[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

How to choose safe configuration at boot time?

I am unable to use my Debian Linux system after the major update I did
on Tuesday.

WHAT HAPPENED: I used dselect in an xterm window under XFree to update the
system after an idle period of 1 week. I update from stable, unstable,
contrib, and nonfree. I allowed one of the installers to shut down xdm,
which led to a reboot. I finished the installation by starting dselect again
from an Xless console. The next reboot led to a login prompt on a non-X
console screen, flashing and ignoring all input, except for CTL-ALT-DEL
which led to another reboot ending in the same state.

WHAT I THINK IS WRONG: I think that my configuration of xdm is broken. The
last two outputs from the boot process, before the login prompt and the
flashing, are an indication that xdm is starting, and an indication that the
nas, which started earlier, has failed. The nas problem has been with me for
weeks, presumably has to do with a misconfigured SoundBlaster, and has never
before affected my ability to run X silently. Besides the install script
that shut down xdm for some change, I accidentally allowed another install
script to change the default X server (I had intended to experiment with
several X servers before deciding whether to change the default). One way or
another, I suspect that xdm is looping infinitely on a failed attempt to
start up X. I experienced similar behavior in an earlier incarnation, when X
failed due to lack of the right mouse driver, but in that case I saw some
failed attempts at driving the video in color, and now I see only on/off

WHAT I THINK I NEED: I think that I need to boot the system in single-user
mode, or otherwise avoid starting up xdm, so that I can seek out the bad
configuration files and fix them. I have *only* Debian Linux on the system,
and I start it with LILO. I have been able to run several versions of the
kernel from LILO, including a very primitive one which I keep on a diskette
for emergencies. They all lead to the same behavior. Probably, there is an
appropriate option to give LILO, and it's probably mentioned in the online
documentation which I am now unable to read :^{ (I hope that this emoticon
portrays embarassment). In the past, I have used CTL-ALT-F1 to bring up a
single-user state, but I have been getting no useful response to this
signal, although it resets the phase of the flashing, so something is
evidently reading and ignoring it.

I'll be grateful for all suggestions. Useful ones will help me, and useless
ones will at least distract me from despair for a while :^)

Mike O'Donnell

TO UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THIS MAILING LIST: e-mail the word "unsubscribe" to
debian-user-REQUEST@lists.debian.org . Trouble? e-mail to Bruce@Pixar.com

Reply to: