New in Linux – The Blue Screen of Death???

It all started a couple of days ago, when I posted this on Ubuntuforum bulletin boards:

“Hi Everybody,

I hope you can help. I have just done the stupidest thing ever – managed to chmod 777 ALL my files and folders, yes, even those under root, and yes, recursively.

I know there’s no way to reverse this, however – is there a way to reset or repair the system? – making a new installation without deleting the user files, or making a back-in-time system restore?

I’m on Ubuntu Lucid.

Many thanks in advance for any idea, and please feel free to shoot me afterwards. I just don’t believe myself.”

At recovering my initial kernel panic I went ahead and made a more thorough system sanity check: Well it appeared that although at hitting sudo chmod -R 777 * on /, having the system freeze for quite a while, not getting any protest or error message from the system – nothing had actually happened to most system files and most permissions didn’t actually changed (incl. home directories).

So that was a close shave, and I made myself a note to double-check in the future my pwd before hasting on any action I may regret later.

Meanwhile, I got some replies to my initial post. Most people agreed that if any damage done – there’s no way to reverse it. However one person suggested I might try to upgrade the system. Well, I thought, I am already too long with Lucid. Oneiric Ocelot is just released. I was easy for too long. the hell with it – why not.

So I set sail and took off.

First step – upgrading to Maverick – 10.10. This went on smoothly. I never stop until I really get into trouble, so I went ahead for Natty Narwhal. First omen there: at logging in I get a warning about my hardware not supporting the new Unity manager, and therefore falling back to Gnome. That’s disappointing, I thought. Ah well, never mind. Proceed.

The blue screen of death on Linux - Really?

This, on a Linux system? Really??

So I went on for the real glory: Oneiric Ocelot, here I come. Everything is smooth. System is done. Rebooting. Login screen. Neat.

But at login I get a huge, blue, slick void screen, with only the cursor.

Trying to reset the x-server with ctrl-alt-backspace: Nuh-uh. That doesn’t work anymore. After some googling on another computer – I hit right alt + prtscreen + k. Now, here’s something that you should never change.

I now selected Classic Gnome – here I get my desktop but with a very limited range of colors – basically – everyrhing from black to dark brown… With that – many icons are missing.

Trying KDE – that looks better but here too I have color issues, some apps crash, some doesn’t launch at all.

So obviously I have graphic driver issues. Have posted another mayday on the board. Hope to get help soon and update this post.

And my take on all that?

  • If it works – don’t try to fix it!
  • Write down ‘right alt-prtscreen-k’ on a note and stick it on your screen frame
  • If worse comes to worst with your x-server – At least you can always switch to one of the 6 none-graphic terminals and shut-down the proper way or trouble shoot your problem. This is done by hitting ctrl-alt-N where N is any number between 1 to 6. To switch back to a graphic console, hit ctrl-alt 7, and if that doesn’t work – try 8 or even 9 instead. Login to your user on the tty, and at getting the prompt, type:
    sudo shutdown -h now
    If you want to halt the systme, or
    sudo shutdown -r now
    If you want to reboot
  • Another way to have a fresh start is by resetting the x-server. This is done by hitting simultaneously the buttons alt gr + prntscreen + k. At that, you get again your initial login screen. There, click on ‘other’ to get a choice menu of different (probably more safe) window managers. Pick one, and then login. On former versions, the system would save your choice as a preference for further reference. On this version (at least at writing this post) – not anymore. So keep in mind you might always have to select your preferred manager, when it is not the default one.