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Joy oh joy

msobkow (48369) writes | more than 2 years ago

User Journal 2

My Ubuntu 10.04.1 partition developed a serious case of USB problems after this morning's kernel update. When I rebooted to try to reset the USB devices, the partition table nuked itself.

So I'm reinstalling WinXP. This is NOT how I planned to spend my day!

Needless to say, I am NOT a happy camper...

My Ubuntu 10.04.1 partition developed a serious case of USB problems after this morning's kernel update. When I rebooted to try to reset the USB devices, the partition table nuked itself.

So I'm reinstalling WinXP. This is NOT how I planned to spend my day!

Needless to say, I am NOT a happy camper...

cancel ×

2 comments

It's just as well this happened (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031833)

For the past few months I've been dealing with a mouse/trackball instability issue under Ubuntu 10.04.1. The problem was much worse with Ubuntu 11, 12, Fedora 16/Gnome, and, as it turns out, with Windows XP SP3. I've used this device since around 1998 and never had a problem until recently.

I had been thinking it was a software issue, and bitched most mightily to the Gnome/GTK+ team that it was a bug in their software. Well, I was wrong.

Again.

The device in question would seem to have been firmware-flashed with a virus of some kind that interacts with common and newer window managers. It has virtually no impact on the older Gnome 2 and KDE3, and little impact on KDE4. But it is absolute DEATH for Unity and Gnome 3, completely blocking all mouse clicks.

When I had borrowed a USB mouse to try instead of the potentially bad hardware, it wouldn't work either. But today I did much more thorough debugging and much rebooting, and what I learned is that as long as the infected device has not been plugged in since the last cold-boot, alternate USB pointer devices and mice will work just fine.

But if the infected device has ever been plugged in, it seems to wedge itself in to the pointer processing code of the USB stacks and interfere with left-mouse-click propagation. Most of the time it's behaviour is isolated to shifting the mouse focus to the parent window or parent widget, blocking the sub-widget your pointer is hovering over from being processed. Needless to say, this makes even the best of GUIs virtually unusable, though with Gnome 2 and Windows XP you can click on another window and reset the interference. (You can't do that with Gnome 3 or Unity.)

I'm actually quite fascinated by this apparent virus, and wish I had the facilities to dump the contents of the firmware on it for analysis. I can't imagine how one could implement a selective interference with USB event processing without completely corrupting the USB stack. Ah well, it sits here at my side. Finally dead after 15+ years.

It's scroll wheel was starting to have problems anyhow. Still, it was the best pointer-input device I'd ever used for day-to-day work, and I'll miss having it around.

BTW, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS rocks! (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031865)

Once I determined the problem was with the device infecting the USB controller or software stack (USB devices can auto-load fragments of code, it's part of the plug-n-play approach they employ), I opted to give Ubuntu 12.04 another try.

I'm glad I did. With the mouse-click corruption out of the way, 12.04 is a much better performer than 10.04 had been. One key piece of software I use has a 30% performance improvement on identical hardware! Who knows where the tweaking and tuning have been done, but the end result is "free CPU!"

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