Gutsy Gibbon Live CD boot problem

On October 18, 2007, the newest distribution of Ubuntu (Version 7.10, code named “Gutsy Gibbon”) was released, and I downloaded the ubuntu-7.10-desktop-i386.iso image and, after checking the MD5 checksum, burned it to CD.  Tomboy I was able to use this Live CD to boot into the new version and install it on the Dell 4100 system I have here at home.  Because the checksum of the downloaded image verified and the Live CD works on my Dell system, I know there is nothing wrong with the CD itself.  I took the screen shot at the right showing the desktop with the included program, Tomboy, on the screen.  (If you click on the image above, a larger version will open and you can read the two open windows to learn what a neat little utility Tomboy is.) 

So having succeeded in installing this new version on the Dell, I decided that I’d boot the Live CD on my Sony system where I have my Windows XP installation to consider adding a Linux partition alongside my XP partition on the Sony machine, but that’s where I ran into a brick wall.

On my Sony machine when I try to boot from the Live CD, I get a screen where I can choose to boot into the Live CD and then briefly there is an Ubuntu splash screen, after which the screen goes black and I get some text from BusyBox that says:

initramfs) [ 53.053436]  ata1.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x2 frozen
ata1.00: cmd c8/00:08:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 cdb 0x0 daa 4096 in

This same exception keeps repeating and then the same command is reissued and I supposed it would go on indefinitely.  I have tried this multiple times, always with the same result.  I must power off the machine to stop it, remove the CD and then reboot into Windows.  The Live CD just won’t seem to load on my Sony machine.

There are, of course, many differences between the two machines, and I suppose any one of them could account for what is causing the problem.  If you happen to have an idea about what my problem may be, I would appreciate your leaving a comment and pointing me to a resource on the Ubuntu forums or elsewhere that might direct me to a solution. 

Thanks for your help and advice.

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32 thoughts on “Gutsy Gibbon Live CD boot problem

  1. Daryl

    I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but I’d guess Ubuntu doesn’t like something about your hardware. Do you have weird RAM in that machine? I ask because of the first part of the error, which reads “initramfs”, which I presume can be expanded to “init ram fs” with “fs” being short (by convention) for “file system” (misnomer that it would be). If you have other RAM you could swap out, that might be worth a try.

  2. Perry Post author

    Thanks for taking a crack at my problem Daryl. Your guess that the Live CD doesn’t like something about my hardware seems logical to me. And you confirm my previous assumption about the meaning of initramfs. Unfortunately, I don’t have any other RAM for this machine. I have it maxed out at 512 MB of RAM that was purchased at, a subsidiary of Micron Technologies. I don’t know if that is “weird” RAM or not. Do you consider it so? It is, however, an after market add on.

    It isn’t, I don’t think, related to the fact that it is only 512 MB since the Dell machine also has only that much, and it too is maxed out. Maybe it has different RAM though. Hmmmm, that raises the possibility though that I could swap the RAM from the Dell to the Sony, just to test the hypothesis. I don’t know whether the RAM in the Dell is compatible with the Sony though.

    I’ve already searched the Ubuntu Forums and found a discussion of a similar error in reference to a bug on Feisty Fawn. I’ll continue to search there or maybe post my question there for the group to address, if they are so inclined.

  3. Daryl

    RAM is kind of a mystery to me. I gather it’s not terribly cross-compatible; that is, I don’t think you can just plug any old RAM into any old box, even if the pins would seem to line up. I may have been unclear when I mentioned “weird” RAM. I don’t think one RAM stick is necessarily any “weirder” than any other, but there may be some that Ubuntu just doesn’t like for some reason or another. I’d be surprised if the RAM in the two boxes is compatible, but if you can find markings on the RAM telling you what kind each is, you could probably find some compatibility charts to check.

  4. Perry Post author

    Thanks again, Daryl. The site at where I purchased the RAM for my Sony machine has a three-step drop-down list guide for selecting the right RAM for your machine. I used that to identify what kind of RAM I have in my Sony and then did the same for the Dell. (The Sony is a PCV-RX450 Vaio and the Dell is a Dimension 4100.) In the end, doing this for each of the two computers reveals that the proper type of RAM for each is the same — SDRAM PC 133 — and each has a maximum capacity of 512 MB that has to be installed as two sticks in the separate slots.

    For this reason, I suspect the Live CD is barfing on something other than the RAM (i.e., some other hardware component) despite the fact that the error message begins with the initramfs designation. It’s got to be a hardware issue because when booting from the Live CD we don’t ever reach the software components already installed on the HD.

    Oh, well, the good news is that having to research something like this is a great way to familiarize yourself with the program and the resources for resolving issues.

  5. Ralph Hughes

    I am having this exact problem on my machine after updating to ubuntu gutsy. After several days of research it appears initramfs is part of the hardware detection on bootup. Its job is to load a minimal linux system (not full ubuntu) into part of the ram temporarily used as a hard disk during bootup to detect the pc’s hardware before loading the rest of ubuntu.
    The suggested fix doesn’t work for me, but if you can get into a shell at some point feel free to try it:
    sudo update-initramfs -u -k 2.6.22-14-generic

    Also might be worth noting that since the previous ubuntu 7.04 (fiesty) doesn’t have the problem (because earlier versions of the kernel don’t use initramfs) then if you have any other earlier kernels still in your grub boot menu I would strongly suggest trying them.

    Hope this helps,


  6. Perry Post author

    Hi, Ralph. Thanks for offering your input.

    Unfortunately, I don’t already have a Linux partition (of any kind) on my Sony machine, so I can’t get to the shell on that machine to implement the suggested fix.

    While searching for a solution to my problem, I did run across a reference to Feisty’s use of initramfs in a report of Bug #103608 and Bug #107417.

    From what I’ve read so far, it does appear to me that you are right that the problem is in the kernel somehow, but I am too much of a novice user to do much about that issue, except to keep searching for a solution someone has found and hope they have already recompiled the source to resolve it. A confounding nuance is that the same CD launched successfully on my Dell machine without problem, so there is something unique about the interaction of the CD with my Sony machine and I suppose that is what I’m going to have to chase down.

    Nonetheless, I really appreciate your attempt to help and would welcome any other ideas you may have. I hope you resolve your own issues with Gutsy.

  7. Ralph Hughes

    Ok, have managed to fix my machine (I think) with a hybrid of methods from the ubuntu forums. Unfortunatly as you say without a shell, your a bit stuck.
    I’m going to take a random guess here that your dell machine’s motherboard supports SATA drives and your sony one doesn’t. I’m pretty certain this is the root cause of the problem on my machine anyways.

    The fix I came up with in the end was to edit the file /etc/initramfs-tools using this command
    sudo gedit /etc/initramfs-tools/modules

    and add the following lines to the bottom of the file


    #These are the buggered drivers:
    blacklist ata_piix

    blacklist ata_generic
    blacklist libata
    blacklist scsi_mod

    The only thing I can suggest for your situation is to download the ubuntu 7.04 fiesty iso and burn it to cd. Install it onto the sony machine but don’t install any fiesty updates. Next update to 7.10 gutsy gibbon via the internet. This step will temporarily break the system, but only on the new kernel(2.6.22-14-generic?). Booting the old kernel(2.6.20-16-generic?) from the grub boot menu will allow you to follow the steps above editing the modules file. Once rebooted, both kernels should work fine.
    Sorry I can’t think of any shorter way of doing it, hope this helps.

  8. Ralph Hughes

    I forgot to add, in order for the changes to /etc/initramfs-tools/modules file to take effect the initramfs system needs to be regenerated with the command

    sudo update-initramfs -u -k 2.6.22-14-generic

    The system should then be rebooted after that.


  9. Perry Post author


    I’m glad to hear you have apparently solved your problems, and I appreciate your added suggestions for resolving mine. I am downloading Feisty Fawn as I type this.

    I wonder however if there isn’t a shorter procedure than the one you outlined since I have a functioning Gutsy installation on the Dell that somehow might be used to resolve the issue. I’ll have to think about that as I’m a bit hesitant to muck around too much with the machine I use most often and rely on, i.e. my so-called “production” machine.

    After I complete the download, I think I’ll run Belarc advisor on this machine and see whether it identifies the Sony’s motherboard and then research whether that supports SATA or not. I’m curious, now that you’ve raised that issue.

    In any event, it’ll be interesting to learn whether the Feisty Fawn Live CD will boot up the Sony machine.

    Thanks again for your suggestions.

  10. Perry Post author

    Here’s an update for you, Ralph, and anyone else who may be following this discussion.

    After I burned the Feisty Fawn iso to CD yesterday, I discovered that it will boot into the Live CD on my Sony machine, so as you indicated, the problem seems to be in the initramfs function currently used in the Gutsy Gibbon distro. I started through the installation of the Feisty Fawn distro on my Sony but was spooked by the installation process. Here is what spooked me.

    After I made the necessary choices about my language, my timezone and my keyboard, I was presented with a screen that gave me the option of either a Guided install for the entire hard disk or a manual install, I backed out and went looking for a more in-depth explanation of the installation process. I found the various screencasts in the Community Docs section of the Ubuntu site. Unfortunately, at this point I encountered another of the problems I have with my Ubuntu installation both on the Dell machine and on any Live CD that I’ve run on the Sony machine — I have no sound. So Alan Pope’s thorough explanation of installing Ubuntu was inaudible. I had tabled solving that problem until after I got the OS installed on my Sony machine. But given the fact that I needed to hear what was being said, I exited the Feisty Fawn Live CD and booted back into Windows and listened to and watched the presentation again.

    After I felt armed with the knowledge I needed to do the install, I went back to the Feisty Fawn Live CD on my Sony machine and began again to go through the install process, choosing the Guided Install, despite the fact that it said for the entire hard disk. Pope in his screencast had said that during the partitioning, it would find the existing OS and allow partitioning around it.

    Let me interject at this point that I have two separate hard disks on this Sony machine. The primary one is a Maxtor 160 GB HD that has the Win XP installation and all my important data. The slave HD is a Western Digital 40 GB HD that still has Windows ME on it and, of course, some old data. I believe that I have saved everything of significance from the slave HD, though anytime I allow something like that to be overwritten I become a little anxious. Now with that as background, I’ll proceed with my story.

    As I was going through the Guided Install, I chose at first to have the OS installed as a separate partition on the primary HD (where the Win XP installation resides), but when I came to the screen that warned me that all data on that HD would be overwritten, I bailed out again and backed up and choose instead the slave HD as the place where I wanted Feisty Fawn installed. When I was about to put the OS on the primary HD, the Migration Tool did not find any users whose settings it could migrate, which puzzled me. I do log into XP with a user account that is password protected, so it seemed illogical to me that Feisty wouldn’t find that account. And then when I chose to install on the slave HD, where I could tolerate it overwriting everything, the screen just before it started that process of overwriting did show the Windows XP as existing under the Migration Tool but it had NOT given me the option to migrate any settings from my XP account. Puzzled by what appeared to be the inconsistencies, I backed out again and thought I’d sleep on it and tackle it again today.

    So that’s where I am. Of course, I haven’t gotten to the solutions you suggest yet, because I haven’t yet completed installing Feisty on my Sony. Perhaps I’ll have more courage on Thursday than I had on Wednesday. Stay tuned for film at 11. 😉 If you have any words of inspiration or encouragement that you’d like to provide, feel free to contribute them. Otherwise, wish me luck.

  11. beli4ka

    Hello everybody!

    Just wanted to wish you luck! After 3 days of searching the net, this is the only place I found something sense-making about the problem I have and which seems identical to yours! I want this gutsy distribution, it looks really fine to men, but it doesn’t seem to like the hard drive (initramfs, ata, sata, whateva). I’m gonna try the solution and tell you if it worked for me.

    Anyway, have you ever thought on organising your data otherwise. I always divide mine into one data partition and one or two (or three, as much as you want actually) system partitions. This has the advantage of securing the data in case something damages the system (mostly the default user). And you can tune up your system as much as you want without fear of loosing anything important.


  12. Ami

    I am having a very strange problem with the Ubuntu 7.10 LiveCD. I was able to boot from it and mess around just fine on my DELL Lattitude D620 notebook at work. Then I took the CD home and booted the LiveCD from my Dimension 4700 and that also worked. I then restarted that very same machine in order to install Ubuntu from a clean boot and after the initial Ubuntu boot menu I would get a black screen with a mouse and it would not go any further. It wasn’t frozen but nothing was happening.

  13. Tomcat

    I experience the exact same problem as described here with the initramfs) [ 53.053436] ata1.00: exception Emask 0×0 SAct 0×0 SErr 0×0 action 0×2 frozen
    ata1.00: cmd c8/00:08:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 cdb 0×0 daa 4096

    I tried Ralph Hughes’ workaround but did not work for me, got some strange error messages after reboot.
    My question is: Has anyone found why this is happening? Is there a solution to this? Or should we just make peace with the thought that Ubuntu is not that great?

  14. Perry Post author

    Catching up here with this note. The status of my situation is as before. As noted above, I am able to boot into Ubuntu on my Sony machine using a Live CD of Feisty Fawn, the previous version. The problem I have seems confined to the interaction of the Live CD containing Gutsy Gibbon and my Sony computer. I have not resolved the issues yet, nor have I yet installed Feisty Fawn in a dual boot here on my Sony Windows machine because of the failure of the Feisty Fawn Live CD to recognize the Windows partition on the primary partition.

    Now to respond to the previous comments in reverse order. LIFO.

    @Tomcat. I’m glad you reported your experience with using Ralph Hughes’ workaround and sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. I assume you noted in Ralph’s note from 10/24/07 at 9:11 AM that you had to reboot from the old kernel in order to make the changes he suggests. Beyond that, I don’t know what to suggest to you, since I don’t yet have a Linux distro on this computer to experiment with his solution. However, I can say that I don’t conclude that Ubuntu isn’t that great, only that there is a glitch (on some systems) with the newest distro of it. Previous distros of Ubuntu work without this particular problem.

    @Ami. The fact that you could get the Live CD to boot once on your system would seem to indicate (to me) that the problem with rebooting into it was a transient situation and that it should resolve itself later. Try leaving it overnight if rebooting leaves it frozen. Often I have backed out of such situations due to my impatience and the resolution involved simply being more patient. Leaving it to work overnight should test whether that is the problem.

    @beli4ka. No further word from you could indicate Ralph’s solution worked for you and you didn’t report that back here (understandable), or that it didn’t work and your system is disabled (possible, but unlikely) or that it didn’t work, but you’ve moved on. If you are still reading this thread, let’s us know how your experiments came out so we can all benefit.

    I’ve been checking the Ubuntu Forums in the hope of finding others who are having the problem and who may have been helped there. So far I haven’t seen this issue reported there. I may have to report it myself and see if others can offer their help. Stay tuned.

    Later: I just checked the Forums again and there is a sticky thread with suggestions on installing/upgrading that proposes using the alternate ISO for installation when all else fails with the Live CD. I’ve just downloaded the alternate ISO and verified the MD5 checksum. I’m about to watch this video, in which Alan Pope demonstrates installing the system in text mode from the alternate CD. The video is well done, and I’ve watched it before. Afterwards, I plan to burn the alternate ISO to CD and have a go at doing the install of Gutsy Gibbon from it. With fingers crossed, I proceed.

  15. Perry Post author

    Hi, again, Tomcat. I’m glad you checked back here and reported your experience.

    I had an interesting experience when I tried the alternate iso. I got the same error message as before (though the reference to initramfs wasn’t there) but while I was trying to write it down after I decided to do so, it eventually booted into the initial menu. You might want to try leaving it repeating that error for a longer time once you begin to get it to see whether it doesn’t eventually boot into the CD. As I say, it did here.

    Unfortunately, when I began the install, I got to the partitioning screen and encountered an “unknown error” that prevented my being able to complete the install. I plan to do a new blog entry perhaps later today about yesterday’s experience since this topic has attracted an unusual amount of interest.

    Good luck with your efforts, and please let me know if you achieve a breakthrough. Thanks.

  16. Tomcat

    i will try to install ubuntustudio 7.10 maybe i’ll have some luck with that (though i don’t think so), i’ll let u know, if that doesn’t work i’ll give openSuse 10.3 kde a try (gnome is very-very slow) and if not i’ll wait for linuxmint 4.0 to appear

  17. Tomcat

    same problem with ubuntustudio, i think i’ll just quit ubuntu suit soon, i hope to buy a new graphics card soon, maybe that will solve the problem, ill keep you posted

  18. Perry Post author

    Thanks for the update, Tomcat. Sorry to hear that you haven’t had any better luck, however it is interesting that you mention the graphics card as a possible culprit. I’ve been thinking that might be my problem too. My Sony computer uses shared RAM to power the SiS 300 graphics card on a chip. The computer has an AGP slot and I too have thought of upgrading to a graphics card with memory on board to gain 3D abilities for things like Google Earth, maybe add a TV tuner, and to see if doing so won’t resolve the problem with this Ubuntu distro. Therefore I’ll be interested to hear what you decide to do and how it affects your ability to load Ubuntu.

  19. Dan

    I had the same problem, and used the ubuntu 7.10 server install. I still got the errors, but it let me install. After the install completed, I did..

    sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

    which is still running…I will post back results.

  20. ubuntu_lv

    I’m also having this problem. but the weird thing is the live cd doesn’t boot and the hd install (upgrade from 7.04) does.
    i’m trying to reinstall ubuntu because evry time i start network manger it creases. i’ve got it working in safe mode (some times)
    i hope they fix it. i am addicted to Ubuntu !

  21. Daniel M.

    I have a very similar problem. I have not been able to get a stable installation of ubuntu working since feisty. My initial problem I remember was that I wasn’t even able to boot off the CD. To to this, add irqpoll to the kernel boot parameters when you get to the Ubuntu install screen (I believe F6 or F5 gets you to the editor). It has something to do with the SATA controller I have, it looks like.

  22. Tomcat-TC

    After several tries of installing Ubuntu 7.10 and other derivatives (LinuxMint 4.0) I have finally got it to boot up the cd and install linux. i don’t know what is the exact problem but it has something to do with the HDD, i have managed to install ubuntu 7.10 only on a very old HDD, a 6.4 Gb HDD, no other hdd would work (one Seagate and a WD the other ones i tried). so…. until ubuntu manages to get this fixed i will go with other distros

  23. TimA

    I’ve latched on to the SiS300 onboard graphics mention..I’ve got an old P3-800 that’s been able to run Dapper just fine, but as soon as I move up to another distro it just bombs on me.. font problems, etc. I keep getting the initramfs error on Gutsy as welll.. I think I’ve got about 8 diffferent LiveCDs burned by now! 😛

    Anyways, I’ve got the SiS graphics controller on my MoBo, but also a Sapphire 9250 AGP graphics card plugged in. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not..but I thought I’d mention it.

  24. Perry Post author

    Thanks for chipping in the observation, TimA. I’ve been able to download and install the VMware appliance for Gutsy Gibbon on this system. The problem with that is that even though it runs, it does so intolerably slowly since it needs 512 MB of memory and that’s all my system will hold. Therefore running a virtual instance of Gutsy Gibbon from within Windows just slows the system to a crawl making it unusable. On the upside, I did discover that in the virtual instance of Gutsy Gibbon, I do have sound, so I know that the sound card works under Linux on this system.

    Since I have a separate machine where I have Gutsy running successfully, I think I’ll just abandon the effort to run a dual boot Linux/Windows setup on this Win XP machine. Thanks to you all for your continued comments and attempts to suggest remedies for my problems.

  25. Tomcat-TC

    Hi Perry, I am happy to say that I have found a sollution to this problem (at leat in my case it worked and I got same busybox error as you). So here it is: at boot where you have to choose to install ubuntu press F6 and you get some option there, after quiet spash (or something like that) just add: all_generic_ide, so that it would look something like this: “… quiet spalsh all_generic_ide –“. After you install it edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and also add all_generic_ide here to the boot option. Hope this works for you too, i’ll be waiting your confirmation.

  26. Perry Post author

    Hi, Tomcat-TC. I’m excited to see if your solution works here too. I know the option you mention where you can add items to the command line. If this same solution proves successful for me too, I’ll let you know here, but I may also create a new post to announce the solution. You’ll receive credit for having solved the mystery, of course. 😉

  27. Perry Post author

    Tomcat-TC I’m delighted to report that your solution works for me too! I still have some problems that I’ll talk more about in my next blog post, but the additional boot option parameter you suggested does enable me to boot into the live CD. Thanks for your persistence and your blood-hound work in seeking out the solution.

  28. Tomcat-TC

    I am happy to hear that this also worked for you. After you post your next blog about the other problems you encountered after booting ubuntu put a link here, I’ll try to help as much as possible.

  29. Perry Post author

    The post is the one from yesterday. I mentioned one of the problems I am having in it, but I didn’t mention the other which is that Gutsy doesn’t recognize my sound card when booted into the OS in the Live CD. Ironically, it doesn’t recognize it in the Dell installation I have either, and that is obviously a different sound card. Yet, in the VMware appliance I have of Gutsy, it does find it and will produce sound on my Sony machine.

  30. ubuntu_lv

    Heey again everyone. i also tried tomcat-tcs solution on my install version and the error is gone. it boots just like i recently installed.
    iĺl try the live cd later .

  31. Lee Collier

    I know this is an old thread, came up in google as I’m searching for an answer to an Ubuntu boot problem.

    Just had to mention: Perry – the reason that Gutsy is detecting your sound card in VMware but not running natively is that, as far as I know, VMware presents a very generic sound card to the hosted OS which is of course supported, and then pipes the sound to the Windows sound drivers which support your sound card.


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