It involves two key "weird things".
The first is a linux USB either not booting or sort of booting but not getting to the proper desktop, the best I can do is describe below, the cursor came up but nothing else and a kind of terminal command showed at one point.
The second is that when I tried to boot a different linux USB (I have two of the things, this one I refer to as the second because it was the second I made, the other was the first lice USB I made) and the "system tray" icons didn't load but instead appeared vertically crushed so they formed a horizontal dashed line only a pixel or so in height up the screen. This USB was VERY slow when this was happening, live USB linux isn't particularly fast but this was much slower than normal for it.
I'll list out what has occured chronologically:
1.I turned on my computer with no USB plugged in and booted windows 8.1 as usual, then as I do when I want to use linux I plugged in the linux USB without logging in, and I restarted from the start screen.
2.Booting began, unetbootin came up in the normal way and I was able to choose to "start linux mint" (the second option down in the list). After this point it took ages to try to load. The little "waiting wheel" cursor came up, then the screen flashed back to unetbootin's interface with several errors listed below, it was too fast for me to read them.
3.Then the screen went black again and the cursor (as in normal pointer shape) appeared but the screen remained black, the desktop didn't load, "ctrl+alt+del" which I have set up to open the linux equivalent of task manager, did nothing.
4.I in the end had to resort to turning the machine off with the power button by holding it down several seconds.
5.I unplugged the laptop, removed the usb, reinserted the usb, plugged the power cable back in and tried starting the machine again.
6.This time it did much the same but went several times between showing the cursor and flashing the error screen, eventually it brought up some message in a box about, and I'm trying to quote from memory here, "the screen server having been restarted many times in the last 90 seconds, this suggests something bad is happening." there was an "ok" option below that which I pressed enter to activate, I don't know whether this message came from linux mint or from unetbootin or from some sort of part of the BIOS of my system producing hardware realated messages. Having hit the enter key it then brought me to a black screen with some sort of mint terminal below saying "mint@mint $" and seemingly waiting for a command. Unsure what to do I had to use the power button to shut the thing down again. Everything so far listed happened very slowly, except the error message flash ups which were too fast to read. The booting and times showing the cursor alone on a black screen and showing the "waiting wheel" cursor were much longer than normal.
7. The next thing I did was try my other linux mint MATE live USB, this one took ages to boot but eventually did so normally. However upon booting the part of the "system tray" where the bluetooth/audio/connection/battery icons live had been crushed vertically into a line of height one pixel. I tried to use the system but it was extremely slow to do anything. I opened firefox and made a google search about "crushed looking system tray icons linux mint". In the end it was so slow I used "task manager" to quit firefox.
8. I therefore shut it down from within mint, turned off the plug, removed the USB, booted to windows 8.1 again. re-inserted the USB but into a different USB port, restarted again and mint booted ok this time with those system tray icons displaying properly. It's also faster now than during those earlier booting attempts, but still slower than normal. When I opened the browser it went straight to the page I had been trying to open when I had shut it down last time.
What on earth happened? Although this could ofcourse be several separate issues which just happened at the same time?
I can't have run out of persistence space on the USb sticks, I've been making sure to keep some free. When last I used the first USB it had about 80MB of free space on it (as it had had for the several times I used it previously). The second USB, the one that booted up with weird looking tray icons but has now booted ok, has a whole 3GB of free space.
I'll try that first one again later but I'm not sure if it will ever work again? could the USB have somehow died? The one I used for that first linux mint USB I made wasn't a very good quality one. Most of the USBs I own are better quality than it, it was just the smallest most disposable one I had in the house when I made my first linux USB stick.
One thing I do remember doing to the first linux USB stick is removing (to get some more space) from linux mint a few of the built in programs which I didn't use:banshee, bluetooth manager,hexchat, one or two of the libreoffice programs,pidgin, tomboy notes, and the transmission download client. All of these were as far as I could tell not system critical, they were programs that just seemed to add features I didn't need. I remember the USB worked fine after I removed them but I can't remember whether I've used it since the day I removed those programs, this might have been the first time I tried booting it since the day I removed those programs, but I have a feeling that it was several weeks ago I took those programs off it and that I've used the stick more than once since then.
I had updated windows recently ,it might have been in the latest set of updates or might have been a while earlier, but I remember seeing that there was one (it was a security update otherwise I wouldn't have installed it) which had something to do with the way windows deals with USB connections, but I can't see how an update to windows should have effects on the booting of linux USB sticks. I'm not sure if I've successfully used the linux mint USB sticks since the latest time I updated windows or if this was the first time I tried using the sticks since I last updated windows. I can boot windows and find the time and date I last updated it but it still won't tell me whether I've used the linux mint sticks since then, I don't remember which day I last used them.
Any thoughts on what may have occured? why the first USB wouldn't boot, I saw the word ext4 in the error message that flashed up but couldn't make out anything else. Why it wouldn't give the desktop the second time I tried it. What might have happened to make the second USB so slow and have dodgy "system tray" icons the first time I tried that?
My system: toshiba hardware, using BIOS not UEFI, windows 8.1 as the usual operating system. Intel i3 processor.
The versions of linux I've been using: That First USB had the 32 bit, the second USB I'm using now has the 64 bit, both MATE edition of linux mint 17.3. I've used that first USB stick maybe 20 times to boot linux, this second USb stick I've used maybe 5 times to boot linux.
EDIT: I last updated windows on the 11th for a whole load of updates, then I last booted a linux USB on the 14th. The 15th and 16th I installed flash updates on windows but no other updates, so I can't think windows updates caused this. The only windows updates I've had since I last booted linux mint are a pair to flash player, and those surely can have absolutely no effect on things like BIOS, or how USb connections are handled, or how USbs boot, or drivers or anything like that.
Edited by rp88, 20 May 2016 - 12:44 PM.