Booting problem: MP-BIOS bug 8254 error message

Q I bought what I thought was the greatest money-for-value-wise PC, and I still think it is; one thing bothers me though. When I start up the PC and select Ubuntu from Grub, a message is printed telling me that there is MP-BIOS bug 8254 and some timer is not connected. Also, booting shows the text

MP-BIOS bug: 8254 timer not connected to IO_APIC
Kernel panic - not syncing: OI_APIC + timer doesn't work!

I searched on Google and Ubuntu's help, but all I could find was a bare bone description that my timer doesn't work. I am guessing it has to do something with my NVIDIA 7300LE (I knew that cheap things turn to be expensive in the end), but what exactly? Another fact that could help probably. Every thing I tried in 3D is very fragile and buggy on my machine. Do I need to buy a better video card?!

A This is not caused by your video card, but may well be the cause of your video problems. APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller) handles timing and interrupts for various components on your motherboard, including disk controllers and video card slots. It is common for computers to have ACPI controllers that break the specifications, many manufacturers consider "it works with Windows" to be an acceptable alternative to following the standards.

You have already discovered that you need to append the keyword noapic to the boot parameters with live CDs, but you also need to do this when booting from your hard disk. Before you do that, check the manufacturers website for a BIOS update, it may be that this has already been fixed in a later firmware. If not, you need to alter the boot menu to always use noapic when booting. Ubuntu doesn't include a configuration program for the boot process, so you will have to edit the configuration file manually. Press Alt-F2 and type

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

This will open the boot menu configuration file in an editor. Most of the lines start with a #, these are comments that you can ignore. Go to the first line starting with title; this is the first option on the boot menu. You need to change the first kernel line below this, add noapic to the end of that line, making sure there is a space between the previous last word and noapic, and save the file. When you reboot, the BIOS error message should not appear and your 3D graphics should be more stable. You may notice other improvements, because buggy APIC firmware can cause all sorts of things from poor disk drive performance to clocks running at the wrong speed.

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