I am trying to get linux installed on an older laptop. Some of the time it starts up and runs just fine. But most attempts of at starting the laptop gets through BIOS and starts linux. Then during the time when /dev is being populated the laptop abruptly powers off.

I do not have any information about what is going wrong on the failed startups. Is there a way to get some logging information out of one of these failed startup attempts? Is there some other troubleshooting technique I should be using?

asked 09 Jun '10, 15:34

rschuler's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


You can look at the logs stored in /var/log

cd /var/log
cat /var/log log-name-here

You can also dmesg item | less

Such as for example: dmesg eth0 | less

There are many different logs, ways of viewing them, etc. You can also try from the top panel menu in Gnome: System > Administration > Log File Viewer -- and look there.

The above suggestions are just the starting point, not all-inclusive.

This may also be of interest to you as well: http://www.linux-mag.com/id/7789


answered 09 Jun '10, 17:38

Ron's gravatar image

Ron ♦
accept rate: 13%

edited 09 Jun '10, 21:50

Ron gave you an excellent first-order answer. Every user should know to go to /var/log or dmesg as a first line of defense. All those messages that go by too fast when you boot a Linux machine can be seen by looking at dmesg.

Another diagnostic worth knowing about is lshw. Gives great detail on every component of your system if you think you might have some issue with some of your chipsets. (lshw is generally not installed by default, but is definitely in the Debian & Ubuntu repositories, and almost certainly is available for other major distros as well.)

Your problem is going to be difficult to solve given what you've said so far. Maybe you'll be lucky and find some helpful error messages in dmesg.

Frankly, it sounds like hardware ... possibly as simple as a battery approaching end of life. If your laptop is fully charged and you boot it -- does it go all the way? Does it matter if the adapter is plugged in too?


answered 15 Jun '10, 06:53

pcardout's gravatar image

accept rate: 46%

I replaced the battery about a month ago. So, that is not the issue. Still crawling through dmesg...

(17 Jun '10, 14:01) rschuler

Thank you for the kid words Jun. To add onto your lshw suggestion (also very good), I'd like to suggest outputting the information to a text file for review.

$ sudo lshw >> lshw-log

(26 Jul '10, 15:11) Ron ♦

Try using bootlogd. http://wiki.debian.org/bootlogd In Debian and Debian based distros it is part of initscripts.

You might also try running memtest to test the ram.


answered 25 Jul '10, 17:15

craigevil's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text](http://url.com/ "Title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "Title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported



Asked: 09 Jun '10, 15:34

Seen: 1,973 times

Last updated: 25 Jul '10, 17:15

powered by OSQA