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A friend has an old Compaq laptop set up to run Ubuntu 11.04 and Windows Vista. The computer was apparently operating properly until a few days ago, when it suddenly started malfunctioning. Ubuntu refuses to load past the boot menu -- there's a black screen after selecting the operating system and nothing else. Windows, however, boots fine but breaks after login; the desktop fragments into clear sections and colored lines and the system stops responding. The machine works under Windows Safe Mode.

My guess is that this is a RAM or a motherboard issue, but it's just a guess. I'm wondering if someone can help me try to sort things out by teaching me how to best go about diagnosing efficiently.

Thanks very much!

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How was Ubuntu installed? Separate partition or through wubi? – tjameson Jun 25 '11 at 4:56
Separate partition. It was installed from a bootable USB drive. – user85200 Jun 25 '11 at 5:13
Does pushing Ctrl-Alt-F2 bring you to a command prompt when trying to boot Ubuntu? Can you enter single-user-mode in Ubuntu? – tjameson Jun 25 '11 at 5:45
The solution below worked before I could try. I didn't think I could get to a prompt because of how the computer was acting, but then I also completely overlooked poking around Recovery Mode in the boot menu. Chalk it up to not owning the machine/being an Ubuntu user. Good to know to test these things should I come across a similar predicament in the future, so thanks. – user85200 Jun 26 '11 at 2:51
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Try burning a live cd of another linux distro and booting from that. Then you could check your disk for errors and maybe even repair/reinstall GRUB.

I would do this before thinking hardware, as that is usually an expensive route to take. Also, from what you've told us I don't think this is hardware related. Have you tried Ubuntu's recovery mode?

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Thanks for your response. I haven't attempted anything yet, but I will now on your advice. Just read up a little on Ubuntu's Recovery Mode. I see I can perform fsck and update grub from there -- would this provide the same results as your suggestion about the live CD of another Linux distro? – user85200 Jun 25 '11 at 4:36
Worked! I booted into Recovery Mode, ran 'grub', then 'fsck'. Restarted, the Ubuntu disk check screen appeared and the system booted. Windows, too. Thanks again. – user85200 Jun 25 '11 at 14:11
No worries :) Glad to help – n0pe Jun 25 '11 at 14:39

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