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I have an old Dell Dimension 2400 with 1GB of memory running CentOS 6.5. The last few times I've updated the kernel the newer versions don't seem to load successfully. ...
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    CentOS 6 GRUB Stopped Loading Latest Kernel Successfully


    I have an old Dell Dimension 2400 with 1GB of memory running CentOS 6.5. The last few times I've updated the kernel the newer versions don't seem to load successfully. The system seems to boot and then screens goes black. Since Grub seems to be only keeping the last five (5) kernel versions I'm running out of options. Here are the versions:

    CENTOS (2.6.32-431.17.1.e16.i686) <-- NEW Doesn't Work
    CENTOS (2.6.32-431.5.1.e16.i686) <-- Doesn't Work
    CENTOS (2.6.32-431.1.2.0.1.e16.i686) <-- Doesn't Work
    CENTOS (2.6.32-358.23.2.e16.i686) <-- Boots successfully
    CENTOS (2.6.32-358.18.1.e16.i686) <-- Boots successfully
    CENTOS (2.6.32-358.14.1.e16.i686) <-- GONE Now

    What happened between 2.6.32-358 and 2.6.32-431? How can I get these newer versions of the kernel to boot?

    I have attached my grub.conf (as .txt) file, in case there is a clue there.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Did you only update the kernel, or did you also update the xorg stuff as well? I think you can update the grub.conf file to allow more kernel versions to be saved, or you can do that manually. GRUB does allow an unlimited number of entries, but yum may not keep the older ones. To do this, you can backup the entries in /boot and then restore them after updating the kernel and editing the /boot/grub/grub.conf file manually. I'm running on a Windows system right now so I can't see how you might avoid that, but will reply again once I get back home from my trip.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Every month or so I run Software Update under the System menu. It seems to update every package that has been updated since the last time I ran it. If the kernel depends on xorg stuff it checks for all the dependencies and updates them too.

    As to changing the grub.conf file, it looks really simple. Four lines at the top defining global items like the number of the kernel version to start by default, the timeout in seconds, a splash image file location, and a meaningless "hiddenmenu". After that it's multiple sets of lines giving the title, root, kernel location, and the initrd. I don't see anywhere to change the number of sets of lines.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janoble View Post
    Every month or so I run Software Update under the System menu. It seems to update every package that has been updated since the last time I ran it. If the kernel depends on xorg stuff it checks for all the dependencies and updates them too.

    As to changing the grub.conf file, it looks really simple. Four lines at the top defining global items like the number of the kernel version to start by default, the timeout in seconds, a splash image file location, and a meaningless "hiddenmenu". After that it's multiple sets of lines giving the title, root, kernel location, and the initrd. I don't see anywhere to change the number of sets of lines.
    As I said, I think that is something that the rpm file that yum installs does. I write a lot of rpm spec files in order to build installable packages and this seems to make sense to me. That is not easy to change unless you get the sources and original spec file (it is in the installation rpm), modify the spec file to avoid deleting older kernels, and rebuild/reinstall the rpm. Not a task for the novice!

    So, what you CAN do is before you update the kernel, you backup the contents of /boot, install the kernel, restore the deleted kernel files, and update /boot/grub/grub.conf. More pain, but you get to have the option to run those older kernels as a result.

    FWIW, I update my system daily! However, if I see that it will install a new kernel, I cancel the update, make a complete system (boot) disc backup to external media before I do that. So, if things get totally munged (has happened in the past), I can restore the old image and continue on my merry way.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Rubberman, I appreciate the input on how to mitigate for the latest kernels not working. Sorry, haven't been near my computers since last weekend.

    I've owned different Linux systems since 1998. In the early days I had an Evergreen Chip to upgrade the CPU. Whenever a new kernel would come out I would have to build the kernel from scratch and set flags that by experience I had learned worked. I also would calculate the line in some esoteric video configuration file using some unbelievable incantations that took more than one scotch & water. I finally tired of all these hoops I was forced to jump through to use Linux. It became to bothersome, even as an engineer working with computers. Then back around 2006 I decided to try Linux again for some web development work. I was pleasantly surprised that on whatever computer I had at the time it just loaded and worked. It has done so since then until now and I've continued to use it as a server primarily for web development which I do much less than I used to.

    The answer I'm looking for is why did the kernels stop working recently. I want the latest kernels. Is there something that can be done to get the updates to work again? I'm not resorting to trickery to keep the old kernels around. If the kernels can't be kept up to date I'll just stop using Linux again.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Great post! I'll match your scotch+water with a nice double of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey...

    In any case, I've had kernel updates bork my system as well, which is why when yum wants to update the kernel, I make a full bit-image backup (with dd) of the system drive first. Usually it is due to some subtle xorg incompatibility. I can always go into text mode, and running "startx" may show me what is going wrong - but not always.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Rubberman, Thanks for the feedback. I'll have to try running in text mode. I now have 30 seconds to choose how I want to boot.

    Thanks for sticking with me.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janoble View Post
    Rubberman, Thanks for the feedback. I'll have to try running in text mode. I now have 30 seconds to choose how I want to boot.
    Thanks for sticking with me.
    I'll be here (or somewhere)...
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    I just booted and got the same result. However, I did easily log in from a Win7 box using putty. Looked at the dmesg log and sure enough it's ends with a bunch of "serial8250: too much work for irq17" which seems to be a common problem on the Dell Dimension 2400. In looking through my 2013 journal apparently I was experiencing it on 7/23/2013. However, whatever the solution was I didn't document it or it just went away. It looks like it might be an ancient or incompatible modem. I'll look into tomorrow and see what I can come up with.

    Later

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    It sounds like a serial port (those are the 8250 devices) or serial controller are generating too many interrupts. This is indicative of a hardware problem. Not sure what you can do as it is probably integrated into the motherboard.

    It may be possible to build a custom kernel without 8250 support. That is the only option that comes to mind right now...
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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