For the last few months, X/Windows has locked up without warning on one of my fastest systems (Core i5). This is very unusual. I’ve run Linux systems for over 17 years and X has never been this bad. Never. About every 3 years X/Windows would lockup, but it has happened at least every 4 days for the last 2 months. Killing the Xorg process doesn’t work. That X process is using 100% of a core for multiple hours. It never recovers. The GUI is locked, but remote access from other systems works as do the background processes. Still, X can’t be killed, only a remote reboot brings the X-GUI back.
I don’t use Gnome or KDE. I’m running LXDE on Ubuntu Server x64 !0.04 LTS. It is patched weekly.
It sure would be nice if Ubuntu had not disabled the cntl-alt-backspace keystroke to kill the X-Server, wouldn’t it?
setxkbmap -option terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp
I can’t tell exactly what the cause of the problem is. The syslog, messages, and other logs are less than helpful. From those logs, it appears to be an nVidia driver issue. I was using the proprietary nvidia drivers that are built into the ubuntu repositories (universe? I think it was the “196” version). I’ve search the ether for probable causes and came up with these ideas:
- nvidia drivers
- Firefox / Flash issues
- VLC direct video issues
- x64 issues – they always blame 64-bit issues, don’t they?
- Pulse Audio issues
- Software RAID driver issues
- VirtualBox graphics issues – I use video editing software inside virtualbox.
The lockup seems to happen only after virtualbox has run. The last time, it was not running, but the 3 kernel modules were loaded and had been used. VLC was being used to watch some recorded TV on a 2nd monitor.
First Corrective Action
The first thing I did was update the nvidia drivers using the latest available directly from nvidia’s website, NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-256.44.run is the filename. So far, so good. When a nasty error was displayed during the pre-installation checks, I searched for the necessary tricks to make it work and found a guide at ubuntugeek. Followed it. Here’s the source that he used. The short guide included blacklisting a few modules, rebooting, running the installer again. Everything seems to be working post-install. The X/Windows login came up at the end and all the dual monitor settings where still there and working.
So far, so good.
Rather than running VLC, I’ll use mplayer for the next few days before trying VirtualBox or VLC again. System stability is important to me. If I wanted a system that needed to be rebooted every few days, I wouldn’t run Linux.
Some new equipment is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so I’ll be busy enough over the next few days to leave this specific machine alone.
Cross your fingers for me, please!
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