General Question

derektherock42's avatar

I need help installing Fedora (Linux). Where is the BIOS?

Asked by derektherock42 (191points) December 14th, 2008

I am attempting to install the latest version of Fedora onto my Dell Latitude D610. Following the directions on the Fedora website (, I’ve downloaded the ISO image and turned it into USB Media on my flash drive. Now it says to turn my computer off, turn it on with the media (the USB drive) connected, and ‘boot from the media’ using the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) that should appear when booting up my computer. Problem is, when I boot it and push the key (F1, F2, F3, and Delete all take me to this same screen), it gives me the option to start up Windows in a number of ways or to use some ‘diagnosis’ tool I don’t need. I don’t see any “BIOS” option. Could somebody help me out?

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7 Answers

aaronbeekay's avatar

Well, there are a few problems it seems like you might be having. I’ll go down the list here.

1. How did you “turn [the ISO image] into USB Media”? I’m assuming you mean that you copied the .iso file that you downloaded onto your USB drive, which won’t work for booting your system. If you followed some more detailed instructions, disregard this. Most of the time, though, Linux installs are from CDs, not from USB keys.

2. Are you sure that your computer can boot from a USB drive? If you’re not, I can probably look this up for you somewhere.

3. The screen you’re seeing is a Windows diagnostic screen. This means that Windows has already started to load, which means you’re already past BIOS. You need to be pressing some key—often: escape, F1, F12, or Delete—RIGHT when you press the power button, and keep pressing until you see a BIOS screen.

I certainly don’t mean to be insulting, but are you sure you want to be installing Linux? A Linux system can be a joy to use, but it can also be a fairly technical endeavor and it can require some maintenance and know-how (or desire to learn). If you’re interested in knowing more, more power to you! But if you’re looking for an easy system, I might not go for Linux, especially Fedora.

Best of luck to you!

derektherock42's avatar

Thanks, @aaronbeekay. You don’t sound insulting at all.

1. I used a tool made by Red Hat that converts ISO images into “USB media”, so it wasn’t just dragging it into the drive or anything like that.

2. I’m not exactly sure.

3. In that case, I’ll try doing that (holding the key down the second the computer starts).

I like easy OS’s a lot, but I also like OS’s that involve technical skill. I’m interested in using my technical skill, and if I don’t have enough, I’m absolutely willing to learn. I’m confident in trying out Linux.


aaronbeekay's avatar

Disregard the “sure it’s right?” statements—really, I just couldn’t tell if you were someone trying a new thing, or someone’s poor parent/grandparent who had been dragged into installing Linux.

Ideally, the Red Hat tool set up your flash drive properly. We’ll assume so for the time being.

From what I’m seeing here on a few sites, your computer /should/ be able to boot off your USB stick. You should mash F12 (press over and over, not just hold) when you see the Dell logo, which should bring you to a startup menu. From there, you might be able to select “USB boot” or some-such.

Best of luck to you.

derektherock42's avatar

Haha, don’t worry, I’m not a parent/grandparent or anything like that.

So I did what you said, and it did open the BIOS menu. I chose USB drive, and it took me to the Fedora boot setup. It gives me a few options (“Boot”, “Memory Test”, “Boot from Local Drive”, etc). When I choose “Boot”, it starts installing or whatever for a few seconds, but then I get this interesting screen:

And it seems to be a dead end. I can type whatever I want, but that’s about it. I have no choice but to reboot.

aaronbeekay's avatar

Well, good work getting yourself that far along. At this point, it seems like you’ve moved from “errors resulting from not knowing the procedure” to “errors resulting from Odd Things That Might Happen To Experts Too”, if you understand my distinction there.

The error you’re getting, as far as I can tell, is complaining that the installer was unable to mount its initramfs (basic ramdisk holding Things Needed for Startup). My wild guessing comes up with a couple of likely possibilities:

* Your boot disk (flash drive install media) is incomplete or corrupt, and the installer ran into a weird error in its startup process
* Your machine needs weird drivers to do USB boot all the way, and some confusion was encountered by the installer trying to load drivers

Either way, you have a couple of attacks from here:

* Burn the install ISO to a CD, which will provide a verifiably Good set of boot files and eliminate the extra variables introduced by a USB boot
* At that prompt, type “dmesg | tail” (no quotes, the line in the middle is a pipe: shift-\) and take a picture of the resulting output for further debugging/troubleshooting

Out of curiosity, why Fedora? Recommendation? Requirement?

derektherock42's avatar

I’ll try that stuff soon.

I was recommended for Fedora by my friend. Also I’ve seen some of the cool eye-candy tricks it can do, and I admit that lured me in as well.

Vincentt's avatar

It looks like you ran into a bug :)

There are a few things you can do here:
* Report the bug. I found a page on the Fedora wiki on how to do that. This way, the Fedora developers might be able to solve the problem and help you work around it at the same time.
* Try the LiveCD. Fat chance that will work correctly.
* Try another distribution. From what I’ve read, Fedora’s good. If it doesn’t work, though, there are many other easy-to-use distributions that are about as good or better. A lot of people seem to like Ubuntu and I think it’s similar enough to Fedora (it also does the pretty eye-candy stuff :)) to be a good fit for you if your friend thought Fedora was a good fit for you. You can also run the Ubuntu installer from your USB drive using UNetbootin from Windows, or usb-creator or liveusb from within Ubuntu (which can be a LiveCD). You can also install Ubuntu like you would a Windows application using wubi.

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