View Full Version : [ubuntu] Black screen, blinking white cursor

December 13th, 2014, 08:07 PM
So I have an older Dell E521 with BIOS version 1.1.4 and i've been trying to boot into ubuntu and elementary OS to try/install one and neither work. They both have the blinking white bar in the top left hand corner forever. Any ideas?

December 13th, 2014, 11:18 PM
I think there are two problems (if the following specs are correct)


1 - The CPU and RAM do not manage to run standard Ubuntu with Unity. You will have better luck with two lighter flavours of Ubuntu

Xubuntu - medium light desktop environment (actually needs 1 GB RAM to work well)
Lubuntu - ultra light desktop environment (needs 512 MB RAM to work well)

2 - the nvidia chip/card - there might be problems with the built-in graphics driver. You might get the computer run with basic graphics, if you boot with the boot option nomodeset, or some other boot option according to this link


Then you should be able to install a proprietary nvidia graphics driver, and with some luck, you will find one driver that works reasonably well.

Start trying with the version 14.04.1 LTS, and if no luck, try 12.04.5 LTS.

Lubuntu 12.04 had no LTS (long time support) and has passed end of life. You might try LXLE, Bodhi or Bento (versions based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS).

Maybe you want to try ToriOS, which is not yet released, but a very promising ultra light weight distro also based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

December 14th, 2014, 01:37 AM
While this is true it should still get past the blinking white cursor and to the actual boot menu. Also it has 4.5gb of ram, a 8400GS and a Athlon 64 X2 3800+ CPu so it should run ubuntu.

December 14th, 2014, 07:07 AM
Thats good, your computer is more powerful than what is described in that link. So it is a good idea to try standard Ubuntu, but I think it is still worthwhile to try Xubuntu. You might like it.

The blinking cursor might be caused by problems between the graphics driver and the graphics chip/card. Try boot options according to post #2.

It that helps, and you get at least some low resolution graphics, try to install an nvidia driver via the Software Center.

If only text mode, try the following command

sudo apt-get install nvidia-[TAB]

where [TAB] means that you press the TAB key to get possible completions of the command line. I get the following completions in Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS, where I have high-lighted manually the drivers, which I think are worth trying first (I use nvidia-304, actually NVIDIA 304.125 for GeForce GT 430/PCIe/SSE2). But any of the drivers might work in your case, even some experimental or updates version.

nvidia-173 nvidia-331-updates-uvm nvidia-current-updates-dev
nvidia-173-dev nvidia-331-uvm nvidia-experimental-304
nvidia-173-updates nvidia-96 nvidia-experimental-304-dev
nvidia-173-updates-dev nvidia-96-dev nvidia-experimental-310
nvidia-304 nvidia-96-updates nvidia-experimental-310-dev
nvidia-304-dev nvidia-96-updates-dev nvidia-opencl-dev
nvidia-304-updates nvidia-cg-toolkit nvidia-prime
nvidia-304-updates-dev nvidia-common nvidia-settings
nvidia-319 nvidia-compute-profiler nvidia-settings-304
nvidia-319-dev nvidia-cuda-dev nvidia-settings-304-updates
nvidia-319-updates nvidia-cuda-doc nvidia-settings-319
nvidia-319-updates-dev nvidia-cuda-gdb nvidia-settings-319-updates
nvidia-331 nvidia-cuda-toolkit nvidia-settings-experimental-304
nvidia-331-dev nvidia-current nvidia-settings-experimental-310
nvidia-331-updates nvidia-current-dev nvidia-settings-updates
nvidia-331-updates-dev nvidia-current-updates

Let us hope that someone who is running linux with the same or a similar graphics chip as you will reply and give advice: nvidia Geforce 8400GS

December 14th, 2014, 03:34 PM
That chip works fine from experience in the past unless it changed, and apparently the system just won't boot from USB. I burned a elementaryOS cd and it booted that fine. Now I have to find a way to burn ubuntu onto a CD.

December 14th, 2014, 03:38 PM
The Ubuntu desktop iso file is too big for a CD. You need a DVD (or try again with USB).

December 14th, 2014, 03:43 PM
Or I could go with an older iso of ubuntu and update it. They also have CD ready ISOs for 12.04 or 12.10, can't remember which.

December 14th, 2014, 03:51 PM
What you can do is to make a Lubuntu CD (I think Lubuntu 14.04.1 LTS is still CD sized).

Or you can start from the Ubuntu mini.iso, but only in BIOS mode. It cannot be install alongside Windows in UEFI mode. I guess your computer is running old enough to run in BIOS mode, so maybe it is the best alternative. You can install all desktop environment flavours as well as Ubuntu Server from the mini.iso.

See this link (Lubuntu, but it works also for the other flavours)