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Installation Headache  RSS feed

 
michael bradly
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I've been given an older box and have been trying to install linux on it but have been having various problems.
The box:
P3 777
P3v4x Asus MB
384 Ram
15 gb WD 166AA
64mb ATI Rage XL
NetGear Network Card
Sony CDR
The Problems:
I've tried to install Red Hat 8.0. It boots and I can get through the partitioning and configuration, however once that is completed and the install begins through / and /boot, it hits /usr and stalls and the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock blink and the system locks.
Mandrake 9.0 spins on the cd, probes the system, then immediately goes into a Kernel panic.
Fedora does the same as RH 8.0.
With Debian I've had some success. A few of the packages won't instal, but I am able to have a bootable system.
I decided to slowly determine what might be the problem and swapped out the drive and connected it to my other box. The drive pulled up and I was able to fully install Fedora Core 1 on the drive. The installation completed and then on reboot grub would pull up and the system would simply reboot. A check in the BIOS showed that the drive could not be found? yet it was found before the install?
Unfortunately I'm not experienced enough in trouble shooting an install. I'm trying to go through each peice of hardware but I don't think I have enough swappable components to test all.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Regards, Michael
 
Adrian Yan
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Can you get a log file from the system? If not, try to boot with a live CD like knoppix. It doesn;t install anything onto your harddrive, but in your ram area. After you boot with knoppix, do a dmesg and see what error messages you get.
P.S. can you install linux at all?
 
michael bradly
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P.S. can you install linux at all?

Yes.... and no...
I have been able to install Debian 3.0, however not all packages install so that might be a problem with the CD.
Fedora and RH 8.0 will stall on the installation when writing to the file system with the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock lights blinking. I've been searching google on this one and it seems to be a common problem, and nearly each one seems to be caused by something different than the other. So I'm working on narrowing this down.
Mandrake 9.0 goes into a kernel panic immediately after the cd spins and probes the system. However, when I swapped the drive over to my windows box it booted up with no kernel panic. I nixed the install because it appeared to get hung on installing the packages. Again, perhaps a media problem.
Like I mentioned before, I swapped out the hard drive on my windows box and was able to get a full install of Fedora, however once completed and the system rebooted grub would pull up, however it would simply reboot the system to grub continuously. A check in the bios showed the drive was not showing up any longer.
I'm basically trying to break down any hardware issues. My goal today is to swap in an older vid card to see if that helps as well as swap out the network card. If that doesn't work, I'll try to install some version of Windows to see if that works. Should that works I've downloaded hard drive diagnostics and memtest86 to test memory. If windows doesn't install, I might be able to narrow it down to a hard drive problem.
I'll also give dmegs a shot with knoppix. I've had no problem running knoppix and lnx-bbc.
Thanks, Michael
 
Adrian Yan
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Ok, look at couple of things first. One, when you pc boots, make sure your BIOS detectes your harddrive. If you don't see it in your BIOS, then linux won't see it either. Knoppix prolly won't care about your harddrive since it's a live CD.
Also, for debian, did u get any error messages when u installing packages? Usually, the base debain install minimal amount of package, so I wouldn't be surprise.
 
michael bradly
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When I swapped drives, I checked the BIOS and it was detected. Fedora fully installed, but when it came time to reboot, GRUB would pull up and then the system would continuously reboot. Checking the BIOS showed that the hard drive was no longer showing up.
As far as Debian, a few packages had some installation issues, however that could be due to the CD or due to my recklessly hitting return just trying to get something to install.
I've made a post to a google group and one response was that it could be a peripheral problem since Debian doesn't probe for peripherals, whereas Fedora/RH/Mandrake does. I found that strange though since I had no peripherals connected to the P3, but I had three connected to my AMD box when Fedora fully installed.
I've swapped out the vid card, removed the network card, removed PNP from the BIOS, fiddled with power management and tried Fedora again on the P3 but it just goes into a kernel panic when it starts to write to the file system.
I plan on doing memtest86 today to check to ensure the memory, then try some drive diagnostics. Other then that, there isn't much left in the box for me to swap out.
I've been searching like mad and I've come across nearly 20 different things that it could be, which I guess relates to having over 20 different ways to do things in *nix
Additionally I'm trying to piece as much info from the hardware probe as I can, but it goes by too fast sometimes for me to see. I've noticed something that may be fishy, but can't write it down fast enough to look up later.
Thanks,
Michael
Originally posted by Adrian Yan:
Ok, look at couple of things first. One, when you pc boots, make sure your BIOS detectes your harddrive. If you don't see it in your BIOS, then linux won't see it either. Knoppix prolly won't care about your harddrive since it's a live CD.
Also, for debian, did u get any error messages when u installing packages? Usually, the base debain install minimal amount of package, so I wouldn't be surprise.
 
Adrian Yan
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Vid card shouldn't cause a kernel panic, since it's bad, nothing would show up on ur screen.
This is kinda strange, I never had a pc I can't install on, even some very old one.
Try using LILO and see if everything is good. Also, I think it's a good idea to boot up in knoppix and wipe ur harddrive completely using the shred, it takes a "LONG" (on my old pc, takes about 14 hours) time, but it will clean out your hardrive. Then do a reinstall. I think there might be a MBR problem.
 
michael bradly
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Well, I've managed some headway...
I tried out memtest86 and it failed miserably so I tested all the memory, then tested it in combinations. The box has two different types of memory and they weren't working out well together. So I removed one and now it's much more stable and I've managed to get through the first install disk, however when asked for the second it stalls.
So now I'll have to check out the MB specs better to see about the memory conflict and find out why it stalls on the second disk, but at least I'm a bit closer.

Thanks for the help,
Michael
 
Tim Holloway
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"older box". Snicker. Chortle. Guffaw.
I've only got one box in my entire collection that fast or faster, and it's not the one I'm sitting at right now (that's a 400Mhz one).
An OS that installs and then crashes when it tries to boot itself may have problems, but even OS/2 I expected not to crash during the install process. That's an almost invariable indicator that something bad is wrong with one or more items of hardware. A serious RAM and disk test is always in order. Most OS installs will do some sort of disk test, but they assume that the RAM is OK. Which is why I have memtest on a self-booting CD for my floppiless boxen.
For a case where you don't know what's been done to the box before you got it, another good idea is to reset the BIOS to a conservative set of options. If they're overclocking or doing other funky things, that's not going to help.
You can do more intensive disk tests (once your RAM's clean) by booting a Linux from a floppy or CD (tomsrtbt, RedHat/Fedora Rescue, Knoppix, etc) and running the badblocks program using the -w (write) option. It will totally erase the disk, but is more through.
Once you have a system clean enough to take an install, you can stress-test it by doing 4-5 kernel builds one after the other. You don't need to install the built kernels, just run the make step. It's not that hard, and the load it places on your CPU and disks will ensure that if the system doesn't overheat and crash doing that, it'll take just about anything.
I also recommend turning on SMART so that the internal diagnostics of your disks will report back to the system log - assuming you aren't using older, pre-SMART drives.
Flakey network cards can also cause trouble - as can flakey anything. Many NICs come with testing software. Fortunately for hardware testing you can remove the NIC - assuming it's not build onto the motherboard. When dealing with suspect hardware, always remove as many components as you can, since that reduces the number of suspects.
 
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