Fix for Macbook white screen of death. Shame on Apple!

If one day, on booting your Macbook (likely, after doing some serious modification to your hdd or filesystems), you hear the startup chime but you get an empty white screen showing no activity at all, which stays there forever, then you’ve come across the dreaded white screen of death.

In order to fix it, first you can try the (sufficiently explained somewhere else) recommendations of the sort: insert the System Install medium, reset the SMC, reset the PRAM, hold down the Option, C or N keys, boot off the network, etc. But if nothing of that works, don’t panic! Don’t pay much attention to posts out there saying that your hard drive/motherboard is “fried”, nor take yet your machine to the Apple service for getting stolen once again. There are many chances that nothhing is wrong with your hardware. Follow the steps I explain here and, instead of a very expensive repair bill, you’ll probably only spend (depending on your model) $12 on a Phillips #00 screwdriver, plus maybe $14 on a Torx T5.

Now, before you proceed to the fix, I think it’s good you read this brief explanation about how a Macbook boots, so you know what’s going on.

The sequence is more or less like this: the EFI firmware tries to boot either off the hard drive or off another bootable medium (a CD/DVD unit, an install USB stick, the network, etc), if previously so set via OS-X’s Startup Manager. Now, let’s consider the two cases, starting from the second: when the firmware is NOT set to boot off the hard drive, it looks, as instructed, for the alternative boot medium that it was told; but if it doesn’t find it (or the medium isn’t bootable), then it will automatically revert to booting off the hard drive. However, when the firmware is set to boot off the hdd (which is the default) and this drive isn’t bootable (for whatever reason) then it WILL NOT automatically try to find any other alternative boot media, so it doesn’t boot at all, thus presenting to you the white screen of death. This is the stupid logic for which you’ve paid a fortune, instead of buying a cheaper and bullet-proof PC.

Now, how can you work around this problem? Here comes my “copyrighted” fix. It’s quite simple:

Step #1. With the help of the screwdrivers that I mentioned above, remove your Macbook’s back cover and unattach the hard drive from the motherboard (in iFixit you have a great tutorial on how to do it. Don’t be afraid. It’s extemely easy, and even fun. I’m sure you can do it). Having NO hard drive at all is the only way to force the system firmware to automatically look for alternative boot media. So, now

Step #2. simply make available such medium (USB, DVD, network…) and, voilá!, after one minute or so, you’ll take a deep sigh because when you see the little spinning icon, and the laptop will boot. Congratulations: you’ve done the most difficult part; the rest is easy:

Step #3. Once your laptop booted, it’s essential that you go to the Utilities menu, open the Startup Manager and set the computer to, next time, boot off anything except the hard drive, or you’ll be in the same SHITuation upon next boot! Next,

Step #4. attach again the hard drive to the motherboard and reboot. It should boot as instructed, presenting no white screen. Now go again to Utilities menu and, using the Disk Utility, repair or (in the worst case) format your hard drive, as needed.

That’s all! SHAME on Apple for neither fixing their firmware nor offering this solution it in their support webpage, but, instead, joyfully getting your money twice: first when selling their crap, second when fixing it.

Notice: I am the “discoverer” of this fix, and I’ve published it here for Apple’s shame and for your benefit. If I’ve spared you one week anguish and/or a $500 bill at the nearest Apple workshop, you might like to show your gratefulness by inviting me a beer. Simply donate here what you’d pay for a beer in your favourite bar. Cheap and nice, huh? 😉

(One last word: due to the excessive amount of comments to this thread, no newer can be posted. I believe that most doubts or questions have already being posted and replied. Please read carefully throughout the comments, because your answer is probably there.)

Gingerbread: Google Getting Greedier

(Or why Google starts sucking.)

At the beginning of times, when Earth was created, Google was Good. They had the “do no harm” philosophy; you were totally free to use their services or not, and when using them, you weren’t forced to anything else, nor you had to pay with your data or your privacy. But with popularity came The Temptation, the evil snake whispering into the Google Guys’ ears: “hey folks, you’re now popular: you can have a lot of power and money. Wouldn’t you like it?” And the Google Guys thought: “yeah, we DO like it!”
And Google created Android.
A lot of people complain about Facebook (Facebook F, Google G, two contiguous letters in the alphabet; just a funny coincidende). People complain about the evil use that Facebook makes of our data. “They sell it!”, people say. And indeed they sell it, of course. Where else would the money to keep Facebook working come from? Our data. But still, it’s a well known fact; therefore there’s no fooling ourselves.
But what about Google? Why nobody seems to complain about Google? Or, better said: why nobody talks about, or thinks that Google is selling our data same as Facebook does? (And, as far as I can think, Google has probably more of our data than Facebook has.) Why do we still think that Google is Good? I’m asking this because, I’m afraid, the “do no harm” philosophy has been left Far (with F like in Facebook), Far behind.
Google -as I was saying- created Android; but they didn’t create it for the fun of it, nor because they’re Good like God. They created it out of greediness. With Android Froyo (with F, like in Facebook), haven’t you ever noticed how hard it is to do anything if you don’t “sync”with your Gmail account? In effect, a non-synced Android phone is pretty useless. But, once you “sync”, what makes you think you’re not sending, in the background, every piece of information you have in your handset?: your phonebook, your address book, your other accounts passwords… Yes: Google created Android for you to “sync” it, and pass to them your data, so they can sell it!
Sync! What an innocent, harmless-looking word they use! “Oh, you’re just syncing your data to your Gmail account, so you don’t lose it and you can always recover it”. Hah! What a trap! Maybe you don’t lose it, but certainly Google won’t lose it! They’ll make sure they keep it well, to build the largest phonebook database in the world. Do you think they’re not going to sell it? Do you think they’re not already selling it? Of course they are. So, be aware that, whenever you press “Sync”, you’re pressing “Sell”.
And, yet, Android Froyo had a “bug”: you still could use your SIM card for storing your phonebook, keeping your “freedom”, disregarding the “sync to Gmail” option and depriving Google of your precious data. Yes, perhaps you were one of those aware people who thought: “I’d rather keep my numbers private, and not ‘sync’ them to Google”. Now, that was a problem. So, what did the Good Google Guys do? Easy: they released Gingerbread, Getting Greedier and Greedier.
And, now, Gingerbread is the end of all Good: now you can’t use your SIM card for storing contacts at all, except (of course) for importing your contacts from it to your phone, so that you have to “sync” it to Google. With Gingerbread, if you want to store a new contact, you can’t do it to your SIM: you have to store it in the phone and sync it to Google servers if you don’t want to lose it. It’s a perfect trap: once you get into Gingerbread, you’re bound to Google forever: your contacts are in Google servers, you can only retrieve them with another Android (i.e., Google) phone, but you can’t store them in your SIM; so, the next phone you buy will be another Android. No escape! Since Gingerbread on, you’re doomed to keep collecting phone numbers for feeding Greedy Google’s databases, so they can sell more and more while you have less and less privacy.
Of course, there are applications in the market for transfering your contacts to your SIM; but it’s not quite the same; not at all: it’s time consuming, it’s annoying, it’s not efficient, and many (most) people won’t think of it, won’t do it.
Sure: Android is a “free” mobile phone operating system and, same as with Facebook, we have to pay for it somehow. We pay with our data and our privacy. Which perhaps is fair enough, but hey!: at least, let’s stop thinking that Google is Good.
Quite the other way around: Google starts sucking.
(Not to talk about the message: “you may not able to log in to your Gmail account again if you don’t provide us with your mobile phone number” that we get every now and then when checking our mail. What the hell is this supposed to be? Big Brother?)

No icons in QT apps on Xfce

If you ever experience this problem: QT apps showing no icons in their menus when running in Xfce desktop, you can fix it issuing these commands on a console:
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons true
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons true

How to login as root in Xfce

Log in as root in the Xfce environment is disabled by default. When I tried to google how to change this behaviour, I got lots of results, but useless, because though dozens of people had posted that same question in dozens of forums, they all got the same kind of reply: “Log in as root in graphics mode is dangerous. You shouldn’t do it, and certainly I won’t tell you how to.” Bullshit. That’s a hypocritical reply, as coming from someone who refuse to help others under the weak grounds that “it’s dangerous”. I can’t help thinking that those “gurus” are simply enjoying their power at knowing something they don’t want to share.
Fortunately, I was lucky to find out the answer by myself. Here’s how you can do it (I’m talking about the Linux Mint Xfce and the gdm3 session manager):
Open a terminal and, as root, edit the file /etc/pam.d/gdm3. Comment out the line that says: “auth required user != root quiet success”.
There you are! That simple. Now you can log in as root in an Xfce session.