Diagnosing live distribution boot problems

Things I try to get live CDs and DVDs to boot on troublesome hardware.

The boot problems I normally encounter come after the initial welcome screen. Here’s what I try to identify and resolve the issue.

If a splash screen appears when booting begins, pressing ESC usually replaces it with the traditional verbose boot messages. Some live distros have a verbose boot option. Read the boot messages and take note of failed steps or a step where booting hangs.

At the welcome screen there is usually an option to edit the kernel boot options, often by pressing F6. Review and edit them as desired. Useful ones include:

  • noapci and/or nolapic are often recommended in support forums, although I haven’t encountered hardware that needs either of them.
  • text (Mandriva and derivatives) or nomodeset (Ubuntu) boots in text rather than graphical mode. Useful when you have a video driver issue.
  • xdriver=vesa (Mandriva and derivatives) uses a basic video driver that works on nearly all hardware. Useful when you have a video driver issue.

TODO: Find and link to a list of kernel boot options. man bootparam and kernel-parameters.txt look like what I want, yet they don’t have the options I’ve documented above.

Per this report, when booting hangs, press ALT+SYSRQ+R, then press and hold E until messages stop scrolling past. This sometimes allows the boot to finish. TODO: The Sysrq key is hard to find on some laptops and some non-English keyboards; document.

How to set NOMODESET and other kernel boot options (Ubuntu)


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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One Response to Diagnosing live distribution boot problems

  1. Pingback: Verdi installation notes, mdv2010.1/2 | A maze of twisty little passages

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