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I've just installed Ubuntu Server on an old PC I've had hanging around the house.

It didn't exactly go smoothly, to say the least.

When I first turned it on, it wouldn't boot because the CMOS needed resetting (the battery died). - That was understandable after the time I left it. The CD drive was also stuck and needed a bit of work with a pencil to get it open. Those two issues were just the result of being left for such a long time.

Then when I rebooted into my old Ubuntu desktop install, it said there were some hard disk problems. - I ignored the options it gave me to try and fix them, and restarted into the Ubuntu Server Disc (knowing I was going to reformat anyway).

However, after two attempted installs on the primary hard drive (60 GB) with both of them failing at the same point, I decided to try installing on the secondary hard drive (16 GB). - This worked fine, and it rebooted after ejecting the disk.

At this point, I thought my problems might finally be over, but oh no, after loading up the Ubuntu Server Install from GRUB, it gave me a black screen for 15 seconds (expected), then this:

Dead Console Screen

Nice blocks of white where the text should be. Great.

Better still, my monitor shortly informed me it had gone into "Power Saving Mode" - which on other computers I had used the monitor with, meant the display had been put to sleep.

I then waited 30 seconds to make sure it was completely settled, and very cautiously inputted my username and password. - I then ran the following command:

sudo shutdown -r now

Followed by inputing my password again to authenticate the sudo. - The computer rebooted.

This meant that the system itself was OK, and the random display problems were not being caused by an error with the startup process.

I then realised that I had installed SSH on the server, so I tried connecting in, and it worked. I ran a full system update by using the following command:

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude dist-upgrade

I then rebooted the machine, and it threw exactly the same tantrum as last time.

My dad suggested it could be the graphics card, but the strange thing is it worked perfectly throughout:

  • The BIOS
  • The Old Ubuntu Desktop
  • The Ubuntu Server Install Process
  • The GRUB bootloader.

The server at the moment is perfectly usable via SSH, but it would be nice to know that the display on the actual machine works as well, in case for some reason the SSH/networking goes down and stops me from accessing it.

If anyone has any idea as to why this might happen / how to solve it, that would be great.

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For an example of exactly how wierd a glitching graphics card can be see this album on G+ it was a plausible explaination –  Journeyman Geek Dec 31 '11 at 14:24
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Fixed!

I found this bug report after a lengthy google search - basically the GRUB bootloader was using a resolution my graphics card couldn't handle (something ridiculous like 640 x 480).

All I had to do was edit a grub config file, like so:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

And change a line that says:

#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480

to

GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768

Notice I also removed the hash so it is no longer a comment.

Once this was done, I told grub to rebuild it's runtime configuration files form the config file I had provided, like so:

update-grub

After that command completed, I restarted, and now the console is working normally.

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