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Are you able to boot and login from the live cd/usb? do give some clue about the text that you see when you try to login but it loops back to the login window again. also verify the iso image against the md5 checksum from the official website.
Well, I can boot from the usb flash drive in that I get the unetbootin menu but if I choose "start Linux Mint" it loops back to the menu and if I choose "start Linux Mint in compatibility mode" or "test memory" I end up at the initramfs prompt.
And when it loops back to the main menu, I get a screen with a smaller version of the unetbootin menu followed by a welcome message and a text login that will disappear after about 5 seconds and then I'm back to the start menu.
I checked the md5 and it matched.
To recap, the installation on the hard drive loops back to the Mint login screen and when I boot off a flash drive, it loops back to it's start menu. It's like a restart but much faster.
I did search around a bit, and I can only guess that most likely the Mint installation is unable to detect your graphics adapter or monitor settings. Do choose MATE and not Cinnamon as your desktop environment in the login screen. I could suggest you to look at Xorg.conf but to get an idea of what would work best, I would have tried booting from any live distro, get to the desktop and observe the config file values there. you may also try searching for Xorg or X11 settings for your monitor/graphics card combo online. I have not used unetbootin but can you not boot from usb right after bios. I understand unetbootin runs within windows (most probably not on linux in your case).
Unetbootin basically put an iso file on a usb device for booting (not sure what you meant by "within windows).
I'll try putting the iso on a dvd and booting that way but I'm pretty sure I'll have the same results. Plus, at one point, I was able to boot off the usb and do a complete install. It's just now that I get this login looping thing.
If it is the video, is there a way of booting straight to a command line or into a "safe mode"? I've looked online and all the posts I've seen want me to change my grub file to skip the gui login.
Do you know of a way to bypass the gui login and go straight to a shell because, like I said, when I try to find the answer online, all I see are posts that suggest altering the grub file which I can't do because I can't login.
haven't touched this part of grub for a long time and I'm totally a newbie to the modular architecture of the new GRUB. I just tried understanding the cryptic shell scripts under /etc/grub.d but I need to be more awake and possibly restart a few times to test. I will most likely learn GRUB over next few days on office setup, where I have access to use and throw VMs. GRUB is important. will see if i find something sooner with a web search.
Thanks everybody for your suggestions. I wasn't able to get the left shift to work (probably due to my kvm setup) so I kept looking and I eventually booted off a Knoppix Live CD, found my way to the grub.cfg file and used the thread linked above to modify my boot parameter and I'm now able to boot at a lower resolution. Yay!