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I've got three Fit-PCs in use. They are being used as light-weight Linux servers. Unfortunately, on Jun 30, the first of them failed to start due to the leap-second bug. I tried rebooting it a few times, but the screen remained blank after the third bootup-attempt. This appeared to be hardware-related and we took it to a repair-man. He told us something had overheated and that the motherboard was broken. He was able to recover the data, but the fit-pc was written off.

The second Fit-PC was unable to reboot a few days later (first time we actually tried to reboot). With apparently sheer luck, it rebooted on the third attempt, and it is now working fine.

The third Fit-PC had not given any problems. When I found out the other ones failed due to the Leap-Second, I actually thought we were lucky with this third one. Fact is, the recent slowness of the server was most likely due to this same bug, and now that I rebooted this machine (first time after Jun 30), it's giving me the exact same symptoms as the other ones. These symptoms are:

  • Initial reboot attempt fails; OS does not load.
  • I connect a screen to see what is going on. Remains black.
  • I reboot again. I now see the regular loading screen ("Intel Atom..."), but this freezes
  • I try to reboot again.
  • Screen now simply does not activate at all. It does now show any sign of life. The monitor simply acts as if nothing is sending any signal, so I have no way to interact with the CPU whatsoever.

I've trying to reboot about 4 times now, but am very much fearing the same problem as before. Where I live the Fit-PCs are uncommon and I am not sure if there are qualified techs who actually know how to repair this (and I am not even sure if the diagnosis of the other tech was correct). So I am asking: do you also think my motherboard was overheated and was yet another Fit-PC bricked, or is there something else I can do?

EDIT: Using Ubuntu 12.04 on all of the Fit-PCs.

EDIT:

I also considered a power-failure. But there are a few inconsistencies:

  • the servers are on three different sites,
  • no power surge was reported and no other hardware was affected - weather was sunny and calm,
  • the only similarity between the three machines was that they started acting odd every since Jun 30 (the third one was having high loads but I failed to recognize this until the first reboot since Jun 30, which I did today).

I could also not find other Fit-PCs affected by the leap-second, but am simply not sure what else could cause this...

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2 Answers 2

Software leap second issues wouldn't have caused a physical hardware failure. Applications running under Linux might have issues, though, but any of those should only require being restarted (Java, for instance, was infamous for going haywire at the leap second.)

Notably, a quick search fails to turn up anyone else having leap second issues with Fit-PCs.

Most likely what's happened is you suffered a power surge, lightning strike or similar activity that fried two of your three Fit-PCs and probably made the third one questionable, and that this happened on the night of June 30. What was the weather like? (Now a power surge might theoretically have been caused by the electrical company having its own leap second failures...)

Your best bet is to have them replaced.

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Thanks. This was also what I figured when the first one went down. But there are a few inconsistencies: 1) the servers are on three different sites, 2) no power surge was reported and no other hardware was affected - weather was sunny and calm, 3) the only similarity between the three machines was that they started acting odd every since Jun 30 (the third one was having high loads but I failed to recognize this until the first reboot since Jun 30, which I did today). I could also not find other Fit-PCs affected by the leap-second, but am simply not sure what else could cause this... –  user Jul 15 '12 at 17:21
    
@Michael Hampton: "Software leap second issues wouldn't have caused a physical hardware failure." While that's probably true, I wouldn't be so quick to make it a blanket statement, as software can cause physical hardware faults, even without malicious intent. As those are fanless PCs, it seems plausible that the leap second bug or some 3rd party software (as a result of the leap second bug) could cause the system to overheat, or enter a boot loop or whatever else that could cause hardware faults. Probably not the case, but I wouldn't dismiss the option so quickly. –  HopelessN00b Jul 19 '12 at 19:11

Actually the leap second lead to more power-consumption of about 1 MW at Hetzner.

Because the CPUs turned to 100% busy. And that can cause hardware-damage, too (overheating).

You should check whether the leap-second flag is still set on your machines.

date -s "$(LC_ALL=C date)" should fix it...

If top does not show busy CPUs it might be that there already is a hardware damage.

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100% CPU load will not cause hardware damage. Overheating might, but CPUs from the last 10 years also won't have a problem with that. This is outdated and doesn't amount to much more than an "urban myth" today. –  Gnarfoz Jul 19 '12 at 20:58
    
@Gnarfoz I accidentially wrote a fork-bomb on one of my servers - a minute later I got a mail from the RAC-controller because of a thermal shutdown of that server. And that server is two years old. So I guess that server would have had a severe problem, if it would not have been set up to shut down if the warning temperature is reached. –  Nils Jul 19 '12 at 21:19
    
Something is terribly wrong with that server, then. Modern (that doesn't mean "from this year"!) CPUs throttle themselves in case of overheating. Shutdown-worthy temperatures should NEVER be reached. Even less so in a server. Were you running it in an oven with no fans?! –  Gnarfoz Jul 19 '12 at 21:21
    
@Gnarfoz what mechanism should throttle the CPU down (on a linux xen-machine withh no power-save-daemon running)? No oven - it was running at the computing centre with an ambient temp of 21°C after power-down the system-fans were running on highest rpms blowing out heat for about two minutes. –  Nils Jul 20 '12 at 19:52
    
Given that the other computer was also overheated, according to the tech, I guess this is what also happened. As you can see from my post, I can not start this machine anymore, so it is too late to get it totally understood, but I'll mark this as the accepted answer. Thanks. –  user Jul 24 '12 at 2:48

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