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My computer is running Debian Linux and is having a problem starting up. After I select the OS from the GRUB bootloader, I see messages for the drivers being loaded then I get a completely pixelated screen and getting stuck there. I have not installed any new hardware. What could be causing this?

EDITED: Here is a video of the boot process:

EDITED: Here is a screenshot of the pixelated screen. Could it be that the resolution is out of limits? How could I edit that if that is the case.


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Have you tried selecting the rescue option off the boot menu? – Zoredache May 2 '12 at 20:06
@Zoredache Yes, it is also ending up in a pixelated screen. In fact I was not able to get the server to restart when selecting recovery mode. – Omtara May 2 '12 at 20:18
Note: The server is within a hosting company's environment and I am using a KVM client to connect to it remotely. – Omtara May 2 '12 at 20:19
this is a headless server yes, x is not installed correct? it's fubar. get the hardrive(s) put into another machine. – foocorpluser May 2 '12 at 21:08
Can you please add a picture of the "pixelated screen"? – Mircea Vutcovici May 2 '12 at 22:07

Can the server boot in single user mode? If yes, the problem is in a daemon contained in /etc/rc2.d/. If no, the problem is before in boot process.

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Use "Ctrl+Alt+F2 or F3" , you should see the text console of the boot process. The last started process or status should lead you to the correct solution.

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I am seeing the text console of the boot process without pressing any key. But when the boot process is over, I am getting the pixelated screen. – Omtara May 2 '12 at 20:27
What is the last process its completed ? – Chakri May 2 '12 at 21:09

If it's a graphic card problem, you may activate serial console and access to your server from your pc using a serial cable.

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I had the same problem once, when the grub splash file was corrupted or not available. Could you check that? Please also post you full grub config and partition layout.

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This is a hardware or driver problem.

If you expect to be a driver problem, try to boot with a LiveCD. If it is working try to configure the Debian kernel to use VGA or try noapic, acpi=off etc. Try to boot with a different kernel.

If you expect to be a hardware problem, then check the following components in this order:

  • VGA card - by replacing it with a good one
  • memory - run a memory test from the BIOS of the server, run a memory test suite like memtest86+
  • power supply - replace with a good one
  • motherboard - replace with a good one
  • CPU - run a CPU test from a LiveCD

Switching cards around could fix the problem if you have a IRQ sharing an a broken driver.


From the video I can see that you are starting X. You do not need this on a server. Try to disable it. Change in the /etc/inittab the initdefault line from 5 to 2:

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Did you see the video I posted? – Omtara May 3 '12 at 14:28
Can you add vga=ask as a boot parameter? This will ask for videomode. Try each one and see which is workin and then replace vga=ask with vga=### where ### is the mode that works. – Mircea Vutcovici May 3 '12 at 15:33
Also remove any splash option in grub – Mircea Vutcovici May 3 '12 at 15:35
vga=ask is not working. I am getting a message saying that the legacy 'ask' parameter is no longer supported. For disabling X, is there any text editor in GRUB? The shell provided by GRUB is very limited. – Omtara May 5 '12 at 13:01
You have to boot in single user mode to be able to edit /etc/inittab, or to boot from a CD – Mircea Vutcovici May 5 '12 at 13:57

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