Common Problems with Linux Workstations

Forgotten password

If you need to reset your password, then you must come in person to 1140 TMCB with a photo ID. You cannot reset it on your own!

I Can't Seem to Log In

I am able to log in but several seconds later the screen goes black, flashes, and kicks me back out to the login screen.

This typically indicates that you have an account but not a home directory (or your home directory is not set up properly). Contact the System Administrators (or visit our office) and we will look into it.

Unusual behavior while logging in

Some or all of these unusual behaviors occur while logging in to a lab machine:

  • Unable to update ICEAuthority file warning during login
  • Unusually long login times
  • “Indicator Applet Complete” has quit unexpectedly warning after logging in
  • Inability to run some programs (including Google Chrome)

You are probably over quota (you are taking up more than your allotted disk space). Once you have removed enough files to be under quota, you'll be able to use the computers normally again. Refer to this page for instructions on how to compress or remove files. This link also provides more detailed information about quotas and a few tips for file management.

Very Slow System

My computer is running slow. How do I find out why?

Two good commands for measuring system load on Linux workstations are w and top.

The command w will tell you how many users are logged onto your machine. If you notice slow performance, and many users are logged onto your machine, then you might see an improvement by switching to another machine.

The command top tells you the load averages of your machine and the current CPU usage in real time. The number of system resources being utilized determines the load average. A load average of 0 is idle, and 2 is fully used. Anything over 2 is a very heavy load because jobs are waiting to be processed. It also provides a list of processes being run on your machine and tells you who owns them. This will help you identify runaway processes (see the next section). For more information about these commands type man w or man top at the command line. A more complex and powerful command for analyzing system resource usage is ps.

Runaway Process

Someone has a process that has been running for days and is taking up 100% of the CPU. How can I kill it?

This happens occasionally when a program is terminated incorrectly (e.g. vim has not been quit when the terminal is closed), and is known as a runaway process. You can kill any process that you own. You do this using the kill command at the shell prompt. Sometimes the processes will not respond to a typical kill, so you might need to send a kill -9 signal. You can get more information about this command by typing man kill at the shell prompt. If you have a process that refuses to die, or if you find a computer with a runaway process that is not owned by you, please open a ticket and explain the problem (make sure to include the machine name). We will then take care of it as soon as possible.

Firefox or Chrome thinks it's running

Firefox or Chrome won't open, and it says that it's running.

The problem is that Linux uses lockfiles. When Firefox starts up, it creates lock and .parentlock files. When it closes, it eliminates them. If it sees that they are there, it assumes that it is running. Look in a hidden folder named .mozilla/firefox/*.default/ in your home directory. The lock and .parentlock files should be in there. Just delete them and Firefox should work.

Google Chrome will also sometimes not open because of a lock file. This happens when Chrome doesn't die gracefully, or you are using Chrome on another computer on the network. If you are using Chrome on another computer, quit Chrome and log out. You can't run Chrome on two computers simultaneously without causing issues. If you don't have Chrome running at all, you can remove the lock files in a terminal by running rm ~/.config/google-chrome/Singleton*.

common-problems-with-linux-workstations.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/27 14:49 by mtb76