Ubuntu LiveCD Video Card Trouble

I have been planning on moving from windows for awhile now. I just hadn’t really analyzed what was keeping me in windows. I finally got around to it and realized that I really only use VB.net and c#. With the mono framework, there should really be nothing to hold me back. So I made the decision to switch my home computer over. I had previously installed Ubuntu on my son’s computer and was very impressed with it.

On July 19, 2009, I was playing with the 64 bit Ubuntu (9.04) live CD in preparation for my new hard disk (Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GiB SATA). With the new hard disk I was planing on unplugging all my other drives (to prevent accidental formatting) and installing the new one as my Linux drive. I had previously installed Ubuntu as a virtual machine using
virtual box with out a hitch (that is after installing the guest extensions which were included on the guest extensions ISO that comes with the virtual box installation).

I fired up the live CD and told the boot manager to run the live CD. I wanted to make sure that my hardware worked with Ubuntu. As soon as the graphical boot menu loaded my monitor went black and displayed an “Out of Range” error. I figured that Linux incorrectly choose a setting for this LCD monitor (BenQ fp931) that was outside of its intended range. I booted back into windows and did some research. It looks like the nVidia drivers that shipped with the ISO image were not working correctly (nVidia geforce 6600 gt).  I took a look at the log (/var/log/Xorg.0.log) that was generated and it indicated that the system recognized both the monitor and the video card. It just couldn’t find a proper set of parameters that the monitor would support.

After more work I found that I could load the live CD into safe graphics mode. I also discovered a nice little application called EnvyNG. Thankfully it was included in the package manager. I installed the package and it detected and installed the proper driver for my video card. After it was finished it recommended rebooting Linux. This wasn’t going to work as the Live CD would start again with the same issue. After more poking around, it turns out that you can simply stop the gnome desktop and restart it.

At a terminal issue:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

Gnome is stopped and you are dropped into the terminal.

Issue:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start

Lo and behold everything worked! The display was set to the max resolution available. I must say that I am really impressed with what I see! I was a little disappointed that I had to spend 5 or 6 hours to figure this out, but I am glad that I had a working partition of windows to boot into to do some research and find out about the Live CD safe mode and other features that ultimately helped me out.

I would strongly recommend trying to get the live CD working properly on your system before attempting to install it. As far as I can tell, if you can get your display working and your network (i.e. internet connection) other problems can be resolved. At the very least have another system available.

Cheers,
Troy

Hardware (from hardinfo ):
Processor    2x AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 3800+
Memory    2034MB (756MB used)
Operating System    Ubuntu 9.04
Kernel    Linux 2.6.28-13-generic (x86_64)
Compiled    #45-Ubuntu SMP Tue Jun 30 22:12:12 UTC 2009

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