BIOS Beep Codes

Computer POST

At startup computers run through a pre-boot check list of items to ensure everything is hunky dory with the attached hardware components. The process is known as POSTing. POST is an acronym for Power On Self Test.

A fully functional computer will normally give a single beep at bootup. The single beep indicates everything is okay and will continue with the boot process and load the operating system.

If the computer gives any other beeps or no beeps, you have a problem.

Common BIOS systems beep codes:

AMI (American Megatrends') BIOS
Beep Codes
one short DRAM refresh failure (Problem with memory)
two short Parity circuit failure
three short Base 64K RAM failure
four short System Timer failure
five short Processor failure
six short Keyboard Controller / Gate A20 failure
seven short Virtual Mode Exception error
eight short Display Memory Read/Write failure (fault with video card)
nine short ROM BIOS Checksum error (fault with BIOS chip)
ten short CMOS Shutdown Read/Write error
eleven short Cache memory
one long Passed (no errors)
one long, two short Video failure
one long, three short Base / Extended Memory failure
one long, eight short Display / Retrace Test failure

Phoenix BIOS
Beep Codes
one, one, three CMOS Read/Write
one, one, four ROM BIOS Checksum failure
one, two, one Programmable Interval Timer failure
one, two, two DMA Initialisation failure
one, two, three DMA Page Register Read/Write failure
one, three, one RAM Refresh Verification error
one, three, three First 64K RAM Chip/Data Line failure
one, three, four First 64K RAM Odd/Even Logic
one, four, one First 64K RAM: Address Line
one, four, two First 64K RAM: Parity failure
one, four, three Fail-Safe Timer Feature (EISA only)
one, four, four Software NMI Port failure (EISA only)
two (plus combo) First 64K RAM Chipfailure (combo indicates bit)
three, one, one Slave DMA Register failure
three, one, two Master DMA Register failure
three, one, three Master Interrupt Mask Register failure
three, one, four Slave Interrupt Mask Register failure
three, two, four Keyboard Controller failure
three, three, four Display Memory failure
three, four, one Display Retrace failure
three, four, two Video ROM search proceeding
four, two, one Timer Tick failure
four, two, two Shutdown failure
four, two, three Gate A20 failure
four, two, four Unexpected Interrupt in Protected Mode
four, three, one RAM test above 64K failure
four, three, two/three Programmable Interval Timer, Channel 2 failure
four, three, four Realtime Clock failure
four, four, one Serial Port error
four, four, two Parallel Port error
four, four, three Math Co-processor failure
(tone) one, one, two System Board Select
(tone) one, one, three Extender CMOS RAM

Check the series of beeps (or lack of) against the tables and its a starting point for troubleshooting your system.

That's about it.

Broadband Speed Test

Do You Know How Fast You Were Going Back There?

No officer. Unlike cars and motorbikes, computers don't have a speedo to let you know how fast your going or rather how fast your net connection is.

There's a nice broadband speed test at You need Javascript enabled to run the test.

In theory we should achieve speeds "Up to" 24 mega bits per second, less a little for overhead. I tested today and we got 4.3. We lost 20 in transit, somehow.

The search for a new ISP begins.

Kmix KDE Volume Control

Kmix. Where's it Gone?

KDE' s volume is handled by Kmix, which is not included if you did a minimal or cut-down install. I run Debian so adding Kmix is simple:

# aptitude install kmix

Check the menu and it should be listed under Multimedia. Click to start and it will sit in the panel by the clock.

Adjust your volume and your done.

That's about it.

KDE Kprinter

If you use KDE you'll know that KPrinter handles printing tasks for applications in KDE. What you may not know is KPrinter can be used as a standalone package.

If you want to print a file, you don't need to open an application. Run KPrinter and print what you like.

You can either launch it from the command line and select the file to print:

$ kprinter

or pass it an argument:

$ cat file | kprinter --stdin

That's about it.

KDE / Firefox Window Size

Geometry Geometry Geometry

I use KDE, cos I like it. I run a lean cut down version and it suits me fine. I like the look and feel of KDE. Its easy to customise, has plenty of eye candy, if you want it and it does what I want... most of the time.

One thing irritated me. Firefox window size would re-set to the size when last closed. Sometimes opening to fill the entire screen, other times, it was small as a dialogue box.

In KDE you can control the size of any desktop window. Do:

KControl > Desktop > Window-Specific-Settings > New >

Description: Browser
Window class (application type): Iceweasel

Window Extra

Position: 1220,0
Size: 700,900



OK > Apply

For application Firefox (known as Iceweasel in Debian), it will open a normal window 700x900 in the top right hand corner of my screen. Great. Just what I wanted.

As I have a widescreen monitor, these settings work for me. You'll have to experiment to find out what's best for your hardware.

That's about it.

Network Printing Setup

Standalone Network Printer

I setup a standalone network printer to provide printing services. The printer has a LAN card and is not connected to a computer. It has its own ip address on the LAN and is OS independent.

Linux will need CUPS. Windows will recognise the printer but will require drivers available to each machine that uses the printer services.

Assuming CUPS is already installed on your machine, here are the steps I took to getting it going.

As root:

1.) Open file /etc/cups/cupsd.conf and comment out the following:

# AuthType, AuthClass and AuthGroupName

2.) Open file /etc/hosts.allow and add:

cupsd : ALL

3.) Copy the printer PPD file to cups model directory:

# cp SM3050.PPD /usr/share/cups/model/

4.) Restart Cups server

# /etc/init.d/cups restart

5.) Run the following command:

/usr/sbin/lpadmin -p Samsung -E -m SM3050.PPD -v socket://

6.) Check the status of the printer:

# lpstat -p -d
printer Samsung is idle. enabled since Tue 21 Oct 2008 15:00:51 BST
system default destination: Samsung

7.) Set users in lpadmin

# lpadmin -p -u allow:all

8.) Check print status

# lpstat -s
system default destination: Samsung
device for Samsung: socket://

I haven't detailed Cups setup. I can do that sometime later.

Thats about it.

KDE Network Printer Settings

Samsung CUPS Printer - Kcontrol

Type: Local Printer

State: idle (accepting jobs)


Description: Samsung ML-3050N Laser Printer

URI: ipp/localhost:631/printers/Samsung

Device: socket://

Model Samsung ML-3050 Series PS

Thats about it.

Fonts in Debian

Using True Type Fonts

To improve the font set available to Debian (and Linux in general) download and install True Type Web Core Fonts. These were made available by Microsoft in a moment of madness, then later pulled (donaters remorse).

As root:

# aptitude install msttcorefonts

Debian will download and install the fonts ready for use.

These are my KDE font settings:

General: Tahoma 8
Fixed width: Courier New 9
Toolbar: Tahoma 8
Menu: Tahoma 8
Window Title: Trebuchet 10
Taskbar: Tahoma 8
Desktop: Tahoma 8

Use anti-aliasing: Enabled
Force fonts DPI: 96 DPI

Exclude range: 0.0pt to 12.0pt
Hinting style: Full (could be reduced to Medium)

It makes such a difference. I did a previous post on Poor Fonts in GTK apps running in KDE.

There's a good read on Linux fonts: Optimal Use of Fonts on Linux. It has some spelling errors and typos, just ignore them.

That's about it.

Debian Sound Setup

Minimal Install Sound Setup

I did a minimal install of Debian, then added stuff as I needed it. Setting up the sound system on a modern Linux is relatively simple, once you have the steps to follow.

1) Ascertain sound card installed on your box. Use "asoundconf"

$ asoundconf list
Names of available sound cards:

2) Install ALSA drivers.

# aptitude install alsa-base alsa-utils alsa-oss

3) Configure ALSA.

# alsaconf

Run alsaconf. Answer the questions best as you can. Mostly accept defaults.

4) Adjust volume with alsamixer (or other similar).

# alsamixer

5) Save volume settings with alsactl.

# alsactl store

Play a sound file. If you don't have a music player or a media player, now is the time to install.

6) aptitude install audacious

Try again. You should hear music. You may need to adjust volume. Use alsamixer or another similar mixer and save settings.

That's about it.

MPlayer Skins

Changing MPlayer Skins

Changing MPlayer skins is a simple process. Find the skin you like. Have a look at MPlayer skins or checkout Freshmeat skin section.

Download it. Extract and dump it in the skins directory, normally .mplayer/skins/.

Restart mplayer, right click on GUI and select skin browser from drop-down menu.

Select skin and click OK.

Restart MPlayer GUI, and enjoy your new skin.

Thats about it.

MPlayer - WMV Error Message

Error: could not open required directshow codec wmvdmod.dll

Another minor problem in MPlayer, when I tried to play a WMV file, I got this error message:

# Error: could not open required directshow codec wmvdmod.dll

Seems mplayer does not have the right codecs to play the video. Lets fix it.

Go to codec page and download the full codec package:

Click to download: essential-20071007.tar.bz2 the latest codec bundle.

After download, as root, unzip the codec file and copy its contents to /usr/lib/win32/.

# bunzip2 essential-20071007.tar.bz2
# tar xvf essential-20071007.tar
# cd /usr/lib/win32
# cp /home/myname/essential-20071007/* .

Restart MPlayer and enjoy the show.

MPlayer GUI Error Message in Linux

Fixing MPlayer GUI

MPlayer is a great piece of software. It is easily the best media player available. Most of the time it runs flawlessly. Occasionally it hiccups, on minor stuff.

I normally run mplayer from the command line, but I noticed if you try to auto-launch it through file associations, it complains and fails to run. Fixing it is easy.

Open mplayer GUI. Click on the spanner to open Preferences. Click on Video and select xv ..... X11/Xv.

As I run nVidia hardware, the default selected driver "xmga" is for the Matrox graphics card. By selecting "xv", I switched to the nVidia driver to solve the problem.

By clicking on a video file, mplayer GUI launches without complaint.

MPlayer Zoom

One other minor point. I noticed when I enlarged the windows size mplayer did not enlarge the rendered images. The window got bigger, the video image did not. To fix this, change to .mplayer in your home directory and open the config file:

$ cd /home/myname/.mplayer
$ vim config

Add the following line, then save and exit.

$ zoom = yes

Restart MPlayer GUI, playing a video, and resize the screen. MPlayer should comply.

That's about it.

Linux Firefox - Install FlashPlayer HowTo

Linux Firefox and FlashPlayer

Installing Flash in Windows is straightforward, a few clicks and its done. Installing FlashPlayer in Linux is not so easy. If you visit a site with Flash content, Linux Firefox will offer to install the Flash driver, fail and offer to download it manually. If you get this far, this is howto finish the manual install.

Download the Linux Flash plug-in. It will be wrapped in a gzipped tar file. Save the file to your home directory. Unzip it and extract the file:

$ gunzip install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz
$ tar xfv install_flash_player_9_linux.tar

change into the newly created directory:

$ cd install_flash_player_9_linux

You'll see a file "". The flash plugin your after. Copy the plugin to Firefox's plugin directory.

Here's the tricky part. There is no stock plugin directory, far as I can tell. What's more, the Firefox developers keep moving it to a new location with each release.

I googled and found references to /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/ or /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/ or /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins/.

In my Debian install I don't any of the above. As a result of the politicking, Debian re-brands "Firefox" as "Iceweasel" You can read all about the spat at On my Debian box, I have /usr/lib/iceweasel/ but it has no plugins directory. I googled and found a few results and it appears you can create your own, either in /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/ or under the home directory /home/myname/.mozilla/plugins/. Lets do that.

$ cd /home/myname/.mozilla/
$ mkdir plugins
$ cd plugins;

Copy the plugin to the newly created plugins directory:

$ cp /home/myname/install_flash_player_9_linux/ .

To play safe, we can copy it to the mozilla/firefox/iceweasel plugins directory, so lets do that.

As root:

# cd /usr/lib/iceweasel/
# mkdir plugins
# cd plugins

Copy the plugin to the newly created plugins directory:

# cp /home/myname/install_flash_player_9_linux/ .

Now restart Firefox (or Iceweasel or whatever your version is now called).

Go to and enjoy Flashplayer in Linux Firefox.

Thats about it.

Firefox - Poor Fonts In KDE

Fixing Firefox Fonts

Firefox application fonts are rendered poorly in KDE. Firefox is a GTK application and as such does not utilise the QT widgets used in KDE. This produces bad fonts in the application window. To fix this in Debian install the gtk-qt-engine, which allows GTK apps to render correctly.

As root do:

aptitude install gtk-qt-engine

Restart Firefox and be amazed at the quality.

As a sidenote, I tend to use aptitude for my install, searches, deletes, updates and upgrades in Debian. You can use apt-get if you wish. Just replace the "aptitude" with "apt-get". I switched to aptitude some time back, as it takes care of any dependencies.

Thats about it.


Indispensable Wisdom

One thing I love about Linux/Unix systems is the random wisdom and humour dispensed with Fortune. If you run Linux/Unix, you'll know what I mean.

As I'm Irish, I can tell this joke.

$ fortune
Q: What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?
A: One less drunk.

$ fortune
"They're unfriendly, which is fortunate. As they'd be difficult to like."
-- Avon

$ fortune
Mitchell's Law of Committees:
Any simple problem can be made insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it.

Computer PSU

The Power Supply Unit

If you build your own computer or modify a machine you got, its easy to overlook the power demands of your system. Modern computers are power hungry and you should ensure your power supply unit is up to the job.

Typical component power demands:

Component Requirement
Motherboard 20 - 30W

CPU Pentium 2 30W

1.0 GHz P 3 34W
1.7 GHz P 4 65W
1.4 GHz Athlon 70W

RAM 8W per 128MB

Graphics Card 20 - 50W

Hard Disk Drive
7200rpm IDE 5 - 15W
7200rpm SCSI 24W
10,000rpm SCSI 10 - 40W

50x CD-ROM 10 - 25W
12x DVD-ROM 10 - 25W

12x CD-R/RW 20W
12x CD-ROM 12W

PCI Card 5W
10/100 NIC 4W
SCSI Ctrl PCI 20-25W
SCSI PCI card 5W

Floppy drive 5W

This should provide enough info to check your PSU is up to the job.

Total the component values and work on 75% - 80% capacity. Leave a little in reserve for surges or unusually heavy demands.