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I have failed at installing Ubuntu. I don't know where I went wrong. I'm not very experienced in Linux and I'm sure I've made a simple mistake. Here's the situation.

When I power up the computer, I see the Dell logo and then nothing. The screen is clearly backlit, but it is black. Nothing further happens.

When I power up the computer and hold down Shift, I get the same result.

When I power up the computer and tap F12, I can get to the BIOS (version 1.0.14). I can choose my boot order. I can point towards the drive with Ubuntu on it. I even have a selection called Ubuntu. It doesn't matter which of these I choose, the result is the same.

There are no other operating systems installed on this computer. The OS I did attempt to install was Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. It was working a few days ago, but then I tried to update the firmware to 1.0.14. It said it was successful, but then I ran into this problem.

If I put in the boot flash drive and choose it as a boot option, I will get apparent success. The installation GUI shows up. It says it works. I get the message that Installation is complete and that I should reboot. When it tells me to take the boot drive out, I do so.

The machine is a Dell Inspiron 3891 Intel Core i5-11400. Brand new, straight out of the box. I have made no changes to the insides of this machine.

I tried installing Ubuntu to the 256 GB SSD. I tried installing to the 1TB HDD. Same result.

About two days into this troubleshooting process, I lost my temper and starting reformatting everything. In retrospect, maybe this was not the best move.

I tried booting off the boot flash drive and running boot-repair.

If I power the machine while tapping Esc, I do get GNU GRUB version 2.04. However, nothing seems to work from here. I found instructions that said I should type C at this point, but I got error: can't find command 'C'.

I've run the Dell SupportAssist On-Board Diagnostics. It says all tests passed successfully.

Yesterday I found an Ubuntu website that displays all the "Ubuntu certified hardware". It lists the Dell Inspiron Core i7 and the Core i9, but it does not list the Core i5-11400. I would give up at this point, but I did see it work at least once. My initial attempt worked great. I only ran into trouble when I tried to update the firmware. I KNOW this system can run this OS.

I tried downgrading the BIOS to 1.0.13. This did not help. I tried downgrading to BIOS 1.0.12 and I got an error that this downgrade was not supported. I verified in the BIOS setup that BIOS downgrade is allowed, but it won't allow this. I don't know what BIOS was active when I first bought the machine, I didn't think to look.

I originally burned the flash drive with ubuntu-20.04.2.0-desktop-amd64.iso with balenaEtcher using the default settings. I then tried the same ISO but using Rufus 3.13.1730, and burning the image as a dd. Its interesting that I get a little farther witih this. I can install the OS and then it will boot to the text screen that lets me choose Ubuntu, but then it dies immediately afterwards. It dies in the same fashion - backlight is on and slightly flickering, otherwise featureless black screen.

Last night I noticed that Ubuntu now has 20.04.3. I tried downloading that ISO and burning it to my flash drive as a dd using my Rufus software. This flash drive won't even allow me to install. I can get into the BIOS and choose the flash drive as the boot medium, but when it tries to boot from the flash drive I get the same freeze. Dell logo nice and clear, then freeze on a backlit black screen. I did verify the checksum for this iso.

There's no urgency to this question. I am taking a Linux class, but this problem has nothing to do with that class. I'm doing this for the learning experience. Well, that's not exactly true. I started this project for the learning experience. Now I'm refusing to give up out of sheer stubbornness.

I'm lost. I don't know where to go from here. Can anyone offer advice please?

Updated to add: I tried removing the CMOS battery to set the nvram back to factory defaults. I don't think it worked. When I powered the machine back on. I did get an error that the time was not set. However, the BIOS still had SATA set to AHCI and SecureBoot was still off. I am positive that when I first got this machine, SATA was set to RAID and SecureBoot was on.

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    If you boot into a live environment, can you make sure the partition is flagged as bootable? Sep 4 '21 at 16:13
  • Right now the OS is on the SSD. Gparted shows partition 1 as a FAT32 EFI system partition. the flags say boot and esp. Partition 2 is ext4 and does not have any flags.
    – Snapdragon
    Sep 4 '21 at 16:25
  • When powering on, do you see the Grub boot menu? Have you tried resetting BIOS options ("Load defaults")? Have you tried disabling secure boot? Sep 4 '21 at 16:39
  • No, I see only the Dell logo and then it switches to a black screen. If I hold down ESC while booting I can get to something that says GNU GRUB version 2.04, but it doesn't appear to do anything from here. Secure Boot is off. I tried reloading the defaults on the BIOS. I'm about to take the CMOS battery out and try that
    – Snapdragon
    Sep 4 '21 at 16:42

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