Solved: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

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Solved: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-06-22 12:23

I tried upgrading my Thinkpad X120e from 7 to 8 (thats the little web book one with an AMD APU in it), but it failed to boot.

So I installed Debian 8 onto a USB hard disk. This boots fine on other machines - an Alienware laptop, my desktop and so on. In the Thinkpad it boots, grub comes up, and then it starts to load. It displays:
Code: Select all
Loading linux 3.16.0-4-amd64
Loading initial ramdisk


Then the screen goas blank with a flashing cursor in the top-left corner and that is as far as it gets.

I also get the same behaviour when trying to boot to 8 with the upgraded distro I had installed on the laptops built-in hard drive.

I have previously managed to boot this laptop from the exact same USB hard drive, but an earlier version (it was 6 or 7, I forget which).

How do I begin to diagnose why Debian 8 is failing to start up on this machine?
Last edited by rupertlssmith on 2017-07-23 11:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby arochester » 2017-06-22 13:12

"Something to be aware of: Debian is a core or source distribution. This means there are many Debian-based distributions. THEY ARE NOT DEBIAN."
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-06-23 07:20

arochester wrote:https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/Thinkpad/X120e/Sid

Scroll down to: Display


Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try it, but I suspect it is not getting even as far as that. Normally I would see a text mode display that is using A VESA VGA mode, logging out onto the screen as the kernel boots. If the X display driver failed to load but it booted, then it will usually drop out to a text-mode login prompt. In this case, after the "Loading initial ramdisk" message, nothing more happens.
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-06-23 07:23

rupertlssmith wrote:
arochester wrote:https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/Thinkpad/X120e/Sid

Scroll down to: Display


Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try it, but I suspect it is not getting even as far as that. Normally I would see a text mode display that is using A VESA VGA mode, logging out onto the screen as the kernel boots. If the X display driver failed to load but it booted, then it will usually drop out to a text-mode login prompt. In this case, after the "Loading initial ramdisk" message, nothing more happens.


It is like GRUB has found the kernel and init ram disk, but failed to find the root "/" filesystem. This can happen if fstab is not set up with the correct device UUIDs, but in this case I have set them correctly and confirmed it by booting the drive on other machines.

I am assuming no logging out to the console means the kernel is not booting at all?
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 11:01

Still not been able to fix this.

I am thinking it is a problem with the version of Grub that comes with Debian 8. The reason being that previously this machine ran Debian 7 just fine, but when I upgraded the hard disk to 8 it failed to boot. Then I created the USB drive also with 8, and that does not boot.

I think I will try installing 7 on another partition on the USB and then configuring Grub on the whole disk using its version of Grub, then see if 7 will boot from it.

Is there anything useful I can get from dropping into the Grub command prompt? I must admit configuring the Grub boot command or working with its command prompt is not something I am very adept at.
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 11:04

Also wondering if I need to pass some parameters when running grub-install? For example, maybe I need to disable UEFI or something?
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 11:39

I looked up Grub documentation and read about some of the basics of booting from the command line.

One useful diagnostic thing that I figured out is that I can edit the menu entry in grub before booting it, and remove the "quiet" option - now I get a better idea of where things are getting stuck. Grub appears to start running the kernel ok, but halts just after these lines:

Code: Select all
tlb_flushall_shift: 6
Freeing SMP alternatives memory: 20K (ffffffff81a1d000 - ffffffff81a22000)
ftrace: allocating 21704 entries in 85 pages
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 11:40

I also put netinst .isos for 7 and 8 on the disk and can try booting into them from Grub using a loopback. So far 8 fails at the same point, now trying 7.
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Re: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 11:55

Ok, solved it.

When I tried booting 7 it stopped just after some messages relating to ACPI. So I set the kernel boot parameters like this "noapic nolapic acpi=off'. I think this is a good default thing to try with a failing kernel boot.

Now it boots, hurray!
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Re: Solved: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-07-23 12:01

Have you tried booting to CLI? Right after grub starts to load, press CTL+ALT+F2.

Then, try installing non-free driver as mentioned on "Dysplay" part of the guide arochester linked. Please note that you need non-free repo enabled in order to do that.

EDIT: Ah, good that you solved it.
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Re: Solved: Problem booting Debian 8 on Thinkpad X120e

Postby rupertlssmith » 2017-07-23 19:26

Wheelerof4te wrote:Have you tried booting to CLI? Right after grub starts to load, press CTL+ALT+F2.

Then, try installing non-free driver as mentioned on "Dysplay" part of the guide arochester linked. Please note that you need non-free repo enabled in order to do that.

EDIT: Ah, good that you solved it.


Yes, I installed the fglrx drivers too, but that was later and not to do with the boot problem. It wasn't that X display drivers were not loading, the kernel was failing to boot way before that.
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