Blank Screen after Setup is Inspecting your computer's hardware configuration in Windows XP

Monday, September 3, 2007
It's been a little while since I've been able to write, but this one hit me again this weekend, and again I spent hours trying to figure out what was going on.

The symptom is this:
Blank Screen occurs when "Setup is Inspecting your Computer's Hardware Configuration"
or
Blank Screen before Setup even starts.
Further, waiting it out does nothing. The drive eventually spins down and the PC is unresponsive. Of course, the monitor never goes to DPMS mode, so it looks like the video card is still receiving a signal.

This saga was part of my other adventure.

The cause of the black screen is simple:
Windows XPs setup utility cannot properly read the hard disk partition tables. I'm not sure if it chokes on every linux installation, or the specific LVM setup I had done with Fedora 7, but the hang immediately after setup starts is usually always unreadable partition tables.

A couple of fixes to try:
Unplug every hard drive and USB, Compact Flash, SD, or other "hard drive like" device, except for the one you intend to boot from and install the operating system to. Try to rerun setup. If successful, plug in a drive at a time after Windows is installed and updated.
If that doesn't work, you still have options, but the only ones I can present to you will cause your data to be destroyed, so here's hoping you have a backup.
  1. Download Knoppix (or a Linux based live CD that comes ... at least ... with fdisk).
  2. Burn the CD/DVD on another computer.
  3. Boot Knoppix ... wait.
  4. When the GUI comes up (or perhaps "if" the GUI comes up), hit CTRL+ALT+F2, this will get you to a "root shell" in text mode. (The reason I prefer this route is that it doesn't require a working mouse, which I didn't have since Knoppix couldn't initialize it)
  5. type "fdisk /dev/sda", if the hard disk you're dealing with is SCSI or SATA, otherwise type "fdisk /dev/hda" if the hard disk you're dealing with is IDE/EIDE/PATA.
  6. type "d" (for delete), hit enter.
  7. If you have one partition, type "w" (writes out the partition table), and shut down. If you have more than one, type a partition number and repeat until all partitions are gone. You can verify that all partitions are deleted by hitting "p", and seeing if any show up. Note that after you hit "w", you're going to lose all of the data on the partitions that you have deleted.
  8. Rerun Setup.
If you're comfortable with partitioning, skip step 6 and start by hitting "p". This will list out all partitions on that drive. You may find a particular partition that looks suspect. Try deleting the suspect partition and leaving the ones that look good, then rerun setup.

Of course, you've booted to a Knoppix CD, so you might try using some of the tools that are included with Knoppix to diagnose your problems, recover some of your data and copy it to another computer or drive, or do any other number of recovery/hardware tests. In my case, the data was already gone, so wiping out the partitions was an easy choice.

12 comments :

Samuka said...

Worked. Because this, I hate Windows.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Buddy! You saved my day.

Anonymous said...

Saved me as well. Get info thanks!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Matthew. I used the Knoppix option. My Windows installation is now in progress.
Stephen

Anonymous said...

thanx for the info.

Anonymous said...

After deleting my fedora 9 partition. Windows XP CD works again. Thanks for your help

Anonymous said...

After deleting my fedora 9 partition. Windows XP CD works again. Thanks for your help

Anonymous said...

Was stranded in fedora for 2 weeks, am back to xp(tears)

Anonymous said...

Thank sooooo much! It worked.
Just wanna say i didn't have to sweep clean my hard drive, just deleted the old windows, existing ubuntu and swap partitions, leaving everything else intact in my other (music/movies/etc) partition using a Mint Live-cd. Of course a complete delete and repartition is always a good idea! :)
Thnx very much again!

ionut said...

tested !! really worked for me on a old desktop pc (i just changed the hdd to se if there is a problem with the partitons )i formated the old hhd drive after i instaled win xp on the new hdd

Mihai Radu said...

Thank you very much. It works!

khuram said...

didnt work for me tried both command says kernel not found