Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

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Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 28 Oct 2012, 10:37

I have been having difficulties of an unusual nature with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS since the day I installed it on my laptop. About 50% of the time when I try to shut down, it fails to do so completely. The shutdown screen just hangs there forever until I do a manual kill with the power button. I haven't seen anything like this since I was using Windows 98 on a regular basis. The troubleshooting technique for Win98 was haphazard at best, but the problem was fixable if you could find the process that was not shutting down. I'm a relative n00bie to Ubuntu and Linux, and thus would be open to any ideas regarding how to cure the problem in Ubuntu 12.04.

As an aside, I have installed Ubuntu 12.10 on a memory stick, but have limited experience with it so far. However, it does shut down properly every time (all the 3-4 times I tried it). I am also running opeSUSE and Debian on the same laptop. Neither of them seem to have a shutdown problem.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Kellemora » 28 Oct 2012, 10:55

I don't know Yogi! I've had problems with all releases since 8.04 and am only using 10.04 on two machines. The machines themselves are identical, but the 10.04 on each has entirely different features, both installed from the same disc with the same repositories, so I don't know what's up with Ubuntu.

I've been migrating to Debian on my other machines, more to see if it will work OK.
It's a pain for me, not knowing much about computers, but once I do get one up and running and all the dependencies handled, I've had zero problems with Debian. Which means I will probably be upgrading my last two main machines to it instead of Ubuntu.

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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 28 Oct 2012, 18:41

My experience with Ubuntu is that it's the most modern implementation of Linux. They have some great ideas which are not without fault, but I think they lead the Linux pack as far as what is happening in today's evolution of computer usage. Most of the problems I've had with Ubuntu were self-imposed due to a lack of knowledge on my part. But I have encounter basic flaws with the OS as well. Typically an upgraded daemon or subsystem would reveal a plethora of things that do not work as they used to. It's a blatant lack of quality control, and it works against a general acceptance of Linux as a whole.

Going back to the tried and true is fine if you are comfortable working on that level. My personal experience is with freeBSD, openSUSE, debian, and of course Ubuntu. It's not just you Gary. A lot of seasoned hackers have trouble understanding what is going on with each of those outdated operating systems too. It's not to say there is something bad about needing to hack your way into your computer. There is a certain crowd of people who want that and enjoy it. I'm one of them. But, I also appreciate a system that "just works." Ubuntu holds the greatest promise for a Linux OS in that category. The latest release has convinced me they are going in the right direction, but I've not had enough time on it to give it a fair review just yet. Be that all as it may, I'm terribly disappointed to see this archaic Windows 98-type problem now appearing in a distribution of Linux.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby kg » 28 Oct 2012, 21:34


As you know, I had problems with 12.04 when I first installed it, but as it 'matured', I had less and less, and now it just runs.

Your problem mystifies me. I've never had that problem, even with Win 98. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that I won't have the same problem in the future. Are there any symptoms just before you shut down, like a slow-down or partial freezing? Have you checked System Monitor to see if there is any unusual activity, like a process hogging processor time?

If nothing else, take some time to do an experiment. Try shutting down processes that you find suspicious, one at a time, and then rebooting. There is obviously something that is affecting normal shutdown, and that might tell you what process it is. If you find a process that, once you kill it, the OS will shut down normally, then you need to trace down what that process is, and how to keep it from launching (if possible).

Also, look through the entries in Startup Applications. Uncheck anything there that looks suspicious, or that you don't remember putting there. I use my Desktop primarily for processing SETI@Home Work Units, and there are very few entries in my Startup Applications file besides that one, and I recognize all of them. Something unusual is running somewhere, and if you can find and disable it, you should stop having the trouble.

In the mean time, I ran down to check everything out on my desktop and found it virtually frozen (but not quite). My nephew was here and using my computer last weekend, and I'm pretty sure it was something he had running. I managed to reboot it and it's running fine now.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 29 Oct 2012, 09:23

I have to agree that Ubuntu 12.04 had a rocky start, but I attributed all that to the fact I was using it in a VM and SSD environments. Now that it's installed on a full laptop system of its own (on a primary partition), the issue of lag in the system response is gone. It's been replaced, however, by this illusive shut down problem.

The troubleshooting technique you describe is essentially what had to be done in Windows 98. Windows has a Task Manager for viewing processes and shutting them off and a safe mode to boot just a bare system. Going through each single process and start-up program to determine which is the offender was a tedious chore to say the least. And, even when you found the offending process, it more likely than not was critical and could not be shut down while using the computer to do actual work. The problem often was a driver or dll that was acting up. If you were lucky enough to find which one wasn't shutting down properly, then it was a monumental task to find a replacement that functioned properly. Typically updated software and/or improper shut downs would corrupt an unsuspecting driver, but you never could tell which one it was. There are so many.

Ubuntu is not as familiar to me as is Windows and I've only briefly touched on applications that will show resource usage. There are some command line approaches to listing processes, but it's messy. I'm not too familiar (yet) with using the resource manager. Even if I were, I can see the same thing happening in Ubuntu that happened in Win98: it's like a dog chasing a car. What does he do with it once he caught it?

I'm not exactly positive about when I first noted the shut down, or lack of it, problem, but I'm fairly certain it was right after I installed from live CD. Mmmm, the MD5 matches, so it's not that. It hung a couple times but then for no reason I could identify, it started to shut down, or restart, normally. Happy as a clam, I went on to customize the system. I decided that I wanted to learn about GRUB and installed the GRUB editor. About the same time, I was also having boot issues due to what I have on this laptop from openSUSE. The bottom line is that I have modified GRUB a bajilllion times. Almost certainly after each mod the system would not shut down completely. On rare occasion it would. Thus the problem is quite irratic and not easy to replicate. All I can say is that I used the same live CD to install 12.04 in a VM and on a stick. No problems with shut down on either of those devices.

And, I DO know that GRUB is for booting not for shutting down. I'm just saying that I was in there tinkering with some essential processes at the time of the problem.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Kellemora » 29 Oct 2012, 10:34

Hey guys, I think there is a much simpler way?

Just as you can turn off QUIET during boot, you can do the same for Shut-Down AND
Have those printed into a Log File so you can look at them either on screen or print them out.

Now, most of the things I see on boot up, I have no idea what they are, but error messages help there.
But on the shut-down, you also get an error or time delay message regarding something amiss during shut down.
Instead of a normal shut-down sequence, it may say such n such not responding, forcing shut-down, and/or the system hangs waiting on something that will never happen.

I've found many problems by viewing the shut-down sequence, including catching a failing hard drive not reported in testing.

I was complaining to a programmer friend about his programming using up memory and not releasing it.
Trying to act like I knew what I was talking about, I told him, for every Constructor you write, you need a Destructor to free the memory back up again, you can't rely on the automatic release to work.
He just smiled and asked, you're running Ubuntu aren't you?
Then he added, the problem is in that OS and has never been corrected.
We release the memory OK, but the Ubuntu OS hold onto used memory, just in case it needs it again.
But then when needed, it's not available for use again. Then he gave me several BUG numbers to check.

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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 29 Oct 2012, 12:23

Good suggestion Gary. Can you please explain more precisely how I can send the output of the shutdown sequence to a readable text file?
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby kg » 29 Oct 2012, 22:41


the log files can be found in "/var/log/syslog". It will likely be a fairly long file, so you'll want to look at the last few lines. In fact, the following describes the Ubuntu logging system:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LinuxLogFiles

I found something interesting while looking for that information. It seems someone resolved a problem similar to yours by logging out and then shutting down from the login screen. A bit of a 'workaround', I know, but it might work.

Another poster suggested the following:

In addition, you can try `sudo shutdown -h now` command in terminal, press F7 to see logs while shutdown progress to track what's happening.


I also found a few other suggestions, a couple concerning....GRUB. :P Most blame the video drivers, though. Do you have an nVidia chipset? You might want to check a few of those out.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 30 Oct 2012, 08:35

As usual, your efforts in locating obscure bits of technical data is highly appreciated. I will indeed be looking into the log files later on today, but I might have a slight self-imposed problem doing that. I regularly run Computer Janitor and Bleachbits to keep my installation mean and clean. When I'm running a virtual machine or off a USB memory stick it helps to have a minimal system, which is why I clean out the unnecessary files. Unfortunately, some of the log files get deleted in the cleansing operation.

The 'halt' command is something I've used as administrator of UNIX systems. It's beautiful for shutting down a system forcefully. I'm not surprised that Linux carries on the tradition. The problem with using it is that I don't know I'd need it until after the system hangs. Besides, shutting down from an xterm session is a pain - small pain, but still. Logging off to shut down just tells me the problem is session related. One or more of those live processes is hanging up. And, by the way Gary, I don't see how memory allocation plays into killing a process. It's probably a poor programming practice to strip away memory in order to kill a process, but at this point I don't know what is hanging up. I don't believe it's a memory related problem in this case.

<rant>
Well, I know the Ubuntu people are trying their hardest to emulate Windows without actually being Windows. They beat Microsoft to the punch with their Unity desktop, but really now. Was it necessary to recreate some of the most irritating bugs Windows ever devised? Such as the Windows 98 shutdown problem? And, now you tell me they are pointing fingers at my nVidia hardware, exactly as Microsoft does when their OS's hang up. You would not believe how many entries there are in my Event Log telling me how nVidia is slowing down the system by 10-20 milliseconds during power up or shutdown. Now Ubuntu is doing the same thing.

Oh, did I mention that I do indeed have a high end nVidia graphics card? The motherboard, however, is an all Intel chip set. I'm sure if you research the obscure archives deep enough you will uncover criticism for Intel as well. Those Linux folks seem to be very particular about how their universal open sourced code is supposed to work. All I can add to this rant is that the previous versions of Ubuntu never showed the problem with shutdown which I'm seeing in 12.04. I have limited experience with 12.10, but I see no problem there either - so far.
</rant>
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Yogi » 12 Jan 2013, 10:25

... and the Linux emulation of Windows 98 goes on. It's far better than anything Microsoft thought of in fact. :mrgreen:

A review of the system logs told me nothing. I'm sure something relevant is in there, but far be it for me to discover anything useful. Then again, I am a retired IT professional. I'm sure that I'm out of touch with a lot of technical things these days.

As of this writing the last Ubuntu LTS distribution is holding true to form. It's still not shutting down each and every time I want it to do so. There seems to be a pattern, however. As Ubuntu, and Linux in general, is wont to do, updates are released several times a week. They have no compunction about altering kernels or master boot loaders as a matter of routine, nor are there any reservations about adding functionality to rarely used obscure parts of the system that have not been deleted yet.

All this is fine and I understand the game Linux developers are playing. It's irritating, however, when they force a change in the Grand Unified Bootloader. I suppose for most people that's not an issue. They have no clue what it's all about anyway. But I have a multi-boot laptop that depends on some stability in the GRUB code. In order to approach stability I routinely use a GRUB Customizer to pretty up the interface and delete entries that are totally unnecessary - memory checks for example. I've become quite an expert at GRUB customization because I've had to do it so often. (Just in case you are curious, I NEVER had to customize the bootloader in my dual boot Windows system) Well, anyway, it's fun. That's what Linux is all about. Making esoteric changes as the whims of the open source community would dictate. But, I did learn something important by doing all this. The LTS Ubuntu shuts down as expected every time up to the point where I have to go into GRUB and clean it up. After saving the mods, it will not shut down so that I can reboot gracefully and test the changes. Once the reboot process is reestablished, then Ubuntu shuts down as all its cousins do.

By the way, this problem does not exist in Ubuntu 12.10, the release immediately following the LTS version. It's a shame that the LTS version problem cannot be fixed until the next LTS distribution. I guess they want you to go with the interim releases instead. Lovely, eh?
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Kellemora » 12 Jan 2013, 12:37

That's just one of the many reasons I'm drifting far away from Ubuntu......
I still use Classic GRUB, never did like the new one.

Windows8 now has a similar problem and it's reaping havoc in the business world, and the government department that just installed all new Windows8 terminals.
Windows8 doesn't actually shut down, even though you told it too, it hibernates. Saving everything you had open on your desktop.
This is disastrous in a multi-user environment!
An employee comes back to their work station after lunch, fires up the computer, opens the folder they were working on, and when the auto-save goes to save it, suddenly they CRASH.....

While they were at lunch, the folder they were working on was updated on the File Server by another User.
When they opened the folder to work on it, Windows Fast Open stored the OLD folder and did not fetch the changes from the File Server like it did on Windows7.
But the worst scenario just took place, not only were the changes not saved, but the existing file on the File Server was corrupted somehow and is now unreadable. Causing a lot of grief and downtime, reloading the last known working copy, adding back in all the data since the last backup, loss of time and at great expense on a corporate or government level.

The IT department has now locked down the government computers, disabling the Fast Open feature of Windows8, in hopes to prevent any more disasters like they faced the entire first week of using Windows8.
And for the time being, due to FAT and NTFS failures from external links to the File Servers, and/or reading from individual desktop computers. All files can now be opened ONLY as Read Only, until they sort out the many problems with Windows8.

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall, when all the employee's came to work and had to figure out how to do things on Vista8. I'm sure the place was in turmoil for more than half the day.

As far as Ubuntu goes, I feel they have gone steadily downhill since 8.04LTS. Which is why I'm running Debian on a couple of my machines now. And FWIW, unless I have changed some hardware and need the latest kernel, I don't install them, nor most of what is waiting in the Update Manager to install.
Still don't know WHY Linux places hardware drivers in the Kernel. It doesn't seem logical to me!
But on the bright side; the only time you need to reboot Linux is if you change the kernel. All other upgrades are transparent.
With Windows, ANY CHANGE, requires a reboot. To me, that was one of the most annoying things about the Doze. Everything requires a reboot!
Out of curiosity, I just checked my Debian computer. Uptime is showing 62 days (we had power outages), but the last kernel update was made 287 days ago. So, other than because of power outages, I would not have had to reboot since installing the last kernel, which I needed for a new receipt printer.
Ubuntu is showing almost the same, 59 days uptime. I think I ran the updates, including the new kernels, right after the last power outage.
In my case, using the old Classic Grub Bootloader, all it does is add the next kernel on top of the existing as first in the queue.
I used to go in to change the splash screen and turn off quiet mode. I don't have to do that anymore. I think because I changed some settings somewhere to prevent Grub from rewriting the configuration file.
I've hunted around my computers to try and remember what I did, seems like I installed a program called Grub Customizer, which maintains my preferred settings and adds them back after Grub rewrites the config file. But how I did that, I just don't remember, it was too long ago.
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Re: Ubuntu Regresses to Windows 98

Postby Kellemora » 12 Jan 2013, 12:38

Oh, on the frau's computer, who wants Windows to boot up on power up. I moved the Windows boot line, to BEFORE the BEGIN line in Grub... It only changes things in the second part, after the Begin line.

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