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Linux distros give me a blank screen

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#1 RB_Kandy


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:54 AM

Any time I try to run Linux from a CD or USB I get a blank screen.
My lap top is eMachines E525
I've tried Ubuntu 11.10 32bit from a live CD and USB flash drive.
I've tried Knoppix live CD, I believe the newest version (downloaded yesterday).
I've tried Ultimate Edition: some OS I just discovered yesterday, it's based on Linux.
I even get this problem running Hiren's BootCD, once I choose a category, and press enter to start. I believe Hiren's BootCD is based on the Linux Kernel.

I've never used any distro of Linux before.
is there any particular reason my monitor won't work with Linux?
Do you think FreeBSD would present the same problem?

I should also point out that with something like Hiren's BootCD I get text, and I get a command prompt, the ability to select things like dos tools etc. But the moment I choose a category and tell it to run, I get the blank screen.
With Knoppix and Ubuntu I can see something faint in the back ground, just barely. It's like the monitor is just ultra dim, and I have no idea how to adjust monitor brightness/contrast etc. But both Knoppix and Ubuntu give me a splash screen before going blank/dim.
With Ultimate Edition, I get a boot menu, it comes in bright and clear, I can choose normal mode or a graphic safe mode, or text only mode, all choices give me the blank/dim.

Again, any ideas? maybe stealing the monitor driver from my Win7 driver folder and slip streaming it into Linux? is that even possible?

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#2 stiltskin


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 02:53 PM

The driver from linux won't work.

What this sounds like is the display specs aren't probing properly. Linux auto-probes,and it uses whatever it gets back to set up video. If it gets nothing back, it guesses what it should be.

You can try a live distro with a vesa mode. That usually works, although the display won't be great. At least it would be good enough so you can get in and manually set things.

That's the only suggestion I can come up with off the top of my head.

eMachines (and a lot of Gateways) used to be notoriously troubling with linux, especially laptops. I hadn't heard about any of them for years. Maybe they're still a problem.

If you can ever get video, and if you decided to install something alongside Windows, there are other ways to get things right. You can manually set things up and it will be that way the next boot. It can be done without an xorg.conf using xrandr in a boot or login script. There are other ways as well.

#3 RB_Kandy

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 11:17 PM

I don't know what xorg.conf or xrandr is. Again, never worked with Linux before.

Do you happen to know of any distributions with vesa in it?

I've googled vesa and I don't fully understand whether this is a file that handles graphics automatically or if it lets a user manually configure video settings on pre-boot.
Wikipedia says it's a BIOS extension. Does this mean it alters my motherboard's BIOS?

I just read how to get into ubuntu boot options. I read through some of the options, one of them is to help lap tops with video driver/display issues. it has something about "vga=771"
I know from reading the wiki entry on vesa that it's a number used by the vesa system that makes your monitor 800x600 at 16 bit or something like that.
My question is, I can't find vga=771 as a booting option, or anything like it, am I supposed to type it in?
I know when I press F6 there is a command line that display boot parameters, and the parameter ends with "splash --" am I supposed to type in vga=771?
And if so, do I erase the "--" part? Do I put a back slash or something after the word splash? I have no idea how to use a command line.
Again, any help would be appreciated.

Edited by RB_Kandy, 29 December 2011 - 12:03 AM.

#4 RB_Kandy

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 04:03 PM

Problem solved (sorta)
In Ubuntu, during the purple screen as Linux Live is loading up, I hit any key to get additional boot options, I select the F6 option, select the acpi=off option, turn down my monitor's brightness (on this computer it's holding Fn while pressing the left arrow key),and then continue without install. The very moment that screen disappears I raise the monitor's brightness (Fn + right arrow).
This allows the next screen (the word ubuntu with progress bar) to be perfectly lit! But Ubuntu will not load. Either it freezes, or I got a black screen with white text mentioning all the services that are starting and stopping, and then it freezes.

So my next solution was to leave the acpi=off option alone. And just do the thing where I turn down my monitor's brightness, then turn it up right after I select run without installing option.
This allows Linux Live to boot all the way up, even establish a an internet connection and surf the web! But, my monitor is stuck at half brightness. Neither using the Fn+arrow keys adjust the brightness up & down, or the display settings in Ubuntu change the brightness in either direction. But at least things are lit enough to see what I'm doing. In this condition Linux is not a preferable OS, but at least it can be used if windows can't boot.

I looked at the display information for my graphics, it says "Driver: Unknown", color profile "eMachines E525" (that's this machine alright). And changing resolutions does nothing.

But the thing I am curious about is; the monitor's brightness can be set to a normal brightness when selecting "acpi=off" on the F6 boot option, but why won't Linux load when I select that? I don't even know what acpi is. I got the idea to do this after reading this post about blank screen on the Ubuntu forums http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1743301.html
It just burns me up that I am so close to it working perfectly.
Also, anyone know if the issue is with the monitor driver, or the integrated graphics driver?

Oh yeah, and one more thing, Ubuntu won't recognize my mouse pad, but luckily I have a Logitech mouse plugged into the usb port that it recognizes perfectly.

In case no one has any further advice on this monitor issue, I will have nothing more to say, so I might as well mention now my impression of Linux.
I think, if I could get it to work with this monitor that Linux makes a darn fine OS.
While I could holler about Linux not having drivers for everything, this is not the fault of the Linux community, no one who contributes to Linux can be expected to hack up a driver for every possible piece of hardware under the sun. This is the fault of a Microsoft dominated industry that pressures manufacturers to conform to Microsoft's every whim. And manufacturers who pay programmers by the hour and want no more than only the most popular version of any OS to be supported by their hardware.
We, the consumer must scream loudly that we have no intention of buying a product that doesn't have a driver for at least the most popular distro of Linux.
Linux boots in the same time as Windows, and considering I am booting from a DVD, that is truly amazing.
The desktop and icons are visually appealing and logically placed. My first time looking at the Ubuntu desktop and I pretty much knew what everything did and where everything I needed was.
Again, I was able to load up a Linux OS from a DVD for the first time, and surf the web, faster than installing any distro of Windows that I am already familiar with. The time it takes to configure the crap in Windows to finally get connected to the internet, right after the install, is complicated and everything feels cumbersome. From what little I've seen, I love Ubuntu.
Even if I can't get this monitor thing straightened out with this lap top, when I build my computer (a desktop) I will make sure every piece of hardware is compatible with Linux, and Bill Gates can kiss my rear.

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