Ubuntu install failure

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Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:52 pm

I have an old desktop that's been sitting idle for a few years now - Pentium 4, 512mb. So the other day I decided to throw Ubuntu on it just for fun. Started up via the CD, and it ran real nice, so I decided to do the install. So I started the install, including the drive wipe... and unfortunately the install died about halfway, something about an error writing a file - the message left before I could see it, replaced by a more generic unrecoverable error message.

So I booted up again, once more running from the CD, and was playing around a bit - and everything worked great until I got a popup saying it found a volume with packages on it - I figured it must be what made it from my install attempt, so I clicked okay to open... and the system started to crawl.

So I do another reboot, and that's when things get weird. It's still booting from the CD, but when it gets to the point where the desktop actually opens, it prompts me for a login and password. This first of all strikes me as strange, because unless I am mistaken, when it's running from the CD it's not supposed to even be looking at the "installed" OS, right? So even if my install had finished, why would it be asking? I tried the username and password I'd entered during the install (and I am quite sure I entered them correctly) but they don't work.

So basically I am stuck. The machine won't boot to Ubuntu off the CD (I've tried several times) without asking for a login, and I don't have a login. I figure at this point I may as well just wipe the drive, but I wanted to see if anyone here has seen this behavior before.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:59 pm

If i were you, i'd start mashing whatever buttons necessary to open the live's loaders options menu and choose something appropriate. But my memory on dealing with all of that has become a haze of days past.
and by something appropriate i mean a straight format or such which iirc every ubuntu live disc can do without loading the os. That may be some other distro though.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:22 pm

You know what's funny is that everyone I talked to who really knows Linux thought I was crazy when I told them my problem. Its almost exactly like yours and the reason why I went back to Windows 100% and no more dual booting. I would have thought they had fixed the "who are you again" login failure crap. I've fixed a hell of a lot of Windows machines and can't say I have ever ever seen it "forget" the user.

Granted, my version was 6.09 or so. Circa 2006 i guess. I loved Ubuntu tho, it ran really well on my modest rig at the time. But in the end I had to reformat yet again because there was no fixing "busy box error" whatever that was. Also you may want to check your hard drive or ram for errors. That will stop an install of any OS cold in its tracks.

In my case, my hardware was good it was just Ubuntu being a pain in the arse. Oh, one last thing. My install forgot me after a week though. Thats what was so strange, I could see where that might happen with you having hangs during install. But after a week of stable usage? Out of the blue? After the 2nd time that happened I gave up and went back to Windows. Maybe soon I'll run Ubuntu in a virtual machine to try again someday.

Sorry I wasn't able to help. Just reformat and pray. :)
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:53 am

It really sounds like it is booting a partially installed copy from the hard drive. Check the boot order in the BIOS and make sure the CD is still first...
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:59 am

I agree with JBI on what's going on now. Get it booting off the CD and tell it to ignore the packages that are already installed and reformat the drive.

It's also interesting that it died half way through the install, to me that suggests that either the CD is corrupt (and there should be an option at CD boot to check the integrity of the files on it) or the machine itself is a bit unstable. Make sure it isn't overclocked, check for bulging caps and check that all the drive cables are plugged in securely. If you are still having problems when you get it booting off the CD properly and installing again then run a memtest on it. Ubuntu install failures either happen at the beginning if it has problems booting on the hardware or at the end when it goes to reboot off the newly installed disk, not in the middle of copying files.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:12 am

I've had nothing but trouble trying to install ubuntu using a disc the couple times I've installed ubuntu. Oddly enough, it installs fine when I place the Ubuntu image on a bootable flash drive. I used UNetbootin, maybe you'll have similar success?

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:16 am

I'd also say reformat the hard drive and try again.

I've had this error mid copying files a LOT, it seems Ubuntu's live installer is very very finicky about the files. The best thing I've found is to burn the disc at a lower speed, infact do it at the lowest speed your burner supports, that usually helps. I've not had these sorts of issues with the Alternate installer, which I've found more stable. (imho Canonical's software isn't the most reliable in the world, they seem to cause most nagging troubles on Ubuntu).

Although Ubuntu is my main distro, I've had troubles on a few machines.

Since 9.10, the live CD doesn't detect my main PC's hard drives at all (80GB and 500GB WD Caviars on an nForce 4) so I can only install using alternate, that works perfectly though.

I have an old PowerMac G4 (hand-me-down) with an Nvidia Geforce 4 MX, which is stuck on 10.04LTS because nv works but Nouveau just crashes and 10.10 using Nouveau by default.

I have a VIA Nano based PC (using VIA IGP) which when trying to boot ubuntu 9.10 or later (even the live CD) just stops with a flashing cursor, I run that fine on Arch Linux.

The weirdest problem is on my main Notebook, which is Arrandale based and has the on package graphics. Ubuntu 10.10 live CD works perfectly, but an actual install doesn't. I get something about fbdev: file not found, or the machine will simply hang at the Ubuntu spash screen, yet the live CD works fine. I've tried both live CD and alternate install but to no avail. So on this machine I'm stuck on openSUSE and missing ubuntu.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:28 am

You need the following boot CDs

DBAN

Memtest +

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Use the memtest + cd ....run tests 1,3,5 and 7 for 10 passes each.

If the screen fills with red errors then you have a memory, motherboard, or CPU issue. Most likely memory so check there first.

Next use the DBAN boot disk to quickly erase everything off the drive. Just zero fill the drive, there's no need to do anything more exotic.

Next use the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS CD

The LTS build has less buggy drivers and install process. This build will have a longer support cycle as well.

If the install succeeds great. You can try to update your Ubuntu version to a new version via the console.

If not. I would try PClinux. I've gotten PClinux to install on some fairly arcane hardware . If it still will not install you most likely have other issues with your system that need to be figured out first.

Good Luck,

Mackintire
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:32 am

It really sounds like it is booting a partially installed copy from the hard drive. Check the boot order in the BIOS and make sure the CD is still first...


The strange thing is, I tried again later last night and it booted just fine. So I unmounted the HDD, did a format, and remounted it. I figured that should take care of any stray OS that made it onto the hard drive. Rebooted again and... it asked for my login. So unless the format didn't actually work, it seems like it's asking for the login from the CD.

Tried rebooting a few more times, and it seems to be randomly either booting up normally, asking for a login, or just hanging at the point where it'd normally pop up asking if you want to run off CD or install. The last time it did the latter, I powered down and happened to notice a bunch of "authentication failure" messages as it was going down.

So on a whim, I threw in a Fedora CD and tried booting to that, and during the boot it threw an error about I/O problems.

At this point, my guess is that it's having trouble reading either the hard disk, or the CD drive, and that Ubuntu is (intermittently) interpreting that as needing authentication. I'm not sure how/why that would be the case, but it's a guess. I may just throw in another hard drive and see if that changes anything.

It's also interesting that it died half way through the install, to me that suggests that either the CD is corrupt (and there should be an option at CD boot to check the integrity of the files on it) or the machine itself is a bit unstable. Make sure it isn't overclocked, check for bulging caps and check that all the drive cables are plugged in securely. If you are still having problems when you get it booting off the CD properly and installing again then run a memtest on it. Ubuntu install failures either happen at the beginning if it has problems booting on the hardware or at the end when it goes to reboot off the newly installed disk, not in the middle of copying files.


I thought it might be a bad CD so I tried burning a new one, with 10.10 (originally I was installing 10.4 LTS) but the machine doesn't seem to like 10.10 - it throws an error during the boot saying it can't mount the volume. Will try burning a new 10.4 copy tonight.

The machine has never been overclocked or anything like that. Cables all seemed fine, but I'll remove and re-seat them tonight.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:33 am

I 'm going to have to agree with some of the other guys here.

It sounds like you may be having two different issues.

Reburn your CD at a slower speed to try to achieve a better burn.

Also on your main PC make sure the BIOS has the hard drives set to IDE Legacy mode and not AHCI mode.

I am fairly sure you will not be able to install most builds of Ubuntu onto a drive with AHCI mode turned on.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:34 am

mackintire wrote:I am fairly sure you will not be able to install most builds of Ubuntu onto a drive with AHCI mode turned on.


Wrong.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:37 am

I 'm thinking that you either have a bad cable. A corrupted disk, a defective disk, or a flaky I/O controller.

You will need to switch out both cables....the one to the HD and the one to the install device (CD-ROM)

You can also bust out a good old XP install and quickly install and run WD tools on the drive to cover those possibilities.

Sorry but I can't suggest anything that would be quicker.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:42 am

bthylafh wrote:
mackintire wrote:I am fairly sure you will not be able to install most builds of Ubuntu onto a drive with AHCI mode turned on.


Wrong.



Evidently builds after Ubuntu 8 have AHCI support.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:54 am

Yup, I would say that you want AHCI on rather than legacy IDE if you have that option, plus all the other advanced options (APIC, 64bit HPET etc). Linux understands all that stuff.

If you do an alternate CD install and you have a fast Internet connection, you might want to do a network install where you boot with just enough files to bring the machine up and get it connected to the network and it will download the required software straight from the closest mirror as it installs.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:02 am

Ditto on the AHCI mode thing -- there's no reason to not use it on newer (as in past couple of years) distros. Linux also tends to be a lot more forgiving than Windows about changing the type of device and/or controller you're booting from post-install. I've moved boot images between IDE and AHCI drives, between physical drives and VirtualBox VMs, and even to/from USB thumbdrives, and it just seems to "do the right thing".

It really sounds like you've got some hardware issues to deal with before you can try installing an OS.
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Re: Ubuntu install failure

Postposted on Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:08 am

Yep. First thing I'd try is a different optical drive. Things are commodities nowadays, and are typically built so cheaply that they won't last.

Actually, check that. I'd follow that other poster's advice and use unetbootin on a 1GB-or-larger USB stick, assuming your motherboard can boot from a stick.
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