Can’t install any operating system anymore (neither Win nor any Linux from live system)

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Problem :

I’m encountering severe issues trying to reset my system to a working condition and I ran out of options what else to do. I’ll try to describe my problem as short but precise as possible.


First off: I have a new Dell Inspiron 3793 (few weeks) and wiped the Windows installation from it right away and installed a fresh Linux Mint 19.3 onto it. The past weekend I treat my laptop with an additional 8 GB of RAM (the manufacturers differ but the specs are exactly the same, I made sure of that). Yesterday I wanted to check whether a certain game could run on my system and since it is a Windows only game I decided to install Windows 10 alongside Linux. Since I put my system and data partitions at the beginning and the EFI partition at the end of my SSD (which may be not the best of decisions) the Windows installer warned me that I had an unusual setup of partitions when I created the NTFS partition right in the middle of my drive. Knowing that I would reinstall GRUB after that anyways and thus ignoring the warning I installed Windows and checked that it was running as intended. After the first check I shut down the system, inserted my Linux Mint live USB stick and was about to get ready to reinstall GRUB. Unfortunately it refused to boot and the boot log contained the following message:

The disk contains an unclean file system (0, 0).
Metadata kept in Windows cache, refused to mount.
Falling back to read-only mount because the NTFS partition is in an
unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation
or fast restarting.)

After some googling I found out that the cause was probably the fast boot feature in Windows. So I restarted my machine and booted back into Windows, about to disable fast boot, but now Windows wouldn’t boot anymore and instead hang during startup. After rebooting the system several times, getting even blue screens (the ones with the QR code) now and then and having no luck with booting back into Windows, I decided to wipe the whole disk and do a proper Windows 10 installation first and then do the Linux installation.

Main issue

Now I’m stuck in a state in which I can’t install any operating system on my machine at all. The Windows installation goes through up until the first reboot, then it hangs with the Dell logo and the loading circle beneath it. Sometimes I can make it through to the point where it says something like ‘preparing devices xx%’ (I’m installing a german Windows so can’t tell whether it translates like that) on black screen eventually being stuck somewhere between 86 and 93%. I don’t know what devices are being prepared during that stage.
Plus, not a single Linux live stick is willing to boot anymore, they all get stuck halfway through the init process. I tried it with my Linux Mint live stick, which worked like a charm on that very system before. I tried an Arch Linux image and Boot-Repair-Disk. Neither of them would boot correctly. I also tried reinstalling Windows several times with different images. I tried the original 1909 image by Microsoft as well as both Windows 10 images provided by Dell. They all managed to perform the first installation round until the first reboot. Then the system hanged again.

Now I’m at the end of my knowledge and feel kind of lost since I don’t know what’s causing this behavior. Even if I wipe the whole drive and remove all boot entries from the BIOS menu (or even reset the BIOS settings to factory defaults), no operating system will get installed as it should. It’s as if something got stuck deep in my system during all these reboots and reinstalls and won’t get out even if I reset everything.

I hope that I can get my system back to working and that someone has a good idea what could go south. I am desperatly lost right now and I appreciate any help. I can provide more information if needed, just tell me how to obtain it.

1) Secure Boot is disabled in BIOS.

2) A complete run of Memtest86+ on both RAM sticks (Samsung M471A1K43DB1-CTD + Crucial CT8G4SFS8266) reported 0 errors.

Solution :

Well, in the end my problem disappeared after I opend up the notebook, removed that extra RAM stick and booted up again from a Linux live image. I re-inserted the RAM stick back again after that and everything worked from there on as if nothing had ever happened. The Windows installation went through without any hiccups and so did the subsequent re-install of Linux Mint. Must’ve been the RAM since this was the only thing that I changed, but I’ve no clue how a simple RAM upgrade could cause such strange behavior, especially when all the specs matched the built-in RAM and the stick was tight in its socket.

Not really a solution since this problem was a very particular one, but I will mark this as solved anyway, just for the protocol. Thanks to all for the good help.

P.S.: As I’m writing this, I have both RAM sticks installed and both operating systems perfectly running in dual boot with no hardware related issues since. Obviously I’m left with blaming nothing or no one but me for fidgeting around with an extra RAM stick and some partitions on my hard drive, so it seems.

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