Friday, December 22, 2006

VGA=771 parameter for Debian installation.

So it turns out that in the end my installation of Debian Sarge on my HP Pavilion ZE2000 laptop could be done by using the parameter VGA=771.

I have been trying to install a Debian Sarge distribution on this laptop and encountered the problem that after the first steps of the installation the system would freeze and give a black screen.

Consulting the help files gave the hint that starting with the parameter VGA=771 could bypass a common laptop problem of not recognizing the screen and resolution type during boot.

The `vga=' Argument:
Note that this is not really a boot argument. It is an option that is interpreted by LILO and not by the kernel like all the other boot arguments are. However its use has become so common that it deserves a mention here. It can also be set via using rdev -v or equivalently vidmode on the vmlinuz file. This allows the setup code to use the video BIOS to change the default display mode before actually booting the Linux kernel. Typical modes are 80x50, 132x44 and so on. The best way to use this option is to start with vga=ask which will prompt you with a list of various modes that you can use with your video adapter before booting the kernel. Once you have the number from the above list that you want to use, you can later put it in place of the `ask'. For more information, please see the file linux/Documentation/svga.txt that comes with all recent kernel versions.

Note that newer kernels (v2.1 and up) have the setup code that changes the video mode as an option, listed as Video mode selection support so you need to enable this option if you want to use this feature.
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