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I'm currently having a problem with my bootup process that is growing progressively worse as time goes on:

While booting, it does a few minutes of hard-drive reading. During that, instead of showing a boot splash screen, it shows various dashes and dots, as if the video card isn't recognizing. The splash screen actually has colors similar to the splash screen (purple), it simply is garbled. It then does a few minutes of hard-drive reads, and if I leave it long enough, sometimes it boots into the desktop (and auto-logs-in). Sometimes, unfortunately, it just hangs on that garbled screen and reads from the hard-drive forever.

Notably, I've also stopped being able to access grub during bootup (perhaps it is just not displayed correctly by the video, hard to tell).

This is a symptom that has grown over the course of various ubuntu upgrades, at least I suspect that the upgrade process is leaving behind cruft. So, is there a safe way for me to "refresh" the boot system so that it is clean, new, fast, and reliable? For example, to test out a cleanly configured boot, make sure that it works (try before I buy), and then apply it to the system to eliminate as much of this problem as possible?

Here is the requested bootchart without the advantage of a packed boot: enter image description here

Here is a bootchart with the advantage of a previously packed boot: enter image description here

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Remove all the *pack files in /var/lib/ureadahead, reboot. After the desktop has loaded, wait a minute or two. Then reboot again and take a bootchart. Add the bootchart to your question. – htorque Jun 24 '11 at 17:58
No pack files in that directory, so sure, I'll take a bootchart & add it shortly. – Kzqai Jun 24 '11 at 18:25
There should be pack files (at least one) after you booted and waited for a bit. If not, do you have ureadahead installed (run apt-cache policy ureadahead in a terminal)? – htorque Jun 24 '11 at 18:27
Ureadahead is installed: ureadahead: Installed: 0.100.0-4.1.3 There weren't any pack files in this boot, I've installed bootchart and will check after uploading the bootchart image. – Kzqai Jun 24 '11 at 18:48
Is your system on an ext2/3/4 partition (AFAIK ureadahead only works with those filesystems)? – htorque Jun 24 '11 at 19:14

It is simpler and quicker to do a fresh install.

If you don't have a separate /home partition, backup your data, through a livecd and an external disk, for example.

Then do a fresh install, with a separate /home partition, or using the existing one.

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Well, a clean install implies reconfiguring of lots of desktop software, which is hours and hours that I don't want to lose. I'm alright with a partial investment of time on freshening up software involved with boot, but I don't want to have to redo nearly everything. – Kzqai Jun 24 '11 at 17:56
You can actually reinstall without wiping your /home even if it's on the same partition as / if you're careful: IIRC you have to use manual partitioning and uncheck the 'format filesystem' checkbox. I'm sure there's documentation that covers this; I just cannot find it. I know about the option because I've seen Ubuntu developers mentioning it in mailing list discussions. – Marius Gedminas Feb 18 '12 at 2:30

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