I'm writing this partially because I hope to save a few people the headache I just had and partially because there are no babies around to eat.


So, I recently sold a bunch of stuff on eBay (as I previously mentioned).  I then used that money to buy a new server.  For the sake of making this article easier to find, here's what I bought:

Rackable Systems C2004 with:

  • Intel S5000PSL mother board
  • 2 x 2.66 dual core Xeon processors

The idea was to load up this server with RAM (it'll take 32Gb) and hard drives (4 x 2Tb SATA II) so that I could replace all of my other servers.  This machine has plenty of horse power for performing my GIS work and for reducing my server count via virtualization.  So, like I do with all servers, I went to install Ubuntu Linux.  This is where the fun ends.

Trying to Set-up the Server

I will spare you some of the details, but I ended up trying to install Ubuntu via a USB thumb drive and a good 'ol IDE CD-ROM drive.  Every time I ran the installer (for 10.04.3 and 11.04), the install worked.  Everything appeared to be set up without a hitch Great, wonderful, weee!  And then...

Good Luck Booting, Bro

It wouldn't boot.  No matter how I did my install, with or without LVM, with or without EXT4, with or without sacrificing goats, it just wouldn't boot.  I would just get a black screen with nothing more than a single blinking cursor.  It wouldn't respond to keyboard input, yelling, or ritualistic dances.   Booting the install media in rescue mode showed that the logs were empty.  Clearly, I have a hardware problem.

From there, I started monkeying around with BIOS settings.  I made sure my on-board (fake) RAID was disabled, that all of the settings were reasonable, and that I didn't have anything strange turned on.  No dice.  After days of troubleshooting, I started hitting the forums.  One suggested that if I don't get a GRUB screen at all that it was a GRUB problem.

Fixing It

The problem was that I was using GRUB2.  For some reason, it just didn't play nice with my mobo.  So, I booted into rescue mode and executed a shell in my root partition and ran this (Because I was in a rescue terminal, I was already root.  If you're not root, you must prefix these with sudo):

apt-get remove grub-pc
apt-get install grub
grub-install /dev/sda

Magic!  It booted!  Hopefully this saves someone a headache.

- bstempi