General Question

Beastlicker's avatar

Why can't I get a GUI with this LiveCD?

Asked by Beastlicker (145points) December 4th, 2010

I have decided to try the Linux Distribution aptosid, so I decided to get one of their LiveCDs. I got the KDE i386 lite edition and put it in then booted it up.

It ran through all the initd processes and began starting up, made an attempt to start Xorg, then I was left at something like aptosid@aptosid:~$

I tried running “startx” with the error: “Failed to load module “nouveau” (module does not exist, 0)”

I am able to get other LiveCDs to work, it just seems to be this one.

Another problem that popped up is that my current Ubuntu 10.10 installation’s resolution changed to 640×480 for some reason. I tried reconfiguring xorg, but got no results.

Are the two issues related? Thanks for any responses you may have.

I am using the nVidia 9800 GT video card, by the way.

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22 Answers

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know anything about aptosid (Debian), but Ubuntu 10.xx has known issues with some graphics cards. Try Ubuntu 9.04 and skip 10. Ubuntu 11 will be released early 2011.

I think you can still download the 9.04 iso and burn it to CD.

koanhead's avatar

Try the command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

You should get a series of interactive screens walking you through reconfiguring the X server. One of these screens will prompt you to choose your video device driver. I recommend choosing “nv” (the old open-souce nvidia driver that nouveau is meant to replace) or “vesafb” or “generic” if one of those options is on the list.

If the command above results in no output and just dumps you back out to the prompt, try:

sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup

and then run the dpkg-reconfigure one again. Good luck, please let me know if you have further problems and I’ll assist as best I can.

koanhead's avatar

@HungryGuy I hadn’t heard of aptosid before either, so I looked it up. Apparently it’s Debian Sid with some glue to make things actually work. I’m a bit skeptical.
For those who don’t know, Debian has a rolling release cycle with packages falling into categories: stable (Lenny), testing (Squeeze), and unstable (Sid). Obviously the packages in Sid archive are the newest, latest versions of packages. It’s like a perpetual beta-test.
Sid does not play nice.

jerv's avatar

I doubt that the issues really are related. Both @koanhead and I have had no major issues running Maverick Meerkat with nVidia cards.

And no, Sid doesn’t play nice. Lenny is stable, and at least Squeeze is mostly almost ready for prime-time, but Sid is more like the “Squeal like a pig” scene from Deliverance.

Beastlicker's avatar

@koanhead, I tried the commands you asked me to use, but with no results. Honestly, something went wrong with my video card driver. Now, the Kubuntu LiveCD (which used to work) shuts off my display after I choose to boot Kubuntu.

I did, however, manage to get aptosid running by telling it to use the vesa driver instead. I could try removing and reinstalling the nvidia driver via jockey.

Edit: It seems that removing the video card driver via jockey was a horrible choice. Now, upon bootup, I get my display shut off when trying to start Ubuntu. I thought that since I had changed the video card, the Kubuntu LiveCD would work, yet it didn’t.

I had been using Ubuntu 10.10 for about a month and a half without any problems, and then once I tried to use the aptosid LiveCD, all of these issues arise. I am stumped as to what a solution could be.

Beastlicker's avatar

So, with no other option in sight, I went with “the nuclear option”. I installed Windows in hopes that it would detect my video card. Yes, it indeed did, so I went an installed the nVidia driver. Upon sticking the Kubuntu LiveCD in, I got the same problem – the display shut off after I chose “Start Kubuntu”

I am honestly stumped as to what could be wrong. I tried a LMDE cd I had lying around, and received the same problem. I have never had a problem this bad before.

HungryGuy's avatar

If Ubuntu 10.10 worked up until you tried aptosid, and nothing worked after that, then you may have to completely low-level format your hd, and then reinstall Ubuntu 10.10.

The same thing, kind’a happened to me when I upgraded from 9.10 to 10.04. My display went dark no matter what I booted from. I had to reinstall 9.10 from scratch to get my ‘puter back :-/

jerv's avatar

nVidia drivers for Linux tend to be less than fun. That is what happens when a vendor tries to get all proprietary and forces the open-source community to reverse engineer stuff. :/

It does seem a little odd though, since my GT240 has always been picked up automagically. Something in the back of my head is wondering what Parted Magic would say about your system.

I think @HungryGuy may be onto something there since Aptosid is based on unstable, pre-beta stuff, so there is no telling what it can do (or has done) to your system.

Beastlicker's avatar

Alright. I guess I’ll go ahead and give Parted Magic a try and see what it does. My card used to always be picked up automatically. It just seems after aptosid it went wrong. Even after installing Windows the problem still persists.

Good thing I backed everything up before trying the LiveCD….

koanhead's avatar

Have you tried using the “nv” driver? That’s a different one which should be available in the dpkg-reconfigure dialog. It does not offer 3D acceleration but if it works without shutting off the display that could be useful data for troubleshooting.
Before you do any other driver changes, do

sudo apt-get purge nvidia-current

or whatever the packagename is of the version of the nvidia driver you are using. If “nvidia” (the manufacturer’s proprietary driver installed by jockey) is acting up, it’s best to get rid of it completely. Since it’s a proprietary tarball, it’s hard to know what it’s doing even when it’s nominally deactivated. It’s also useful to check lsmod to make sure the “nvidia” module is no longer present.

You say you changed the video card- you mean the actual hardware? If so, you changed it from what to what?

Beastlicker's avatar

I tried using Parted Magic, and could only boot using Xvesa. It seems to be a problem with Xorg across all distros. I’m on Parted Magic as of right now. Should I just go ahead and format my hdd using GParted?

koanhead's avatar

@Beastlicker If you must, then go ahead, but I’m not sure it will help.
If the problem exists across all distros (and Windows too, you say?) it is almost certainly a hardware problem, I’m sad to say.
Do you have another machine in which you can test the card?
Is this still the same card from the original question?

Beastlicker's avatar

It works perfectly fine in Windows. I get the full resolution and everything. It is the exact same card that I mentioned in the original post.

After trying the aptosid LiveCD (with no success) I decided to go back to my Ubuntu installation. The resolution had been changed to 640×480 without me changing it. I decided to uninstall the proprietary nVidia driver via jockey and I restarted. When I restarted, I had no GUI or terminal whatsoever.

I then decided to put a LiveCD in (Kubuntu 10.10) and after I selected Start Kubuntu, I had no GUI or terminal.

I went for the nuclear option and reinstalled Windows, hoping that it would wipe out any data left from the Linux drivers. The Windows ones worked fine so I decided to put in the LiveCD (Kubuntu) again.

After selecting Start Kubuntu, I had no GUI or terminal. When I downloaded and burnt and ran Parted Magic, I was only able to boot up via the Xvesa option – The Xorg option didn’t do anything for me.

koanhead's avatar

Just to be clear- when you say “I decided to go back to my Ubuntu installation” you mean you had Ubuntu previously installed and working, tried aptosid livecd, booted back into Ubuntu and it was broken? Or was Ubuntu reinstalled after the aptosid attempt?
When you say you had “no GUI or terminal”, what was visible on the screen? Was the screen asleep?
Has this card ever worked properly under linux for you? I’m hoping the answer is no here, because otherwise I’m pretty well stumped :^/

Beastlicker's avatar

Yes, I had Ubuntu already installed and working perfectly for around a month and a half. It was broken after trying to use the LiveCD.

My screen was asleep. In the middle it said something around the lines of “No Signal Found”

And this card has worked for me in previous Linux installations. This is just something random that seems to have started for no reason.

jerv's avatar

Usually “No Signal Found” means a loose connection, but if it works under Windoze then that can’t be it, especially if Xvesa works. I know Linux sometimes has issues with sleeping but….

Let me get a little caffeine in my system, as thinking without coffee really isn’t thinking. I sense an idea coming, but my brain is… constipated.

Beastlicker's avatar

hehe alright. I’ve just never seen this problem arise before. I mean, I have had some minor video card problems in the past (as you said, nVidia is less than easy), but this one just came out of the blue.

koanhead's avatar

Nuts, I was hoping that the card had a slightly different chipset from others of the same type and therefore wasn’t responding properly to the low-level commands from the driver. That crops up every now and again, and can be fixed usually with a udev rule, but it seems not to be the case here.

It seems to me that something flaky must be happening with the hardware, and that the Windows driver is more fault tolerant that the Linux one. It’s unlikely, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. The Linux “nvidia” official proprietary driver is a crippled and badly-ported version of the Windows nVidia drivers. Hopefully someday nVidia will stop messing about someday and release their data to the nouveau developers or the nv developers. When and if nouveau comes out of beta (it’s still in alpha afaik) these problems should go away and I might actually buy something from nVidia at that point…

That being the case, the only thing I can advise would be trying a different card, or trying that card in a different machine.

One last stab in the dark- does your motherboard have integrated video? It’s possible that the BIOS settings have changed such that the onboard video is enabled where it was disabled before, or the initialization order has changed. If you do have integrated video then it’s worth a check.

Beastlicker's avatar

I do believe it has an integrated video card. I will check and see if it is disabled. I think I ran into a problem with it before. I’ll check and edit this post when I return.

Edit: I found no option to disable my on board video card.

koanhead's avatar

OK, I’m an idiot. I just reread your question and noticed the error message. I should have followed up on that first.
If you are still getting the error “Failed to load module “nouveau” (module does not exist, 0)” when you run startx then we need to make sure that nouveau is installed:

aptitude search nouveau

will give you a list of packages that contain the string “nouveau” in their names. You want one that looks like “xserver-xorg-video-nouveau”- that’s what it is called in the Ubuntu repositiories and Ubuntu mostly keeps Debian packagenames intact AFAIK.

When you have identified the package most likely to be the video driver as above, then use

aptitude show packagename

to get its state. Here’s what it looks like on my system:

user@host:~$ aptitude show xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
Package: xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
State: installed
Automatically installed: no
Version: 1:0.0.15+git20100219+9b4118d-0ubuntu5
Priority: optional
Section: x11
Maintainer: Ubuntu MOTU Developers <>
Uncompressed Size: 303k
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.4), libdrm-nouveau1 (>= 2.4.16), xserver-xorg-core (>=
Replaces: xserver-xorg (< 6.8.2–35)
Provides: xserver-xorg-video-6
Description: X.Org X server—Nouveau display driver (experimental)
This driver for the X.Org X server (see xserver-xorg for a further description)
provides support for NVIDIA Riva, TNT, GeForce, and Quadro cards.

Although the nouveau project aims to provide full 3D support it is not yet
complete, and these packages do not include any 3D support. Users requiring 3D
support should use the non-free “nvidia” driver.

This package is built from the xf86-video-nouveau driver.

This output shows that the package is installed on my system. This is Ubuntu’s default behavior on detecting nVidia cards as the “nv” driver is deprecated now and the “nvidia” driver is closed source.

If “aptitude show” tells you that the package is not installed, then do

sudo apt get install packagename

to get it. This should make things work.

If the package is already installed, then we will need to edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. I believe I will wait on those instructions until I hear back whether it’s working or not…

Good luck!

koanhead's avatar

Also, I forgot to address the fact that even if nouveau is installed it might not be running.

To get the list of running kernel modules (including drivers) lsmod. lsmod’s output can be a big list, so if you only care about nouveau, do:

lsmod | grep nouveau

If there is no output, nouveau is not installed. If that’s the case, do

sudo modprobe nouveau

and then startx again. Hopefully X will then start. If not, it should throw a different error. If it throws the same error, then THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD.

Beastlicker's avatar

Alright, I know its a bit late for an update, but a few days ago an idea popped into my mind – the different architecture drivers.

Since my processor is able to support 64 bit, I gave it a try. And it worked.

So I don’t know what happened with the 32 bit driver, but it is broken with my video card.

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