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I just joined so I could find some insight on this problem that got me yesterday. I don't currently have access to the computer where it happened on so debugging this may be slower than I hoped for. Sorry if I'm too wordy I want to put as much detail as possible what led up to this problem.

Specs on my PC:

  • OS - Xubuntu 19.10
  • CPU - AMD Phenom II x4 edition
  • Memory - 4GB, Corsair
  • HDDs, 4 SATA total, all Western Digital, made about 3-6 years ago. 3 months' worth of use on the main drive holding the filesystem & home folders, very reliable. The other 3 drives are for file storage and keeping the home folder tidy.
  • standard Ethernet connection
  • Default browser - Chromium 79 (the recent version from the Xubuntu repos so far) with Flash plugin and several extensions (none of which are malicious I've been using them for several years w/o issue)

So to start off, I received an email attachment from person B, it was originally from person A and sent to B, however it was flagged by person B's outlook account as being "unable to open", so it led to a long URL instead of a proper jpg. Person B sent the email to me to see if I could have any luck saving the image. The image originally came from a gmail account, was sent to an outlook account, which was then sent to my yahoo account. So I got quite a messy URL as an "attachment" which I hesitate to post in full online because it has sensitive strings and could be used for malicious purposes.

When I copied and pasted the URL into a new tab in Chromium with the outlook domain in front (safelinks.protection.outlook.com, as it was from the original attachment from an outlook account), it led to a specific Gmail error page, which many other users often get. The URL started with this: https://nam01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail...

In my efforts to get the actual jpg, I slightly modified the front of the url so it was pointing to what looked like a legit Google link (started with mail.google.com) followed by a very long string made of hex & letters and some of the strings containing the email address of the sender. Now the URL started with this: https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail...

I pasted the modified full URL into a new tab in Chromium and hit enter, and immediately I saw the "Aw Snap" error appear however it crashed the whole browser right after. No big deal I thought I'll just fire it up again, but my system was suddenly slower than usual. I open the terminal to see what's making things slow with top, but top's only output is SIGSEGV(11) followed by a bug reporting URL.

Ok I start to mildly panic now, I don't even know what the magic URL I entered does but it sure jumped outside of its browser box. I try to open Chromium again to report, no response. Firefox, no response. Then I try to reboot, but the Whisker menu decides to remove itself from the panel, then the standard Network Monitor plugin in the panel tries to remove itself as well. I can't tell the system to reboot graphically and impossible to get anything done being this unstable so I enter in the terminal "sudo restart now" and the screen goes dim with the spinning wheel loading for more than 10 minutes.

I eventually power off the machine and power on again because it sat there trying to restart and the command wouldn't get through. On bootup I get past BIOS (the old style one) and am greeted with a blank flashing cursor for a command prompt instead of the Xubuntu splash screen. I power off and power on again, hoping to get into BIOS this time to see if it inadvertently chose my external drive to boot from instead of my filesystem. But now the BIOS stopped showing on bootup, and even the monitor which worked fine before stopped receiving a signal from the system to show the display. Now I'm stuck with a non-functional computer, I really need to know how to fix this cause this is my production machine. Thanks for any help.

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  • I will say this with 99.9% certainty. There is absolutely no way that you pasting a link into chromium had any effect on your computer's bios. You seem to be experiencing a multitude of issues, most of which seem unrelated to the original problem. – David Mar 26 at 21:33
  • Unless (shudder) OP is running as root. – waltinator Mar 26 at 23:44

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