Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Why Won’t My Computer Boot With Linux 5.x Kernels?

Ubuntu 19

If you’re running a Linux-based operating system, you may have encountered an issue where your computer refuses to boot with the 5.x kernels. This can be particularly perplexing if your system boots perfectly fine with the 4.x kernels. In this article, we’ll delve into this issue, explore possible causes, and provide potential solutions.

Quick Answer

The computer may not boot with Linux 5.x kernels due to compatibility issues with an outdated BIOS. Updating the BIOS to the latest version or trying a different Ubuntu version, such as Ubuntu 19.10, may resolve the issue. Checking the GRUB configuration can also help identify any potential problems.

Understanding the Issue

The problem typically manifests as an “invalid magic number” boot error when attempting to boot with 5.x kernels. This error message indicates a problem with loading the kernel. Despite various troubleshooting attempts such as running GRUB repair and updating GRUB, the issue persists.

The Role of BIOS

BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, is a fundamental part of a computer that initializes the hardware during the booting process. An outdated BIOS can sometimes cause compatibility issues with newer software, including Linux kernels.

You can check your BIOS version by running the command sudo dmidecode -s bios-version. This command displays your current BIOS version. In the case of a Dell Optiplex 990, the BIOS version might be A23, which is not the latest version.

Updating the BIOS

One potential solution to the boot issue is to update your BIOS to the latest version. For a Dell Optiplex 990, the latest version is A24. You can download the BIOS update from the Dell support website.

Before proceeding with the BIOS update, it’s crucial to back up your data. BIOS updates can sometimes fail or cause issues, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Trying a Different Ubuntu Version

Another potential solution is to try using Ubuntu 19.10, which may be more compatible with the 5.x kernels. You can download the Ubuntu 19.10 ISO from the official Ubuntu website.

To create a bootable USB or DVD, you can use a tool like Rufus or Etcher. Again, remember to back up your data before reinstalling the operating system.

Checking the GRUB Configuration

The GRUB bootloader is responsible for loading the Linux kernel. If there’s a problem with your GRUB configuration, it could potentially cause boot issues.

You can check your GRUB configuration by running cat /boot/grub/grub.cfg. This command displays the contents of your GRUB configuration file.

In addition, you can check the details of the kernel files in the /boot directory by running ls -l /boot/*vmlinuz*. This command lists all the files in the /boot directory that match the pattern *vmlinuz*, which includes the kernel files.

Conclusion

The “invalid magic number” boot error with 5.x kernels can be a frustrating issue to deal with. However, by updating your BIOS, trying a different Ubuntu version, and checking your GRUB configuration, you may be able to resolve the issue. As always, remember to back up your data before making any significant changes to your system.

How can I check my BIOS version?

You can check your BIOS version by running the command sudo dmidecode -s bios-version.

Where can I download the latest BIOS update for my Dell Optiplex 990?

You can download the BIOS update from the Dell support website.

Should I back up my data before updating the BIOS?

Yes, it is crucial to back up your data before updating the BIOS. BIOS updates can sometimes fail or cause issues, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How can I create a bootable USB or DVD for Ubuntu 19.10?

You can use a tool like Rufus or Etcher to create a bootable USB or DVD. Make sure to download the Ubuntu 19.10 ISO from the official Ubuntu website.

How can I check my GRUB configuration?

You can check your GRUB configuration by running the command cat /boot/grub/grub.cfg. This command displays the contents of your GRUB configuration file.

How can I list the kernel files in the `/boot` directory?

You can list the kernel files in the /boot directory by running the command ls -l /boot/*vmlinuz*. This command lists all the files in the /boot directory that match the pattern *vmlinuz*, which includes the kernel files.

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