Monday, September 27, 2010

Installing Ubuntu 10 on a Dell E6510

Had a little heartache with this one.  My brand new work laptop just didn't want to boot with Ubuntu 10 (lucid lynx?... I forget the animal names.)  The problem was a black screen after boot, which it turns out is caused by the open source nouveau graphics card driver.

The solution:
  1. Boot from install CD.  Press F6 immediately after POST to go to the installer menu.  
  2. Once in the installer menu, press F6 again to select "Other Options"
  3. Choose "nomodeset" in the Other Options menu and press enter, then press escape.
  4. Choose "Install Ubuntu" from the menu and install as you see fit.
Once installed, boot the system without the CD and do the following:
  1. Hold down shift on boot to enter the GRUB boot menu.
  2. Press 'e' to edit the first item on the boot option list.
  3. On the line that includes "quiet splash" and add "nouveau.modeset=0" to the end (no quotes)
  4. Press ctrl+x to boot
  5. Choose "boot into low res mode only this one time" (or similar) when prompted.
Once booted into low res mode you can update the hardware drivers to use the proprietary nVidia driver, in fact you will be prompted to do so after booting the first time.  Install the driver (ignoring the other update manager window for now.)  Rebooting after installing the proprietary driver will eliminate the black screen issues.

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