Signal out of range on Soyo Topaz S

November 25, 2014

I recently upgraded my monitor from an old Sharp 12″ to a Soyo Topaz S. Things seemed to be going well with the new monitor until I rebooted my Ubuntu Server (which was on 12.04 LTS). When I did that, I got the message “Signal Out of Range” from the monitor, and I couldn’t see what was being displayed.

According to a number of sources, this was because my monitor was being detected incorrectly and choosing the wrong resolution or colour depth. Lots of articles explained that you can change the mode in the config file /etc/default/grub.

To start with, I booted SysRescCD with the option gfxpayload=640×480. This got me to the point where I could see the file system, do an fsck (I’d gone 327 days without one) and mount my root drive in /mnt.

Naturally, when I did that, I discovered the file /mnt/etc/default/grub didn’t exist. That’s because I had upgraded originally from 8.04 LTS and that had never upgraded my grub to grub2.

But at least now I could ssh into my server again. I updated, then upgraded to 14.04.1 LTS because hey, the server needed it anyway. Immediately after doing that, I saw an error with every command, “no talloc stackframe at ../source3/param/loadparm.c, leaking memory”. The quick fix for that (as described in this ubuntuforums thread) was to run pam-auth-update and remove “SMB password synchronization”. As far as I can tell, that hasn’t changed anything with respect to what passwords are used for my shares.

Then I followed the instructions to upgrade from grub to grub2.

After that, I still couldn’t see my screen when I booted… but I had an /etc/default/grub. So I edited it, uncommented the line:


and had a booting system again. Yay! Eventually I figured out that I could go up to 1024×768 with no problems.

After that I realized I couldn’t do anything with the grub menu. I booted into the system, but couldn’t choose the OS to load with my USB keyboard.

So the next time I booted, I had to switch “USB Keyboard Support” in my BIOS from “OS” to “BIOS”. That fixed the grub menu problem.

Backing up a disk with SysRescCD

June 20, 2010

The documentation for the very good SysRescCD has changed, so I can’t find the standard “here’s how to back up a disk” using sfdisk and partimage anymore.

Luckily, it got saved here:

For future reference, this is a good way to back up a disk.

  1. Boot the machine with the disk using SysRescCD.
  2. Mount a big NFS/CIFS drive.
  3. Copy the MBR:
    dd if=/dev/sda of=/cifs/sda.mbr count=1 bs=512
  4. Copy the partition table from the drive:
     sfdisk -d /dev/sda > /cifs/sda.sfdisk
  5. Run partimage on each partition on the drive
  6. Finally, for good measure,
    dd if=/dev/sda | gzip > /cifs/sda.dd.gz

You can use kill -USR1 pid on the dd process id (not the gzip process id) to see progress.

Most of the restore is straightforward. sfdisk can take its output as input; partimage has restore built in. To decompress the gzip dd image, use:

gzip -dc /cifs/sda.dd.gz | dd of=/dev/sda

Incidentally, a good site for dd information is here:


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