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Thread: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

  1. #1
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    Feb 2010
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    Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    Hello,

    I cannot login, because due to an overly zealous autoremove the keyborad does not work by the time I am supposed to type my password. Up to that moment the boot proceeds automatically in the background. I can intercept it calling a recovery mode. None of the recovery menu's choices happen to be of any help. 'Repair broken packages' doesn't work, because I have no internet. 'Update grub bootloader' generates a grub configuration file of unknown content and name, finds six 'image' files in /boot and says 'done, finished'. 'Drop to root shell prompt' works with keyboard working, but no internet.

    So here's my question: How can I gain control of the boot before even the recovery mode is activated. I believe I must restore internet access first thing in order to do package maintenance. There must be ways. In three hours of googling and scouring this forum I harvested 'grub terminal', 'manual boot', 'usb boot'. At this point I would greatly appreciate suggestions.

    (Ubuntu 18.04 LTS)

    Frederic

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    A useful troubleshooting tool (in general - I have no idea what's going on in your particular case) is to boot from a live USB and then chroot to your installation. You'll be able to run commands as if you'd booted normally, but with the supporting environment (graphics, network, web browser, keyboard in this case) of the live environment.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2010
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    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    Am I correct assuming that a live USB is a bootable USB stick? There must me tons of posts explaining how to make one. My research turned up a utility 'mkusb'. Would that serve?

    What happened to my machine is that an autoremove must have erased stuff it shouldn't have. So when I started the machine the next day I couldn't log in because the keyboard was dead. When I made another try by way of the recovery menu, I didn't have an internet connection either. I gather that (at least) two devices don't get mounted.

  4. #4
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    Whatever you used to install Ubuntu will do fine. The main thing is that it's a Linux environment that isn't booting from your (currently) broken configuration so that you can fix that one.

  5. #5
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    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    I do have a (homemade) installation DC that gives me three options: 1. install, 2. install side by side, 3. demo install. Option 1 implies losing all data. Option 2 installs on a separate partition. I could do that, but I doubt that I could access the broken partition from there, So while doing more research I have been working with option 3 (demo mode). It provides a basic working environment good enough to get at least some work done, like carrying on this correspondence. The demo mode does not change the state of the disk. I would try option 2, the installation side by side. If that din't provide access to the broken system, I could make a bootable USB stick from there. I'd find out how once I'd get there.

  6. #6
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    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    There's definitely no need to install side-by-side. If your existing install is so broken that you need a new one then you only need the new one.

    If you've got a working environment from your live cd then you'll have access to the mount and chroot commands, which are what you need to chroot to your local installation. Then you can run the commands to undo or fix whatever it is that you've done to your install from that install, but using the keyboard and network connection of the live environment.

    As an alternative, you can also use a live environment to back up your data and settings from your local installation in preparation for a fresh install. A fresh install takes maybe 20 minutes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    CatKiller, Thank you for your patience. I believe we're getting there. I shall read up on chroot and be back tomorrow. Bedtime now.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    469

    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    You could boot to root recovery mode and reinstall the ubuntu-desktop package. This will install all its dependencies which should include the keyboard drivers in the GUI

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    102

    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    ActionParsnip, thanks for your advice, confirming a strategy which have tried, unfortunately to no avail. 'Repair broken packages' fails with a bunch of "Failed to fetch https://..." messages which I take to mean that I have no network connection. 'Drop down to root prompt'" gives me a root terminal. The keyboard works. I can access the file system. It seems intact. I am root, I can type and so can do anything, except that precisely "apt-get" doesn't work without internet access. "Resume normal boot" leaves the recovery mode, but when the login prompt appears, I still have no keyboard.

    I have a strong feeling that someone familiar with inner workings could fix the problem in no time at all from the root terminal, opening sockets, mounting devices, that sort of thing. I am currently improving my rather elementary system knowledge with an old book I had: "The Design of the UNIX Operating System" by Maurice J.Bach. I focus on devices and sockets. It's quite a curriculum, not to grasp in a lunch break.

    I would at this point suggest that the recommendation to run "autoremove" be complemented with a warning that it may damage the system and with a recommendation how to proceed without running the risk. This current lockout of mine is now in its eighth day and beyond any doubt due to a malfunctioning autoremove. This said I emphasize that I am suggesting, not complaining. I firmly believe that open-source users owe the developers a great debt of gratitude and cannot in fairness criticize their work in any way.

    Frederic

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: Boot fails to activate keyboard. Cannot write login password.

    So how did you get on with the live USB? You have both keyboard and Internet there, yes?

    From the live USB it's a two-step process; you insert your install's filesystem into some place in the filesystem tree with the mount command, then you change the interpretation of the root of the filesystem tree for subsequent commands with the chroot command.

    Code:
    sudo mkdir /mnt/someplace 
    sudo mount /dev/somedevice /mnt/someplace 
    sudo chroot /mnt/someplace
    Then you can just run whichever commands you need normally.

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