TF2 Connection Problems Persist

Team Fortress 2 has recently gone free to play, which I am guessing has resulted in a big spike in players (it is currently the most played game on Steam, with a peak of nearly 100 000 players today – no doubt it was busier at the weekend). As a result, my old post on fixing the “lost connection to server” issue has been very popular in the last few days.

I find it surprising this problem has persisted for over three years without apparent resolution. The fix that worked for me on my old BeBox was to forward to following ports to my PC:

TCP 27030 – 27039
UDP 1200
UDP 27000 – 27015

If this doesn’t fix the problem, there may be complicating factors. I’ve seen suggestions that the TCP timeout on a router may be set too low. I have a feeling that this may be what is causing connection problems a friend of mine is having, but since it does not affect me I haven’t investigated further. Wireshark would probably be useful if you wanted to probe further.

You can also take a look at my old post if you want more information.

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Upgrade Problem Fixed (mountall/init)

(Jump to the bonus section on sorting a removed Gnome panel)

I finally got round to doing the Jaunty->Karmic upgrade on a troublesome machine. Well, re-doing. I made an abortive attempt to install it on this particular exhibit of electronic arthritis back before I left for Barcelona, which ended in me reinstalling 9.04.

Anyway, for one reason or another the upgrade failed or was interrupted and so I was left with a machine that would not boot. Well, it would do a good chunk of the boot process, but fail at an init item (init_bottom, I think). mountall was exiting with code 127, complaining:

process mountall (787) exited with code 127:
undefined symbol: udev_monitor_filter_add_match_subsystem_devtype
*

Quite a mouthful, in other words. Even booting into “recovery mode” didn’t give me a working console. Next step: try a liveCD. The same problem was reported by niroht of the ubutuforums here. However, his explanation is a bit brief, and misses out a couple gotchas.

So, you’ve got a problem with mountall, and you’ve also got a 9.10 liveCD. Here’s how to sort it:

  1. Boot from the livecd
  2. Call up a terminal (gnome-terminal or xterm).
  3. Chroot your usual install partition. GParted, under “Administration” can help you determine what this is. Mine was /dev/sda3. What I did was:
    • sudo su
    • mkdir /newroot
    • mount /newroot /dev/sda3
    • chroot /newroot <- chrooting my install parition
    • mount /proc <- important! not mounting /proc causes all sorts of problems.

    Now you’re chrooted and ready to continue. I have a separate /boot partition as well, but I updated this later to save faffing at this stage.

  4. Sort the botched upgrade! I ran first dpkg --configure -a, then to be sure, apt-get -f install. Finally, I ran apt-get dist-upgrade, which upgraded a *lot* of packages (~700 I think).

Now, if your /boot prtition resides on the same partition, you’re done here. If not, you have to mount it and copy the new kernel images and updated menu.lst. Strictly speaking, this should be possible to set up when doing the chroot above, but I couldn’t remember how to do it at the time. Make sure if you are merging the menu.lst that the contents are correct – check the UUIDs or partition references are correct!

Bonus! Restore the default gnome-panel if you accidentally delete

So once I was done with the fixed upgrade I booted, and got a slightly messed up top Gnome panel. Two volume icons, and no network icon. In my attempt to sort it, I clicked cack-handedly and removed the entire panel. Rather than repopulate it manually, I followed the advice of another ubuntuforums thread:

gconftool-2 --shutdown
rm -rf ~/.gconf/apps/panel
pkill gnome-panel

And that was the panel restored to default!

* (Previously listed as “undev_mknitor_filter_add_match_sebsystem_devtype”, as it appeared on the screen. Part of the electronic arthritis is (I think) in the graphics card, which causes all sorts of odd things to happen to the pre-boot text. Must photo it sometime.)

Installing / Replacing Flash Plugin in Firefox Portable

I was recently playing a game called Spin the Black Circle, a gravity-based game where you manoevre a ball through a series of hazards by rotating the environment the ball is in. It’s kind of Crystal Maze-y, without Patrick O’Brien playing a harmonica at you. Anyway, I went to play it on my Firefox portable install, and the game got stuck in a neverending rapid loop on the menu. So I figure upgrading the flash plugin was the way to go – I’d been using the same one since an early FF 2 portable install.

The install procedure was fairly straightfoward:

  1. Get NPSWF32.dll and (optionally I think) flashplayer.xpt (I have these in a zip file)
  2. Extract to FirefoxPortable/App/firefox/plugins
  3. Delete any old NPSWF32.dll s
  4. Enjoy!

That fixed the looping in the menu of the game. For reference, I think my old version was either 7 or 8.

TF2 – ‘Lost connection to server’ Solved

Even though I have exams coming up, I still manage to squeeze in the odd round or ten of Team Fortress 2. I blame Valve for releasing the medic achievements recently.

(7 to go! One of them is ‘Family Practice’, so I need some more Steam friends to deploy an ubercharge on, hint hint. Also, for all the spies out there: FYI I am a medic – please call for me sometime eh?)

Anyway, I had been playing for a while, but had developed a problem connecting to servers. The problem was that most of the time I would get into the game, take a few steps, then it would freeze. A second later I would get the red “Connection to server lost. Disconnect in 29…28… seconds”. Sometimes I would only get to “retrieving server info” or “sending client data”, and sometimes I could play for as long as 30 or more seconds before I got ghostbusted (yes, netrek jargon). I’m sure I even got a kill after being disconnected.

Trying to rejoin would give me a “This Steam ID is in use on the server”, while my friends saw many “BertieB(1) has connected”. And I saw a lot of “Disconnected from server. Reason:” … connection to server lost… this steam ID is already in use…

This is not unique problem. Fortunately the fix is fairly straightforward.

You need to open some ports on your router:

TCP 27030 – 27039
UDP 1200
UDP 27000 – 27015

For people with a BeBox (a Speedtouh 780 WL I think, so it should work for similar Speedtouches, like those with BT internet) you can simply log into the router (at http://192.168.1.254), go to Toolbox -> Game & Application Sharing -> Assign a game or application to a local network device -> Half-life 2. Easy!

This may not solve the problem for everyone, but it did for me and others. Good luck!

Update: Thanks to Jeroen, who pointed out the typo that has been there for about 3 years.