segfaulting multimedia processes -or- The Case of the Badly Cooled……Case

A wee while ago (yes, I’m catching up on things I’d hoped to blog about for a while!), I had a problem with my home PC. This culminated in a post to the Ubuntu Forums.

General stability of this machine is great – it’s normally on for weeks at a time serving the familys various document/web/email/printing needs – and has done this for about four years with the only major hardware change being a new 7600GT graphics card (most recently – about 12 months ago) and a new Socket 478 P4 Extreme Edition CPU about 18 months ago).

So, what do you guys think? Hardware or software? And how do I troubleshoot this one further? (BTW, I’ve been a linux user for about 8 years now, so I’m not really a guru and definitely not a noob. Perhaps more of a goob. 😀 )

Basically, I had an issue where, whenever I’d do some ‘heavy lifting’ tasks – like audio or video encoding, the app would just disappear. Very odd it was – I tried all sorts of things to fix it. New linux distro’s, replacement RAM etc.

Starting the processes from the command line, I was able to see that the app termination was actually a segfault – which I subsequently found in the dmesg log. That and two other distro’s (lenny and a Fedora Core live CD) gave errors in dmesg about the CPU overheating:

Turned out to be the CPU overheating. Interesting, there was nothing in dmesg about the CPU overheating – though, when I had Debian on, it did show messages about that – and, when I booted into the Fedora 10 Live CD, it also complained about the CPU overheating in dmesg.

So, to solve the problem, I transplanted the guts of my box into a new case which breathes better and also used the correct heatsink for my CPU (one with a copper core).

The problem was that I was using the same case and heatsink from my old P4 2.8Ghz which wasn’t cutting it with the new P4EE 3.4Ghz and the amount of heat it generates.

Once the correct heatsink and better case with more efficient thermal dynamics were in place, the differences in internal temperature were quite remarkable:

If anyone is interested, here’s some temps from lm-sensors that show the difference in internal temps between the two cases and heatsinks. These are both just at system idle with no loading.

SDA: 37C | SDB: 34C | GPU: 57C | CPU: 40C

SDA: 33C | SDB: 28C | GPU: 40C | CPU: 23C

During loading, the CPU was getting to around 70C, now its able to stay around the 57C – and with no segfaulting going on! Yaay!

The rather cool thing – from my point of view anyway – is that Windows would merely have blue screened under the same circumstances (or just rebooted as the default blue screen setting dictates). Obviously that would make things much harder to troubleshoot.

So linux dealt with the overheating by terminating the offending process. A much more elegant way of handling things – don’t you think?

TTF vs ttf in linux

During a recent migration of a friends family laptop from Vista to linux, I discovered a curious problem.

Said friend had a bunch of add-on TTF fonts in Vista which they still wanted to be available to them in linux. No worries, I thought – I’ll just copy them out of the windows partition and put them in ~/.fonts and away they’ll go.

Or not, as it turned out.

Curiously, some were showing up in OpenOffice, and some weren’t. Several font cache updates, reboots and various google searches later, they still were not showing.

At that point I thought I’d better have a look in ~/.fonts to see if I could spot a pattern with ones that were appearing, and ones that were not.

Bingo! All the non-working ones had extensions of .TTF – while the working ones were lower case.

Right, I thought – there must be a whizbang bash command to fix that! Off to google for help again and I was able to construct this command:

for i in *.TTF; do mv “$i” “`basename $i .TTF`.ttf”; done

Voila! Now all the fonts showed correctly (after a restart of OpenOffice of course).

Capitalisation only makes a difference in a real operating system after all!


In Florida , an atheist created a case against the Easter & Passover holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians, Jews & observances of their holy days. The argument was it was unfair that atheists had no such recognised day.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed.”

The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter & others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur & Hanukkah. Yet my client & all other atheists have no such holidays.”

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Counsel, your client is woefully ignorant.” The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is ‘April Fools Day.’ Psalm 14:1 states ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

a few of my favorite things

I love looking up at a clear night sky. One of my favorite things about where we live now is that the night sky can be beautifully clear. Very little ambient light to cloud the view.

Just the other night, after popping the puppy to bed, a glance at the sky stopped me in my tracks. It was amazing, awe inspiring.

With that, and the time of year it is, I was reminded of a brightly shining star, rising in – what I’m sure must have been – a brilliantly clear middle-eastern sky a couple of thousand years ago – supernaturally lit and placed by the power of God, to point the way to the Saviour.

It struck me then that, as Christians, we are like that star. Placed where ever we are by God, and (by his grace) reflecting His glory and being used by Him to point the way to the Saviour.

The choice then, to follow – and lastly believe – rests with the observer of the star. Just as it was with the oriental kings we read about in the Gospels.

So, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, remember, the choice is yours.

Merry Christmas.

a historical day

Wow. I actually saw a Spitfire in the air today for the first time. What an amazing sight – and an amazing sound.

Very special to see an amazing piece of history performing as designed.

A change of OS can void warranty…

I’m totally gobsmacked.

Today, I was talking to a friend about her new Vista laptop and the various troubles she’s been having. She said she’d love to run Ubuntu on it but couldn’t because removing Vista would void the laptop’s warranty.

Now, I can understand playing with the hardware itself voiding the warranty (overclocking etc), but formatting the hard drive and installing another OS? What the ….

I did a bit of googling on the subject and it turns out to be quite wide-spread too – apparently a lot of people have been told this by various manufacturers.

Watch out for that I’d say.. certainly makes even more sense to buy a machine with nothing on it.

love capacity

Today was Grandma’s funeral.

It was nice, and altogether not as sad feeling as Grandad’s was last year. I think that may be because Grandma’s passing was less of a shock… That, and the fact that there was no piper playing at this one. Wow, the emotional energy from a lone piper playing something like Amazing Grace – it’s just incredible to experience. Always makes me cry like a newborn.

I was asked to read some scripture at the funeral. 1 Peter 1:3-9 to be exact. My Aunty apparently chose me to read that one as she knew it would be of special significance for me, being a Christian and all. That was very sweet of her.

Grandma and Grandad were so in love – it was amazing. They’d been married over 60 years when Grandad died a few days short of his 90th birthday. And Grandma celebrated her 80th not two weeks before she passed – around 9 months since Grandad went. They had this wee heart shaped photo frame with a photo of them in it. Each of them died holding it.

My wife and I have always looked at their marriage and held it as something of an example to us. It is our hope to be that happy, that in love – still – after 60+ years too.

It struck me that we all have the capacity to love like they did. We all have the ability within us to express love for another – whether we do or not is a choice that is up to us.

Go on – I dare ya!

God Bless

life, again – or the end of another

You may recall late last year that my Granddad passed away. Well, this morning, his beloved wife, my Grandma, followed on.

It’s obviously a really sad time – but not quite such a shock as when Granddad went. In a way, it’s nice to know that the pain of loss, the confusion and the sorrow will be over for her now.

This time around, we find ourselves unable to afford the trip for all of us to attend the funeral. There’s to be a special family ‘mixing the ashes’ ceremony in Oamaru on Friday which I’m really glad I’ll be able to be involved in (as well as the funeral).

On another note though, we have an old friend from Auckland staying the weekend for his 68th birthday. He’s a lonely soul – and looks forward to his annual trip down to stay with us. It’s nice to have him here and bring some happiness to a brother.

God Bless, and good night.