[ubuntu-uk] Motherboards dying ( was:Re: possible to install ubuntu like gentoo?)

Andrew Oakley andrew at aoakley.com
Thu Apr 17 17:31:29 BST 2008

Farran Lee wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-04-17 at 17:06 +0100, andylockran wrote:
>> So how common is it?  Have you had a motherboard die on you?
> not as far as I know - I'm only just getting to grips with the hardware 
> side of computing. Is it obvious? Does the mb just not boot at all?

The main problem with motherboard failure is that, unless they really 
just don't boot at all, they're very difficult to spot. Typically I only 
diagnose motherboard failure if I've swapped out everything else for 
known-good spares, and still have a problem. To paraphrase Sherlock 
Holmes, if I rule out everything else, then whatever's left must be the 
problem. Really, though, I wonder if this is purely down to co-incidence 
(did swapping over the motherboard cause me to firmly plug-in something 
that wasn't firmly plugged in before?).

Motherboards can fail in some surprisingly subtle ways, from the 
anecdotes I've heard. If it Just Doesn't Boot then you're relatively 
lucky, at least it's an easy case to RMA. With modern motherboards 
having graphics, LAN and the kitchen sink onboard, whilst being ever 
more cheap, I suppose the chance of failure is higher these days.

My own good luck with motherboards may be down to the fact that I live 
in a rural area with a less than reliable electricity supply (especially 
during windy summer showers, when the leaves on the trees next to the 
electricity cable have grown both bushy and damp). Ergo I always, always 
use a UPS, so I never get spikes or dropouts, which are often the cause 
of fried motherboards.

I have a fifteen-year-old APC PowerUPS 650. I've replaced the battery 
twice, and the onboard timer and battery charge meter died years ago, 
but for your average power cut, It Just Works. I just set apcupsd to 
shutdown gracefully after seven minutes on battery, and my hardware 
rarely fails. Plus, I get enough juice to override the auto-shutdown and 
continue working for half an hour if I need to. I also recommend 
software RAID1 hard drive arrays for riding out that one moment (and 
there is only ever one) when your nine-month-old daughter presses the 
UPS-instant-off button (now obscured with a 5p and some masking tape).

Andrew Oakley

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