Solving the “Can’t boot from Ubuntu 9.10 LiveCD, Showing Black Screen” Issue

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala was released two months ago. Until last week, I have not been able to get it running on my computer. Whenever I boot up from the LiveCD, it will load up a black screen and remain there. There is no chance of me getting into the desktop. The same incident occurred for the upgrade from Jaunty to Karmic via the Update Manager. There seems to be some conflicts between the Karmic kernel and the Intel video driver that I am using. After some googling around, I realize that many people are having this problem as well and it occurs mainly for Intel drivers.

To solve this issue, the trick is actually very simple (though it took me two months to find out). Simply append “nomodeset” to the grub entry. Here’s the whole procedure.

(Note: The following procedure only applies to those who have Intel driver and have the black screen issue. Do not follow this tutorial if you do not have the issue. You are asking for trouble.)

Installing Karmic via the LiveCD

If you intend to wipe your computer and install Karmic fresh from the LiveCD, follow the procedure below.

Boot up the LiveCD

Press Enter to select English as the language.

At the main screen where it asks you if you want to try or install Ubuntu, press F6, follow by the ESC key. You will now see a command line at the bottom of the screen. Enter “nomodeset” (without the quote) at the end of the command line and press Enter.


You should be able to boot into the Ubuntu desktop now.

Note: If you have followed the exact same procedure and still see the black screen, most probably this method don’t work for you.

Play around with it and make sure everything works fine. Proceed with the installation. Once it is done, restart your computer.

During the restart, when you see the “Grub Loading” message, immediately press “ESC” to get to the grub menu.

Highlight the first entry and press “e” to edit the entry.


Scroll down to the line that starts with “linux…” and move the cursor to the end. Enter “nomodeset”.


Press Ctrl + X to continue the booting process.

Once you are in the desktop, launch a terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal).

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Scroll down to the line: “GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT” and add “nomodeset” at the end.


Save and exit.

In the terminal, type

sudo update-grub

Done. You can now boot up your Ubuntu Karmic without any problem (hopefully).

Upgrade from Jaunty to Karmic

I strongly advise you to do a clean installation of Karmic rather than upgrading from Jaunty. But if you really must, here’s the procedure. Before you begin, remember to test your system with the LiveCD first.

When upgrading from Jaunty, things are slightly different as you will be using the legacy Grub (instead of Grub 2) and there is a need to amend the xorg file. (Note: Ubuntu 9.10 does not use the xorg file)

Upgrade your Jaunty from the Update Manager. Once it is done, DO NOT restart your computer.

Open a terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal),

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Scroll down to the end until you see the line starting with the word “kernel

Add “nomodeset” to the end.


Save and exit the file.

Next, type

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Scroll down until you see the video section
Add in the line

Driver   “Intel”

ubuntu karmic-xorg

Save and exit.

Close the terminal

Restart your computer. It should work (hopefully).

PS: If you have noticed, there have been very few articles on Ubuntu Karmic for the past 2 months. The reason being, I can’t get it running in my computer. Now that this issue is solved, you will expect to see more Karmic articles from me.

Image credit: nasa1fan/MSFC

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