Laptop goes black after BIOS. Was working minutes ago. What happened?
May 18, 2011 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Was fiddling with the eject settings on my laptop (didn't solve my problem, cd is still stuck in the drive no matter what i do), when I decided to reboot out of ubuntu and disable the drive altogether in the BIOS. Now almost as soon as the BIOS appear, everything goes black, though the computer is still clearly on. Help!

I figured this way I could really control test it, see how it would respond to manually turning it on through the terminal and trying to eject, etc.

Anyway, I can't see why changing this BIOS setting would have done anything, but now it doesn't even consistently show the BIOS--sometimes it just stays black.

This is an old laptop I was trying to reformat with Arch Linux, though I couldn't even start because of the CD drive problem. It's a Dell Inspiron 700m.

Does anyone have any ideas? I could potentially hook it up to a monitor I have somewhere, see if that outputs anything, but I'm kind of at a loss since the drive still does not eject even during boot, so there's no way for me to even run a livecd. Yipes!
posted by parkbench to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Does your laptop have any easy way to remove the entire CD drive? A lot of them do, either via a 'switch' on the bottom of the laptop, or via a couple of screws. Often this will make it very easy to remove a stuck disc.

But the fact that it sometimes doesn't even get to the BIOS display points to there being some other issue - even if it's something as basic as years of accumulated dust defeating the cooling mechanisms (fan, heatsinks).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2011

Things, off the top of my head, that can cause the BIOS to fail to appear:

-Improperly seated RAM.
-A malfunctioning motherboard.
-Video hardware issues, preventing your monitor from working.

Check all of the connections, try another monitor. I'm not familiar with laptop repairs, but if it was a desktop I'd recommend opening it up and blowing out the dust, checking the fans, checking the connections, and trying again. Maybe you can still do that with a laptop.


Wait, it only sometimes fails to hit the BIOS? Does that mean the rest of the time you can boot as usual? Are there any problems at all when you do that? The inconsistency of this problem is a big, big clue, and if you can elaborate on that it would help.

Sounds like flaky hardware though.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2011

Do you have a reasonably powerful flashlight? It's possible the backlight for the laptop's screen might be dying. Turn the system on, go into the BIOS, and then take the flashlight, turn it on, and shine it on the screen at a shallow angle. You might have to experiment with it to get it right. If you see text or graphics on the screen doing that, then that is definitely the problem. (Also: many laptops have a VGA output on them; do you have access to an external monitor you can connect to?)

Regarding the CD and drive: Does the drive not have a tiny hole on it that you can stick a straightened paper clip end into (important: not the LED)? That hole is an emergency release latch to pop open the drive. Very nearly every CD or DVD drive ever made, ever, includes such a hole.

To the problem of being unable to remove the disc in Ubuntu, when Linux has a CD mounted it disables the regular mechanism for opening the drive. If you know what path the CD is mounted to, you can go to a shell and type


i.e. if the CD is mounted to /media/cdrom, you'd type

umount /media/cdrom

(that's "umount" with no "n")

Alternately, in the GUI of your choice you should be able to open a file manager (e.g. Dolphin or Konqueror or whatever GNOME uses or whatever else you might have) and right-click on the CD and force eject.

posted by no relation at 4:14 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Poop. That first instance of "umount" should read

umount <path to CD>
posted by no relation at 6:07 PM on May 18, 2011

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