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.