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#1 2012-10-30 18:39:34

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

(accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Note: this should've been posted in the "Kernel & Hardware" section, if a moderator could move it, that would be helpful.

I'm creating this thread as a followup to my previous thread (https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=151454), because I've discovered the issue here really isn't related to syslinux or GPT at all. Though, in fact, I have no idea what causes this in any capacity.

My laptop is a Lenovo IdeaPad Z575, the one with the A6-3420M APU, 6GB DDR3/1333, and the discrete Radeon graphics card (disabled in BIOS).

I installed Arch according to the Beginners' Guide. I have installed Arch several times before on 4 different machines, including one really strange and problematic server, so I'm fairly used to some of the normal problems that would arise. However, this one I can't even begin to troubleshoot.

At first, I used a GPT partition table and syslinux bootloader for my installation. The BIOS refused to even boot to the hard disk (yes, it skips it and goes directly to PXE, at the very bottom of the boot order). If I pressed F12 and forced it to boot to the hard drive, there was a momentary flashing cursor, and then the screen would flicker and it would try to boot PXE again.

I figured this was an incompatibility of my BIOS with the GPT partition table; that's not all that uncommon. But here's the interesting (and immensely frustrating) part: I installed Arch with an MS-DOS partition table and did everything all over again. I installed syslinux and ran syslinux-install_update -iam and it installed the bootloader successfully.

The problem persists. I tried both AHCI and "Compatible" SATA modes in BIOS; that's about the only configurable option that has anything to do with it.

I /was/ going to remove the hard drive and try to boot to it from a test motherboard, HOWEVER Lenovo's brilliant engineering made the hard disk absolutely non-removable. Their manual says to remove a single screw and pull on the black tab, in order to pop the disk out. I pulled (quite hard, too) on the flimsy plastic tab, and it did nothing other than bend the metal on the end of the hard drive enclosure. Fantastic.

So, I have really nothing else to troubleshoot here, and it's long past the time I can return this laptop. So other than being out $600, what else can I do?

(Note: I wiped the system restore partition and the Windows 7 installation the day I obtained it. I booted into 7 once to verify that it could boot, but beyond that I did nothing with it.)

Last edited by gdea73 (2012-10-30 23:21:15)

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#2 2012-10-30 19:23:39

Pres
Member
Registered: 2011-09-12
Posts: 423

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Have you tried another bootloader (GRUB) to rule out Syslinux as the problem?

(Also if you want the thread moved, just use the report button to let a moderator know)

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#3 2012-10-30 19:44:35

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,419

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Let's leave this here for now smile
Can you boot from other media, and post the output of fdisk -l /dev/sda  when run with root privileges?


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
----
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

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#4 2012-10-30 21:50:40

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Alright this will be a bit of a pain to transcribe, but I'll try.
Some quirks of the initial installation were that genfstab only picked up the root partition and not home or swap so I had to add them... I did so carefully though and I think the fstab file is alright.

I may try grub2 in a bit just to see. It really sucks though if that's the case, I liked syslinux much better. But I'll try. Oh, right fdisk, here...
http://sprunge.us/SFCf

Last edited by gdea73 (2012-10-30 21:50:54)

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#5 2012-10-30 21:55:14

alphaniner
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From: Ancapistan
Registered: 2010-07-12
Posts: 2,604

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

LOL, who decided on that partition layout?!?


But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
-Lysander Spooner

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#6 2012-10-30 21:58:52

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Well, normally I use GPT, I'm not an MSDOS partition table kind of person, gosh. tongue
That seemed like a semi-logical way to set it up, no pun intended. I didn't really want each of them to be primary partitions, so I just created one massive logical partition. If there's a critical problem with that, do explain.

Also I removed syslinux and installed grub2, still no boot. So I'm not sure what's missing here...

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#7 2012-10-30 22:11:06

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,419

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Well, I have to admit, that is an unusual partition layout. Is there a compelling reason we don't just start over?  It may work the way you have it, but it just feels wrong.

I expect the extended partition to be type 'f'
Boot is huge.  Is that a combined boot and root partition.


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
----
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

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#8 2012-10-30 22:15:40

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Allow me to clarify: that 12GB partition is the root partition, boot doesn't have its own partition. Is that required?

I've "started over" twice now and it's not the easiest install process ever so I'd prefer not to, and besides how else should I create my partition layout - with all three partitions as primary, without using extended/logical?

Another part is the boot and root partition is both ext4... should /boot at least be ext2?

Last edited by gdea73 (2012-10-30 22:18:25)

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#9 2012-10-30 22:19:18

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

ah fork it I'll start over again I suppose.

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#10 2012-10-30 22:26:52

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,419

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

No that is fine.  You have only one other (non swap) partition though; I presume that really big partition is your home.

Okay, lets move on.  The big question is, why does the BIOS not find the boot loader.  This happens long before the kernel gets involved, so lets solve that first.

**** Warning, I am not an authority on GPT or on Syslinux  ***
I would install syslinux using the manual method described in the Wiki.
Having said that, the dd command is dangerous.  It breaks things. It will destroy data at the slightest typo.


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
----
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

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#11 2012-10-30 22:29:17

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

The first two times I installed arch, I used GPT and syslinux, installing syslinux manually with the "dd bs=440 conv=notrunc if=/usr/lib/syslinux/gptmbr.bin of=/dev/sda" command (yep, got it memorized by now)

I'm going to try again using GPT and syslinux but with a separate /boot partition, we'll see where that gets me.

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#12 2012-10-30 22:45:14

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,419

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

But, that is the incantation for GPT. 
You are now MBR (I think).  The command should be dd bs=440 count=1 conv=notrunc if=/usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
----
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

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#13 2012-10-30 22:55:39

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

I know the command would be different with an MBR...

Perhaps I shouldn't have used GPT again this time, that was unwise. It's still not booting to it, even with a separate /boot partition.

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#14 2012-10-30 22:58:00

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

What I don't get is how my laptop can boot to the CD with a syslinux bootloader, but not a hard drive with either grub2 or syslinux with either GPT or MBR. Something is definitely missing here, because using Ubuntu 10.10 before was working adequately well - i.e. it booted to the drive, which I presume was grub2 and MBR.

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#15 2012-10-30 23:00:20

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,419

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

gdea73 wrote:

I know the command would be different with an MBR...

Perhaps I shouldn't have used GPT again this time, that was unwise. It's still not booting to it, even with a separate /boot partition.

Now I am completely lost.  I thought we were talking about an MBR this time hmm


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
----
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

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#16 2012-10-30 23:02:07

nomorewindows
Member
Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 2,961

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Can you boot your machine with the grub loader on the LiveCD?


I may have to CONSOLE you about your usage of ridiculously easy graphical interfaces...
Look ma, no mouse.

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#17 2012-10-30 23:04:19

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

I can use "Boot Existing OS" to boot from the CD into my installed OS/bootloader, yes.
Another problem is I still cannot determine whether this laptop supports UEFI or not. there is no mention of it in any manual or documentation and there is no BIOS option relating to UEFI, so I'm not sure.

It is a fairly new laptop bought in March 2012...

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#18 2012-10-30 23:20:30

gdea73
Member
Registered: 2012-07-16
Posts: 34

Re: (accidentally solved) Arch not recognized by BIOS

Alright I finally ... *finally* got it to work, and the worst part is, I'm not sure how.
I converted my partition table from GPT to MBR using gdisk, and then made sure that sda1 was marked bootable in cfdisk.
I reinstalled syslinux to update the bootloader, and then edited the cfg file to ensure that sda2 was marked as root.

So ultimately I got it to work after spending 10 hours of my life, and not knowing exactly what was the problem. Eh, well, I'm happy for now.

Thanks for all your help.

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