1495: "Hard Reboot"

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1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:20 am UTC

Hard Reboot

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Title: "Googling inevitably reveals that my problem is caused by a known bug triggered by doing [the exact combination of things I want to do]. I can fix it, or wait a few years until I don't want that combination of things anymore, using the kitchen timer until then."

Oh, but how could using a kitchen timer possibly be easier than rewriting someone else's code and submitting a patch? </sarcasm>

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby mccdyl001 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:34 am UTC

I'd like to know too - a kitchen timer usually only goes up to 1 hour (at least for the mechanical ones) and when it finishes its countdown rings a bell or has an alarm tone? I've never come across a kitchen timer which restarts itself.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby bachaddict » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:42 am UTC

mccdyl001 wrote:I'd like to know too - a kitchen timer usually only goes up to 1 hour (at least for the mechanical ones) and when it finishes its countdown rings a bell or has an alarm tone? I've never come across a kitchen timer which restarts itself.

Nor have I ever come across a "kitchen timer" that switches other devices as shown. Randall's still talking about the light timer in the comic.
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:43 am UTC

mccdyl001 wrote:I'd like to know too - a kitchen timer usually only goes up to 1 hour (at least for the mechanical ones) and when it finishes its countdown rings a bell or has an alarm tone? I've never come across a kitchen timer which restarts itself.
Quite right; "outlet timer" would be a much more appropriate term. I see them all the time; they get frequent use around Christmas time, to switch decorative lights on and off. Some of them do indeed come equipped with little pegs to let you set numerous on/off intervals.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby rhomboidal » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:48 am UTC

I had one of those timers for our plant lights stop working when the little arrow markers got stuck, and I reflexively reacted by googling for the latest drivers.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Mar 06, 2015 7:04 am UTC

Years ago I had one we used to be sure we switched off the electric heater in the place where me and my friends went drinking. It was one with pegs and I placed all the pegs in the "go off" position. I'd turn the timer manually to "on" approximately an hour before people started arriving and we'd try to remember to turn it off when we left, but due to C2H5OH we often forgot. If that were the case the switch would go to "off" at one o'clock, half past one, two o'clock, etc. If we were still there it was easy to switch it to "on" again manually but it saved a hell of a lot of electricity if we forgot it.
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Tub » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:54 am UTC

Writing the patch may take longer, but at least it doesn't involve physical activity, like getting up and crawling under desks to find the matching power outlet.

Also, swap space? What is this, 1995?

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby orthogon » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:09 am UTC

Tub wrote:Also, swap space? What is this, 1995?

Everyone says you don't need swap space any more, but I'm pretty sure the Ubuntu installer still gets all indignant and arsey if you don't allocate any.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby frensj » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:09 am UTC

What's wrong/too difficult with doing a scripted reboot every 24h?

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:56 am UTC

Maybe he's trying to use a Java program.
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Wheeljack » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:58 am UTC

Because shutdown -r now as a cronjob would be too elegant :)

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby sfmans » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:17 am UTC

A perfect opportunity to share one of my favourite stories from TheDailyWTF ... http://thedailywtf.com/articles/ITAPPMONROBOT

And sharing TheDailyWTF with people who don't already know it, always in turn reminds me of http://xkcd.com/1053/ ...

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby orthogon » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:30 am UTC

Wheeljack wrote:Because shutdown -r now as a cronjob would be too elegant :)

We had a Mac Mini driving a TV in our reception area. To save power, it was programmed to shutdown at 6pm, and there was a mains[=outlet] timeswitch that physically turned the power off a bit later. When the timer switched it back on in the morning, it would boot-on-power and start running again. Needless to say, it didn't work. Some stupid background app (the Quicktime updater or something) would always prevent it from shutting down, so then it wasn't happy when it booted up again. Similar issues in Linux are likely to make it stall on the gnome screen. In my experience, the trouble is really that machines are either desktops, which expect to have a human holding their hand and responding to their concerns, or they're servers, which are supposed to run for years and only rarely be rebooted. For some applications you need a third kind of animal, a kind of unattended desktop.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby frensj » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:44 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
Wheeljack wrote:Because shutdown -r now as a cronjob would be too elegant :)

-snip- In my experience, the trouble is really that machines are either desktops, which expect to have a human holding their hand and responding to their concerns, or they're servers, which are supposed to run for years and only rarely be rebooted. For some applications you need a third kind of animal, a kind of unattended desktop.

How about this then:

Code: Select all

echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq
echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger


It's basically the same as physically pressing the reset button, but you don't need extra hardware or physical access for it :)

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby jdow » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:53 am UTC

Please sit down to read this. I'm somewhat of an antique engineer (mostly retired.) I took part in the GPS Phase 2 satellite segment design.

One day I was in a meeting. The manager who called the meeting lamented about a projected problem with the satellite. Cosmic rays and other radiation could, in theory, place the onboard navigation computer in a stable non-operating state recycling a set of instructions meaninglessly for all of eternity, or at least that portion of eternity granted the satellite. They could not figure out a solution. And they figured this could happen quite often. In the following brief discussion I eventually blurted out, "Well, reboot the damn thing every few minutes with external circuitry." The manager did not take that very well and balled me out for being frivolous.

Obviously that means I learned by a back channel a week or two later that it was now his idea and that is what was designed into the satellite.

So, given that background I simply had to finally sign up and post a note here.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:30 am UTC

Wheeljack wrote:Because shutdown -r now as a cronjob would be too elegant :)

I don't regard trying to solve a software problem with more software as "elegant".
I regard it as madness.

Spoiler:
Only slightly joking.
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Kit. » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:42 am UTC

jdow wrote:could, in theory, place the onboard navigation computer in a stable non-operating state recycling a set of instructions meaninglessly for all of eternity, or at least that portion of eternity granted the satellite. They could not figure out a solution.

Now it's normally done with "watchdog timers". As long as your code feeds them regularly, they won't reboot your system. Make 2 timers fed from two sufficiently different pieces of code, and you should be OK.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby kasmeneo » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:07 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote: I see them all the time; they get frequent use around Christmas time, to switch decorative lights on and off. Some of them do indeed come equipped with little pegs to let you set numerous on/off intervals.


Some of them? I don't know any other type. How would such a timer work if it didn't have the pegs to set the on/off times? (Or do they come with electronic timers now? *gasp*)
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby thevicente » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:12 pm UTC

I love videogames. I'm also old (over 40). That means I played Pac Man in the arcades. Decades later I found the code in the 'net. I love code.

Well, enough about me. What is important is, in the Pac Man code there is a lot of the same output command scattered throughout it all with the same puzzling comment: 'kick the dog' (http://umlautllama.com/projects/pacdocs/mspac/mspac.asm)

I discovered Pac Man had a circuit that would reboot the machine if that signal from the CPU didnt come from time to time meaning the CPU had halted. That circuit is called 'watchdog timer'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchdog_timer

Pac Man rules.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Positron » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:14 pm UTC

[quote="sfmans"]A perfect opportunity to share one of my favourite stories from TheDailyWTF ... http://thedailywtf.com/articles/ITAPPMONROBOT

That's hilarious, I laughed hysterically at "It was then that he idly looked at his computer, which had just ejected a disk image DVD he'd burned." when I realised what was coming.

As an outside observer one thing I always see is software accumulating simple hacks like this. Sure, each one makes sense at the time since it works and is much faster, but as software accumulates hacks it becomes a lot harder to maintain or upgrade, requiring a load of refactoring work after you give up on the time sink you've made out of laboriously navigating your poorly documented hacks. For any software project with even a hint of long term utility you really owe it to yourself or future maintainers to do it right the first time. For instance, if this server stays in service it's conceivable that some bit of software will want to be running all the time and object to hard power offs, or that the system will accumulate corruption from unsafe dismounting at power off, etc.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:15 pm UTC

kasmeneo wrote:Some of them? I don't know any other type. How would such a timer work if it didn't have the pegs to set the on/off times?
I'm pretty sure I've seen some really old ones in which on/off times are set by some sort of widgets that can be moved around the dial but not completely detached from the device. The trouble with removable pegs is of course the haunting prospect of losing the pegs and being stuck with a non-functional device.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:17 pm UTC

sfmans wrote:A perfect opportunity to share one of my favourite stories from TheDailyWTF ... http://thedailywtf.com/articles/ITAPPMONROBOT

And sharing TheDailyWTF with people who don't already know it, always in turn reminds me of http://xkcd.com/1053/ ...


ya beat me to it. Tho' I was also thinking of thedailywtf stories (many) where the server crash happens every night when the cleaning people need an outlet for the floor polisher or something.
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Eoink » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:18 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
kasmeneo wrote:Some of them? I don't know any other type. How would such a timer work if it didn't have the pegs to set the on/off times?
I'm pretty sure I've seen some really old ones in which on/off times are set by some sort of widgets that can be moved around the dial but not completely detached from the device. The trouble with removable pegs is of course the haunting prospect of losing the pegs and being stuck with a non-functional device.


Which is where the "hacks" get nested, now your timer is running on toothpicks to reboot your server.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby ThemePark » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:24 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
kasmeneo wrote:Some of them? I don't know any other type. How would such a timer work if it didn't have the pegs to set the on/off times?
I'm pretty sure I've seen some really old ones in which on/off times are set by some sort of widgets that can be moved around the dial but not completely detached from the device. The trouble with removable pegs is of course the haunting prospect of losing the pegs and being stuck with a non-functional device.

Here:
http://vandskadehjaelp.dk/wp-content/up ... 0632-p.jpg

And here:
http://www.cinemagic.dk/images/Z14483/C370999.jpg
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Fallingwater » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:34 pm UTC

frensj wrote:What's wrong/too difficult with doing a scripted reboot every 24h?

Wheeljack wrote:Because shutdown -r now as a cronjob would be too elegant :)

I assume his problem is unpredictable and can happen at different times. Either you set the cronjob to run often enough that the swap doesn't have time to fill up, which would probably be annoying in and of itself, or you set up a way to reboot the system even if it's already crashed and is no longer running your scripts and cronjobs. Hence the timer.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby ucim » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:42 pm UTC

Back in the day of DOS and GEnie (an online service which made use of General Electric's servers at off hours), it was priced by the minute and much cheaper at night, so people would read and compose their messages offline and then log in to post and download the new messages. There was a program called "Aladdin" (GEnie, Aladdin, get it?) which automated those tasks. I used an old two-floppy machine to do this for me by plugging in a light timer which would turn the machine on at 5 am, and off at 6am. It would boot from a floppy and run Aladdin, which would download new messages, post the messages I had pre-composed, and then sign off. An hour later, willy nilly, power would be cut, so there was no danger I'd be billed for expensive day time.

DOS didn't care that it was yanked - it would restart from the floppy the next day without complaint.

Worked for years.

GEnie had such potential, but they never realized it, since it was just a way to make a buck from servers during off hours. Alas, the Aladdin software was not very good, but nobody was going to make a better version since they would be competing with a cute name that GEnie marketed. So, the online world eventually left GEnie behind.

But I kinda miss those days.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby NickNackGus » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:48 pm UTC

I don't know about clearing swap space, but I find that my cached memory keeps filling up my ram, causing unresponsiveness. I added this to my root crontab:

Code: Select all

* * * * * echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

...which clears any unneeded cached ram. For some reason Ubuntu wants to cache everything it reads or writes from the disk, but doesn't clear it very well on its own or send anything to swap. Backups and large file operations in particular cause problems. The swappiness seems to be completely ignored, and when I tried to look up how to change how Ubuntu handles memory, I found replies along the (paraphrased) lines of "you can't make the memory usage work any better" rather than source code or documentation.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby orthogon » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:10 pm UTC

NickNackGus wrote:I don't know about clearing swap space, but I find that my cached memory keeps filling up my ram, causing unresponsiveness. I added this to my root crontab:

Code: Select all

* * * * * echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

...which clears any unneeded cached ram. For some reason Ubuntu wants to cache everything it reads or writes from the disk, but doesn't clear it very well on its own or send anything to swap. Backups and large file operations in particular cause problems. The swappiness seems to be completely ignored, and when I tried to look up how to change how Ubuntu handles memory, I found replies along the (paraphrased) lines of "you can't make the memory usage work any better" rather than source code or documentation.

You know you've got problems when the OS starts swapping out memory that was being used as a disc cache. Especially if it then tries to cache the swap space and then swap out the cached swapped cache ;-)

I had a similar concern about Debian (squeeze I think) filling up all the memory with cache, but I convinced myself that it doesn't really matter: it will flush it when it needs the memory. Flushing it manually with a cron job didn't seem to improve performance.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby kharnynb » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:06 pm UTC

I guess they are called kitchen timers by people who want their coffee to be ready before they wake up :D

Over here, people wouldn't get that, but would understand "carheater"-timer.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Tub » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

NickNackGus wrote:I don't know about clearing swap space, but I find that my cached memory keeps filling up my ram, causing unresponsiveness.

No it doesn't. See http://www.linuxatemyram.com/
orthogon wrote:You know you've got problems when the OS starts swapping out memory that was being used as a disc cache.

Really, it doesn't. Disk cache just gets dropped when ram is needed.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby x7eggert » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

1) If you have a service filling the RAM, you can use "top" and press "m" to see which process is responsible. Then try to restart that service first.

2) You don't need to drop the cache, it's just a benchmarking feature. Read cache is usually not a problem.

3) If your write cache is the problem, you shoud run "sync" instead.

4) My problem is that sometimes linux favors swapping in the files I want to copy and instead swaps out the mouse driver ... here I'd like to limit the write cache instead.
Last edited by x7eggert on Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby orthogon » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:30 pm UTC

Tub wrote:
NickNackGus wrote:I don't know about clearing swap space, but I find that my cached memory keeps filling up my ram, causing unresponsiveness.

No it doesn't. See http://www.linuxatemyram.com/
orthogon wrote:You know you've got problems when the OS starts swapping out memory that was being used as a disc cache.

Really, it doesn't. Disk cache just gets dropped when ram is needed.

In fairness, you did crop out the part that made it clear that I was joking, not least the winking smiley ;-) And also the bit where I said "I had a similar concern about Debian (squeeze I think) filling up all the memory with cache, but I convinced myself that it doesn't really matter: it will flush it when it needs the memory", which I believe is basically agreeing with you (subject to the difference between read and write cache as mentioned by x7eggert).

I thought that NickNackGus was getting at the way cache and swap are kind of opposites of each other: cache makes your disc seem faster by using spare memory, whilst swap makes your memory look bigger and slower by using disc. Doing both at the same time would be ridiculous, like turning the heating on and opening a window.

ETA: I don't want to appear argumentative: thanks for the link which explains the issue nicely, including the non-intuitive use of "used " and "free".
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Kit. » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:57 pm UTC

Tub wrote:
NickNackGus wrote:I don't know about clearing swap space, but I find that my cached memory keeps filling up my ram, causing unresponsiveness.

No it doesn't.

Actually, there is a reason why we have vm.swappiness in Linux.

And the reason is... sometimes it does.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:02 pm UTC

orthogon wrote: Doing both at the same time would be ridiculous, like turning the heating on and opening a window.


Hey, sometimes you just want some fresh air without freezing...

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby un1xl0ser » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:13 pm UTC

I have a use case for this at home presently.

Time Warner service drops my service town to insufferable speeds from time to time. Tech always says to reboot the modem. My pfSense router has an amazing state table so everything just works after a quick reboot of the cable modem.

I'm tempted to have them come down and spend a day trying to figure out what's wrong with it, but I would be fine with a light timer.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby ucim » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:38 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:I thought that NickNackGus was getting at the way cache and swap are kind of opposites of each other: cache makes your disc seem faster by using spare memory, whilst swap makes your memory look bigger and slower by using disc. Doing both at the same time would be ridiculous, like turning the heating on and opening a window.
Actually, there are some very good reasons for doing this. I did this once back in *mumble*.

I had a Windows (3.1) machine for which I wanted to add a memory card. However, it was an 8 bit card in a 16 bit machine, and on the slow side. Faster than disk though. If I just added the memory, Windows would helpfully "manage" it, and my entire computer would slow down to the speed of the slowest bit. Windows does (or did) not let you control how the memory is handled. But one thing I could do with it was to turn it into a RAM drive. Which I did.

Then I put my swap file on it.

So I had memory pretending to be a disk which was pretending to be memory. Worked like a charm, and my computer was much faster.

Jose
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby moody7277 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:00 pm UTC

ucim wrote:So I had memory pretending to be a disk which was pretending to be memory. Worked like a charm, and my computer was much faster.

Jose


This is of course the IT version of a Blake Edwards play. :P
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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby schapel » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:26 am UTC

ucim wrote:So I had memory pretending to be a disk which was pretending to be memory. Worked like a charm, and my computer was much faster.

One can only hope that occasionally disk caches were swapped out to that thing.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby unlimitedbacon » Sat Mar 07, 2015 3:04 am UTC

If its a Raspberry Pi, you could use the built in hardware watchdog timer that reboots the system whenever it hangs for too long. It only takes 1-10 hours to set up.

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Re: 1495: "Hard Reboot"

Postby Jorpho » Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:01 am UTC

Kit. wrote:Actually, there is a reason why we have vm.swappiness in Linux.
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