The Extent of a Virus

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The Extent of a Virus

Postby evansste » November 18th, 2015, 9:31 am

I've been using Lubuntu 14.04.3 LTS for the past few weeks and have been pleased with this distribution. But recently, I've run into a little trouble, and I can't seem to fix my problem.

I wanted to watch Prime videos on Amazon and quickly learned that Amazon doesn't generally support Linux. So I went to a website that says how to watch Prime videos on Amazon. ... -on-linux/

I performed the procedures that were listed, but the procedures didn't work. Not only was I not able to watch videos on Amazon, but my Firefox web browser started crashing consistently. In order to solve the problem, I figured I'd format my hard drive and just re-install Lubuntu all over again. This would surely wipe out whatever problems I was dealing with. To my surprise, re-installation didn't solve the problem. With my newly installed Lubuntu, the browser still crashes just as consistently as before.

Prior to trying to watch videos on Amazon, the browser worked fine. Is it possible for a virus to survive a complete re-installation of an operating system? I'm shocked to still have this problem after wiping out everything and re-installing. How would I fix something like this if re-installing doesn't work?

Thanks for your time.
Posts: 103
Joined: October 8th, 2014, 8:19 am

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby bandersnatch » November 19th, 2015, 9:14 pm


Your problem seems wierd at first sight but there a few things you might like to consider:

- There ARE bios-resident viruses that can survive a completely new installation but this is pretty unlikely in your case.
- A virus that simply crashes Firefox and does nothing else would be a waste of the virus writer's time.
- Modern viruses try to remain invisible and gather information (email addresses, PINs, passwords etc.)
or divert computer resources for their own purposes (Botnets etc.) or encrypt critical information (Ransomware)
You can re-flash your BIOS if in doubt..

Other possible sources are:
- Your install CD
- Drive-by infection when you first start using Firefox..

If not a virus, then why is Firefox crashing in your new installation?

Issue1: New installation vs. upgrade
Upgrading an existing running system to a new distribution is not the same as performing a new installation from scratch.
The online updater often loads later/bug-corrected versions of libraries and applications than those on an install CD
My guess is that your install CD has outdated libraries/apps.
Linux distro versioning can sometimes be problematic..

Try installing the LAST distribution you used. (You DO have a backup??? ;^))))))
Install all OS updates for your last distribution
Check that FF works ok.

YES: MOVE TO THE NEW ENVIRONMENT: Upgrade to 14.04.3 LTS online...

NO: TROUBLESHOOT FIREFIX: Switch off all FF plugins & extensions
Check that FF works ok.
YES: Switch on the extensions one by one until FF crashes
NO: Upgrade to the latest version of FF
Check that FF works ok.
YES: problem solved
NO: Test with a different browser..

Use FF error reporting to log the crash info & ask for help..
If all browsers crash then you need to troubleshoot your network for hostile traffic.
Let us know how you get on..
Posts: 150
Joined: September 17th, 2014, 12:06 pm

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby evansste » November 20th, 2015, 1:37 pm

Thanks so much, bandersnatch, for all of those excellent suggestions.

The past four, or five, times that I used Firefox, I did send reports to Mozilla. I'm not sure whether or not they'll respond, but I figured there was no harm in sending the reports.

I think you may be onto something concerning updates. I'm currently out of town right now, so I can't try any of your ideas until I get back tomorrow. However, before I left, I did reinstall again. This time, I didn't do any of the updates and the browser seemed to be working fine. It was only after doing the updates that I started to run into a problem again. Unfortunately, I didn't run the browser for very long before installing the updates, so its possible that it could have started acting up again without the updates. However, before installing the updates, I was able to run the browser for a good length of time with no problems. So I think there's something with the updates and my system.

I have a 12.04 Lubuntu DVD that I created when I burned my 14.04.3 LTS. I was thinking of trying that too and see if I'd get a different result.

Prior to my first re-installation, I tried to re-install Firefox by using the "purge" command, and then the "install" command.
sudo apt-get purge firefox firefox-globalmenu
sudo apt-get install firefox firefox-globalmenu

However, after running "purge", my system worked as if I didn't uninstall anything, which led me to try re-installing the entire operating system. Just out of curiosity, any ideas why the above commands wouldn't have re-installed Firefox?

Thanks again for your extremely helpful response. The information about viruses was also helpful and made lots of sense. I suspected that maybe there was a virus that was designed to do one of the things, that you mentioned, but in the process also inadvertently caused the browser to keep crashing. However, your many other suggestions make a lot more sense.

I'll post again once I try installing the older Lubuntu, and then upgrading online. It'll be interesting to see what that does.

Thanks again. You've given me a lot to work with.
Posts: 103
Joined: October 8th, 2014, 8:19 am

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby evansste » November 22nd, 2015, 8:11 pm

Well, after a fresh installation of Lubuntu 12.04, I kept getting the same problem. I then installed Lubuntu 14.04.3 LTS again, on a completely different hard drive, and got the same problem. I then ran the latest updates. The browser worked for a while, but then started crashing again.

After the latest updates, I think the browser is now crashing when it gets to websites that have a lot of content. It doesn't seem to fail as often for simple websites. However, I've only been using the browser for less than half an hour, now.

The most frustrating thing is that everything was solid before I tried to make it so that I could watch amazon videos on Linux. Prior to that, the browser never crashed, and I used it extensively for weeks.

In between installations, I installed Windows XP for a while, and the browser was working fine on that, so I don't think it has anything to do with hardware.

I also don't think the problem is browser-specific. Lubuntu 12.04 used Chromium as the default browser, and that started crashing just as often as when I was using Firefox with 14.04.3.

Maybe the updates are starting to help. I'm typing this post on the same computer that has this "crashing problem", and it hasn't crashed since I've been typing. Hopefully the problem will go away as I continue to use the updates. But I still think it's related to whatever I did when following the instructions on that website about watching amazon videos on Linux. Prior to that, everything was solid as a rock.
Posts: 103
Joined: October 8th, 2014, 8:19 am

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby evansste » November 23rd, 2015, 12:10 pm

I think I may have finally made some progress on this issue. After doing a little searching online, I ran across a suggestion from someone who tried to help someone else who was dealing with a similar issue. They mentioned PPA repos and 3rd party repos. I then remembered that, upon installation, Lubuntu offers the option to not include 3rd party software. I normally allow 3rd party software, but this time I made sure this box was unchecked.

I've been running this new installation (with no 3rd party software installed) for over an hour now, and the browser hasn't crashed once. I think 3rd party software was my problem. However, this makes me ask another question.

I've always allowed 3rd party software to be installed when installing Linux because I want to maximize my chances of having everything work. I've never had a problem with allowing this during installation. It wasn't until I installed a PPA, from a website, (The website that talked about watching amazon videos with Linux) that I ran into this terrible problem. I strongly believe that the HAL PPA did me in. After installing that, the browser simply wouldn't stop crashing. But here's my question. Why wouldn't a fresh install have fixed that problem? Doesn't a new installation wipe out any PPA that I would have gotten elsewhere? Does Linux have some way of "remembering" what previous PPAs I downloaded, and then including them in the "3rd party" category on subsequent installations?

I'm glad that this nightmare may finally be over. But am I right? Does Linux somehow remember previous installations so that my 3rd party category includes previous PPAs that I may have downloaded. I think this is unlikely, since I formated the hard drive before re-installation, but I don't know what else to conclude.

Thank you, bandersnatch, for taking the time to offer suggestions. I always greatly appreciate any help that people are willing to give. It's what makes forums truly great and useful. So thanks, once again.
Posts: 103
Joined: October 8th, 2014, 8:19 am

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby bandersnatch » November 25th, 2015, 1:08 pm


Congrats on busting your problem!!!!!
Bask a while in the warm feelings of relief ;^)

But am I right? Does Linux somehow remember previous installations so that my 3rd party category includes previous PPAs that I may have downloaded.

I can understand why this seems puzzling but I reckon this might be due to the extremely dynamic & somewhat
uncontrolled nature of Linux OS & PPA development.
Especially with automatically loaded updates, you cannot be sure that exactly the same runtime versions of all OS libraries & all PPAs
are installed from one day to the next.

This can mean that if you make a new install of a specific Linux version, which you previously installed (say) 6 months ago, you
do not end up with identical systems. New linux drivers/libraries and new PPAs may have appeared in the meantime & these will
be installed instead of the version you installed 6 months ago.

The ONLY way to be absolutely sure that you have an identical system to what you originally had is by restoring a disk image.

New updates are not always better & (regardless of the OS) I always prefer to manually select updates & ONLY update stuff that
is broken (If it aint broken then dont fx it).....

TIP: Buy a new hard drive, mirror your system to this drive and always test updates on this drive before mashing up your
main system...

Posts: 150
Joined: September 17th, 2014, 12:06 pm

Re: The Extent of a Virus

Postby evansste » November 25th, 2015, 4:28 pm

Thanks, bandersnatch.

I agree with you COMPLETELY concerning the entire "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" concept. From now on, I will perform all installations with the 3rd party software box unchecked. I also haven't performed any updates since the new installation. I figure that as long as everything works well, it's safer to not risk screwing anything up. If I run into problems, I'll then perform updates as a possible fix. To some this seems a bit paranoid. However, the ones who have dealt with annoying problems, due to unnecessarily installed updates, will understand.

Despite these sorts of problems, I'm still glad to be using Linux instead of Windows. The benefits outweigh the possible headaches, most of the time.

Thanks again for your help and insight. If you're in the US, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Posts: 103
Joined: October 8th, 2014, 8:19 am

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