Singing the plymouth blues
Plymouth is software that some linux systems use to provide the splash screen during bootup. It was present, and causing problems, with opensuse 12.2 beta1. And now it is causing different problems with 12.2 beta2. This post will describe the problems that I have seen.
Note that, apart from these plymouth woes, once 12.2 beta2 is up and running most things seem to be working well. There have been reports of a Yast bug. I have not personally run into that (yet), though others have.
I installed Beta2 using the 64bit DVD image (installing from a USB flash drive). The install mostly went well. I installed 4 times, largely experimenting with the plymouth problems. It was on the reboot after install that the problems began.
In a typical install (as with earlier releases), on the first reboot the Yast installer is automatically started to complete some final configuration steps. And that is what apparently does not work. What I found, on reboot, was that the system seemed hung. The first steps of the reboot were fine. It did prompt the encryption key for my encrypted partitions. After that, there was a basically green screen with a progress bar. The progress bar made little progress, and the rate of screen changes was slow. I did not find a way of escaping from this situation, other than with a forced power off.
After the forced power-off, I decided to reboot into failsafe mode. Unfortunately, there is no failsafe mode for Beta2. There is a recovery mode, but that is more primitive. In previous, booting into failsafe mode would at least allow Yast to complete the final install steps in curses mode. With the recovery boot, all you get is a prompt for the root password and then a root shelll prompt.
After some experimentation, I found a workaround. Roughly speaking, it is to create an old fashioned failsafe mode. Actually, all I did was booted but set “nomodeset” as an additional kernel parameter on the boot screen. That avoided the hang. The Yast installer came up, albeit with many visual artifacts on the screen, and it completed the job. I manually forced a reboot. Then I rebooted again without the “nomodeset” and the system came up correctly.
Testing with the live CD
I later tested with the live CD. If I allow the live CD to boot normally, that works. However, if I select “Installation” on the boot screen, I finish up in the same hung plymouth screen. If I select “Installation” but also append “nomodeset” to boot line, then that does get me into the installer but with some visual artifacts on the screen. It looks to me as if plymouth is still running and is creating those artifacts. I have seen this on two different computers with different graphic hardware.