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I think the subject speaks for itself, so let me get right down to the details. First, the hardware: Motherboard: Asus A8N-SLI Premium nForce 4 SLI CPU: AMD Athlon 64 ...
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  1. #1
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    Problems installing any distro of Linux -- possible hardware issue?


    I think the subject speaks for itself, so let me get right down to the details. First, the hardware:

    Motherboard: Asus A8N-SLI Premium nForce 4 SLI
    CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400
    RAM: 2 GB OCZ DDR400
    Videocard: BFG GeForce 7800 GT 256MB
    HDD: Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6L200S0
    Optical Drive: Lite-On 16x DVD+/-R Burner Model SOHW-16935
    NIC: Linksys WMP54G v4.1

    Now, here's the issue. I'm fairly new to Linux, but I have installed various distros on other computers without problems, so for the most part, I know what I'm doing. The computer listed above I've had sitting around for quite some time and I want to turn into a "full-time" Linux machine. I had OpenSuse 11.3 64-bit installed (had some problems with it, which I'll come back to later), but I didn't like it so I wanted to install something else. I decided to go ahead with Ubuntu 10.10 32-bit.

    After downloading and burning to a CD-R, I popped the disc into the computer, changed my settings in the BIOS, and let it boot up from the CD. I get the initial "Ubuntu loading screen" (the screen with 'Ubuntu' in the middle of the screen and the 5 progress dots below it). It loads for a few seconds, and then the screen just freezes. What's unusual is the screen has a grey, striped, static look to it. Even if it hasn't frozen up, I can't see any options to continue from there. I tried rebooting several times, and I get the same screen. So I thought maybe my download was corrupt, or maybe the CD-R was bad. In short, I've re-downloaded the ISO, I've re-burned it on both CD-Rs and CD-RWs, and using Universal USB Installer, I've even used a USB to try to boot from. All combinations I've tried, I get the same screen.

    After a while, I decided to try other distros. I get the same exact results with Mint 10 32-bit and Fedora 13 32-bit. It boots, I get the initial loading screen, and then a grey, striped, static looking screen instead of giving me any installation options.

    On top of that, just to make sure (again) that it wasn't a bad download or burned CD, I tried the Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint CDs I had burned, as well as the USB copy, on two newer computers I have lying around. Both of those boot up just fine and bring me to the installation screen.

    Now, as promised, some issues with OpenSuse 11.3, that may be related. After successfully installing that distro on the machine, anytime I would allow it to start up as normal, it would give me the same grey, striped, static looking screen instead of the welcome/log-in screen. The only time I could get it to start up without problems was if I selected the "Failsafe" option at startup.

    So in short, unless there's something I'm missing, I'm dead convinced that some piece of hardware (the graphics card?) is causing these problems. I've looked up the compatibility of all my hardware with Linux, and aside from my NIC being a pain to configure with some distros (I'm well aware of that), I can't seem to find any connection to the problems I'm experiencing and my hardware. Again, what makes it more frustrating is that I'm unable to even get to an installation screen -- if I could get to that screen, then I know that I could possibly choose a different installation method, but I'm not even given that option.

    If anyone sees anything that I'm missing, please let me know. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Try starting without quiet and splash parameters on the kernel line - splash can cause problems, but you should be able to start without it. The alternate install CD will also help for Ubuntu since it allows you to do a text based install and fix the graphics after.
    It could also be splash causing problems with openSuSE - I think you just knock quiet option of kernel boot parameters to get rid of it during boot process.

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    Just prior to seeing your post, it seems that I did what you recommended by accident; I decided to hit the ESC key while it was loading, and it gives me a menu with these options:

    Try Ubuntu without installing
    Install Ubuntu
    Check disc for defects
    Test memory
    Boot from first hard disk

    Now, if splash is causing the problems (in the case of the Ubuntu distro), is splash causing the problems with all the other distros I'm trying as well? If so, why is that? I'm not having these problems with any other computer that I try to boot from, just this particular machine?

    I guess in the end, if I'm able to install and configure it afterwards to where it works, then it's all fine and good. I'm just curious why this one machine of mine is having this problem.

    Thanks.

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    It seems I spoke too soon...

    I went and downloaded the ISO for the alternate install CD, and was able to perform a text-based installation of Ubuntu. Everything went smooth, but when I try to boot into Ubuntu, I'm right back to where I was. My screen freezes/locks up prior to going to the login screen, and I'm unable to do anything. I've tried to reboot and press ESC and F1-F6 just to try to get any other screen or options, but nothing. It seems to continue to freeze/lock up at the splash screen.

    I've installed earlier versions of Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora, and didn't have problems like I'm having now -- I'm convinced that newer versions of various distros just aren't happy with something in my hardware configuration.

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    Hi,
    have you tried the boot options in ubuntu ?
    for eg:
    "acpi=off" and
    "noapic"
    etc. in the boot menu. (without quotes of course).
    I have a similar problem with asus motherboard with acpi problems. Using these options i was able to boot and then made the edit to grub menu for the changes to take place permanently. I am not sure with your case. But a googling may give you further help.

  6. #6
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbyram View Post
    Now, if splash is causing the problems (in the case of the Ubuntu distro), is splash causing the problems with all the other distros I'm trying as well? If so, why is that? I'm not having these problems with any other computer that I try to boot from, just this particular machine?
    There are two versions of Mint, one based on Ubuntu and one on Debian. The splash screen could be causing the issue in both distros.
    I prefer to switch off the splash screen and see the system information as it boots, when issues occur it gives a good clue where things are going wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbyram View Post
    I went and downloaded the ISO for the alternate install CD, and was able to perform a text-based installation of Ubuntu. Everything went smooth, but when I try to boot into Ubuntu, I'm right back to where I was. My screen freezes/locks up prior to going to the login screen, and I'm unable to do anything. I've tried to reboot and press ESC and F1-F6 just to try to get any other screen or options, but nothing. It seems to continue to freeze/lock up at the splash screen.
    For the later versions of Ubuntu grub2 will be installed by default - see here, the shift key must be pressed to access the menu.
    At boot use shift key to display the menu, you can edit the menu entry to remove quiet and splash from the kernel line and then ctrl+x to boot. Either the system will boot - so the problem is splash or note the last couple of lines of text displayed before the system freezes. This will help track down the issue.
    You can try booting in single user mode from the grub menu. You can also try additional kernel parameters as sreek has suggested.

  7. #7
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
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    I would give antiX a try. If even this results in the same issue, it its almost certainly hardware.
    Best wishes!

  8. #8
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    You don't have two video boards (integrated and add-on) in this sytem, do you? If you have an on-board (integrated) controller as well as a video board installed in the bus, then you will need to disable the on-board video in the BIOS.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    First, to answer some above questions. I don't have a dual card setup, and the motherboard doesn't have onboard video. I even went into the BIOS and disabled SLI options just in case that was somehow affecting something.

    Now an update, of sorts.

    I was able to access the GRUB menu (I think in my impatience, I probably hit Shift or something). From there, I was able boot in "safe mode." I logged in, and was able to download some nVidia drivers for my graphics card. After installation and rebooting, all the problems are gone. The splash and login screen don't freeze up, and I'm able to log in without problems.

    Sooo....this was clearly an issue of my graphics card not playing nice, right? I guess what confuses me is that with earlier versions of various distros (Ubuntu 8.04, Mint 8, Fedora 11), not once did I encountered this problem with this same machine (well, I did with Solaris....but that's Solaris). With those older distros, everything installed fine, I was able to log in, and then from there I was able to download graphic drivers. But the lack of them at the beginning never gave me problems during installation and booting.

    Is it possible that in recent changes to the Linux Kernel or some support somewhere, that somehow my graphics card is no longer supported "right out of the box?"

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    It's possible that the newer systems recognized that you have an nVidia board in the system and installed/configured a default nVidia driver instead of the vesa driver. The system-provided nVidia drivers aren't particularly good, IMHO. This is why we usually recommend installing the proprietary ones from nVidia. In any case, I'm happy you were able to sort this out. I have an 8800GT board in my system and it works very well with the proprietary drivers, but not so well with the ones in the package manager. Before I installed the proprietary ones, I was able to use the vesa (generic) driver in order to get the KDE desktop working, although it was the pits for full-motion video and it didn't support the full 1920x1200 HD resolution of my displays.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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