The r8169 driver and mysterious network problems

October 18, 2014

A few months ago, a friend of mine was having a problem. When he hooked up his Toshiba laptop to the Ethernet port in his bedroom, it would work under Windows, but not under Linux. When he hooked it up to the port in the room next door, it would work under both.

I headed over with my Samsung Ultrabook, and sure enough – it worked fine under Windows, but not Linux, while the room next door worked under both.

As it turns out, both our laptops used Realtek RTL8168-series Ethernet controllers, which are normally handled just fine by the r8169 driver, which can be found in the kernel mainline. However, Realtek also releases a r8168 driver (available in Debian as r8168-dkms). Upon installing that, everything worked fine.

(At some point I should probably go back and figure out why it didn’t work under r8169 so I can file a bug…)

MP3 players; apology

February 12, 2008

Some many many months ago I got an MP3 player as some cheap sweetener on some prepaid mobile deal, for a Nokia 1110 with Virgin I believe.

Some several weeks ago, I decided to get a decent MP3 player with some Christmas gift cards. Since I’m not terribly rich I got a $60-ish 1GB Thomson Lyra player from DSE. Unlike most MP3 players it’s powered by a standard AAA battery.

That worked well for a couple of weeks until it suddenly crapped out, presumably from a dead battery. Replaced battery, turned on, guess what, half the songs are missing and of the rest, half seem to have been randomly truncated. Try formatting on PC, suddenly it claims it has 4GB and somehow 300MB are used by nothing.

Oh well, back to DSE it goes. When I get around to it…

…meanwhile, I go back to school, I realise that now I’m allowed to possess evil music-playing devices and use them out of class, I need something to get me through all those hours of study. So, out comes the Onix HY-107 (yes, the crappy cheap one) and on goes a few songs.

The HY-107 works fairly well for a really cheap device; the software is OK, but the real problem is the construction.

The major problem is the interface – the buttons don’t necessarily work consistently. Press Previous, up comes the menu. Press Next, up comes the volume control. Press Volume, and you go back a song.

I couldn’t quite figure out why that was, but when it snapped open while recharging in this PC’s USB port, I decided to have a look.

Disassembled MP3 player – PCB, front

As you can see in the photo, it seems that, like every cheap electronic device made in China, it’s half assembled with sticky tape.

The real part of interest, though, is the five buttons. I found that when you press the buttons down bluntly with your thumb, about half the time it seems to mess up. When you press the centre sharply with your index finger it seems to work as intended consistently.

I’m no electronics guru, so I’m not sure what’s happening there. My present theory is that the buttons are detected by a varying resistance and when not pressed sharply it messes it up. Anyone out there more enlightened than me who wish to comment?

I’ve read the text of tomorrow’s apology and I think it’s pretty well worded – covers all the major points and doesn’t seem to open any holes.

Unlike many I think the apology and the compensation should be dealt with as separate issues. If the Government wants to pay compensation that should be done during Budget, not right now. Compensation is a complex issue that would require much more technical analysis. The apology, OTOH, can be done right now.

I’m looking forward to this. Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch it live, but I’m sure it’ll be online for me to watch somewhere.


September 6, 2007

I’ve placed an order for my first RAM upgrade. Ever.

I’ve figured it’s rather overdue – I only have 256MB… and now I’ve finally gotten around to it.

Would have done it earlier, except DDR1 is rather expensive nowadays. Managed to get 1GB online for $60 + p&h thanks to StaticIce, but I don’t know if it will arrive… it’s rather cheap.

I might even get another gig or two when I get/build a new machine and set up Xen and a few services on this machine, then give it to my sister. With an upgraded video card and a few other things of course…

My AOpen case really sucks…

February 3, 2007

Yesterday I picked up an old DVD-ROM drive that I had swapped out from a computer I was setting up for someone. “I’ll install this at home,” I thought. (I actually didn’t have any DVD drive at all in my system.)

I took it home and opened up my system to install it. Unscrewed the stuff at the back and took it off. So far so good.

Then I tried to figure out exactly how the drive was meant to fit in. Now, while I’ve installed new drives for others before, I’ve actually never done it on my own system. This is where the trouble began…

Firstly I wanted to remove the plastic plates that covered the 5 1/4″ drive bay. That involves removing the system’s front panel. This particular front panel, however, was secured by three plastic clips on the left and right and four (I think) on the top and bottom. It took *ages* to get off, I would guess around 20 minutes.

Secondly, only one side of the 5 1/4″ drive bay bracket is exposed. To get to the other side you have to remove the 3 1/2″ FDD and HDD bracket first, which is rather inconvenient as you have to slide it along before pulling it out.

So now, after removing the front panel and the drive bay’s plastic cover, and unscrewing my existing drive, I saw that there was a fair bit of metal covering pretty much where the drive bay is. I figured that that was supposed to be torn off when installing a new drive, although I don’t exactly see why it’s needed (none of the other systems I’ve seen have anything like it). Using various implements I managed to get it all off in a few minutes.

After all that, I was finally able to put in my new ancient 1999 DVD-ROM drive. I was rather happy…

Then THE STUPID CABLE WASN’T LONG ENOUGH… what exactly is the point of putting connectors for master and slave if you can only use the longer one? I thought about it for a few minutes then figured that the middle connector was closer to the motherboard than the drive and that if I unplugged the cable and put the other end in the board it would probably work. And it did.

So after what was probably an hour or more of work I can now play DVDs. Slowly…