014

x crashes, video crashes, mouse crashes, kernel panics

A friend has an old HP box that was running Arch. He was experiencing system lock-ups using Wikimapia in concert with Google Maps in a browser. These programs paint a lot of polygons when scrolling and the kernel panics seemed to show memory leaks or other unauthorized writing to the drive. The failures were to varieties: 1) lockups, and 2) exit to terminal with kernel panics. Some possibilities:
  1. xorg setting for video card
  2. xorg setting for mouse
  3. browser leaks with multiple many-polygon pages open (maps)
  4. the old Intel 82G33/G31 integrated controller card being overwhelmed
  5. ?

logs

We're looking for two main log types: Xorg crashes, and Kernel crashes. Xorg is the easiest -- hasn't changed much over the years. We can still find Xorg logs in /var/log/Xorg.0.log.old and copy to our user directory to read them in any text editor. Failures stand out, and there is usually enough information to start modifying one's xorg.conf file to fix whatever's wrong. In the case of my friend, it appears there was nothing failing and writing to Xorg.log, at least on a first-look.

Kernel crashes. During crashes, writing can be inconsistent; we can't be certain we'll have information. Additionally, journald crash logs are written in binary and, further, compressed, and so require the journalctl client to read whatever's in there (and of course "whatever's in there" can become corrupted during a panic). So it's 50-50 if we can see anything in these logs. IMO, verifying a corruption-free log is the place to begin.
# journalctl --verify
...in the case of my friend's logs, this revealed a plethora of corruptions at times I could not decipher, but may have corresponded to the panics.

Given all of this, it appeared the best thing to do was get some text readable log information.
# nano /etc/systemd/journald.conf
Storage=none
ForwardToSyslog=yes
...next crash, I should be able to see if there's anything out there in human readable text. Meanwhile...
# journalctl -b
... and look for errata.

video card

On the video card front, his old Intel 82G33/G31 is onboard and shares memory (fatal), but also appears to have some VRAM. No GPU.

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