Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian

Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Talkyn » 2017-09-10 18:05

Hello all,

I've done by best, but alas, I seem to be stuck.

I'm attempting to install Debian 9.1.0 amd64 "Stretch" in a dual boot setup on my Acer Aspire E5-752G-T09S (https://www.acer.com/ac/en/CA/content/m ... .MYMAA.002) that came with Windows 10. I was able to boot up the USB key and proceed with a graphical install, during which I set up a 200GB partition and allowed the "guided" settings to set 192GB as root and 8GB as swap. After a couple of more prompts and loading bars, I was greeted with a message that the install was complete--awesome! So naturally I reboot, get the grub menu allowing me to select Debian/Windows, but from there I have issues. Windows boots up fine, but Debian refuses to do much at all; it spits out some info (txt below) in a command-prompt-type screen (yep, I'm a linux noobie), then does one of two things, seemingly at random. Either it becomes stuck at the command-prompt-ish screen with a tiny graphical "glitch" in the top right, or it transitions to a completely blank screen with the backlight bright as heck. Either way, it becomes totally unresponsive. Ctrl+Alt+F1 does nothing. Ctrl+Alt+Del does nothing. "C" does nothing, and whichever state it ends up in remains there indefinitely until I hard reboot it.

Here is the output, but occasionally it doesn't get any further than the line "sp5100_tco: I/O address 0x0cd6 already in use"
https://photos.app.goo.gl/D3VEbYFrQAW7t8fn2

Now, the "failed to load XXXXX.bin" stuff didn't bother me much, since it appears to be my wireless network adaptor firmware, which I was aware was not available during the install. I didn't (don't?) expect that is preventing loading into Debian, where I planned on working out how to install those packages later. The "address 0x0cd6 already in use" line line seems to indicate it's a bug of some sort? Googling it brings up thread in forums for Arch, Redhat, etc, but none of the "fixes" help me because I can't access anything linux to edit files. "KVM" shouldn't be that important either, since it is for Virtualisation. At least, that I what I've been telling myself :lol: . Either way, my BIOS gives me no options to enable such a feature, so I've ignored it in pursuit of other potential problems.

Searching both google and these forums for "blank screen" Debian issues gave me quite a lot to sift though, and I found some threads indicating there are some problems with dual graphics cards. The problem is, none of the threads I found contained anything helpful for me to pursue, except the assertion that such problems are posted about with such frequency that people are tired of dealing with them. Despite this, I only came across only a handful of threads about graphics drivers and dual graphics issues, and all of them suggesting some commands to use in bash (obviously, this can't help me), or installing the "non-free" packages. I decided I had best just try to reinstall with a new ISO, the non-free firmware version, as it seemed likely to solve my wifi issue, as well as a potential graphics issue causing a crash/hang. Interestingly, absolutely nothing was different with the unofficial non-free ISO. I still had the same lack of firmware for the wifi adaptor during install, and after install, the exact same behaviour presented itself; the "cmd screen", and/or blank screen described above.

Rather than to continue pulling my hair out, I decided to try a live USB stick. Surely, that would be able to load up completely. So once the 2GB+ torrent was done, I shuffled back to the laptop to boot it up and...it does almost the same thing with the live USB stick. It rapidly goes through a bunch of messages as the screen scrolls down, until it progresses to the very same screens as above. And that is where I admit defeat in solving this unaided.

So is it evident where I am going wrong here? Is my hardware incompatible with Debian? Am I making assumptions about the non-free firmware ISO? I'm perfectly happy to do more digging, and will keep reading, but I've run out of ideas for what the try next. Any help, will be much appreciated.
Last edited by Talkyn on 2017-09-10 18:15, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby acewiza » 2017-09-10 18:14

You might try running a live image to see what happens with that. I stopped dual booting WIndows some time ago after UEFI hassles made things unnecessarily difficult. Windoze only gets to run in Virtualbox guest mode for me nowadays.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Talkyn » 2017-09-10 18:19

acewiza wrote:You might try running a live image to see what happens with that.


Yeah, I figured that would be a good idea...which is why I already did it. As explained in the OP, it produced near-identical results.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2017-09-10 18:23

Talkyn wrote:then does one of two things, seemingly at random. Either it becomes stuck at the command-prompt-ish screen with a tiny graphical "glitch" in the top right, or it transitions to a completely blank screen with the backlight bright as heck.

Try disabling Kernel Mode Setting for your graphics card(s).

Helpful links:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ke ... odesetting

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ke ... eters#GRUB
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby stevepusser » 2017-09-10 19:00

I'm going to assume by dual graphics cards you mean the AMD integrated GPU on the processor and that AMD R7 mentioned in the specs. Either one will require firmware-amd-graphics from the non-free repo section. If you have really new hardware, it may need the new firmware packages that are currently only in the testing repo (20170823).

You could try booting a live image that includes the firmware to see if that makes any difference.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Talkyn » 2017-09-10 19:57

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Try disabling Kernel Mode Setting for your graphics card(s).


Those links gave me some new bits to read about, so thank you for that. Unfortunately, "nomodeset" spits a command unknown error when stuck anywhere in the kernel command line parameters. I fiddled around with removing "load_video" from there, but that doesn't help either. Interestingly, inputting some of the parameters suggested in the Arch wiki causes Debian to scan files for "errors" and correct them before proceeding, and crashing again.

In the meantime, I was trying the live disc again, and watched the messages as best as I was able, and I caught the line "switching to amdgpudrmfb from EFI VGA" right before it blanked out. So, that's got to mean something is up with the gfx firmware someplace. I hope? I'm heading in that direction.

stevepusser wrote:it may need the new firmware packages that are currently only in the testing repo (20170823).


OK, I'll experiment with that; thanks.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby stevepusser » 2017-09-10 20:59

How recent is the processor on the laptop? It appears that it's trying to switch to the open amdgpu video driver before it barfs; ASFAIK, that also requires firmware. Various images that include firmware are also available: https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unof ... -firmware/
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Talkyn » 2017-09-11 14:03

Something that is non-obvious to me is how I can find out whether or not a given package is included in a given image (specifically the unofficial non-free firmware image), and then whether or not I can include packages of my own choosing directly on the bootable USB I am using to install.

According to the installation manual section 6.4, I can simply add packages I may need into a /firmware directory on a USB stick (https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/ ... 04.html.en). Now, the images I've looked at all include /firmware, but it is empty. The manual doesn't specify if this must be a separate USB stick, or if I can simply toss the files in right into that folder on the stick being used for the install. I find it odd this isn't specified, but I'll find out soon enough I guess.

While trying to figure out what packages are actually included on the images, I find a file rather helpfully named "packages" in /dist/stretch/non-free/binary-amd64, and I find a surprisingly short list of included packages, but also a source of more confusion. Included is what I would have expected to be the firmware I needed for my Atheros wirelsss network card, and yet during install with this image it complained about missing atheros package. :?: I suppose I'll have to carefully note the exact firmware files it is complaining about not having.

Code: Select all
Package: firmware-atheros
Source: firmware-nonfree
Version: 20161130-3
Installed-Size: 8047
Maintainer: Debian Kernel Team <debian-kernel@lists.debian.org>
Architecture: all
Suggests: initramfs-tools
Description: Binary firmware for Atheros wireless cards
Description-md5: cc64d612094e73015861cf2915345869
Multi-Arch: foreign
Homepage: https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/firmware/linux-firmware.git
Tag: admin::hardware, role::app-data, use::driver
Section: non-free/kernel
Priority: optional
Filename: pool/non-free/f/firmware-nonfree/firmware-atheros_20161130-3_all.deb
Size: 3131536
MD5sum: 1b4ff70d8293e5e1b2d3480ee9cc6a3b
SHA256: 98ecdada8228a647007a816a30daec33436bb58e53057b5e8f8ad45b9a85b881


A source of additional confusion is the ATI/AMD packages, and which one(s) I should be using. This one is included on the unofficial image, but clearly is insufficient:

Code: Select all
Package: firmware-amd-graphics
Source: firmware-nonfree
Version: 20161130-3
Installed-Size: 14962
Maintainer: Debian Kernel Team <debian-kernel@lists.debian.org>
Architecture: all
Replaces: firmware-linux-nonfree (<< 20151018-1~)
Suggests: initramfs-tools
Breaks: firmware-linux-nonfree (<< 20151018-1~)
Description: Binary firmware for AMD/ATI graphics chips
Description-md5: 50e143d50020e47d1d26dd4c8f360e00
Multi-Arch: foreign
Homepage: http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/firmware/linux-firmware.git
Tag: admin::hardware, hardware::video, role::app-data, use::driver
Section: non-free/kernel
Priority: optional
Filename: pool/non-free/f/firmware-nonfree/firmware-amd-graphics_20161130-3_all.deb
Size: 1565670
MD5sum: 8af24e64f8e5097ae1885bb4119b109a
SHA256: d62d1a3d797a387a8219cf7c0ae74dc7482e052ef2320b8fe724e20741054cb2


I see there are also "radeon" packages listed under xorg, but they don't appear to be firmware, and I was under the impression that a xorg package was included on the image, though I can't seem to confirm that this morn, before I have to head to work :roll: .

stevepusser wrote:How recent is the processor on the laptop? It appears that it's trying to switch to the open amdgpu video driver before it barfs; ASFAIK, that also requires firmware. Various images that include firmware are also available: https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unof ... -firmware/


It's an AMD AMD A10-8700P. Unless the Debian Linux community has a very different idea of recent that I do, I wouldn't call it recent at all. Maybe, since the community has to generate the firmware/drivers etc, that definition is different for non-priority laptop components.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby stevepusser » 2017-09-11 23:06

"radeon" is provided by the free xorg "xserver-xorg-video-radeon" package, amdgpu by the equivalent "-amdgpu." Radeon is the more generic one, amdgpu only supports newer hardware. Both need the non-free firmware. (Those part of the free drivers are provided by those xorg packages, but another part of the drivers are inside of the kernel, but you don't need to worry about that)

I'm not sure what GPU Debian is trying to get working out of the box. Do you have any settings in your UEFI setup to enable or disable the integrated AMD graphics? Do you know what the graphics situation is in Windows?

You should be able to boot to a terminal screen for a session by adding

Code: Select all
systemd.unit=multi-user.target
to the kernel boot command in the GRUB initial menu screen, next to the word "quiet". When you get to a terminal, you can log in, hopefully get a connection, install some applications or deb packages, do some hardware diagnostics, etc.

I'm also wondering if you can boot a Live session of the 64-bit version of MX 16.1 Linux. It's based on Debian 8, but has a lot of newer packages to support recent hardware, plus the non-free firmware...so would like to see if it suffers the same problems.
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Re: Debian 9.1.0 Won't Boot/Crashes -- I'm Stuck!

Postby Talkyn » 2017-09-14 13:44

Posting an update. I think it's a lost cause, at least for my knowledge level. I'm going to pull one of my old laptops out of the closet that I used to have ubuntu on and use that to get this Debian learning thingy going.

Regarding the Acer, and the suggestions I was left with to try out.

  • There is sadly no settings in the UEFI to select one or the other GPUs. Cheap laptop, cheap UEFI I guess.
  • systemd.unit=multi-user.target certainly got things a bit further (sorry, I didn't note where it packs it in carefully), but it still can't get me even a terminal.
  • I tried to run both MX 16.1 and Ubuntu 16.04 in a live session, and both crash for what appears to be graphical reasons. :cry:

I really appreciate the help, everyone. Thanks for trying! Perhaps, in the future I'll tackle this again, but I'm getting the impression that something isn't compatible.
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