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I have a older ACER Travelmate 290 (manufactured in 2002 or 2003), which I recently tried to upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10. After doing the upgrade process it appeared as if I had a problem with my x server configuration, as on the first reboot post-install I heard the Ubuntu startup sound, but had a black screen. I thought I would then reboot again to drop down into text-mode to trouble shoot the x configuration problem.

However, when I tried rebooting, something went wrong and since then when I start up the machine I get absolutely nothing except the first hardware check (i.e. HDD light flashes, CD/DVD drive spins, etc.). Other than that the screen remains totally black and I have no HDD or processor activity at all.

I have tried restarting it a number of time holding down all kinds of key combinations to try and coax it into the BIOS (if possible) with no luck. I have also tried putting in both a live Linux disc and a Windows install disk without any luck. With a disk in the drive it will spin for a few seconds and then stop.

All this has lead me to suspect that the BIOS is somehow corrupt (not sure about the right terminology). I have tried putting a new BIOS image and installer program downloaded from ACER on a USB key to see if it will run when I start up the machine, but no luck. I'm not sure if this method of interacting/updating/flashing the BIOS will work outside of Windows/DOS as both OSs are mentioned kind of ambiguously in the documentation.

I have also taken the laptop case apart and inspected the various cards and cannot find any obviously burned out components.

I'm not sure how to proceed at this point in terms of components to try, or how to try and load a new BIOS image onto the board. Any advice here would be great, especially from those with experience with this particular line of laptops.

Thanks!

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This isn't necessarily a BIOS issue. The first few things to check are

1) Hook up an external display. If you can get anything on that you have a video card/LCD issue. (You may have to use an Fn key combo to get the external display up. check your manual)

2) Swap some RAM around. Bad RAM can cause a machine to not POST.

3) Remove the HDD. Usually a machine will still boot with a bad HDD and just throw an error, but on occasion I've seen yanking the hard drive fix the issue.

4) Remove any extra add-in cards. You said you've taken it apart, so if you really want you can try and POST it outside of the chassis with the WLAN card removed. Just be very careful of where you're touching. An improperly grounded chassis can cause it to not POST as well.

Most likely you are not looking at BIOS corruption unless this happened directly after a BIOS flash. What it happening is your computer is failing to POST (Power On Self Test).

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1  
+1 I reckon probably some other hardware issue too. Unfortunately with notebooks it's typically far less easy to swap&test the components yourself. –  bobince Nov 9 '09 at 20:42

Sounds that your problem is your screen the back light has gone. It is possible to replace the back light but is very tricky. Best is another screen (Look on EBAY) When you remove the screen you will see the make and number that is the screen you need or equivalent. Try a check with a desktop screen by connecting it to the blue adapter on the rear of your laptop.

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Had the same problem a few days ago.

To restore the notebook CMOS, remove the second RAM module (if installed) and look for a small broken conductor strip labeled JP1 on the motherboard. Make sure the battery is removed, and short the jumper JP1 with a screw driver for about two seconds. That fixed my TM290. This is the way to clear the BIOS passwords as well.

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Acer 290 series [290, 291, 292 and probably more] suffer from a common hardware issue of a chip that is losing connection from the mainboard after some time.

The position of the chip is on the lower right face of the MB just nearby the right hinge. I assume that the mechanical stress [fan vibration] + heating/cooling causes the chip to loosen a bit. Probably the situation of the chip was already at the edge and then it gave up.

You can find the position of the chip following this link [german language]:

blog entry The images are :

1 2

You will see the black CHIP marked with a red circle in the second picture.

Probably you would have to open up the laptop using the service manual [you can find in pdf on the web][can take 20 mins after a bit of practice] . Then try put some pressure on that chip to see if you have a boot. If that's the cause then go for re-soldering the chip to the MB. That's how I revived mine.

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Having similar difficulties and the following is something to try, the link taken from elsewhere on this site:

The directions for removing jumpers is appropriate to desktops, not laptops. For laptops, you generally clear the CMOS as I described earlier, removing all power sources and holding the power switch down. If you don't hold it down long enough, it doesn't work.

If you simply remove the hard disk, which is usually just a matter of a screw or two, this will often force the system to offer another boot choice or access to the BIOS, or give you some sort of feedback.

BIOS access is often only available at power-on, not from warm boots. Press the appropriate key as you turn the power on. If you press it too late, you must power down and try again.

The problems you're having getting into the BIOS are not Windows problems or related to it. Check with the manufacturer's support for your system.

http://phorums.com.au/archive/index.php/t-206023.html

Not yet entirely convinced that it works, but have high hopes.

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Creating a windows live CD (For example: BartPE ) could be created to boot the machine from CDROM - Provided memory corruption is not an issue, this would help recover data and also eliminate some of the suspected hardware failures.

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I have the same problem with my friend pc.

The only way I got it working with was by selecting boot with kernel image 2.6.28-15. All later kernel images will give the black screen problem as described.

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