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#1 2020-12-02 20:45:00

VDmvKcW9JamBSir5fNfehqpG
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From: Earth
Registered: 2019-12-30
Posts: 43

Can I boot with the console in framebuffer mode? (Broken GPU)

My laptop's GPU has failed, so I want to convert it into a headless server, as an upgrade from my raspberry pi 3B+. In order to do that, I need to at the very least get it reachable over ssh. I'd prefer to set up a fresh installation over reusing my installation set up for interactive use. However, I'm unable to see the commands that I type. Here is what still works and what doesn't work on my laptop:

* The BIOS splash screen (Dell logo), BIOS configuration menu (which is graphical), and GRUB work. They are sometimes compressed or stretched and usually have random flickering flecks of color (usually yellow, sometimes pink) all over the screen, but I can still read and interact with them even though it's quite annoying.
* The Linux console (both on my existing installation and the archiso) stops at one line and a blinking cursor right below it, with most characters and sometimes some empty spaces rapidly switching between random characters. This makes the screen completely unreadable, but I can tell that the system still responds to commands typed on the keyboard despite not being able to see them or their output.
* Memtest86+ behaves similarly to the Linux console, except it's not frozen. I can tell when the text is supposed to be changing, where the popup boxes are, and what colors things are supposed to be, but the rapidly changing characters make it unreadable.
* Xorg crashes with graphics exceptions in the logs as soon as artifacts appear, which are always in the same pattern (pink and green flickering rectangles forming a pattern of larger rectangles). Sometimes, the system remains operational underneath and sometimes the kernel hangs and can't respond to magic sysrq.

If it matters, I'm booting the December 2020 archiso and the GPU is a Quadro FX 1800M, which I'm 90% sure is a rebranded GT215 with some cores disabled to meet TDP.

I have no idea what I'm talking about here, but I remember reading about a minimal 80x25 text mode somewhere on the internet at some point, as well as a basic (usually low resolution, low color, and unaccelerated) "compatibility" graphics mode in addition to the accelerated mode that the GPU spends the majority of its time in. So from this, I'm guessing that low graphics mode is in a somewhat usable but annoying state, while text mode and accelerated mode are now useless.

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Li … ementation states that Arch uses a framebuffer console (which presumably uses basic graphics mode) by default with the ability to manually switch to text mode if needed, but my observations suggest that it's running in text mode already. Is there any way this could be happening, or am I misinterpreting something? Is there a way to check for sure? And if it really is starting in text mode, how would I switch it over? Is there anything else I can do to try to make it work, or will I have to wait until I have my new laptop, chroot into the old laptop's drive and set up the OS there, and then pop the drive back in?


btw I use Arch

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#2 2020-12-02 20:50:07

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 24,906
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Re: Can I boot with the console in framebuffer mode? (Broken GPU)

If your GPU is malfunctional to the point that it can't properly put anything on the monitor, then there is little hope in changing the video mode.  Just ssh in from another system - as this is the intended use anyways:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … on_via_SSH

Last edited by Trilby (2020-12-02 20:52:10)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#3 2020-12-02 22:09:49

VDmvKcW9JamBSir5fNfehqpG
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From: Earth
Registered: 2019-12-30
Posts: 43

Re: Can I boot with the console in framebuffer mode? (Broken GPU)

That's a little more effort than I wanted to put in but I guess I have to do what I have to do. I'll try that when I have my new laptop to build the image.


btw I use Arch

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#4 2020-12-29 15:19:04

LukeLR
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Registered: 2016-03-18
Posts: 8

Re: Can I boot with the console in framebuffer mode? (Broken GPU)

You can of course also just remove the hard drive / SSD from your old laptop, plug it into some other machine, and than use that machine (with working graphics / text mode) to install Arch on that drive. Proceed until the point of a working networking / SSH setup, and think of installying any additional drivers that might be required on your old laptop. Then plug the drive back into your old laptop. It should boot there as well, at least if you didn't mess up the UEFI / BIOS settings. And any further configuration can then be done via SSH. If you want to be really sure, do a 1:1 backup of your laptop's drive before reinstalling, using dd or similar, that you can roll-back in case the laptop won't boot with the new installation and you can't access UEFI / BIOS settings.

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#5 2020-12-30 03:08:15

VDmvKcW9JamBSir5fNfehqpG
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2019-12-30
Posts: 43

Re: Can I boot with the console in framebuffer mode? (Broken GPU)

LukeLR wrote:

You can of course also just remove the hard drive / SSD from your old laptop, plug it into some other machine, and than use that machine (with working graphics / text mode) to install Arch on that drive. Proceed until the point of a working networking / SSH setup, and think of installying any additional drivers that might be required on your old laptop. Then plug the drive back into your old laptop. It should boot there as well, at least if you didn't mess up the UEFI / BIOS settings. And any further configuration can then be done via SSH. If you want to be really sure, do a 1:1 backup of your laptop's drive before reinstalling, using dd or similar, that you can roll-back in case the laptop won't boot with the new installation and you can't access UEFI / BIOS settings.

Yeah, seems like that's the best course of action. Getting the graphics working is a lost cause and building an archiso seems like a lot of work. When I installed on the old laptop, the only driver I had to install that wasn't already covered by the base, linux, and linux-firmware packages was the nvidia driver, but for obvious reasons I won't be using that. So this means that I should have no issues booting the OS on different hardware than it was installed to, right?


btw I use Arch

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