I have been using a Linux Desktop machine as my primary computer for
many years now. The applications I use day to day are mostly open
source and run natively on Linux or through WINE.
Games though have
always been an issue. In recent years more games are being released
that run natively on Linux. I will now only buy games that run on
Linux, no matter how much I might want to play them. But what about
the games I already own?
Galactic Civilizations 3. I paid (more than I would do normally) to
be a founder for this game. I did so because I enjoyed the previous
instalments that I played on Windows and this would entitle me to
future expansions for the game at no extra cost. It sounded like a
bargain, especially as at the time there was talk of Linux support.
Alas the Linux version never materialised and I had to result to
booting my old Windows machine in order to play.
I have played the
game very little over recent years due to needing to move into a
different room and boot another machine to play on a small monitor.
Today I stumbled across a post in my news feed about
Proton is a tool built into Steam to allow Windows games to run on
Linux. Protondb.com contains a searchable database of users results
of attempting to run Windows games on Linux. Galactic Civilisations 3
was in the list as having Gold level support. Digging into the user
reports things get better. Over the past 3 months with Proton 3.7-8
users have rated support at the highest Platinum level and a few of
the results were using the open source AMD drivers (which is what I
Time to give it a
go. I followed the Steam instructions
on how to enable Steam Play in the Steam Client. From there I was
able to download and install the game.
Launching the game
for the first time a launcher window appeared showing other games by
the same developer. I was then able to launch into the game and found
that it worked :).
Then I ran into a problem. Not with the game but with the launcher. To adjust the graphics settings in the game requires the game to be restarted. However the launcher turned into an invisible window. I could click on it. I could see its contents when I looked at the Gnome workspaces overview. I just couldn’t see it when it was maximised. This obviously makes launching the game a problem.
I found the solution
in this post.
Adding “/nolauncher” run option for the Advanced Startup options
for the game inside the Steam Client. The game now starts without any
The only way to know
for sure that it works correctly will be to play a few games. I’m
now off to “force” myself to play a few games for “research”
The recent warm weather had made using my 3 monitor configuration a little uncomfortable. To make things a little more bearable I decided to turn off two of the monitors to reduce the amount of heat output into the room. I disabled the monitors using the display settings in Gnome 3.28. All was working well.
Today I attempted to re-enable the screens and here a problem arose. Whilst my DVI connected monitor powered up correctly and could be managed in display settings, the HDMI connected monitor could not. The HDMI cable was exchanged and the monitor confirmed to be working by connecting to a laptop. I had begun to suspect a faulty HDMI port on the graphics card. No amount of powering down and rebooting would solve the issue. However the monitor would display the BIOS screens and boot process up to and including the login manager. The only point at which it would fail to display anything was upon logging into Gnome.
Some research pointed to a monitors.xml file. This can be found in the users home directory ~/.config/monitors.xml. Opening this in a text editor and reviewing the contents showed that it had become corrupted. It showed monitors connected multiple times to different inputs. In the past some of this information would have been correct, but as my monitor connections have changed the file had not been kept up to date.
I removed the file, since it gets automatically regenerated, then logged out of my session. On logging back in my HDMI monitor became enabled again and working alongside the others. I was then able to tweak the display settings to have them all back to my desired configuration.
I finally reached the point where I needed to fix my Laser Printer. My Kyocera FS-1030DN has been serving me well for years and whilst the print quality is as good as they day I bought it I have had a problem with the page alignment. I have been loosing the top and bottom of pages which has been irritating.
Just fixed mine tonight with the help of Google Translate and a german printer forum...
The cause is small piece of foam rubber tape on the registration clutch solenoid, which gets slightly sticky with age and affects the timing of the paper mechanism.
If you're reasonably comfortable dismantling stuff (and reassembling successfully!) it's not hard to fix. It helps to get the service manual, which has nice diagrams of how the parts can be removed - Google "fs-1020d service manual".
Lift out the "process unit" (toner and drum).
Remove the top cover - 2 screws.
Remove the thumbscrews from the rear to get at the option slots.
Remove the right side cover - about 6 or 8 plastic clips (service manual shows where).
Disconnect the 12 cables from the engine board (the one with 12 cables 😉
Remove the engine board - 3 screws.
Unclip a few wires and remove the light-grey plastic cover (1 screw).
You'll now see 3 solenoids (coils with metal levers attached; mine had the coils wrapped in blue tape). Top right one is likely the main culprit, but probably worth looking at all of them. Take the solenoids off one at a time - 1 screw each.
There's a small piece of 0.5mm foam tape that's supposed to stop the solenoid from clicking too loudly when the magnet pulls the lever in, and it's probably very gooey. I scraped off the goo and replaced it with some foam tape I cut down thin with a razor blade. You could probably just omit it altogether or cover the goo with some adhesive tape.
Reverse to reassemble - good luck!
Well I tried out the method described and it worked a treat. I did indeed have sticky residue on the solenoids which I cleaned off. I reassembled the unit and ran a few print tests.The following pictures show the results, before print on the left, after print on the right.
How long this secondary issue has been present I am unsure. Over the summer I had been using the machine but turning it off after use as it was keeping the room a little too warm. I probably didn’t notice the idle issue as I wasn’t leaving it idle. Any occasional occurrences of problems I attributed to the old CPU.
The current workaround has been to disable the C-States in the BIOS. It appears when the system is idle it is going into a low power mode but for some reason this isn’t happening correctly. At this time I’m unsure if this is related to the BIOS itself or Fedora 26 running a 4.13 kernel.
I have upgraded both BIOS (AGESA 126.96.36.199b) and kernel over the past few months so I will have to test again when one of them changes. Next week Fedora 27 is released, it will likely ship with a 4.13 kernel but 4.14 should follow shortly after. A BIOS with AGESA 188.8.131.52 might arrive before the end of the year.
For the time being I will settle for a little additional power usage and no crashing.
This week I finally decided to send away my Ryzen 1800X CPU for a warranty replacement. I had a CPU made early in the production cycle (2017 Week 12) and it was affected by the “Performance Marginality Problem”. Once it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be fixed by a bios microcode update a warranty replacement was always going to be an option.
Sending away the processor was going to be a hassle as the machine would be offline for the duration. The awkward first step was removing the heat sink to read the serial number and production date from the top of the processor. With this step done and the heat sink remounted I was able to continue using the machine until I was ready to send it away.
The steps for the RMA were straight forward. Fill in a form on the website with my contact details and the serial number of the processor. Within 24 hours I had a response, quicker than I had expected. Due to the weekend I could only arrange to post off the processor on Monday morning (Following the packaging information instructions supplied). Being in the UK my processor was sent to the Netherlands, DHL shipping and handling paid for by AMD.
Two days later I was emailed to say my processor had been received and checked. The RMA was approved. It took another day to receive a notification that a replacement was on its way and I received it a day later. In all it took about a week, the replacement I received is from 2017 Week 37. It appears the problem is solved. I am impressed with how smoothly the whole RMA process worked.
I finally decided to perform a backup of my new Ryzen PC running Fedora 26. Normally I wouldn’t leave it too long between backups especially if I have made significant changes. My new PC presented me with a little bit of an issue, I couldn’t run my backup software.
I tend to use Clonezilla to take/restore system images. I’ve used it for years and it has been working well for me. That was until I tried to boot it on my Ryzen system. It was hanging with tpm_tis and tpm_crb errors.
The arch wiki states that “Support for TPM 2.0 is still incomplete (both on the kernel and in userspace), and no known work flow for TPM2 exists at the moment.”
It would appear that I had enabled the TPM option in the bios and I have TPM 2.0 hardware.
This month I gave up on waiting and ordered the remaining parts for a new PC. The build process was as easy as expected. Having learnt my lesson of having to maintain a system over many years; I took my time when routing the cables around the case. The result is one of the tidiest case layouts I’ve ever put together. Less obstacles means cleaner airflow inside the case and less noise.
PWM fans are a must have item. This new pc has 9 fans in total all connected up. It is quieter than my old system with 5 fans. The difference is having fan headers on the motherboard to support additional fans with a PWM signal to control the fan speed. Slower fans means less noise. When they spin up under load I can hear them more but at idle I hardly know the system is on.
Now the negative. Why must everything be covered in LED’s? My motherboard can put on a light show in all the colours of the rainbow, why? I intend to be looking at the screen not inside the case. I’ve not colour matched my components, I chose the best specifications instead. The obsession people now have with the look of their pc internals is staggering. Manufacturers are now adding features just to make them look better. I don’t need my RAM slots to be illuminated. How much additional cost is this adding to my motherboard? LED’s don’t cost a lot but the time and effort that must go into routing the traces around the PCB won’t be insignificant. Luckily I can turn the main lighting off in the BIOS. I just have to contend with the remaining illuminated buttons and status indicators scattered about the board. I wish it had a stealth mode with them all off until it actually had the need to display an error message.
There still needs to be some tweaking done to the system to get it settled in but it’s an upgrade that should last me 5+ years all being well.
The problem with buying technology is that there is always something better on the horizon. I am about to build a new PC. I have been about to build it for over a year. I have been buying some parts that will stand the test of time case, fans, optical drive etc. Some of these parts are 12 months old, some 6, some a matter of weeks. But I need to get the important bits, the CPU, the Motherboard and the RAM.
In the past I simply look around picked compatible parts and built a system. The technological standards evolved slowly and many parts could be reused as I upgraded. Today everything is changing and quickly. I had delayed the build to be able to future proof the system by having newer ports, slots and sockets on the motherboard. But prices were too high and new competing products were announced that were coming down the pipeline. So I waited.
Having waiting for new parts to be release I first find that they are in short supply. So I wait. Then more parts are in short supply. Another wait. Just at the point of being able to get parts questions are raised about firmware and compatibility. More waiting. Then more low-level tuning is in the pipeline, just another 2-3 weeks. I’m being patient.
I’m waiting, patiently. I want to buy the right bits for my needs. I’m mostly decided on what I want. I just need that last little bit of information to allow me to choose the final parts. So what happens, more news. New product announcement in 30 days, release expected in a few months. Do I wait again? Do I buy now and regret not waiting? Do I build cheap and upgrade sooner?
A new system will be faster. But it could be even faster if I wait for it. How long do I wait?
I use Firefox as my web browser. I’ve been using it for years. During that time I have accumulated a huge amount of bookmarks. In being able to migrate my Firefox profile by copying it between machines and between installs my bookmarks have migrated too.
Some I can’t remember why I even bookmarked them in the first place.
I took the step over the past few days of exporting all my bookmarks and deleting all the ones stored in my browser. I now have a new starting point for which to accumulate some more.
My bad idea has been to start trying to organise my old bookmarks into some sort of list. What struck me is what utter rubbish is stored along with the original bookmark. The useful bit is the URL, in most cases this is accompanied by the title to the article or the site I wanted to bookmark. The less useful entries have information about the author looking for job opportunities, great long strings of text about other subject matter the site covered or generally unhelpful titles that don’t actually tell you what you bookmarked.
I should have taken the time to edit the bookmark entries at the time of saving them. It is never something I want to do at the time as it breaks my train of thought. It a habit that I am unlikely to change.
Trying to sort the bookmarks by subject area I notice that quite a few span multiple areas. Looking through the bookmarks I find that I have often researched topics. I’m thinking that in future it would be easier to gather stored bookmarks around these topics. In this way I can dispense with certain collections of bookmarks once I no longer have need of the topic.
I am regretting starting this process as progress has been slow. I am working through the list, checking that the links still work, seeing if they are still relevant, renaming and finally storing under a suitable category. Once completed I should be left with a nice list of topics that I can easily refer back to.
So far I am not missing the historical bookmarks in the browser.
This evening I arrived home from work and began to update my machines to the latest version of Fedora. I am pleased to say the update has gone smoothly. This has been the easiest update I think I have had in recent years.
Now the bad. Wayland has become the default display server replacing X11. It works, by which I mean I have a usable display. The bad is that it has broken my workflow. I have a few simple scripts that tweak my environment. These have always loaded when the display server starts. Ok, how do I do this with Wayland? I did some reading. The issue has been known about for 2 years, Bug 736660. The workaround for the moment is to logout and then log in with an X11 session. Logging into the X11 session everything works again and I can continue. Hopefully issues like this will get resolved quickly.