CPU cooler upgrade

A couple months ago, the CPU cooler (one of those closed loop liquid cooling systems) started making weird noises intermittently. Being one of the few original parts left in my computer, I figured that meant it was time for a replacement. There’s not much of a selection for LGA1366 sockets left out there, but I managed to find a NZXT Kraken 120 that worked.

Replacing the cooler was also a good opportunity to give the computer a long overdue cleaning, so out came the air compressor and out went the dust bunnies.

Inside my computer after blowing out the dust.  Visible is the power s upply at the bottom, video card, hard drives and the CPU cooler.
Inside my computer after blowing the dust out.

Undoing the four screws releases the retaining ring that clamps the cooler to the CPU, and out it comes. Pretty easy.

The removed CPU cooler and very dusty radiator
The removed CPU cooler and very dusty radiator
The uncovered CPU
The uncovered CPU

After removing the retaining ring, the old thermal paste got cleaned off and fresh thermal paste was applied. The cooling block went on and the radiator was attached.

New cooling block and radiator installed
New cooling block and radiator installed

(Yes, there are two fans on either side of the radiator in a push-pull configuration.)

Unlike the original cooler, the pump for the new one looks to be embedded in the radiator. The CPU cooling block has RGB lighting on it, but my motherboard doesn’t have any headers to plug it in to, so I just zip tied the wire to the hoses to keep them out of the way. Total installation time was about 30 minutes once I figured out which bits I needed to use.

The cooler works pretty well. Under load, the CPU temperatures are about 10°C cooler than they were with the old cooler. I’m quite pleased with the way the new cooler is working.

Wrestling with Fedora

TLDR

Fedora 39 installer kept hanging the computer. Adding uefi="no" to a dracut config file let the install finish successfully on my BIOS-based (non-UEFI) computer.

In which I try to reinstall Fedora on my computer

The computer has been having a few strange issues recently so a few weeks ago, with Fedora 39 going into beta, I decided it was time to do a reinstall.

It turned into a several weeks long and unexpected ordeal.

The install process worked fine up until the Fedora installer was saying “Installing bootloader”, at which point the computer froze before getting to the next stage. I could reboot the computer, and Fedora would start up fine but the user accounts hadn’t been created yet so there was no way to log in.

Booting up the live image and using a chroot to create the user accounts worked, but the system was still behaving abnormally. Tried a few other Fedora versions going back all the way back to Fedora 35, but the installer would still always hang the computer at the same place, somewhere during the bootloader installation.

I ended up going to KDE Neon, and then settling on Kubuntu for a bit just to get the computer working again so I could figure out what was going on. Had no problems installing either and both of them ran fine, so that gave me some confidence that my Fedora installation issues weren’t hardware related.

Finally, going all the way back to Fedora 33, I was able to get Fedora reinstalled on the system.

Yay! Cue celebration! Now I can upgrade my way to Fedora 39!

Hold up there bubba, not so fast.

The first upgrade step (33->35) went fine up until the kernel install scripts ran, at which point the computer froze up again. All the packages had installed at this point, so I rebooted and promptly got an error because the initramfs file for the Fedora 35 kernel wasn’t there.

Frustrating, but a valuable clue. Something must be happening to cause the computer to hang before or while creating the initramfs.

Fortunately I could still boot into the Fedora 33 kernel. Kicked off another upgrade step (35-37) and again, the computer froze up when the kernel install scripts ran. Again, the initramfs for the Fedora 37 kernel hadn’t been generated.

Dracut, what you doing?

The initramfs file is generated by dracut. Booting into the Fedora 33 kernel again, I tried to manually generate the missing initramfs files (dracut --kver <kernel>). In the middle of the process, the computer froze again. Now I had my culprit, dracut. But what was different about dracut that let it work on my computer with Fedora 33, but not after that?

Going through the dracut man page, the --uefi/--no-uefi options stood out to me. The computer is BIOS-based and doesn’t have UEFI, so I gave dracut --no-uefi --kver <kernel> a try. It worked! The initramfs was generated where the computer previously froze, and rebooting into the newly generated kernel worked without any problems.

Generated a few more missing initramfs files, and those also booted up without problems.

According to the dracut.conf man page, the uefi option can be set in a config file. It’s supposed to default to “no”, but it seemed like that either wasn’t the case, or the Fedora installer sets it to “yes” somewhere. Creating a dracut config file (/etc/dracut.conf.d/00-nouefi.conf) with just uefi="no" let dracut --kver <kernel> run successfully again.

Now that I had a potential solution, I booted up the Fedora 39 beta live image again, created the /etc/dracut.conf.d/00-nouefi.conf file, and started up the installer. This time the installer made it past the point it used to freeze and finished successfully!

Woohoo! Cue celebration! Now the computer is back to running Fedora!

An interesting light fixture failure

We had an interesting failure in one of the closet light fixtures. We flipped the light switch, heard a loud pop, and the bedroom went dark and the emergency flashlight came on because the breaker tripped. When we looked at the light (because who looks at the light fixture every time they turn the light on?), it was just dangling from the ceiling.

Ceiling light fixture dangling from the ceiling.

When I got up there to investigate, it seemed pretty clear why the light was dangling. When I got the light fixture down, these two blue pieces fell down.

Two broken blue pieces of plastic

These had broken off the plastic electrical box for the lighting fixture wiring. It’s where the bracket for the light fixture screws in to. You can see where the pieces broke off in the areas circled in red.

Broken electrical box for the light fixture

The electrical box looks cracked and broken in a few other places along the top and sides as well. It’s looking pretty bad.

I also found a tiny piece of melted metal and a little bit of exposed wire poking out of one of the wire nuts. So it looks like what happened was when the plastic broke, the light fixture fell, and the small strands of wire poking out of the wire nut and the ground wire were touching the bracket that held everything up. When we flipped the switch, there was loud pop from the short circuit, and the breaker tripped. Fortunately nothing smoked or caught fire.

After seeing the condition of this box, now I kind of want to look at all the other electrical fixture boxes in the house to see how they look.

Lowcountry Dog Park Tour: John McCants Veterans Park Dog Park

This is the first new addition to my Lowcountry Dog Park Tour since 2016. After we moved the closest dog park was at Wannamaker County Park, which was a bit of a drive. The dogs were getting older, slowing down some, and also got a fenced-in back yard, so trips to the dog park became less important. After the dogs died, there really wasn’t much reason to visit dog parks anymore.

This weekend, I’m dog-sitting Cooper. A perfect excuse to go visit a dog park! A couple years ago Goose Creek opened up a new park, John McCants Veterans Park, with a fenced in dog park. If it had opened a few years earlier, dog park trips probably would have made it back into the routine. Cooper and I decided to go check it out.

Getting to the dog park is pretty easy. It’s just off a major road and a short drive down a residential street. Two parking lots on either side of the street provide plenty of parking for people using the park itself, or the dog park. The dog park is a fenced off area off in a corner of the park.

The dog park at John McCants Veterans Park
The dog park at John McCants Veterans Park

The dog park has a standard dog lock set up with an outer gate and two inside gates for the large and small dog areas. A water fountain provides water for dogs and people. A poop bag dispenser is provided in case you forget to bring some along. Bathrooms for people are in a picnic shelter just across the field from the dog park.

Dog lock entry gates. Inside the front gate are two entry gates for a large dog area and a small dog area.
Dog lock entry gates

This is a new park, so there’s not much in the way of shade for people. Some small trees provide a bit of shade for the benches. It will be a few years before they get big enough to provide more shade.

There are some agility type fixtures on both sides for dogs to play with and play on. There aren’t any tennis balls or other toys (yet), so you’ll have to bring your own.

Each side has a couple of largish hills, one of which has two tunnels going through them. Good for running through, or maybe a nice shady spot for dogs to rest in.

There are also a couple of fake boulders. I don’t know if they’re hiding or covering up something, or just another feature for dogs to pee on.

A fake rock for dogs to pee on.
A fake rock for dogs to pee on.

It’s a pretty good sized dog park, but since it’s split up into a small and large dog area, it’s effectively two small dog parks. Personally I think separating large and small dogs at a dog park is unnecessary and ends up wasting a lot of perfectly good dog park space. At all the split dog parks I’ve been to over the years, all the dogs regardless of size end up in the same space anyway leaving the other half empty.

For people who like trains, it’s a good place to watch them go by.

There was a lot less activity at the park than I expected for a Saturday morning. Cooper and I were the only ones at the dog park today, so I don’t know how busy the dog park gets. There were a few other people and kids in the play area of the park though.

Here’s a Google map for the dog park.

Bulbs in unexpected places

A few weeks ago, the stove top light bulb in our microwave burned out. A trip to the local big box hardware store yielded a bulb that looked like it would work, but turned out to be too long to fit.

Connie was putting some stuff into a drawer of her mom’s sewing machine table, and I noticed there was a light bulb in the drawer. It was still in the original packaging and unopened. I stared at it a bit, and she knew exactly what I was thinking. Looked about the same size as the microwave bulb. Got the old light bulb to compare, and they were pretty much the same size.

Put the bulb into the microwave and it worked perfectly!

Talk about a serendipitous find. Never know where you’ll end up finding something you need.

Connie says, “Thanks, Mom!”