1 October 2011

Mint/Linux, Sandy Bridge, Blank-screen Intel Graphics

Mint 11.4 64-bit installs on Cold Lake H67 Sandy Bridge motherboard PC OK, hard drive boots to grub2 OK, but Mint boots to a black screen with no mouse pointer.  The OS is running OK, you just can’t see anything – or almost; a close look at the screen shows a pixel-flickering red line down the left edge and a solid short horizontal white line top left, when a 17” CRT is used. 

The problem appears with LCD screens also, and is variable; some boots may be OK.  At present, all 3 of 3 new PC builds have done this on first Mint hard drive boot.

The fix: Plug another monitor into the other graphics socket.  The desktop will immediately appear on both screens; you can then unplug the second screen and it will work OK (at least for that booted session).

Cold Lake motherboards use the H67 chipset, which in turn interfaces the Intel GPU built into the processor, to DVI and HDMI dual display outputs.  Typically I use a DVI to VGA adapter to take the DVI’s analog signal to 17” CRT or more modern LCD, leaving the HDMI unplugged, though from memory I recall similar mileage when a digital-signal LCD was plugged into DVI, or HDMI via HDMI to DVI “pigtail” adapter.

It seems like Linux can’t figure out what display signal to use?

If previous Ubuntu mileage is anything to go by, the “fix” is prolly to wait until the next OS release in the hopes it will use a newer Linux kernel that has a clue about “new” hardware.  Bah!  Still, that should be due later this month, so let’s see how it goes.

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