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- 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.

  • 1
    If you boot into a live environment, can you make sure the partition is flagged as bootable? Sep 4, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


I have been having a similar problem with an Inspiron 3656 and 20.04.3. The problem in my case seems to be related to the kernel not handling the AMD video card properly.

Adding “nomodeset” in the GRUB is a recommended diagnostic step, but I was having difficulty editing the GRUB.

My intermediate solution has been:

  1. Do an install of 20.04.3 from the USB.
  2. Reboot the computer from the USB into “Try Linux”.
  3. Download and install BOOT-REPAIR, and run that program.

That added nomodeset to the version of GRUB that had been installed and made changes to the boot loader, so the computer could boot from the installed version of 20.04.3, but it limited the graphics.

I am still working on fixing that part, but the computer is at least operable in Linux.

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