How Can I Troubleshoot My Linux PC or Laptop?
General Linux Troubleshooting
Knowing how to service your computer and engage in standard troubleshooting tasks is vital for any operating system, and Linux is no different. Whether you’re looking for ways to tweak the user interface, adjust the way the mouse and keyboard work or uncover the cause of problems behind the shutdown procedure, workarounds and troubleshooting procedures exist to resolve the majority of issues.
Dual booting, managing data and recovering damaged hard disk drives are all typical tasks for any Linux user, but you will find an immense amount of control is available over your Linux computer simply by reconfiguring unneeded daemons, background processes that are constantly awaiting specific events or inputs.
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Advanced Troubleshooting Concepts
However you go about the task of troubleshooting, it should always be in a methodical manner. Recreate the issue, observe how it manifests itself and judge for yourself the impact. If possible trace the error back to source, but if this isn’t something you’re able to do then log file analysis is a real opportunity for finding what is going on. While you might not be able to fix the problem with the log file there remains an opportunity to share what you have discovered with an online support forum or an expert in Linux.
Hardware and Storage
One area where you might experience particular difficulty in Linux is with hardware. The main reason for this is due to a lack of drivers for certain devices. While there is greater support for big name manufacturers for running hardware on Linux in many cases there still needs to be a piece of open source community development work to create a working driver.
Being able to interrogate your hardware is one part of the journey of finding the correct drivers, and this is something that can be carried out via the Terminal. Problems with hard disk drives, optical drives or issues with sound cards can all benefit from some hardware detection checks.
One area that has seen an improvement in manufacturer support for drivers is graphics cards. You might be forgiven for thinking that you have to stick to the generic Linux graphics driver for your card, but in fact there is a facility to install a driver distributed by the developer.
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Troubleshooting Linux Connectivity Issues
Users of all operating systems run into connectivity issues from time to time, and Linux is no different. Whether you’re having problems connecting to the Internet or experiencing difficulty installing wireless software, in the vast majority of cases you will be able to find a solution that works. For instance, wireless cards in laptops usually don’t have official drivers for Linux, but thanks to NDISWrapper you will be able to use the standard Windows driver for the card on your Linux computer.
Issues with wireless USB drivers, iPhone tethering and connecting a digital camera can also be resolved by following the right steps.
- NDISWrapper: Easing the Work With Wireless Cards
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Retrieving data form a crashed hard disc drive, USB or flash device or even damaged optical discs is possible with Linux; indeed it is much easier to do than in Windows. In fact, many people use Linux Live CD recovery discs for finding and recovering lost data on Windows computers!
Recovering data from a Linux backup will of course allow you to restore your computer to a previous state, and most Linux distros feature tools that will make this possible.
- Recovering Data from Scratched CD/DVDs
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File Management Problems Solved
With any operating system you might run into problems trying to use the file system – after all, it is a new way of organizing and managing data! Fortunately standard tasks like renaming files, compressing and decompressing files and fixing errors with installed apps are all pretty easy to do, once you know how!
- Beginners Guide to Renaming Files in Linux
- Fix App Install Errors in Linux with X Libraries
- Linux File Compression - ZIP and RAR
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- Screenshot provided by author.
- Linux logo image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pumbaa80