Boot Issues Plague SimplyMepis 11 Development

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 10, 2011

SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Beta 1 was released last week, but again is plagued by start problems for many people.

All during this SimplyMEPIS 11 development cycle boot problems have stopped many users from testing. Unfortunately, and probably the root of problem, is that this occurs for only some of the users with little hardware in common. To compound the issue, the boot issues haven't been caused by the same reason to the same people each release either. With so much variation, it can be very difficult to nail down corrections.

For example, the first four alphas would stop booting immediately after the GRUB screen for many testers. Some identified the issue possibly as device naming conventions listed in the GRUB menu. Some could get to the GRUB edit screen to overcome, some couldn't. This release boots until it gets to just about where the GUI should come up and then stalls and freezes, while others report being able to Ctrl+Alt+F2 and run dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg. Some have reported having no issues with Alphas 1 - 4, and are now having the "stop after GRUB" issue with the Beta. Still others who can get into the SimplyMEPIS desktop report poor performance under the live CD. Partition detection errors at install have been reported as well while some have had no trouble at all.

So all in all, it's probably been a rough developmental cycle for Warren Woodford, founder and lead developer for MEPIS, so far.

The GRUB boot screen indicates issues were probably known before release because the background wasn't the only change. Boot choices have changed too. Now there are Default Boot, with no auto X config; NVIDIA, for those with NVIDIA graphics; ATI for those with AMD/ATI graphics; Vesa, for those which the other won't work; Classic, for classic Mepis graphic detection and configuration; 60hz, for older displays; and Slow, for those using a USB key.

When using the Beta on my testing desktop machine the boot will cease and hard freeze late in the boot sequence. However with an aging HP notebook, the boot stops about when the graphical interface should start, but the system isn't frozen. I was able to Ctrl+Alt+F2 to a command prompt, log in as Demo, and startx. Performance wasn't too bad on that old machine when using NVIDIA drivers given its low RAM, but the wireless Ethernet that worked in older versions of MEPIS doesn't work now. I had no issues with the installer or partition tool.

Glitches do happen during development, and in fact, that's what alphas, betas, and even release candidates are for, but SimplyMEPIS 11 seems to be struggling a bit more than usual. Fortunately, it is still very early on and I'd bet Woodford will figure it out. Some suggest all these hardware issues could be related to specific bugs in the upstream 2.6.36 kernel. We'll see what happens next release.