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Dell Inspiron 9400 Ubuntu 7.04 (Fiesty) X won’t start & bcm43xx_microcode5.fw missing!

Posted on : 13-06-2007 | By : Brandon W. King | In : Computers/IT, Linux, Systems Administration

Tags: , , , , ,


If you have Dell Inspiron 9400 and are having trouble with Ubuntu or Kubuntu 7.04 (Fiesty) and you are getting the following errors or behavior, then you have come to the right place (Note: End of post has details of the hardware in this Dell Inspiron 9400):

bcm43xx: Error: Microcode “bcm43xx_microcode5.fw” not available or load failed


Failed to start the X server:
Fatal server error: no screens found

Failed to start the X server problem:
Even if you manage to get the Ubuntu installed without getting X to start from the Ubuntu live cd, you will still need to fix the problem once it is installed. Here is how to you can get the Ubuntu live cd to work (assuming you have the ATI X1400 graphics card):

  1. Boot from the Ubuntu 7.04 live CD and wait for the message saying X could not start. Get through the error messages until it drops you into a bash shell.
  2. Use your favorite text editor (or nano if you can’t find yours) to uncomment the universe line from /etc/apt/sources.list: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
  3. sudo apt-get update
  4. sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx #Install the ati 3d accelerated driver
  5. sudo aticonfig –initial #creates a new xorg.conf setup for ati cards
  6. sudo modprobe fglrx #loads the ati fglrx driver
  7. sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart #(for ubuntu) or sudo /etc/init.d/kdm restart #(for kubuntu)
  8. X should now start. Once you install you can repeat the same steps to get it working for the installed copy.

bcm43xx: Error: Microcode “bcm43xx_microcode5.fw” not available or load failed problem:
This is the error with the wireless card driver which requires firmware that is not installed by default. There is an easy way to install the firmware. Just install the bcm43xx-fwcutter package. It will ask you if you want it to automatically download install the firmware you need. Just say yes and it will do all the work.

  1. Follow step 2 from the previous section.
  2. sudo apt-get install bcm43xx-fwcutter #Make sure to tell it to download and install the firmware.

This Dell Inspiron 9400 Specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7200
  • 17 in UltraSharp TrueLife Wide-screen WUXGA (1920×1200 max resolution)
  • 2GB DRR2 533MHz RAM
  • 256MB Ati Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics card
  • 120 GB 5400RPM SATA HD
  • Integrated 10/100 Network Card (Broadcom BCM4401-B0 100Base-TX (from lspci))
  • Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Mini-card (Broadcom Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN (from lspci))
  • 8X DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Integrated High Def. Audio (Intel 82801G High Def. Audio Controller (from lspci); works great by the way.

Comments (21)

I owe you a beer, dude, this worked beautifully!

I am glad it worked! Thanks for posting the comment to let me know that it was useful.

Worked great for me too!

Great to hear! I will continue to post fixes like this as I discover them. Thank you guys for letting me know it was useful to you.

Just followed this guide and got it working on mine, thanks a lot.

My laptop was not connected to the net but my PC was, so I downloaded the xorg-driver package and saved it to usb.

I then inserted the usb into the laptop and the system said it was located at /dev/sdb1 (you can check with the command ‘dmesg’)

I then did:

mkdir sdb1
sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sdb1 sdb1

sudo dpkg -i xorg-driver…

Then follow the rest!

9. It looks like you only you can solve my problem . I am having the same problem means when I reboot my live cd to install ubuntu (7:10) it give me message ‘bcm43xx_microcode5.fx not available or load failed’. I know you have provided solution for this but I didn’t get your step2 (Use your favorite text editor (or nano if you can’t find yours) to uncomment the universe line from /etc/apt/sources.list: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources/list ) means what do you mean by text editor and how can I open that when my installation is not fixed. I am new to linux and this is first time I am working with any operating system. I am sorry if it sounds silly to you. I don’t know what my lan card configuration is and how to find out. I am giving details of my system as below (which I found through dell shipment notice)
Inspiron E1505, Intel Core 2 Duo processor T5300 (2MB/1.73GHz/533MHz), 2GB, DDR2, 533MHz 2 Dimm for Inspiron 6400/E1505, 256MB ATI MOBILITY RADEON X1400 HyperMemory, for Inspiron 6400/E1505, 120GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive for Inspiron 6400/E1505, Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, English, Integrated 10/100 Network Cardand Modem, for Inspiron, Dell Wireless 1390 802.11b/g Mini Card (54Mbps), for Inspiron 6400/E1505, Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Module (2.0+EDR), Vista, for Inspiron 9400/E1705,6400/E1505XPS M1710,
Can you plz plz help me on this. I am trying

Hi abhishek, I am glad to hear you are trying Linux and asking for help is always a good idea.

In step 2, you need to tell Ubuntu’s package system to use the “universe” repository in addition to the main repository. This will allow you to install additional software (packages).

You do this by editing the sources.list file… Type the following to edit the file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Scroll down until you a line with universe towards the end… something like:

#deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy universe multiverse
#deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy universe multivers

Delete the “#” character before each of the above lines and then save the file (ctrl+o) and then exit (ctrl+x).

Also, you may want to check out a book called “Beginning Ubuntu Linux, Second Edition” by Keir Thomas. And/or check out https://help.ubuntu.com/ for more information to help you get started. Let me know how it goes.


Thanks for your quick reply Brandon. but where to type this ‘sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list’ as my ubuntu is not installed yet. after inserting cd one screen comes up and ask me how to install. I chose default option (install) then black screen comes up and it start writing something (i don’t know the meaning of those but its like loading) then after 2 minutes i get this message ‘bcm46xx_microcode5.fx is not availiable or load failed’) do i need to write above command in prompt?

Hi abhishek, your welcome. Yes, you will need to type the ‘sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list’ in a command prompt. If you are not getting to a command prompt, the easiest solution (if I recall correctly; being awhile since I have had to do this), is to go into the bios of your computer and disable the wireless, which will bypass this error for now. Then you install Ubuntu, then follow the instructions for installing the wireless driver and after that is done, turn on your wireless in the bios.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Normal Ubuntu is very good at detecting and setting up drivers for hardware, but many of the wireless drivers are proprietary, and therefore are not included by default in Linux. This is the problem you have run into.

Hi Brandon
I guess i m not getting through command prompt then i went into bisa setting and disabled my wireless setting and bluetooth setting. This time it didn’t showed me bcm43xx error. it showed me that Gnome is starting then one screen came and vanished immediatly and i went back to black screen. I noted down few lines which i m describing below.
Cat: /varlib/acpi-support/system-version: no such file or directory… [OK]
cat: /var/lib/acpi-support/bios-version : no such file or directory… [ok]
*starting VESA state… [ok]
*Loading ACPI modules… [ok]
*Starting ACPI services… [ok]
*starting system logdaemon… [ok]
*doing wacom setup… [ok]
*starting kernal log daemon… [ok]
*starting system messsare bus dubs… [ok]
*staring newwork connection manger networkmanger… [ok]
*staring event dispacher networkmangerdispacher… [ok]
*starting GNOME display manger… [ok]
*starting pcriodic comman d schedulr cond… [ok]
*check battery state… [ok]
*running local boot scripts (/etc/rc.local) [ok]

i waited around 20 minutes after this but notthing happend.
i also gave sudo nano /etc/apt/sources/list here but nothing happend. do i suppose to give this command here. I guess this is not command prompt right?

can you plz tell me what’s wrong ?


Hi Brandon,
I downloaded the mention book and have started reading it. this book really looks good. Thanks for reffering me such a good book at least for beginner :).

Hi abhishek, It looks like I had a typo in my post… the command is suppose to be:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

and NOT:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources/list

I’ll have to fix the original post. Also, it looks like you are having the other error “X won’t start” part of my post, so if you follow those directions, you should be able to get past this latest error.

I am glad you are enjoying the book! I end up introducing people to Linux (Kubuntu specifically) fairly often and am always trying to find better ways to introduce people to the topic. Any feedback you have on what helps/helped you would be greatly appreciated.

I am glad you are sticking with this even though it has been challenging. I’ll do my best to help you get going. If the fixing “X won’t start” seems to long and you would rather not attempt it, you can always download the Ubuntu Alternative install cd, which would have an ugly but usable text based (no gui) installer… Then again, you will need to follow the instructions in the first half of my post to get X.org/Gnome working (guessing from what you described).

Ok, let me know how it goes and if you have any questions or get stuck.


Hi Brandon,
before looking into your blog i had alomost made my mind to give up in ubuntu. ( i guess most ppl do the same because of complexity in linux installation).

After talking to you and seeing your blog i have decided not to give up on this. you are really doing good work keep it up. i will again try to install ubuntu today evening.

Hi Brandon,
One question how to get command prompt(before ubuntu installs) where i have to write the command given by you?
I guess press ESC and press enter, is that right ?? plz let me know ?

Hi Brandon,
Thanks for your suggestion. I successfully installed ubuntu with alternate cd. Do i need to run your command ? I opened terminal after getting logged and typed all your command (for failed to start x server )
but it seems that from 5th step its not working. can you plz tell me what’s wrong? i am attaching dump as below.
Can you plz help me on this?

rajesh@rajesh-pc:~$ sudo aticonfig –initial
Uninitialised file found, configuring.
Using /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Saved back-up to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.original-0
*** glibc detected *** aticonfig: munmap_chunk(): invalid pointer: 0x00007fffa61779e2 ***
======= Backtrace: =========
======= Memory map: ========
00400000-00420000 r-xp 00000000 08:06 982486 /usr/bin/aticonfig
00520000-00526000 rw-p 00020000 08:06 982486 /usr/bin/aticonfig
00526000-00547000 rw-p 00526000 00:00 0 [heap]
2b0404931000-2b040494e000 r-xp 00000000 08:06 280337 /lib/ld-2.6.1.so
2b040494e000-2b0404952000 rw-p 2b040494e000 00:00 0

7fffa6163000-7fffa6179000 rw-p 7fffa6163000 00:00 0 [stack]
ffffffffff600000-ffffffffff601000 r-xp 00000000 00:00 0 [vdso]
Aborted (core dumped)
rajesh@rajesh-pc:~$ sudo aticonfig –initial
Warning: Could not find configuration file
Please copy configuration file template to /etc/X11
rajesh@rajesh-pc:~$ sudo aticonfig — initial
Warning: Could not find configuration file
Please copy configuration file template to /etc/X11
rajesh@rajesh-pc:~$ sudo modprobe fglrx
Not loading fglrx module; not used in /etc/X11/xorg.conf

after reboot it worked. Now all seems to be working perfectly ok. Thanks for all your suggestion. It really helped me a lot.

Hi Brandon,
The learner guide you reffered me for ubuntu is really good. Thank you very much for reffering me such a good book.

I am really glad it worked! Enjoy Ubuntu! I’m glad that you are finding that book very useful, I will recommend it again in the future to other people. =o)

Hi Brandon, Can we install beryl on ubuntu. I have almost same configuration as your laptop (except 15.4″). I have read the book mentioned by you but it says x1400 is not supported ie. x1400 is not in the list of supported driver.

Hi abhishek, as long as the ATI fglrx driver is installed beryl should work… except I believe Beryl has been merged into Compiz Fusion.

And Ubuntu now includes Compiz Fusion in the one of the repositories… try typing “apt-cache search compiz” on the command line to see the list of packages.

Just as a warning, it is possible to make your system unstable, so just make sure you experiment with it when you have time to debug things if something goes wrong. It’s probably a lot more stable compared to the first time I tried it.


Thanks. I will try to install it today and will let you know how it works :).

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