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.

Plymouth problems

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.


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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

5 responses to “Singing the plymouth blues”

  1. Roderick Wright says :

    The “workaround”, I am having a problem with the workaround, as there is no grub window available for me at boot, thus not being able to enter “nomodeset” at first reboot. Please advise as to how you got grub to even appear, my computer goes straight to the loading of the os, where I get the hung screen and nothing else. Your help would be much appreciated. I would like to test this beta 2 release to see what Opensuse has to offer. I really enjoy your writings so far and can’t wait for your next post. Thanks.


    • Neil Rickert says :

      For me, the first boot went straight to the operating system. I had to force power off. The second boot went to the grub screen, where I could add “nomodeset” as a boot parameter.

      Here’s another alternative. Check the patch file for this bug. It is a short text file that you could print out, if needed. Then boot the DVD to rescue mode. Mount the root directory for the newly installed system to “/mnt”. Then edit the file “/mnt
      /lib/systemd/system/YaST2-Second-Stage.service” and manually edit in the changes for the patch.

      In case you are not familiar with patch format, the lines beginning “+” are the changed lines. In this case, add ” plymouth-start.service” to the end of that first “After” line. And then insert

      ExecStartPre=-/usr/bin/plymouth --hide-splash

      as a new line, just after the “Environment” line.

      Then just reboot normally (“shutdown -r now”), and you won’t have to monkey with the grub menu.


  2. Roderick Wright says :

    Thank you much, the alternative method did indeed work for me. I am testing the operating system as I type this thank you note. I will be keeping an eye on your writings, thanks again.


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