Results from a powerfailure / 2017-04-06

2017-04-06 Results from a powerfailure1 month ago
Earlier today there was a local powerfailure. I noticed it while being connected remotely to my server at home, it stopped responding and stayed off-line for a while. I checked the website of the electricity distribution network and it showed a local powerfailure.

Initially my reaction was a bit of interest in how low the radio noise levels would be when I could try the radio at home. By the time I got home power was back on so I never found out.

Some systems at home had to be started by hand, but eventually everything was up and running again, with new kernels booted. Everything came up fine including PPPoE to the outside world.

Later in the evening I noticed the old weatherstation in the shed which measures the temperature and humidity inside the shed seemed inoperational. Checking that weatherstation eventually led to a diagnoses that the 12 volt powersupply for that weatherstation had failed. It was only delivering 7.2 volt. To disconnect that weatherstation for diagnosis I completely shut down the shed computer ritchie. After that it did not come up again. Power came up and the harddisk started spinning but nothing happened after that.

So I also took that computer in for diagnosis. Connected to a keyboard and monitor everything came up fine. Disconnected from the monitor nothing came up.

Slowly it dawned on me that this might be related to an issue which I had read on the PC Engines Alix.1d page :
BIOS update

* beta various updates (release MFGPT timers)
* beta fix VGA DDC issue (boot hang)
Which seemed to be the problem which suddenly started acting up for me which it never did before. But the BIOS clock was also reset so I guess the whole setup was erased and I just did not notice because the default settings were good enough to boot anyway and ntpd sets the clock soon after boot. A simple solution would be a BIOS upgrade.

But preparing a CF card to boot freedos seemed a long way to flash the bios so I tried it via the Heavy Duty Boot pxeboot environment which booted FreeDOS nicely on the alix.1c but it rebooted as soon as I started SB.COM. I guess searches for bios images on C:\ and the FreeDOS floppy image is A:\

In the end I searched for a workaround and found mention in PC hangs up when no monitor attached - Ubuntu bug #243257 of a wire between pins 12 and 7 in the VGA connector. A piece of wire was bent and inserted into the vga connector and now the weatherstation computer ritchie boots up again.

Next plan is to do the BIOS upgrade via flashrom: In searching for information about the Alix 1.c bios upgrade I'd like to do I came across mention of flashrom.

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