9.2. Installation Problems

Installation problems are situations when a machine fails to install. It may fail entirely or it may not be able to start the graphical installer. This section highlights some of the typical problems you might run into and offers possible solutions or workarounds for this kind of situations.

9.2.1. No Bootable CD-ROM Drive Available

If your computer does not contain a bootable CD or DVD-ROM drive or if the one you have is not supported by Linux, there are several options for installing your machine without a need for a built-in CD or DVD drive:

Booting from a Floppy Disk

Create a boot floppy and boot from floppy disk instead of CD or DVD.

Using an External Boot Device

If it is supported by the machine's BIOS and the installation kernel, boot for installation from external CD or DVD drives.

Network Boot via PXE

If a machines lacks a CD or DVD drive, but provides a working ethernet connection, perform a completely network-based installation. See Section 1.1.3, “Remote Installation via VNC—PXE Boot and Wake on LAN” (↑Reference) and Section 1.1.6, “Remote Installation via SSH—PXE Boot and Wake on LAN” (↑Reference) for details.

9.2.1.1. Booting from a Floppy Disk (SYSLINUX)

On some older computers, there is no bootable CD-ROM drive available, but a floppy disk drive. To install on such a system, create boot disks and boot your system with them. See Section 2.5.3, “Boot and Rescue Disks” for directions for creating boot disks with YaST.

The boot disks include the loader SYSLINUX and the program linuxrc. SYSLINUX enables the selection of a kernel during the boot procedure and the specification of any parameters needed for the hardware used. The program linuxrc supports the loading of kernel modules for your hardware and subsequently starts the installation.

When booting from a boot disk, the boot procedure is initiated by the boot loader SYSLINUX (package syslinux). When the system is booted, SYSLINUX runs a minimum hardware detection that mainly consists of the following steps:

  1. The program checks if the BIOS provides VESA 2.0–compliant framebuffer support and boots the kernel accordingly.

  2. The monitor data (DDC info) is read.

  3. The first block of the first hard disk (MBR) is read to map BIOS IDs to Linux device names during the boot loader configuration. The program attempts to read the block by means of the the lba32 functions of the BIOS to determine if the BIOS supports these functions.

If you keep Shift pressed when SYSLINUX starts, all these steps are skipped. For troubleshooting purposes, insert the line

verbose 1

in syslinux.cfg for the boot loader to display which action is currently being performed.

If the machine does not boot from the floppy disk, you may need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS to A,C,CDROM.

9.2.1.2. External Boot Devices

Most CD-ROM drives are supported. If problems arise when booting from the CD-ROM drive, try booting CD 2 of the CD set.

If the system does not have a CD-ROM or floppy disk, it is still possible that an external CD-ROM, connected with USB, FireWire, or SCSI, can be used to boot the system. This depends largely on the interaction of the BIOS and the hardware used. Sometimes a BIOS update may help if you encounter problems.

9.2.2. Installation Fails or Machine Does Not Boot from the Installation Media

There are two possible reasons for a machine not to boot for installation:

CD or DVD-ROM Drive Unable to Read the Boot Image

Your CD-ROM drive might not be able to read the boot image on CD 1. In this case, use CD 2 to boot the system. CD 2 contains a conventional 2.88 MB boot image that can be read even by unsupported drives and allows you to perform the installation over the network as described in Chapter 1, Remote Installation (↑Reference).

Incorrect Boot Sequence in BIOS

The BIOS boot sequence must have CD-ROM set as the first entry for booting. Otherwise the machine would try to boot from another medium, typically the hard disk. Guidance for changing the BIOS boot sequence can be found the documentation provided with your motherboard or in the following paragraphs.

The BIOS is the software that enables the very basic functions of a computer. Motherboard vendors provide a BIOS specifically made for their hardware. Normally, the BIOS setup can only be accessed at a specific time—when the machine is booting. During this initialization phase, the machine performs a number of diagnostic hardware tests. One of them is a memory check, indicated by a memory counter. When the counter appears, look for a line, usually below the counter or somewhere at the bottom, mentioning the key to press to access the BIOS setup. Usually the key to press is Del, F1, or Esc. Press this key until the BIOS setup screen appears.

Procedure 9.1. Changing the BIOS Boot Sequence

  1. Enter the BIOS using the proper key as announced by the boot routines and wait for the BIOS screen to appear.

  2. To change the boot sequence in an AWARD BIOS, look for the BIOS FEATURES SETUP entry. Other manufacturers may have a different name for this, such as ADVANCED CMOS SETUP. When you have found the entry, select it and confirm with Enter.

  3. In the screen that opens, look for a subentry called BOOT SEQUENCE. The boot sequence is often set to something like C,A or A,C. In the former case, the machine first searches the hard disk (C) then the floppy drive (A) to find a bootable medium. Change the settings by pressing PgUp or PgDown until the sequence is A,CDROM,C.

  4. Leave the BIOS setup screen by pressing Esc. To save the changes, select SAVE & EXIT SETUP or press F10. To confirm that your settings should be saved, press Y.

Procedure 9.2. Changing the Boot Sequence in a SCSI BIOS (Adaptec Host Adapter)

  1. Open the setup by pressing Ctrl-A.

  2. Select Disk Utilities, which displays the connected hardware components.

    Make note of the SCSI ID of your CD-ROM drive.

  3. Exit the menu with Esc.

  4. Open Configure Adapter Settings. Under Additional Options, select Boot Device Options and press Enter.

  5. Enter the ID of the CD-ROM drive and press Enter again.

  6. Press Esc twice to return to the start screen of the SCSI BIOS.

  7. Exit this screen and confirm with Yes to boot the computer.

Regardless of what language and keyboard layout your final installation will be using, most BIOS configurations use the US keyboard layout as depicted in the following figure:

Figure 9.1. US Keyboard Layout

US Keyboard Layout

9.2.3. Installation Fails and Machine Fails to Boot

Some hardware types, mainly fairly old or very recent ones, fail to install. In many cases, this might happen because missing support for this type of hardware in the installation kernel or due to certain functionalities included in this kernel, such as ACPI, that still cause problems on some hardware.

If your system fails to install using the standard Installation mode from the first installation boot screen, try the following:

  1. With the first CD or DVD still in the CD-ROM drive, reboot the machine with Ctrl-Alt-Del or using the hardware reset button.

  2. When the boot screen appears, use the arrow keys of your keyboard to navigate to Installation--ACPI Disabled and press Enter to launch the boot and installation process. This option disables the support for ACPI power management techniques.

  3. Proceed with the installation as described in Chapter 1, Installation with YaST.

If this fails, proceed as above, but choose Installation--Safe Settings instead. This option disables ACPI and DMA support. Most hardware should boot with this option.

If both of these options fail, use the boot options prompt to pass any additional parameters needed to support this type of hardware on to the installation kernel. For more information about the parameters available as boot options, refer to the kernel documentation located in /usr/src/linux/Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt.

[Tip]Obtaining Kernel Documentation

Install the kernel-source package to check out the kernel documentation.

There are various other ACPI-related kernel parameters that can be entered at the boot prompt prior to booting for installation:

acpi=off

This parameter disables the complete ACPI subsystem on your computer. This may be useful if your computer cannot handle ACPI at all or if you think ACPI in your computer causes trouble.

acpi=force

Always enable ACPI even if your computer has an old BIOS dated before the year 2000. This parameter also enables ACPI if it is set in addition to acpi=off.

acpi=noirq

Do not use ACPI for IRQ routing.

acpi=ht

Run only enough ACPI to enable hyper-threading.

acpi=strict

Be less tolerant of platforms that are not strictly ACPI specification compliant.

pci=noacpi

Disable PCI IRQ routing of the new ACPI system.

For more information about these issues, search for Support Database articles with the keyword “acpi” at https://portal.suse.com.

Once you have determined the right parameter combination, YaST automatically writes them to the boot loader configuration to make sure that the system boots properly next time.

If unexplainable errors occur when the kernel is loaded or during the installation, select Memory Test in the boot menu to check the memory. If Memory Test returns an error, it is usually a hardware error.

9.2.4. Machine Fails to Launch the Graphical Installer

After you insert the first CD or DVD into your drive and reboot your machine, the installation screen comes up, but after you select Installation, the graphical installer does not start.

There are several ways to deal with this situation:

  • Try to select another screen resolution for the installation dialogs.

  • Select Text Mode for installation.

  • Do a remote installation via VNC using the graphical installer.

To change to another screen resolution for installation, proceed as follows:

  1. Boot for installation.

  2. Press F3 twice to open a menu from which to select a lower resolution for installation purposes.

  3. Select Installation and proceed with the installation as described in Chapter 1, Installation with YaST.

To perform an installation in text mode, proceed as follows:

  1. Boot for installation.

  2. Press F3 twice and select Text Mode.

  3. Select Installation and proceed with the installation as described in Chapter 1, Installation with YaST.

To perform a VNC installation, proceed as follows:

  1. Boot for installation.

  2. Enter the following text at the boot options prompt:

    vnc=1 vncpassword=some_password

    Replace some_password with the password to use for installation.

  3. Select Installation then press Enter to start the installation.

    Instead of starting right into the graphical installation routine, the system continues to run in text mode then halts, displaying a message containing the IP address and port number under which the installer can be reached via a browser interface or a VNC viewer application.

  4. If using a browser to access the installer, launch the browser and enter the address information provided by the installation routines on the future SUSE Linux machine and hit Enter:

    http://ip_address_of_machine:5801

    A dialog opens in the browser window prompting you for the VNC password. Enter it and proceed with the installation as described in Chapter 1, Installation with YaST.

    [Important]Important

    Installation via VNC works with any browser under any operating system, provided Java support is enabled.

    If you use any kind of VNC viewer on your preferred operating system, enter the IP address and password when prompted to do so. A window opens, displaying the installation dialogs. Proceed with the installation as usual.

9.2.5.  Machine Boots but Starts a Minimalistic Boot Screen

You inserted the first CD or DVD into the drive, the BIOS routines are finished, but the system does not start with the graphical boot screen. Instead it launches a very minimalistic text-based interface. This might happen on any machine not providing sufficient graphics memory for rendering a graphical boot screen.

Although the text boot screen looks minimalistic, it provides nearly the same functionality as the graphical one:

Boot Options

Unlike the graphical interface, the different boot options cannot be selected using the cursor keys of your keyboard. The boot menu of the text mode boot screen offers some keywords to enter at the boot prompt. These keywords map to the options offered in the graphical version. Enter your choice and hit Enter to launch the boot process.

Custom Boot Options

After selecting a boot option, enter the appropriate keyword at the boot prompt or enter some custom boot options as described in Section 9.2.3, “Installation Fails and Machine Fails to Boot”. To launch the installation process, press Enter.

Screen Resolutions

Use the F keys to determine the screen resolution for installation. If you need to boot in text mode, choose F3.