Oneiric gone wrong, but rescued.

The upgrade/reinstall process went well on all my machines save a self-built computer with a DP865GRH mainboard and an Nvidia 6800 video card. The first attempt was using the upgrade process which was smooth and went fairly quickly. The problem surfaced on reboot. I was left with a black screen and a single flashing cursor. I tried booting to the older kernel and was able to get boot; the machine simply could not boot to the 3.0.0-12 kernel.

Admitting to your daughter that the upgrade went south and she can’t use her computer is not a possible outcome, so I ended up troubleshooting until 3am in the morning. The first suspect was the Nvidia card and the next was an acpi issue. The first step I took was to remove the Nvidia card an allow the computer to boot on the Intel graphics chip on the mainboard. That met with no luck so I then started troubleshooting the scpi issues.

The best way to do this is to change the boot options dynamically to figure out if they work and then update the default grub configuration file after you find the solution. To modify the grub boot options on the fly hold the shift key down during boot and you will see the kernel parameters. Once you do this you can modify the following line by click ‘e’ to go in to an edit mode.

linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31-11-generic root=UUID=cb201140-52f8-4449-9a95-749b27b58ce8 ro quiet splash

add ‘acpi=off’ to the end of the line

Now you can hit ‘F10’ to try booting with the new parameters. In my particular case I was able to boot with this option. I then followed the debugging procedures and ended up using the following addition to the kernel parameters:


To read more about the process see the Ubuntu Wiki page here. I still have one hurdle left with suspending the computer due to it resuming with a scrambled graphics screen. I am off to Google, and other places to research how to fix that now.

update: I updated the Nvidia driver using the “Additional Drivers” tool under “System Settings” and uncommented the “GRUB_GFXMODE” line in the /etc/defaults/grub file. I set the mode to 1280×1024 and now I have a computer that can suspend and when I use cntl+alt+F1 I get a working tty session instead of a white screen. The great thing about Linux and Ubuntu is you can fix these issue. In the Windows world you would be waiting on a driver update and in the OS X world you would be told to upgrade to the new version of the OS or told you hardware needed to be replaced.

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10 Responses to Oneiric gone wrong, but rescued.

  1. satchitb says:

    You make a good point, but it’s true we have to work on making the upgrade process better. Maverick > Natty, and Natty > Oneiric have been terrible for nearly everyone who’s tried it.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      To be honest I do not believe the upgrade process was to blame; on a fresh install I had the same problem and did not have the old kernels to use to boot with.

  2. fuzzy says:

    This kind of problems are why I never upgrade any kind of software (Ubuntu, Windows etc). I am using Ubuntu since Edgy and I ALWAYS fresh install Ubuntu. I have two hard disks. Unplug older working Ubuntu system hard-disk and plug-in new disk. Installing new Ubuntu version on new disk and then when everything is working, just copy files from old disk. If something goes wrong, just plug-in old disk with old work Ubuntu.

    When some problem appears in new system I am 100% sure that this has nothing to do with an old system (like some library that was not upgraded or something).

    One more thing, this post really points out to you have to be super geek to solve upgrade problems and so average end-users should not upgrade system at all, because they will not be able to solve this kind of problems because of lack of knowledge.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I agree we need to make things work a little better for the average end-user if we want Ubuntu to truly be a home OS.

  3. Gerben Welter says:

    You might also try ‘acpi_osi=linux’ as a kernel parameter. That had helped me fix a white screen issue after a resume with nvidia hardware.

  4. Pingback: Links 17/10/2011: Puppy Linux 5.2, Reports from LibreOffice Conference | Techrights

  5. Ethel Cain says:

    Keep it up, nice post! Exactly the stuff I needed.

  6. Neil Greenwood says:

    Unlike other commenters, I’ve found very few problems with upgrading between recent Ubuntu versions. I started using the upgrade around about Breezy (5.10) or Dapper (6.06), and I’ve attempted an upgrade between every release since.

    I think I’ve not had to reinstall Ubuntu (except for a migration from 32- to 64-bit) since Hardy (8.04) or maybe Intrepid (8.10). And I’m talking about 4 different machines, 2 desktops & 2 laptops

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