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ADDn00b 02-15-2008 11:33 AM

Dual boot XP Mandriva 08 white screen of death
I've searched all through the forums without success on this issue, and I hope I'm placing this question in the correct one...Mods please feel free to move it if you find it necessary.

Here's what happened:
After dual booting my laptop with XP/Mandriva 2008 PowerPack (automatic updates enabled) successfully for three months, I woke up one morning to find that turning the power on only resulted in a true white screen of death. No boot, no nothing. It *sounded* like the hard drive was attempting to operate, and the hard drive indicator light showed activity, but still no boot, no boot-loader, not even a black screen with flashing cursor. Nothing but glaring white.

Several power-on, power-off cycles later (hoping against hope), I did get a normal boot. Went into Mandriva...everything's functional and fine. Turned 'puter off for the night, next morning, WSOD again. I did manage to get it to boot from DVD one time (and one time only!), but again, after turning it off for the night, the WSOD reappeared.

Sensing this may be a hardware problem, I called the manufacturer because the unit is still under warranty. They asked me to send it back to them. I expressed concern about my data, so they suggested I take it to a local shop and have them offload the data onto an external HD (I shoulda done that a LONG time ago) and wipe the hard drives so my data wouldn't be at risk. I did as they suggested. After the HD's were wiped, I turned the power on and lo and behold, there's GRUB ready to load (with the error message that there was nothing to boot, of course). No white screen, just the expected boot screen.

So, I sent the unit back to the manufacturer to see if they could find anything wrong with it and after a week, they said the hardware is functioning properly, although there appears to be some liquid damage to the main board....(which of course, is not covered under warranty), but she's workin' fine now. Great! (Of course, the kids will NEVER be allowed to use it again!)

So next week, when I finally get it back (and over $300 in shipping, labor charges and the local 'puter guy's time) I will have my computer, but no closer to an answer as to what happened, and with the glaring risk it will happen again.

The good people on this forum share information in the hopes it will help someone, and likewise, I'm hoping to help someone else who may have this problem in the future while seeking an answer for myself.
Anybody got any ideas?

Thanks for reading and responding.

GlennsPref 02-16-2008 05:48 AM


As far as I know the WSOD is a display problem regarding beryl and ati graphics cards, I see you do not have an ati graphics card so it may be with beryl.

Compiz-fusion is the next-gen of both compiz and beryl.

Maybe that is where your problem lies.

Regards, Glenn

ADDn00b 02-17-2008 09:22 PM

Thank you for your response. It does seem that if there is no hardware problem (according to the manufacturer) that it would have to be software related. The only changes I made recently were the automatic updates, and I added a jpeg image to the top of the cube and one to the skydome. I can't imagine that would cause any conflicts, but I don't know enough about it to tell.
I did read about the ATI drivers having this difficulty, but it seemed the reports were after boot, not before. I haven't seen any other reports of a white screen/boot failure. Interesting stuff.

Thank you again for responding, Glenn.
Kindest regards,

GlennsPref 02-17-2008 11:53 PM

I sorry, I must have overlooked that very pertinent piece of info.

I would check the power to the graphics card, or in the bios.

But you should not need to.

Try a live-cd and boot the laptop from it.

This is an easy way to test your hardware, as it is not reliant on the software installed on the harddrive.

Then if you still get errors, contact your supplier again and see if they change their mind about where you should be looking for the error/fault.

Perhaps the computer has a bad battery, small disk type for the motherboard bios date and time, and saved setting. I thinking powersaving settings (acpi, apm). But I have very little experience with laptops, I like 'em big enough to get my head in there and look around (lol).

If it won boot from a live cd, when the cdrom is marked as the first boot device, you need to think "hardware" or "bios configuration". If you can attempt to boot it in company of a tech (like the one you contacted) it will verify the problem exists and is not software related.

I hope this helps you sort it out.

ps. If you do get it to boot with either the mandriva cd or a live cd like UBCD, do a memtest86+. This will do a fairly aggressive check of the ram functions and also check the modules are good, and give you some info on the timings that have been set for them. You may then check to see if they are within spec with the manufacturer documents.

Hardcore overclockers, and people who require stability may run this suite of tests for upto 30 hours, but if it is faulty, it will show up before test 9.

If your laptop powers-off (immediate, not the process of shutting down,) then you can suspect the memory controller or the cpu. Amd have the memory controller on the cpu, while intel on the northbridge chip on the mobo.

Memtest can also be run from a floppy disk, and there is a new version out. Just do a search for it and download it, and burn the iso to a cdrom, or to a floppy.

Also, how are your mobo temperatures, you should be able to monitor them in bios, if it boots, just leave it on that monitoring pages for a while and see if it gradually gets hotter. The pc is doing very little at this stage, so if it gets too hot, or shuts-off then you have another angle to pursue with your tech.

see how you go.

Regards, Glenn

ADDn00b 03-08-2008 05:20 PM

Hi Glenn,
After a two-week delay for illness, I finally can report what has happened to my computer.

I received it back from the manufacturer with the "explanation" that "liquid damage" had probably affected the mainboard, and possibly the CPU. They re-installed XP as I asked, but my key doesn't work (for some inexplicable reason, they didn't enter one before it was sent back to me). I had to power it up 17 times to get past the white screen and find that out. :}

I have since been able to power it several times, with only a momentary white flash before boot. They installed some sort of RAID thing that shows up for about three seconds upon boot, and since it won't stay onscreen long enough for me to read it, I can't tell what it is.

I did as you suggested above and ran memtest86+. Everything passed. I also checked the running temp and it was well within normal...all fans are working fine (although one is squealing right now and sending me plumb off my rocker).
I'm currently using the box with the Spring live CD, so it does seem that all the components are working once it does boot. But I can't be sure it will always boot, so I will be sending it back once the snow melts (16" over the last two days) and have that mainboard replaced ($400!).

(Following is a description of what NOT to do:)

So, I tried to reinstall Mandriva (since we were snowed in and I could use it for a couple of days before sending it back) and unfortunately had a blonde external hard drive was plugged in. So, when Mandriva asked where it should place itself, it asked "use existing partition"?? Well, yes, since you found it, it must be the D drive on the computer where it previously resided, right?
Mandriva installed itself on the ext3 partition on the external hardrive and overwrote all of the data that had been backed up there. Gawd. I don't think my brain has fully recovered from my recent illness, and of course, snow-blindness. Three months of emails, email addresses, pictures, docs....all gone. I had just made contact with four cousins I didn't know I had, and their emails are all gone, so that was particularly aggravating. :(
Sigh....Thank God my genealogy was backed up online and on my Windows partition. I'd be nuttier than I already am if I had lost all that work.
BTW, you would think I could boot from the external hard drive, but I haven't figured out how to do it yet. The computer recognizes it, and I put it in the boot order, but I'm guessing Grub didn't get located properly during the install. Who knows.

Things like this will make one wonder whether or not it is worth it to try a dual boot or work with an alternative operating system. It is frustrating, but I still think it is so very worth it to get out from under M$FT's thumb. I LOVED Mandriva. I had spent some time customizing it beautifully and really enjoyed the work environment. And when I think about it, the reason all those things were lost is because I loved Mandriva so much that I used it almost exclusively...booting into Windows only when I had to, so ALL of my work for the three months I had it working was on the Mandriva partition.

So to make my very long, non-sensical story short and sweet... I SCREWED UP AND I WANNA START OVER!

LOL! Thank you so much, Glenn, for your sound advice and patience in helping me deal with all my little issues! This board is so incredibly helpful to a newbie like me. It's the first place I go when I have questions.

ernie 03-10-2008 04:29 AM

I do not want to butt in, but if you like Mandriva so well that you use it nearly exclusively, I have a suggestion that has server me well.

Install Mandriva to the Hard Drive using a 6 GB root (/) partition a 2 GB swap partition, and all remaining space for the /home partition.

After you finish installing Mandriva, install the Virtual Box package(s), then install Windows in a VM under Virtual Box.

Then when you need to do something in Windows, simply open Virtual Box, then start Windows. No more need to reboot to get to Windows. This arrangement has worked well for me, and it is my hope it will for you as well.

ADDn00b 03-11-2008 12:45 PM

Oh Ernie!
You're not butting in at all! Thank you so much for the suggestion. It hadn't occured to me that I could do that, and it's a wonderful idea. Would be Sooo much easier. I could probably even use all the programs I previously had installed, that now reside on the external hard drive without actually installing them to the laptop, correct?

Should I tell the manufacturer NOT to reinstall windows, then?

When I get my expensive doorstop back, I'll probably ask you to walk me through it. ;)

Thank you again, Ernie.
BTW, we totaled 20.5" officially, here (near Columbus)over the weekend. How much did you get up there?


ernie 03-11-2008 03:49 PM

Here in Toledo, we lucked out with about 5 to 6 inches of snow - just got brushed my the storm :). That is one of the better features of living here, We seem to dodge most of the worst bullets mother nature sends our way.

If you intend to install Mandriva as the only OS when you boot your computer and install Windows XP in a VM, then it would be a waste of time for the manufacturer to reinstall Windows XP to the hard drive for you. If you are able to tell them to NOT do so, then you may save them some trouble and possibly you some money. I will be watching this thread for activity so when you are ready if you have any questions I will be more than happy to help. You may also email me directly using my profile page (accessible by clicking my user name in this response) if you prefer.


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