Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old PC

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian

Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old PC

Postby mstankie » 2018-02-27 10:31

I need a local server, so I decided to install Debian as the only OS on my old (2007) laptop.
I installed 2x2GB RAM and an used 750GB SATA3 disk.
There was Debian (and few other distros) installed on this machine a few years earlier (old SATA disk and less RAM) without any problems.

In the first instance installed Debian 9 from netinst CD. Installation went all fine.
Disk partitioned with installer-default whole disk option. Did not work.
Reinstalled GRUB with the default function in Debian installer. No change.
Tried changing the GPT to DOS partitions. Not booting again.
Reinstalled GRUB manually with `--target=i386-pc` option. No change.
Installed again with \boot partition, as it once helped me earlier. Not booting again.

Tried installing recent lubuntu. Same problem.
Tried installing Debian 4.0r0 (probably the one I installed earlier on this machine). Same problem.

Not booting means: After power-up, I can hear CD is checked, then black-screen shows for few seconds and after this netboot screen is shown (boot sequence set in BIOS is: 1. CD/DVD, 2. HDD, 3. netboot).
If the HDD boot is selected with F3 key, this just hangs with a black screen for few seconds and then goes to netboot.
No errors while installation just not booting after install.

I wasn't able to boot from USB (no settings in BIOS) so used CD installers.
There are no options like 'Legacy boot' etc in the BIOS.

- Is this possible SATA3 disk makes the problem (I do not have any spare disk to try)?
- What more can I try?


Some info about the machine:
- Motherboard: Intel MPAD-MSAE Customer Reference Boards, Intel 945GM (Calistoga-GM) + ICH7-M/U
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.00GHz
- BIOS: Phoenix Technologies NAPA0001.86C.0000.X.0000000000 (11/20/06)
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby p.H » 2018-02-27 12:05

Did you install the boot loader in the MBR, not in a partition ?
Does any partition in the MBR have the boot flag set ?
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby mstankie » 2018-02-27 14:58

Yes. I installed GRUB in MBR as I believe this is the best option for single-OS PC. Is this right?

I set `/` partition to boot. One time I tried using boot partition which - in such case - was set with the boot flag.
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby p.H » 2018-02-27 15:34

Yes, installing GRUB's boot image in the MBR is usually better for GRUB.

GRUB's boot image ignores the DOS partition table and the boot flags in the MBR, however some BIOSes require that the MBR contains a valid DOS partition table and any partition entry has the boot flag set. I have read reports that some BIOSes require some "standard" boot code (such as the one from MSDOS/Windows) in the MBR and won't boot GRUB's core image, but I have never seen such case myself.
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby Bulkley » 2018-02-27 16:14

Is that old drive good? Were there any warnings when you formatted it?
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby mstankie » 2018-02-27 18:14

@Bulkley: The old disk is good. It is not formatted. I decided to keep it as it was. Can I get any info from it which can help?

@p.H. Do you suggest installing additional freeDOS on some small partition can help?
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby p.H » 2018-02-27 18:37

Well, you can try and see if that boots.

You can also launch the Debian installer in rescue mode, select "mbr" in the optional component list, switch to a shell and run install-mbr to install an almost standard boot code in the MBR.
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby debiman » 2018-02-27 18:43

mstankie wrote:I set `/` partition to boot. One time I tried using boot partition which - in such case - was set with the boot flag.

the first sentence is technically wrong - / is not a partition - the second sentence i didn't even understand.
please show us what exactly you did.
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby p.H » 2018-03-01 12:24

debiman wrote: / is not a partition

/ is the mount point of a filesystem located on a partition. Big deal.
debiman wrote:the second sentence i didn't even understand.

The OP installed /boot on a separate partition.
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Re: Unable to boot after fresh install (Debian only) on old

Postby mstankie » 2018-03-05 21:16

Thanks for all your suggestions, but I think the problem is not on Debian side. This must be a dodgy BIOS.
Following the suggestions I installed FreeDOS (using its installer I created one 100MB FAT32 partition at the beginning of the disk), and this is not working (booting) as well.

PS. Thanks p.H. for your previous answer. I had the feeling this is quite obvious...
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