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Installed Ubuntu off a USB and system loaded and correctly installed the first time. Used the desktop GUI and loaded Firefox but when clicked back to 'return to desktop' or the like, the monitor mashed with multi colour pixels and crashed the OS in a frozen state.

Since then every attempt to load has ended with:

A) A black screen with a flashing cursor (unable to type anything)

B) The Ubuntu loading screen with the dots changing colors and when I press escape I get the error:

Unable to open '/dev/sda' 
Stdin: Not a typewriter

Sometimes I can get to the Busybox console if I wait long enough/am lucky enough.

[Edit 1: Following these great instructions ( My computer boots to a black screen, what options do I have to fix it?) it seems I need to boot to Grub by pressing Shift on boot up and making some changes.]

[Edit 2: I personally can't get grub open no matter how much I hold down shift, try mashing shift, etc, aparently it's the right shift you need to press. Best bet seems to be to install a Grub Boot Disk. Don't have access to any other Ubuntu worskstations, will attempt to burn this as an iso to a CD. and use the CD to boot]

[Edit 3: Super Grub worked! But didn't report good things.

Ran 'Detect any Operating System'

error: unknown filesystem

Ran 'List Devices/Partitions'

Device hd0: No known filesystem detected..
  Partition hd0,msdos5: No known filesystem detected..
  Partition hd0,msdos1: Filesystem type ext*..

[Edit 4: Final Update What I think is happening is that my hard drive had two partitions on it. The first partition was a few hundred megs, the second with the rest is where Ubuntu installed itself to.

Im thinking that after it crashed the first time due to possibly not having the Nvidia drivers installed or otherwise just from reading bad sectors from this 4 year old Laptops harddrive that it then screwed the Master Boot Record or suchlike.

I found a linux version called Parted Magic which lets you run a version of Linux and repartion the drive.

I reset the master boot record using this tool and it didn't help and I think I am finally out of ideas and ready to give up.]

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Do edit the title to mention the version of Ubuntu you are using - 12.04 or 12.10 - this might be helpful for people who try to answer your question :) – Aditya Dec 24 '12 at 9:01
Hi Evolve, can you check the following post out and let me know if it helps:… – Luis Alvarado Apr 19 '13 at 20:42
@LuisAlvarado great post and something I definitley would have read and found interesting at the time. Unfortunatley I think my issue came on a few levels. Firstly when I installed Ubuntu I didn't realise that it would need the drivers, I managed to navigate around the desktop for 2 minutes before it crashed with weird screen issues. Following that I could not launch any form of recovery mode or reinstall Ubuntu so I think in the end maybe the lack of drivers caused a crash and the crash corrupted something critical on the laptop. So my issue became more about reinstalling ubuntu. – Evolve Apr 23 '13 at 6:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Replace your hard drive. You need a new one based on your edit 4. It would appear that you have bad sectors at the location of the partition table (first 63 blocks or so as I recall) If you have any necessary data on the drive you should look for answers regarding data recovery here.

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