G530 Flicker Saga: The End?

Well, I hope everyone has had a great Solstice, and will continue having a wonderful holiday season with Christmas in a couple days.  Up here in NY it’s been pretty rainy and a little on the warm side, with little snow.  Hopefully we’ll have some for the 25th, as that would be fairly appropriate.  And hopefully when the inevitable lake effect comes we’ll all be safe.  If you’re reading this from somewhere out in the western US where they seem to be getting our winter weather, I wish you the best.

Anyway, as you may have seen me post here in the past, I’ve had some interesting issues with my Lenovo G530 laptop.  First, the screen became wobbly and shaky.  Then, it started to flicker.  The first of these was easy to fix, the second very annoying, and almost as easy to fix.  Well, I write now because the dreaded LCD flickering has returned.  Now, it’s been a while since I posted about it last, but in truth the fix lasted for maybe three weeks.  Figuring the cable had come loose, I repeated it, giving me another couple weeks.  Finally, a couple weeks ago I reseated the video cable only to have reliable operation for maybe a few hours before the flashing came back.  It seemed that the work around involved slapping the display repeatedly in certain locations along the sides, which served to jostle the wiring back into place, as well as relieve some of my frustration.  Then last week, after doing this for a while, I got fed up with this.  Here was the result:

Now, you might think that that was a little bit harsh.  But, I disassembled part of the screen and put it back together again.  I figured that somewhere in there something was in a bad position, and just needed to be tweaked a little.  And, it worked!  Since doing this I’ve had no flickering.  You might be wondering what, specifically was the problem.  Well, I still am too – all I did was take it apart and put it back together again, and it seems fine.

Now, given the popularity of previous posts a nice guide is in order.  However, there are a few things to keep in mind before going through this and attempting it yourself:

  • After taking pictures, I realized that I probably could have gotten some better ones for illustrative purposes.  So, I recommend that you take a look at Lenovo’s page with take-apart instructions for this unit.  Also, look over the entire graphic carefully before attempting anything, just to get a general idea.
  • You need to first follow the instructions for getting at the screen hinges, as well as reseating the video cables.  The first of these is more important.  Use it to get at the hinges; don’t tighten them as we’ll be unscrewing them.  The second is less necessary, but I recommend it to have easier access to the cables, and because you may as well reseat those while you’re tearing this thing apart.
  • There are a tone of small screws and such in this.  You probably already know this if you’ve taken it apart before, but it bears restating.  Find a clear, hard surface like a kitchen table to work on this, and keep track of your screws.  It should go without saying that an appropriate screwdriver set is a must (though you’re probably good if you’ve done this before).
  • Be careful when removing the screen bevel (after unscrewing the screws under the little rubber feet).  Use a small, flathead screwdriver and beware of power and data cables, as well as the camera up top.
  • This isn’t a bad time to clean the laptop screen while you’re at it.  I used a paper towel I dampened, and added a drop of dish detergent to it.  Try not to get and soap or water into the sides of the display.  Take another damp paper towel to rinse it.
  • Finally, this procedure is a bit more involved than ones before.  So, BE CAREFUL.  If you aren’t comfortable doing this, seek assistance.  And of course, do this at your own risk; I am not responsible for any damage to your laptop, yourself, or any other possession.

So, here it is:

Good luck.  This may help you, or it may not, but if the flickering has really been getting to you it’s worth a shot.  Overall, if you’re thinking of buying a G530, I’d recommend against it.  It’s pretty nice for a crappy machine, but it is a crappy machine.  But if you’re stuck with one, at least it’s not impossible to take apart.

Lenovo G530 Screen Flicker

Well, I have no doubt that my trusty Lenovo G530 will still be functioning after the rapture.  It’s getting a bit flakier in its old age, but it’s still chugging along quite well.  However I do, of course, have to tend to it from time to time.

If you have one of these you might have gotten the telltale flicker of the LCD screen.  Sometimes this seems to accompany the loose screen hinges.  Well, it is slightly related; this problem is actually caused by a loose video cable leading to the monitor.  For me, it wasn’t actually that hard to fix, basically amounting to a connector that needed to be reseated.  (Another cause could be the cable itself, which would be bad, but it’s probably just the connector.)  To fix it, just remove the keyboard, disconnect the video connector, and reconnected it.  Once again I have prepared a handy graphic to guide you (though be sure to check out my post on fixing the screen hinges and check out the graphic there first; you’ll need to take those steps to get to the screws here):

Howto: Reseat the Lenovo G530 video cable

Be very careful, as the parts in here are kind of delicate.  Particularly don’t yank the keyboard too much.  Pry the video connectors out with a screwdriver (carefully), and then just stick the back in.  The problem could be as simple as crud on the contacts, and just doing this can work wonders.

This fixed the problem for me, your mileage may very.  Of course, do this at your own risk (ie, I am not responsible for damage to your laptop), but if you’re careful there’s not a lot to mess up.

UPDATE: This may not fix the problem permanently.  If the problem comes back and maybe even gets worse, I have a new post with a solution that may be a little more effective.

Ubuntu: The Hanging Purple Splash Screen of Doom

A couple weeks ago I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu 10.04, Lucid Lynx.  (It’d previously been running Karmic.)  The upgrade went well.  Since this machine was not very critical to me for school, I had opted to do this one first.  This morning I decided to upgrade my desktop, now that I’m done with classes and have some flexibility.

The first half of the upgrade went fine, everything downloaded and whatnot.  However, as the update manager was actually installing a bunch of the packages I for one reason or another clicked on the workspace applet to go and do some stuff while the upgrade was taking place.  At this point the machine froze.

After a few minutes of trying to get the system to respond to respond I ended up using the Magic SysRq key to reboot.  The packages had been interrupted with about half of them installed.  When I had rebooted I noticed that the new purple (and terrible looking out of the box if you use proprietary nVidia drivers) splash screen seemed to go on forever.  I shrugged this off initially and switched to a virtual terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F1), figuring that this had to do with the interrupted upgrade.  I restarted the upgrade and let it finish, and reboot.  However, to my surprise the booting did not progress beyond the splash screen again.

I thought that this was the new boot splash program, Plymouth, at first.  I actually ended up disabling it,  but this did not stop anything – the boot messages displayed, and I was still not presented with a login screen.  I was able to still switch to a virtual terminal, and running startx got me my desktop.  Figuring it was a GDM problem, I tried typing sudo gdm at the virtual terminal.  This is what I got:

me@host:~$ sudo gdm
**
ERROR:gdm-settings-direct.c:157:gdm_settings_direct_get_boolean: assertion failed: (entry != NULL)
Aborted

After trying a few different things, I ended up reinstalling GDM, making sure to purge (so that the config files would be wiped):

sudo aptitude purge gdm

In doing this it complained that the packages gdm-guest-session and ubuntu-desktop depended on GDM, and thus would be removed.  I went ahead and agreed, and GDM was nuked.  Next, to reinstall, I did this:

sudo aptitude install gdm gdm-guest-session ubuntu-desktop

It complained again about some empathy-related packages being broken, and wanted to remove some.  I don’t use Empathy for messaging (I prefer Pigeon), so I just went ahead and did this.  Now, starting GDM from the command line worked.  Rebooting brought me to the graphical login prompt.

Lucid is pretty nice, and I would encourage you to upgrade.  It’s very convenient on modern GNU/Linux distros to be able to upgrade by just clicking a button, but be warned that things can go wrong.  I advise not messing with your machine while the upgrade is taking place and, if possible, upgrading on a non-critical machine first to see how it will go.  Keeping an eye on the forums/mailing lists isn’t a bad idea either, as is waiting a few days after the new version comes out.  And of course, remember to back up any data you care about beforehand :).