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Old 07-06-2011, 06:04 PM   #1
impert
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Quaint BIOS behaviour - Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H mobo


Hi,
I have a Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H mobo (rev 1.0) with F5 Bios and an AMD Athlon 4850e CPU. It's run well for a year or two, but it has started to behave strangely when powering up.

If I start it after it's been off for a few hours, I don't get the usual Bios messages or the Grub screen, just a very faint flickering of the monitor.
Left to its own devices, it will eventually boot into the default distribution. If I press the arrow keys at what I judge to be about the right time, it will show the Grub menu screen after a while, and I can make my choice as usual. In either case, it seems to take longer than it should.

If I reboot after it's been on for a few minutes, it shows all the usual fascinating Bios messages and the Grub menu as normal.

Once it has booted, into whichever OS I pick, everything seems normal.

I've cleared the Cmos, I've flashed the Bios (to F5 again, no point going higher, since it ran well for so long with F5), and replaced the mobo battery. Thinking it might be caused by charge leaking out of capacitors, I've blown the dust off everything (there wasn't much). There are no obvious signs of bad capacitors or other damage.

It's not a show stopper, just irritating. Anyone got any ideas?
 
Old 07-07-2011, 07:49 AM   #2
JZL240I-U
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impert View Post
...
If I start it after it's been off for a few hours, I don't get the usual Bios messages or the Grub screen, just a very faint flickering of the monitor.
Normally the BIOS prints just 3-5 lines of text (else you have to press <DEL> or some other pre-defined key and then get those usually blue pages).

Do you mean the boot messages, i.e. does your kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst contain "splash=verbose" (as opposed tp "splash=quiet)? You might experiment with verbose in case you haven't activated that yet, it might tell you where the problems lie (or look at /var/log/messages after a troubled boot).

Quote:
Originally Posted by impert View Post
...Left to its own devices, it will eventually boot into the default distribution. If I press the arrow keys at what I judge to be about the right time, it will show the Grub menu screen after a while, and I can make my choice as usual. In either case, it seems to take longer than it should...
This can't be BIOS related, the BIOS has long since relinquished control to GRUB in this stage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by impert View Post
...If I reboot after it's been on for a few minutes, it shows all the usual fascinating Bios messages and the Grub menu as normal...
Not the BIOS, see above. Looks like a GRUB problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by impert View Post
...I've cleared the Cmos, I've flashed the Bios (to F5 again, no point going higher, since it ran well for so long with F5), and replaced the mobo battery...
Lots of work for naught I'm afraid.

I suggest re-installing / repairing GRUB from the install CD / DVD. Did you run an update of GRUB prior to these problems? What distribution do you use?

Last edited by JZL240I-U; 07-07-2011 at 07:51 AM.
 
Old 07-08-2011, 05:05 PM   #3
impert
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Thanks for the reply, JZL240I-U

Quote:
Normally the BIOS prints just 3-5 lines of text (else you have to press <DEL> or some other pre-defined key and then get those usually blue pages).

Do you mean the boot messages, i.e. does your kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst contain
No, my Bios sends quite a lot of stuff to the screen before giving me the Grub screen. 40 or 50 lines, I'd say. It goes past pretty quickly, and I don't pay much attention to it.

It's definitely not a Grub problem. How can I be so sure?

0 Because Grub (I use 0.97) functions perfectly, once it starts. And things boot normally.

1 Because on rebooting behaviour is normal, I get the energy efficiency symbol, Award BIOS, and all the usual self congratulatory crap, followed by the Bios messages.

2 Because if I use the down arrow key, when the screen finally lights up, it shows my Grub menu. If I don't use the down key, it boots into the default OS, exactly as it should.

3 The monitor shows nothing until it has passed control to Grub. It's the before-it-gets-to-Grub period that is the problem.

4 My Grub messages and boot options are exactly what I put into them. For most OSes, I don't use the quiet or splash options.

Quote:
Did you run an update of GRUB prior to these problems? What distribution do you use?
1 No.

2 I've got about 30 distros. The exact number varies from time to time. I lose interest in some distros, and I install new stuff. Everything that interests me boots fine, those distros that don't interest me (they probably boot ok) will get written over when I need the space. It's definitely not distro-related.

I'm convinced that it's to do with the amount of charge available in something on the mobo. On occasion I've done a Ctrl-Alt-Backspace before the monitor shows something. The result has been a beginning of Bios stuff, followed by blackness, which makes me think that in the short time I've allowed it the capacitor or whatever hasn't had the time to charge up properly.
I don't recall trying to get the Bios menu except when rebooting, ie when I can see what's happening. But after replacing the battery I did the "Set default settings" as per manual, followed by enabling USB mouse and KB and making the CD drive the 1st boot device, all of which is strictly standard stuff.

Anyway, I think the only way to fix it will be to buy a new mobo. Until then I'll live with it.
Maybe it's an excuse to build another computer.

Thanks again for your thoughts.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 06:00 AM   #4
cascade9
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Are you using the onboard video or a video card?

Your problem sounds to me like its probably video related, I'd try using a different video adapter.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 06:20 AM   #5
impert
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I'm using a video card. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try going back to the onboard one.
Once the machine has been on for 2 or 3 minutes everything functions normally, so I don't think it's the monitor. But the video card is a possibility.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 08:28 AM   #6
syg00
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Dry joint on the motherboard ?. I had one that needed to be "warm" before it would work. Never worked straight up, but if left on for 5 minutes a reboot always worked.
Never argued with it, just went and made coffee.

KISS.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 08:41 AM   #7
impert
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I'm using a video card. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try going back to the onboard one.
Once the machine has been on for 2 or 3 minutes everything functions normally, so I don't think it's the monitor. But the video card is a possibility.

(Update - couldn't post because my internet connection died)
Unfortunately, no.
I'd forgotten why I had a video card. It's because the onboard video went on the fritz almost immediately after I bought the mobo. Nothing but a blank screen.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 11:08 AM   #8
impert
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@syg00
Quote:
Dry joint on the motherboard ?. I had one that needed to be "warm" before it would work. Never worked straight up, but if left on for 5 minutes a reboot always worked.
Never argued with it, just went and made coffee.
Do you mean the CPU to heatsink joint? It's got Arctic Silver on it, but it hasn't got hot enough to cook the paste, in spite of doing a few benchmarks. It's a very cool chip - 45w TDP.

The behaviour you mention is exactly what I'm getting now, since it started misbehaving.
I think I'll just have to be philosophical about it and drink more coffe, like you.
Thanks for the reply.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 12:49 PM   #9
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Dry joints deteriorate over time - I'll spare you the chemistry lesson, but trust me. I'm in that business. You don't mention any deterioration, so I'd be slow to suspect a dry joint.

It could be a leaking capacitor, which puts noise on the power line and varies the voltage. You might hear this if you had quiet around you. You can also notice an electrolytic capacitor bulging, which is a dead giveaway.

You mention that the onboard video went. That will be physically linked to the Northbridge and damage on that chip could affect the voltage levels on the northbridge, affecting digital levels (lows(0 values) not going low, highs (1 values) not going high).

This will die sooner rather than later. Back up, and try setting up and using standby

As root, run 'cat /sys/power/state' and see what it says. you will need to add resume=/dev/your_swap_partition to the kernel boot line. Then if /sys/power/state has the word 'standby' just run

sync; echo standby >/sys/power/state

and it will go off. go away, and try your cold boot test.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 05:32 PM   #10
impert
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@business_kid

Thanks for the post.
Quote:
Dry joints deteriorate over time - I'll spare you the chemistry lesson, but trust me. I'm in that business. You don't mention any deterioration, so I'd be slow to suspect a dry joint.
If it is indeed the CPU-heatsink joint hat you mean, I took off the heatsink to clean any dust out. There was virtually no dust, and the joint was not dry; I cleaned it with acetone and remade it with Arctic Silver.
I looked carefully for bulging or distorted caps, and traces of leaks; I couldn't detect any.
Quote:
This will die sooner rather than later.
The onboard video went at least two and a half years ago.
Quote:
As root, run 'cat /sys/power/state' and see what it says. you will need to add resume=/dev/your_swap_partition to the kernel boot line. Then if /sys/power/state has the word 'standby' just run

sync; echo standby >/sys/power/state
Code:
sudo cat /sys/power/state
[sudo] password for cam: 
standby disk
I did as you suggested, and froze everything. No response to KB or mouse or Ctrl Alt F1 or Ctrl Alt Delete. Did a hard reset and tried again, same result.
If I reboot now, it will behave normally. I'll turn it off, and see what gives in the morning when it's cold.
Thanks again for your help.
 
Old 07-09-2011, 11:59 PM   #11
afreitascs
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tried to use another psu?
 
Old 07-10-2011, 02:33 AM   #12
business_kid
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A 'dry joint' means a dry SOLDER joint, where components meet the board and are held & connected by solder. Sorry if that was unclear. With standby & disk in /sys/power/state, you can also do

sync; echo disk > sys/power/state and get a hibernate, where the whole box turns off, but restores your session when you turn on (provided you boot the same kernel)

So try both; post and let us know how it behaves on standby (after a few hours) and disk, or hibernate. That will eliminate a few things hopefully.
 
Old 07-10-2011, 03:37 AM   #13
impert
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Just booted after 9 hrs off. The wait before the screen came up was if anything longer than before.
Quote:
tried to use another psu?
No. I've just given away my old PC, I could have tried its PSU, I suppose, but I doubt that it's a PSU problem.
I can and will try another screen.
Quote:
sync; echo standby >/sys/power/state
That freezing up didn't seem much like standby - the display didn't turn itself off - but maybe it was. I didn't leave it for long.
Quote:
sync; echo disk > sys/power/state and get a hibernate, where the whole box turns off, but restores your session when you turn on (provided you boot the same kernel)
So try both; post and let us know how it behaves on standby (after a few hours) and disk, or hibernate. That will eliminate a few things hopefully.
Ok, I'll try for a bit lonnger.
 
Old 07-11-2011, 01:27 AM   #14
JZL240I-U
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Did you "reset" i.e. take out and put in again the video card, RAM, what else you have got, to make sure it is no bus problem?
 
Old 07-11-2011, 01:51 AM   #15
catkin
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It does sound like a video problem. Can you get another video card to test with?
 
  


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