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Author Topic: Linux tutorial 5 - Troubleshooting  (Read 15283 times)


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Linux tutorial 5 - Troubleshooting
« on: December 12, 2007, 10:24:37 AM »

This is the fifth in the series of tutorials. Here we will take a look at what to do if something doesn't work as it should. Of course, this is far too vast a subject to try to cover every eventuality (even if I were capable of doing so) but I'll try to give general pointers to finding solutions.

The first thing to emphasise is: do join the support forum for the distribution you're using. These are quite friendly towards newcomers so long as you follow the rules and behave in a reasonable manner. Take the time to read the forum rules, and use the forum search facility to see if your question has already been answered.

Installation problems

The CD won't boot

- Did you configure the BIOS to put the CD-Rom first in the boot order?
- If you downloaded the ISO image, did you write it to the CD as an image, and not as a data file?
- Did you write the CD at a fairly low speed and/or verify it afterwards?

If you did all these things, and it still won't boot, perhaps you had a corrupted download. Use the MD5Sum utility to check the MD5Sum against the value shown on the download site. If it doesn't match, your download was corrupted, so you need to download it again.

The CD boots but the screen goes blank

The problem here is that the installer has been unable to configure a usable display. Go back to the boot menu and look at the options. There may be a 'safe mode' option which will get you going. Or there may be an option to specify a particular resolution for the installation (often there will be a row of F-key options along the bottom of the screen, so try pressing the F-key for the option labelled 'VGA' or '1024x768' or something like that, and select a lower resolution).

If the screen goes blank when you're several minutes into the installation, this may be simply that a screen blanking utility (screensaver) has kicked in. Hit the space bar and see if it comes to life again.

I don't know how to answer one of the installer's questions

Mostly, just accepting the default which is offered is all you need to do. You can always correct any mistakes later. The only exception here is with partitioning, if you're installing on a system which already has Windows installed. You need to be a bit careful here, so re-read the partitioning section of tutorial 2, and if you're still not sure then stop and ask.

Post-installation problems

Sound doesn't work

Sometimes this is simply because the volume controls haven't been set properly. Sound systems usually have several different inputs and outputs, and the installer may have turned the volume down on the one that you want. Depending on the particular distribution, there will be a volume control available, very likely in the System Tray, or otherwise in the Multimedia section of the menu. Often this will only show the master volume by default, but you can probably right-click on it to gain access to its full capabilities.

If this doesn't fix it, or the volume control doesn't show any sound card as present, then re-read the section on sound cards in tutorial 4. If it still doesn't work you'll need to consult the support forum.

Graphics resolution is wrong

Re-read the graphics section of tutorial 4. If you still have no success then consult the support forum.

No connection to the internet

(a) Dial-up modems

Most dial-up modems are software modems, also known as Winmodems because they were largely for Windows only. A lot of effort went into developing Linux drivers for them, but the support was always patchy, and getting them to work is beyond the scope of this document.

On the other hand, hardware modems (mainly external modems which plug into a serial port) are no problem. Most distributions will have a GUI utility to handle dial-up, usually called (something)ppp. In distros which use the KDE desktop there is a program called Kppp, and setting this up is normally just a matter of filling in the dial-up number and your username and password. Other utilities are similarly straightforward.

You may also have to tell the utility which serial port the modem is connected to if it's not detected automatically. In Linux, serial ports are named differently to Windows, the equivalent names being:

COM1 = ttyS0
COM2 = ttyS1
COM3 = ttyS2
COM4 = ttyS3

(b) ADSL modems (USB connected)

The situation here is similar to that of dial-up Winmodems, and you should consult the support forum for help.

(c) Ethernet-connected ADSL routers and cable modems

Basically all you need here is a working ethernet interface, and in most cases ethernet interfaces 'just work'. If you use a router which acts as a DHCP server (virtually all do by default) and the ethernet interface is configured to get its IP address by DHCP (the normal default) then internet access should be a simple plug and go.

If you're using a cable modem plugged straight into the PC, then you'll need to have a DHCP server somewhere else, or configure the ethernet interface to use a fixed IP address. Most distributions have a configuration utility for doing this; I suggest that you give it an address in the 192.168.0.x range (x = 1 - 254) with a netmask of .