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I have a 4 year old Compaq c700 laptop running Ubuntu.

The problem is that one day the screen suddenly went dark, but the OS still boots up fine. Then I did not use the laptop for a month. After a month, when I booted the laptop, suddenly the screen was working for few minutes, but then it was gone again.

A hardware engineer told me that it is due to old BIOS setting (laptop takes good 2-3 minutes at BIOS screen before OS loads).

Now I'm really confused. Can problems with the BIOS cause this sort of behaviour?

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If your laptop -with the current BIOS- worked fine before, and you did not change any BIOS settings, then this is unlikely to be the problem. –  Hennes Jan 29 '13 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

It is very likely that the backlight of the laptop screen is broken. They usually are made of CCFL lamps, which have a limited life span. If you can still see the screen content when you hold the screen under a bright light (or point a flashlight in a certain angle at it), then it's definitely the backlight. The BIOS seems to have some problems, too, but most certainly that is not related to the screen not working.

EDIT: One other option I can think of: the laptop might be switched to display it's screen content on an external monitor, so try the Fn+key combination which changes that (maybe Fn+F4 for your model).

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Good answer! Checking external monitors (as mentioned in your edit) happens more often than you would think! ;) –  xstnc Jan 29 '13 at 14:18

I've seen it happen that the cables connecting the screen (or its illumination) get brittle with age and break. Or the connectors could work loose.

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