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Docky 10-27-2012 06:10 PM

Laptop is having boot problems
 
Hi. I have a notebook that I've been using for a few months and all of a sudden it seems to have some stability issues. When I turned it on this morning, the hard drive made a sound (like it usually does) indicating that it's reading, then the machine pauses for 3 seconds before I hear the fan running. But nothing appears on-screen.

I power it off and try again, and now the BIOS screen appears. After it disappears I don't see anything; usually I would see the GRUB menu. So I turned it off.

I tried one last time and this time it worked. I booted into Ubuntu and used it for around 20 minutes before I gently shifted the laptop, causing the machine to automatically reboot -- the fans were still running at the same speed. I found it odd and continued booting, but after selecting Ubuntu from the GRUB menu the machine rebooted once again.

I managed to log in to Ubuntu again, but every time I move the laptop slightly it reboots. At times it reboots during boot, sometimes it doesn't. And at times the machine fails to boot up at all if it is powered off (like in the start).

I have no idea what the issue is. It's not a HDD or power/battery issue, but I think it's some other hardware. I've tried replacing my RAM multiple times and checking everything is in place, but everything looks normal here.

Can anyone give me some steps to troubleshoot this issue? Thanks.

EDIT: Reboots are more frequent and now sometimes instead of rebooting it just straight-out cuts the power. I once got this message while the BIOS was loading:

Code:

Free magic is broken at 0xffffffff: 0x0
Aborted. Press any key to exit.

Intel UNDI, PXE-2.0 (build 082)
Copyright (C) 1997-2000 Intel Corporation

For Realtek RTC9130(x)/8130/810x PCI Fast Ethernet Controller v2.13 (020326)

PXE-EC8: !PXE structure was not found in UNDI driver code segment
PXE-M0F: Exiting PXE ROM

Reboot and Select proper Boot device
Or Insert Boot Media in Selected Boot device and press key

I pressed a key after that and a few random pixels went to random colours and it went all black.

Any ideas?

frankbell 10-27-2012 09:27 PM

It sounds like hardware to me.

Try booting to a Live CD of something and see whether you have the same issues. If so, definitely hardware.

Overheating is the most common cause of unexpected shutdowns. Make sure that all the vents are free of dust and unobstructed and that air is flowing freely. You note that you can hear the fans; make sure all the fans are working properly.

What make/model laptop? Someone here might have some specific knowledge. Also, you can frequently find user tutorials on YouTube for cleaning and doing simple maintenance on laptops. (There is actually practical stuff on YouTube! Who knew?)

Good luck.

Docky 10-27-2012 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankbell (Post 4816466)
It sounds like hardware to me.

Try booting to a Live CD of something and see whether you have the same issues. If so, definitely hardware.

Overheating is the most common cause of unexpected shutdowns. Make sure that all the vents are free of dust and unobstructed and that air is flowing freely. You note that you can hear the fans; make sure all the fans are working properly.

What make/model laptop? Someone here might have some specific knowledge. Also, you can frequently find user tutorials on YouTube for cleaning and doing simple maintenance on laptops. (There is actually practical stuff on YouTube! Who knew?)

Good luck.

I'm certain it's the hardware as at times it won't even get to the BIOS, even though the fan is running. I have checked it and there doesn't seem to be anything in its way; it's working fine as it normally would.

It's a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo M1405. Old, I know. I tried searching but found nothing, I might try again in the morning.

If it matters at all, here's a device report for the laptop: http://ompldr.org/vZzF1NQ

At times when I choose to boot Xubuntu from the GRUB menu, the blinking marker appears at the top for about 10 seconds, then the screen goes black, then the same marker appears in a smaller font and some sort of message appears and instantly disappears, being replaced by the LightDM login screen. It went away too fast for me to read it but it was about 2 lines in the format like this:

Code:

[0.74692713] error
[0.74692713] error

Of course, the numbers and messages were different. I think the top one may have said something about access denied, although this never happens in a normal boot, and at times during this issue, it doesn't happen at all.

Docky 10-28-2012 11:05 AM

Still looking for a solution. Here's a few more symptoms:

- Press power button, fan runs, black screen forever.
- Press power button, fan runs, BIOS displays, reboots after beep sound.
- Press power button, fan runs, BIOS and GRUB display, press return, reboots.
- Press power button, fan runs, two quick beep noises, then another six in a slower succession, then reboots.
- Press power button, fan runs, BIOS and GRUB display, press return, black screen forever.
- Press power button, fan runs, BIOS displays forever (hangs).
- Press power button, fan runs, manage to log in to Xubuntu, it randomly freezes.

It'd be helpful if someone knew what hardware piece would be causing this. I'm not sure if it's the Ethernet controller like it said in the error message in the first post.

floppy_stuttgart 10-28-2012 04:12 PM

power supply issue? BIOS battery issue?

Docky 10-28-2012 06:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by floppy_stuttgart (Post 4816913)
power supply issue? BIOS battery issue?

I don't believe it's to do with the power supply or battery as they work fine and I have no issues with them. The laptop (when running fine) holds its charge as normal.

There is a chance it could be the BIOS battery. When the issue first happened the BIOS battery was in place and there was nothing wrong with it, but today the battery seems to have mysteriously disappeared. No idea where to, but I'm getting a replacement in the morning. The loss of the BIOS battery, as I suspected, does not really affect the issue as the only difference is that the laptop doesn't store the time.

I also had a similar issue in the past and the laptop worked without a problem if the BIOS battery wasn't in place. So I don't think it's that. I'll know for sure tomorrow when I get a new battery, though.

Right now, the laptop just keeps freezing when the BIOS splash displays, the fans are still running though. Sometimes it doesn't display the BIOS at all and just gives me a black screen.

frankbell 10-28-2012 09:09 PM

I agree with you about the CMOS battery. A CMOS battery is annoying, but almost never fatal.

I'm not a hardware hacker. I know a little bit, like I know how to change a tire or a belt on my car or replace a battery. But this sounds like the fuel injectors have gone bad or something else beyond my ken.

If it were me, this is the point at which I'd take it to a professional. Assuming that it's not bad memory sticks (and it doesn't sound like it), my best guess is a board level component failure.

Sorry I can't help more.

Docky 10-29-2012 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankbell (Post 4817094)
I agree with you about the CMOS battery. A CMOS battery is annoying, but almost never fatal.

I'm not a hardware hacker. I know a little bit, like I know how to change a tire or a belt on my car or replace a battery. But this sounds like the fuel injectors have gone bad or something else beyond my ken.

If it were me, this is the point at which I'd take it to a professional. Assuming that it's not bad memory sticks (and it doesn't sound like it), my best guess is a board level component failure.

Sorry I can't help more.

No problem. Hopefully somebody else knows.

onebuck 10-29-2012 04:34 PM

Member Response
 
Hi,

It does sound like a power issue or BIOS battery.
Depending on manufacture, the CMOS battery is sometimes soldered in. This is a old Laptop, so the battery would be one issue this late in laptop life.

If your CMOS battery is bad and you do have dc input plug to the laptop which are not good contact(s) or proper load output then this would be a symptom.

When was the last time you removed the laptop battery & re-insert? This will wipe the contacts for both the laptop battery & laptop connectors.

I would first remove the laptop battery & leave out. Be sure to attach the DC to a know good AC receptacle. Boot the machine & enter the BIOS. Confirm the correct date & time, check other BIOS settings like drive(s) & boot order. Shut down the Laptop. Remove the DC input from laptop. Wait some time, say over night. Place the Laptop DC back in the Laptop input. Boot the machine and enter BIOS. Check the settings and see if correct date, time and drive settings. If any info is not correct then you do have a CMOS battery issue. Some early Laptops would have a filter circuit gated to source the CMOS power from local power to minimize CMOS battery use. CMOS battery is for configuration retention when no power source or DC input power.

You could place your battery back into the laptop and do the same. If you have a DVM, you could test the CMOS battery level while in place or remove CMOS battery and test with a load.

Most good battery shops do have the means to test the Laptop battery but not the CMOS battery unless removed.

My money is on the power system. Laptop Battery, charge pack & CMOS battery. CMOS battery life is 5-6 years typical. Laptop battery life is dependent on charge level maintenance, cycle periods & battery type. Good luck!!!

Docky 10-29-2012 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onebuck (Post 4817671)
Hi,

It does sound like a power issue or BIOS battery.
Depending on manufacture, the CMOS battery is sometimes soldered in. This is a old Laptop, so the battery would be one issue this late in laptop life.

If your CMOS battery is bad and you do have dc input plug to the laptop which are not good contact(s) or proper load output then this would be a symptom.

When was the last time you removed the laptop battery & re-insert? This will wipe the contacts for both the laptop battery & laptop connectors.

I would first remove the laptop battery & leave out. Be sure to attach the DC to a know good AC receptacle. Boot the machine & enter the BIOS. Confirm the correct date & time, check other BIOS settings like drive(s) & boot order. Shut down the Laptop. Remove the DC input from laptop. Wait some time, say over night. Place the Laptop DC back in the Laptop input. Boot the machine and enter BIOS. Check the settings and see if correct date, time and drive settings. If any info is not correct then you do have a CMOS battery issue. Some early Laptops would have a filter circuit gated to source the CMOS power from local power to minimize CMOS battery use. CMOS battery is for configuration retention when no power source or DC input power.

You could place your battery back into the laptop and do the same. If you have a DVM, you could test the CMOS battery level while in place or remove CMOS battery and test with a load.

Most good battery shops do have the means to test the Laptop battery but not the CMOS battery unless removed.

My money is on the power system. Laptop Battery, charge pack & CMOS battery. CMOS battery life is 5-6 years typical. Laptop battery life is dependent on charge level maintenance, cycle periods & battery type. Good luck!!!

Thanks for posting. I have yet to receive my replacement CMOS battery. I'm sure the laptop is older than 5-6 years so it could be that the issue is that it needs replacing. One thing though -- previously (few months ago) when I didn't have the CMOS battery inside the slot this issue did not occur; like I said, it just didn't save BIOS settings. When this issue started happening the CMOS battery was in place, and even since losing it the issue still happens, so it kinda makes me think that it might not be that. But I will definetely get a new CMOS battery to be sure. Thanks.

Also, I found something out. My laptop has two RAM slots, and a maximum capacity of 1GB. I have one 1GB card that has always been in the lower slot, and has been replaced into there when I've been having this issue. Today I tried placing it into the upper slot and the issue seems to happen less frequently -- both the system failing to start up and the random reboots during runtime. This may suggest that there's a problem either with the RAM slots or with my RAM itself. I don't currently have any spare RAM of this type to test, though.

But I don't understand how the lack of CMOS battery is causing these reboots/shutdowns/freezes while the OS is running. Usually it happens when I gently shift the laptop or tap it slightly. I also have to have it placed on a steady surface for it to even turn on; placing it somewhere else (eg. my lap) causes it to not go past the BIOS.

However, I will try your suggestion (without the battery) overnight and see if it makes a difference. Thanks again.

onebuck 10-29-2012 06:32 PM

Member Response
 
Hi,

When the power for CMOS is provided by the CMOS battery the state will be maintained. Any power fluctuation without the battery the way power is gated to the CMOS chip your CMOS state can change.

Why are you moving the memory to another bank?

Docky 10-29-2012 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onebuck (Post 4817716)
Why are you moving the memory to another bank?

I thought I'd try it and see if it helps the problem. It does, but not fully; freezes and boot failures still occur. Not as often as when the RAM was in the lower slot, though.

floppy_stuttgart 10-30-2012 02:51 PM

since you said you changed nothing at the first post, but perhaps things changed (not a criticism), think deeply. after a night sleep.
Your laptop accept maximum 1GB? 2x maximum 500MB? You modified your RAM? you exchanged the RAM from another PC and did not test it? have you tested your RAM with memtest? your video is using a part of your RAM? Since you made a driver upgrade/change?. Confess to floppy_stuttgart what you have done with your poor laptop..!..;-) and we will find the source of your pains, and save your soul ;-) (after we save your PC)

Docky 10-30-2012 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by floppy_stuttgart (Post 4818392)
since you said you changed nothing at the first post, but perhaps things changed (not a criticism), think deeply. after a night sleep.
Your laptop accept maximum 1GB? 2x maximum 500MB? You modified your RAM? you exchanged the RAM from another PC and did not test it? have you tested your RAM with memtest? your video is using a part of your RAM? Since you made a driver upgrade/change?. Confess to floppy_stuttgart what you have done with your poor laptop..!..;-) and we will find the source of your pains, and save your soul ;-) (after we save your PC)

It accepts maximum 1GB; either 2x 512MB or 1x 1GB. I have one 1GB. I did not modify the RAM. I placed my RAM on the upper (higher) slot; it was previously on the lower slot. I have no other RAM of this type, this laptop has always had the same RAM. I have not ran memtest, but I will later when I get the chance to. The laptop has integrated graphics/video, so I haven't modified any drivers recently, and made no hardware changes before the issue started happening.

Edit: I seem to get the boot failures a lot more often now, even though the RAM is in the upper slot. So I guess the problem being the RAM is not that much of a possibility.

I will go with onebuck's suggestion and get a CMOS battery as soon as I can. But I repeat that in the past, I didn't get this problem when I didn't have a CMOS battery in place. So I'm not 100% certain it is, but I'll check to be sure.

Docky 11-01-2012 02:23 PM

Bump, also it may be a temperature issue as I have nearly no problems when I wake up and the CPU is freezing cold, and it happens the most when the fan is running. At the moment it is not as I have no programs open except a VNC client.

Posting this via VNC on one of my servers since previously opening a web browser caused the fan to start running.


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