Laptop / BackTrack Linux Install

16 01 2013

So, the laptop arrived, exactly when expected (thanks Amazon), and it seems that the timing of the purchase was actually pretty good – the model is no longer on sale through Amazon.
It seems that 2013 is the year of the demise of the Netbook form factor, so retailers are getting rid of their existing stock and no (at least, very few) new models will be built.
The idea of this laptop was always to install BackTrack Linux on it – I’m learning about Penetration Testing as part of my role, in order to help defend my network against hackers.
There is plenty of info out there about installing BackTrack – lots of people have issues with it in terms of graphics, but to be fair this isn’t specific to BT, and seems to be the case with a lot of distributions.
The issue I had was that after installing the OS, the screen would go black after displaying “Ubuntu 10.4”.. I couldn’t even get a command line prompt. This is a very common problem. I spent around 4 hours scouring the web for answers to this, and through trial and error, managed to get not only the cmd prompt, but successfully get to the GUI. I heavily documented my steps during the build process, and I have just reinstalled the OS, adding notes where relevant. This process took less than 30 minutes, and is below. It is more for my future reference than anything – no warranty implied / responsibility taken for screwed up installs as a result of following this.

  1. Boot to the BackTrack LiveDVD
  2. On the Samsung NC110P I had to disable the “Fast BIOS” setting in the BIOS, otherwise the machine boots from HDD before initialising the external DVD drive
  3. Press “Return” when prompted, then “Return” again when the graphics options are offered
  4. Choose option 9 – the highest resolution VESA option. The reason I worked out the fix was that I noticed that the higher resolution options in this menu were all VESA instead of VGA
  5. When at the command line, type “startx” to load the GUI
  6. With BT 5R3, which is the distribution I was using, and the latest at time of writing, there is a shortcut to “Install Backtrack” on the desktop. Start the install from here
  7. Go though the installation options – it’s pretty self-explanatory for anyone who’s installed an OS before
  8. Once installation has completed, reboot, waiting to be prompted before removing the external DVD drive
  9. When the OS booted on the Samsung NC110P, I noticed that the scrolling text during boot was displayed at a much lower resolution than when boooting from the LiveDVD and selecting option 9, as per the above
  10. “Ubuntu 10.4” displays, and then disappears, leaving a blank screen
  11. At this stage, I had to manually power down the machine due to no display
  12. Boot from the LiveDVD again, following the instructions above to get to the command prompt. Default login details are root / toor
  13. Type “mkdir /mnt/hdd” to create a mount point for the Hard Drive
  14. Type “mount /dev/sda1 mnt/hdd”
  15. Type cd “/mnt/hdd/etc/default”
  16. Backup the grub file – cp grub grub.old
  17. Edit the Grub file – “vi grub” – “I” to enter “Insert” mode
  18. Find the line containing “splash vga=791” (or some variation of it) and replace everything after “splash” with xforcevesa
  19. Press “Escape”, then “:wq” to write the changes and quit the app
  20. Enter “cd /boot/grub” and backup boot.cfg – “cp boot.cfg boot.cfg.old”
  21. Open boot.cfg with vi – “vi boot.cfg”
  22. Make the same change, replacing everything after “Splash” (a reference to vga again in this case) with “xforcevesa”
  23. Unmount the hard disk – “umount /mnt/hdd” after using “cd /” to change directory to “/” – if you’re still inside a folder on the hard disk, it’s classed as “in use” so will not unmount
  24. Enter “reboot”, removing the optical drive when prompted

This should get you a login prompt once booted, and using “Startx” will get you in to the GUI environment.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: