Laptop FAQ

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All sorts of issues found in regular Build This is a collection of tips the Build instructors keep in regular Build. Some of it may be useful to Laptop builders. Additionally, there is also the Build Trouble Shooting Guide.
Laptop won't Boot, POST, or show anything on the screen If the laptop is showing no signs of life whatsoever (e.g., no charging lights, fans spinning, etc), double check your power adapter and its rating. Confirm that it's seated properly in the DC jack on the laptop (sometimes these can loosen, preventing a solid connection). If you're still not getting a charging light, try using a power adapter with a higher amperage. Additionally, take the primary battery out of the laptop and try running it solely off the power adapter.

If the laptop is spinning up and/or showing a charge light, but is not producing any video or other signs of life, try swapping in some new RAM. A good strategy is to grab three sticks of distinct brands, and swap them one at a time into each of the DIMM slots. Install a stick, try to power it on, switch to the next DIMM, try to power it on, and so forth. Also useful could be hooking up an external monitor to the laptop's video out, in case the screen is broken or the backlight is out.

For the stubborn, try cracking open the laptop and confirming that everything is properly seated on the motherboard. Some systems, for instance, won't power on unless the keyboard is correctly installed.

Laptop won't shut down completely (hangs on power down) This is an issue that happens to dual core laptops in particular. The problem is that a sound module fails to unload during shut down, preventing the machine from doing so. To fix this you need to remove the sound module in question in the command line terminal. Go to Applications > Accessories > Terminal and type in "sudo gedit /etc/init.d/halt". After the first set of comments (signified by the #) add "rmmod snd_hda_intel". This will remove the troublesome sound module. Alternately, if this doesn't work, try going to "sudo gedit /etc/modules" and adding "apm power_off=1".
Why is the disk imager not working? If the imager can't find the root partition, chances are it is either a bad hard drive (try another drive first), an improperly connected hard drive, or the little IDE adapter is burned out. They burn out periodically. Check the back of the adapter for burned marks. Ask someone if you are unsure.
Hibernate problems When a hard drive is moved from one laptop to another, hibernate may fail to work. In at least some cases, this is because the drive is being recognized as /dev/sda, rather than /dev/hda.
  • make sure that the swap partition is a logical partition (not primary) e.g. /dev/sda5
  • make sure that /etc/fstab shows the swap as the correct device.
  • in /boot/grub/menu.lst make sure that there is the following line.
# defoptions=resume=/dev/sda5
  • run "sudo update-grub" afterwards (might need to run "sudo grub-mkdevicemap" first)
Weirdly large font in login Login screen looks fine until you put in the username, which is in a huge font (larger than the input field):This is a bug in the X server which reports the screen size as 289x21 mm. In the final sense it is something that will be fixed in a future version of X, but for now there is a workaround. In the "Screen" section of xorg.conf, put in the following line: Option "DDC" "off"
Check the Battery Status watch cat /proc/acpi/battery/

Sometimes the remainder of the command is BAT0 or BAT1, sometimes it begins with a "C" Trial and error will get you there. You might end up needing to look in "/sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/status" or some such place.

Laptop Specific Problems