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Ubuntu troubleshooting, God help me [Solved]

blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
As I've mentioned before, I work IT for a section of the University I attend. The building I primarily support has our math department, which includes a lot fo very stubborn people who refuse to touch a Windows machine, and insist upon a Linux based OS, despite barely knowing how to navigate anything friendlier. So, being a Windows tech all my life, I'm having to learn Linux, which is honestly a pretty neat experience, but it's a lot more finicky than I'm used to.

So one of the professors under my charge wants a take home Ubuntu box. Cool. So I take her machine, get it all up and running, install a bunch of software she needs, get the drivers squared away, and everything works hunky dory.

Until she gets home, and it boots straight to the GRUB prompt where you select the OS, and then refuses to boot any further. I can get her into a recovery console, but that's about it. She brings it up here, I plug it in, everything works great. So I update the video driver, and everything starts working even better, it even automatically finds a better resolution and updates it. Score.

she takes it home, same damn problem. She then thinks to hook it up to another monitor, and it finally boots up. So she brings it back up here, and I plug it in, and again. It works grand. No problems whatsoever

It's running Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit

It's a dell Optiplex 780
Core 2 Duo
4GBs of Ram

and an ATI Radeon of some sort for video. It has a strange Dell proprietary video output that requires a split adapter to output to DVI or VGA, and I've tried 3 of those adapters, including hers, and they all work.

So P/A I ask of you.... wtf is going on? Normally I'd suggest she just try the monitor that works, but anyone who's ever worked with tenured professors knows they frown upon anyone telling them to try something a differently

tl;dr

Linux box is picky about monitors, failing to boot at all to one particular monitor, but works fine everywhere else

blakfeld on

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    LykouraghLykouragh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Maybe the video signal is out of range for the monitor at home? There's a way to boot to a text prompt only in Linux, I vaguely remember it being "hold alt f1" but I could be wrong.

    Lykouragh on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Those slimline dell video cards are really shitty, well, the linux drivers for them are really shitty.

    Not much you can do but use the monitors that do work.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lykouragh wrote: »
    Maybe the video signal is out of range for the monitor at home? There's a way to boot to a text prompt only in Linux, I vaguely remember it being "hold alt f1" but I could be wrong.

    Yeah if the resolution is out of range it probably won't get past the text prompt, since those run natively at 640x480 I think. Which most monitors support. The problem is when it switches to like 1280x1024 and the other monitor can only do 1024x768.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    SpudgeSpudge Witty comments go next to this blue dot thingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Try setting the default resolution to 640x480, have her take it home and boot

    Spudge on
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    LykouraghLykouragh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yeah but you can get it to boot to just a prompt without xwindows also at 640x480 and then manually set the resolution to something your monitor will accept. I vaguely remember doing this at some point in my life, but my googlefu is weak this morning.

    After further googling, apparently ctrl alt f(1-4) will get you various types of prompt with no xwindows after booting.

    Lykouragh on
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    blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Alright, the Linux Sysadmin walked in from lunch, and I was able to ask him some questions, but in the end were still stumped

    The first time she had the problem it was defaulting to 800x600 at 60hz, so I don't think it's out of range.

    We tried it here, and I was able to get Gnome to crash, but only if I killed it, then tried to restart it.

    Unless I can think of some other magic, we may just have her take it home, then copy the x-log over so we can see that. I got the Alt+f1 working here, so I could bypass her root password and get root access, so that should be working just fine....

    Blah!

    Okay! So unless anyone else has any other ideas I'm going to have her take it home and try alt+f1 and copy the config file

    blakfeld on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    She may have a widescreen monitor that doesn't play well with anything other than 640x480 + widescreen resolutions?

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    She may have a widescreen monitor that doesn't play well with anything other than 640x480 + widescreen resolutions?

    That's certainly possible. I'll default it to 16:9

    blakfeld on
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    blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Just wanted to let you all know that I fixed it!

    She came and picked it up, then barged in 10 minutes before the office closed angrily swinging a monitor around saying we made it worse. She sat it and the computer down on my desk, then stormed out

    So I pulled up GRUB, and edited "quiet splash" out of the boot kernal to see if it would tell me where it failed, and it boots just fine.

    Turns out the goddamn splash screen was causing it to crash. Wtf?

    whatever, it's working now.

    Thanks guys!

    blakfeld on
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    Zilla360Zilla360 21st Century. |She/Her| Trans* Woman In Aviators Firing A Bazooka. ⚛️Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    blakfeld wrote: »
    Just wanted to let you all know that I fixed it!

    She came and picked it up, then barged in 10 minutes before the office closed angrily swinging a monitor around saying we made it worse. She sat it and the computer down on my desk, then stormed out

    So I pulled up GRUB, and edited "quiet splash" out of the boot kernal to see if it would tell me where it failed, and it boots just fine.

    Turns out the goddamn splash screen was causing it to crash. Wtf?

    whatever, it's working now.

    Thanks guys!
    This is interesting. Definitely follow it up with a report on Launchpad.

    Zilla360 on
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    blakfeldblakfeld Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Sweet! thanks for that! The Linux Sysadmin at the office mentioned I should file a bug report, but didn't go so far as to say where

    EDIT

    Bug report filed. Hopefully now if anyone spends a day googling it, they'll find this.

    blakfeld on
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