Nexus 5X not detected in Windows

My Nexus 5 was working fine with my Windows 7 desktop, but when i plugged in a Nexus 5X (running Android 6.x) it was not detected at all (in Windows Explorer or adb). Installing drivers did not help, and the phone was detected fine on another Windows 7 computer. Here’s what fixed it – go into Device Manager and see if you have a ‘Portable Devices’ node. If you don’t, check to see if you have a ‘Android Device’ node. If so, try right clicking the child node and choosing ‘Update Driver Software’.

android-nexus5x-not-detected

For me, it found some random USB compatible device or something, and then the ‘Portable Devices’ node suddenly appeared, and all was good! Maybe it will work for you!

Dual boot Zorin 9 with Windows 8.1

I got myself an Alienware 13 laptop after years of building desktop PCs, and I have to say i’m impressed with it so far. I intend to use it for both Android and Windows development, and I prefer to develop Android on Linux, so I needed to set up dual-boot. The linux distro I use is Zorin OS, which is by far the best desktop linux distro I have used yet. However, with this new UEFI bios that all computers come with these days, dual-booting linux and Windows 8+ is not as straightforward as in the past days of regular old BIOS. Here’s how I got it to work, based on Nehal Wani’s excellent YouTube video (but without the need to use a Ubuntu live disk):

  1. Laptop came with Windows 8.1 OEM pre-installed on a 256Gb HDD, so if you haven’t installed Windows already, do that first.
  2. You MUST shrink your OS partition down to make room for linux, which is easy to do using the built-in disk management utility in Windows (diskmgmt.msc). Just right-click you OS partition and choose ‘Shrink’, then enter the amount of space you want to reserve for linux, I chose 60Gb.
    shrink
  3. Disable ‘Fast Startup’ in windows 8 (via Power Options -> choose what the power button does).
    disable-fast-startup
  4. Go into your UEFI setup (I had to press F2 at boot time, but you may need to use Shift+restart to access it via Windows 8 logon screen).
  5. Disable ‘secure boot’, but you can leave everything else related to booting alone (i.e. you don’t need to enable ‘legacy boot’).
  6. Create a UEFI-enabled bootable USB key from the Zorin OS 9 ISO file using Rufus, making sure to select ‘GPT partition scheme for UEFI’.
    rufus
  7. Make sure you are connected to the internet with a wired ethernet cable at this point, or the zorin installation can fail due to needing to download updated packages relating to UEFI-enabled grub bootloader.
  8. Plug in the USB key and when booting, press F10 or whatever you need to access boot options. It should give you the option to boot from the UEFI-enabled USB key at this point, select that.
  9. Zorin OS 9 menu should appear, select to install or boot to live and then install, it makes no difference.
  10. When the installer gives you the option to download updates during installation, make sure you tick that checkbox.
  11. When the installer asks you where to install, it will NOT detect Windows 8 and therefore will NOT give you an option to install ‘alongside’. That’s fine, we will still achieve this regardless. Choose ‘Something else’ to specify partitioning manually.
  12. Now you have to select the free space you reserved for linux from step 2 and create a the following 3 partitions (using the plus button – credit to Nehal Wani for screenshots from his YouTube video):
  13. First create a 5Mb primary partition located at the end of this space for use as ‘Reserved BIOS boot area’:
    partition1
  14. Next create a 2043Mb primary partition located at the end of this space for use as ‘swap area’:
    partition2
  15. Finally create a primary partition located at the beginning of this space for use as ‘Ext4 journaling file system’ and mount point ‘/’:
    partition3
  16. Proceed with the rest of the install as normal, and when you are done and you restart you should hit the zorin grub-based bootloader, which should give you the option to enter Zorin (as the first preference) and also the option to enter Windows Bootloader which will enter your existing install of Windows 8.1.

That’s it!

Note that this laptop comes with WIFI hardware that is currently only supported in the very latest builds of linux, and is not supported by Zorin OS 9, which is based on Ubuntu 14.x. It may work with Zorin OS 10, which is based on Ubuntu 15.x, but I haven’t tested it and i’m not interested in an OS where the security updates last only a few months. The bug for this is here. I guess that’s still life when using linux on new hardware.

CSR bluetooth dongle killed by Windows update

An optional update for my USB bluetooth dongle (which I used to connect my Logitech bluetooth keyboard) recently appeared on one of my Windows 7 machines. Trustingly, I proceeded with the update, only to find that afterwards, my keyboard no longer worked! And there was no blueooth icon in the system tray to inspect the status of bluetooth devices. After googling, I found out that this update has killed many people’s bluetooth hardware and the solution is to uninstall it an go back to the default Windows drivers. The solution that worked for me (and others) detailed on this thread, which I will summarise (paste) here:

To accomplish this select “Update Driver Software” from “CSR BlueCore Nanosira” (the working device), then select “Browse my computer for driver software” and then “Let me pick form a list of device drivers on my computer”. In my case Windows presents the new driver from CSR (“CSR BlueCore Nanosira”) and two generic drivers as you can see in screenshot 2.

I selected “Generic Bluetooth Radio” from the list and clicked OK. Then I had “Generic Bluetooth Radio” and “Microsoft Bluetooth Enumerator” back under “Bluetooth Radios” and the Bluetooth icon appeard in the taskbar again. After that I was able to use my bluetooth mouse and keyboard again (even without pairing it again).

Thanks to davewebb8211!

Then you will want to hide that nasty windows update as follows:

bluetooth-update

No sound in Kodi / XBMC with ASUS Xonar

I recently replaced the motherboard in my media centre due to on-going bluescreens, and I unwittingly selected a refurbished board with no on-board audio (ASUS Rampage Extreme II). The two main PCIE sound card manufacturers appear to be ASUS and Creative. I selected ASUS Xonar PCIE 7.1 DX for two reasons:

  1. I’ve used plenty of Creative hardware before and they are getting worse over time.
  2. It was the only one they had in the shop!

Anyway, first problem was that the card didn’t physically fit in my PCIE x1_1 slot due to the CPU heatsink placement! Luckily I found out that you can put a smaller PCIE card in any larger PCIE slot. So I was able to install it in my 2nd PCIE x16 slot.

Second problem is that when I went the install the drivers from ASUS, the driver installation didn’t detect the card and just hung. I forced a reboot, ran the installation again, and amazingly the installation worked 2nd time around and sound in Windows 7 was now working.

When I fired up Kodi however, there was no sound. Looking into the log file i saw this:

CAESinkDirectSound::Initialize: cannot create secondary buffer (DSERR_UNSUPPORTED)

And after googling that I saw that many people were having problems with ASUS Xonar cards in XBMC / Kodi. The main solution was to go into system – audio settings and change from using DirectSound to WASAPI. This did work for me, however it means that when Kodi is running, no other application can output sound, i.e. Kodi has exclusive access to the audio hardware. While not optimal, this is at least a workable solution. But I probably won’t be buying ASUS Xonar sound cards in the future.

Netgear GS605 v2 is faulty!

I have two of these switches, and I just got stung by a nasty hardware fault that is present in version 2 of this device: when you have two of these devices connected to each other (or just on the same LAN), the throughput for all connections on one of them will drop to a few hundred Kb/s e.g. 400Kb/s! This effectively cripples the LAN which should normally have file transfer speeds of > 25Mb/s.

This has been reported on the Netgear forums here and Netgear have acknowledged the fault. Unfortunately there is no solution other than replace one of the devices with something else (apparently v3 of the GS605 works ok), but I learned a few tricks for how to diagnose network bandwidth issues in the process:

  • Use iperf.exe. This is the standard command line app for testing network bandwidth, and work on both linux and Windows. On linux just sudo apt-get install iperf, on Windows download from here.

    It’s easy to use: on one machine, start a server using:

    iperf -s

    On another start a client duplex test to the server using:

    iperf -c [server ip address] -d

    The results will be printed after a few seconds.

  • Use a good Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cable. Cables can easily be faulty, check for green lights on your NIC & switch port to indicate 1000Mb/s (gigabit) connection speed.
  • Avoid PCI Gigabit cards (use onboard Gb NIC). PCI but is limited, especially if you have any other devices on the bus.
  • Use a decent file-copy utility. For example, SuperCopier, that instantly shows you your copy speed.

BSODs with Crucial M4 SSD

If you are getting frequent random blue screens with error KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR 0x7A and you have a Crucial M4 SSD, you might want to update the firmware for the drive. Crucial have acknowledged the issue and released a firmware update which fixes it. After applying the update, my machine has been running for 6 or 7 hours whereas previously it could not get past 1 hour before crashing… so far so good. Get the update from Crucial here.

HDDs you shouldn’t buy

My server had 7x2Tb WD Green (EARS/EARX) HDDs. I selected them because they were cheap and supposedly power saving. However this was a mistake, as I have found out the hard way, now that 4+ have died in the past year. Apparently these drives have a firmware ‘feature’ that parks the heads on the drives after 8 seconds of inactivity. EIGHT SECONDS. Which means these drives are certainly NOT suited to a NAS / storage pool setup or OS partition since wear on the disk will be large. They are really only useful as backup drives that don’t get used much. Supposedly you can use wdidle3.exe from Western Digital to increase or disable this 8 second timeout, but I haven’t tried it yet. Instead I’ve been replacing failing drives with Hitachi Deskstar drives, which from my recent research, may last 3+ years as opposed to 1.5 years max lifespan for WD green drives. I also bought 3x2Tb Seagate Barracuda HDDs as backup drives, and 1 of those 3 failed within the first year.

So, here’s my advice: If you want your drive to last more than 1.5 years before failing, don’t buy Seagate Barracuda or WD green drives.

UPDATE: I just noticed that the WD-EAR drives are running hotter than Hitachi, a good indicator for Hitachi so far:

wd-hot

Logitech G7 mouse freezes

The Logitech G7 is the best mouse I’ve ever had, due to the unique dual-battery system, however I occassionally get an issue where the mouse cursor just suddenly freezes. To resolve this, pull out the Wireless USB key from the battery charger, turn off the mouse using the power button on the bottom of the mouse, the plug the USB key back in, switch on the mouse and your cursor should wake up. For anyone looking at purchasing this mouse, don’t let this issue put you off, it’s not very frequent, and doesn’t outweight the benefits of dual-battery in a wireless mouse.