Possible fix for Gray dots forever problem

Richard A. Smith richard at laptop.org
Mon Mar 11 19:04:10 EDT 2013

This bug is is Trac #12618

When Nancie was at Twine she left me an XO-1 with this condition.

Based on Adams observation that laptops in this state also seem to 
ignore the power button I suspected that powerd problems were the root 

The root of the problem appears to be that the system date on the 
affected laptop was set to sometime in 1968.  This date is prior to the 
unix epoch date of 1970 and therefore all the timestamps were negative 
causing powerd to ignore all events.

Updating the system date to be current fixed both problems.

The mechanism for how this happens is currently unknown. In general the 
Linux kernel on our machines ignores the century field from the RTC and 
adds 2000 to the year value.  I was unable to find a setting of the RTC 
that would make linux read 1968 for the date.

The proposed fix is to either set the date from OFW using

ok ntp-set-clock

(you need a valid wifi or USB ethernet network)

or by using the check key to boot to linux and doing:

date --utc --set="YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS"
hwclock --systohc

The hwclock --systohc is necessary because 'date' only updates the 
systemclock and not the RTC.

If this fixes it I would recommend a reinstall of the OS after you do 
this to reset the date on a lot of files that that created when the OS 
first boots.  The funky date may cause other problems yet undiscovered.

Nancie:  You can help us figure out how this happens.  Before you try to 
fix your machines that have this problem please boot them (holding the 
check button) and look to see what the system date is set to.  Load up 
terminal and run 'date'
If the year is less than 1970 please do the following:

dmesg > dmesg-n.log
(where n is a number for each log file)
sudo hwclock -r

Send me the dmesg output files and the dates reported by hwclock

If the date is not less than 1970 please hold that machine for further 

Hope this helps.

Richard A. Smith  <richard at laptop.org>
One Laptop per Child

More information about the Devel mailing list