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Editing Grub with various boot options

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Having problems getting Linux to boot properly if at all?  Problems after installing and getting just a black screen with a blinking cursor in the top left, or no cursor at all, and can’t jump out to a tty1 using Ctrl-Alt-F1?  The following may get you on your way to a successful Linux install and happier Linux experience!

The newest kernels have moved the video mode settings into the kernel. So all the programming of the hardware specific clock rates and registers on the video card happen in the kernel rather than in the X driver when the X server starts. This makes it possible to have high resolution, nice looking splash (boot) screens, and flicker free transitions from boot splash to login screen. Unfortunately, on some cards this doesn’t work properly, and you end up with a black screen. Adding the nomodeset parameter instructs the kernel to not load video drivers and use BIOS modes instead until X is loaded.

To do this, you’ll need to hit the letter ‘e’ when you get to the “Grub menu” during boot. Hitting the letter ‘e’ will allow you to edit the grub cmd line options before booting the OS. After hitting the letter ‘e’ you’ll see something like the following;

set root='hd0,msdos1'
if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd0,msdos1 --hint-efi=hd0,msdos1 --hint-baremetal=ahci0,msdos1 6b67fed8-816a-4315-89d3-86e3bd6ad4ab
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root 6b67fed8-816a-4315-89d3-86e3bd6ad4ab
echo 'Loading Linux 3.7-trunk-amd64 ...'
linux /boot/vmlinuz-3.7-trunk-amd64 root=UUID=6b67fed8-816a-4315-89d3-86e3bd6ad4ab ro acpi=noirq quiet no splash
echo 'Loading initial ramdisk ...'
initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.7-trunk-amd64

The items highlighted in red are the ‘options’ I have had to add in order to get my system to boot/work/operate properly. There are many more! My advice goes back to the first setting I mentioned, “nomodeset“. Immediately after hitting the letter ‘e’, add the nomodeset right after the letters ro in the grub menu. (the same place you see where I’ve added my options in red) Next hit Ctrl-X or F10 to boot. THIS MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU!!! Don’t be discouraged! If it doesn’t work, I’d like you to try to add the following instead of nomodeset.


Put nothing after the = sign for now. Try this method and see if it will boot. Again, THIS MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU!!! (remember, nothing behind the = sign) as this boot option makes the kernel not respond to osi queries. Unfortunately, some bios contain fixes to fix problems with specific windows versions (most notably vista) that aren’t needed, or don’t work for other OS’s. If the bios has provisions for Linux, you can also try acpi_osi=”Linux”. Believe it or not you could also even try acpi_osi=”Windows 2006″ to make the kernel pretend its vista and make the bios execute routines on machines that require them. You may also want to try the exact options shown in red above that I’ve used in my Grub options.

A couple of other options that may or may not work;
This disables ACPI completely. USE WITH EXTREME CAUTION!
Note: this may not work with all computers and will disable a lot of useful (or even needed) features. In some cases it may even disable some crucial features, like.. fans. Be careful with this option, it might cause your machine to overheat if the fans no longer work. Think of this as a last resort. Also note some machines require acpi=ht instead.

Noapic and nolapic
noapic and nolapic kernel options instruct the kernel to not use certain programmable interrupt controllers. To understand what that means exactly requires a deep knowledge of PC hardware. I will not go in to that here, as I don’t know most of it myself!!! I’ll limit myself to saying on some bios, especially for older systems, there are problems in the implementation of this and it may be necessary to disable either or both to cure a wide range of obscure problems, often but not always related to keyboard and mouse and power management (standby/resume issues).

Most of this is stuff I’ve copied/pasted over the years while playing and being frustrated. I hope something here gets your situation resolved! Good luck…

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