Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely (Intel Ivy Bridge)

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Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely (Intel Ivy Bridge)

Postby alexdowad on Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:49 am

Hi, I'm a new user who moved to Linux from Windows just a couple months ago. I'm liking it so far, but the one problem which has become intolerable is that Mint keeps freezing completely, sometimes several times in a day. When it freezes, the mouse pointer won't move, it doesn't respond to keystrokes... basically, there's nothing I can do but a hard reboot.

A search of the forums indicates that many people have had similar problems before. There seems to be a lot of misguided advice given, like: "update your Java JRE". While such efforts to help are appreciated, they reflect a lack of understanding of how operating systems work. Really, there is no reason why anything done by *any* process which runs in user mode (like a Java VM) should *ever* be able to crash the OS.

Although I've been programming (mostly on MS platforms) in C and a bunch of other languages over the last 15+ years, I don't know nearly enough about Linux internals yet. But I am guessing that device drivers run in kernel mode, and as such could actually be responsible for an OS crash. That's why I am posting to this forum... although for all I know, the problem could actually be caused by the window manager or some other system component.

I've looked in my system logs after rebooting from a crash, and didn't find anything at all from just before the crash. I am willing to put in the time to diagnose this problem, and if necessary, submit a patch to Mint/Ubuntu/the Linux kernel itself. But I need some guidance on where and how to start looking. Here are some thoughts I've had:

1. Is there any way to run Mint with an absolute minimum of hardware devices operating? If I do so, and find that it's not freezing any more, I could determine which driver is causing the problem by a process of elimination.
2. Is it possible that the underlying OS (process scheduler, etc.) is still running, but the window manager is stuck in an infinite loop or something, and is simply not responding to mouse/keyboard input? If so, perhaps I could run a background process which would write a message to a log every second or so. Then, after rebooting from a freeze-up, check the logs to see whether it was still running while the computer seemed to be frozen... does that sound like a good idea? Advice on the best way to go about it? (If you can tell me the correct Linux system calls to write to the system logs, I can whip something up in C.)
3. Could I try running with a different window manager (I'm using MATE right now), without losing the one I have now?
4. Am I correct in assuming that device drivers run in kernel mode? How about the window manager itself? What other processes have full access to the hardware -- all those which run as root?
5. Can you tell me about any other tools which could be useful for debugging this problem?
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby axel668 on Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:39 pm

It's Cinnamon. I've been running Mint 13 with Cinnamon couple of weeks ago and had the same issue, now I am running Mint 13 with XFCE and it doesn't happen anymore. Crashes also seemed to be more frequent when playing with extensions, so the 1st step might be to disable all extensions and applets. I don't know about the technical stuff, maybe there's a way to turn on logging or something for Cinnamon. I'm also not sure if Cinnamon is using Java, if yes there might still be a relationship to the JRE.
About what is crashed, I think (not 100% sure) I was still able to use the console (Ctrl+Alt+F1) so it's probably not a crash of the whole OS but just of the desktop environment, or at most X-Windows.
great somebody's trying to fix this for real, I wish you all the luck !!
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:52 pm

Next time I'll try Ctrl+Alt+F1... thanks for the suggestion! The problem is occurring for me with MATE, though, not with Cinnamon.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby Emerson Prado on Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:52 am

alexdowad wrote:The problem is occurring for me with MATE, though, not with Cinnamon.


With me too. Pls see viewtopic.php?f=219&t=106514 for some details (not from a Linux expert, be advised! 8) ).
If you can continue with Ctrl-Alt-F1 (my system sometimes doesn't respond to this or Ctrl-Alt-Del), try tail /var/log/messages as root. I found a psmouse related error. The bug reported in http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=71950 ties the error to the smartscroll option. A common recommendation is to disable the smartscroll option*.
Best regards,
Emerson

*Edit as root /etc/modprobe.d/options
Change or include:
options psmouse smartscroll=0
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:02 am

I've found that Ctrl+Alt+F1 doesn't do anything when my computer is frozen... :(

Thanks for the tips; I will look into them.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:09 am

I tried adding the following to my crontab:

* * * * * * logger "system is not frozen"

...Which makes cron add a "system is not frozen" message to my syslog once per minute. I've found that when the system freezes, cron does *not* add messages to my log. So it's not just the window manager which is frozen -- cron is also not running, which implies that possibly nothing (or almost nothing) is running.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby axel668 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:51 am

hmm, maybe your problem is different from the one I had at the time. there anything else in the log that could be a hint about what's going wrong ?
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby Emerson Prado on Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:40 pm

Your starting point are the log lines with "Error". Lines with "Warning" can help too.
I tried installing XFCE. Though less frequent, freezes continued, so I removed XFCE.
But I found out there were conflicting packages installed, like mint-flashplugin and other flash plugin stuff, and more than one JRE (one from Java itself and, I guess, OpenJava, or whatever). I removed the excess packages and did some cleanup, along with upgrading some critical packages. The system seems more stable now, though I can't tell for sure if 100%.
Best regards,
Emerson
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:19 pm

I am having the same problem, using MATE. I had tried using Compiz, but that caused problems with the display, so changed back to Marco. I enabled compositing to use Docky, still got a few display problems (parts of screen changing to something else briefly), and a few times a complete system freeze up. I use Alt + SysRq + {R E I S U B} to reboot.

So what did you remove exactly that helped your system?
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:38 am

Dear @avoura, I didn't remove anything. As I said before, I feel that removing certain packages (like old Java JREs, etc) to make the system more stable is a bit misguided. The fact is that if the base OS itself (including hardware drivers) was solid, it would still be stable no matter what other packages you installed.

I just upgraded to the newest version of the Linux kernel, and at least so far, I haven't had any freezes. (But I guess time will tell!)

To upgrade your kernel and other related packages, open the Update Manager, open Preferences, and select level 4 and 5 packages as "Visible". Then refresh the list of packages, and you will see any kernel upgrades which are available.

(BTW: If I do discover that my system is stable now, I'm not going to upgrade my kernel again, because of the risk of an upgrade breaking something. If I find that it's still not stable, I will install the next kernel upgrade that becomes available.)
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby wayne128 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:21 am

alexdowad wrote:Dear @avoura, I didn't remove anything. As I said before, I feel that removing certain packages (like old Java JREs, etc) to make the system more stable is a bit misguided. The fact is that if the base OS itself (including hardware drivers) was solid, it would still be stable no matter what other packages you installed.

I just upgraded to the newest version of the Linux kernel, and at least so far, I haven't had any freezes. (But I guess time will tell!)

(BTW: If I do discover that my system is stable now, I'm not going to upgrade my kernel again, because of the risk of an upgrade breaking something. If I find that it's still not stable, I will install the next kernel upgrade that becomes available.)


It is very hard to troubleshoot when your OS totally froze and keyboard, mouse, all stop working.
It is good you now have a 'stable OS'.

I have many solid stable OS, some run for 6 months to one year without a crash.
Some run for 2years with countless distro-upgrade ( involving kernel changes ).
You can keep your current set up, and DO NOT update anymore, unless you are really (really!) too concerned about certain thing that force you to 'must update' situation.
Lets see if you can run it for at least one month without any crash.
I had another very old laptop, loaded with a LinuxOS, donated to an old lady who learned computer only and age beyond60... todate, zero complain, zero crash....may be just luck? one important thing I did, disable all kind of update and upgrade, so she did not have a chance to accidentally click ...keep my support to minimum.

Certain Linux distros allow us to 'undo' changes...
That one is very good, something like windows OS allowing you to restore to the last working system ( provided of course you had created restore points).
But your probably cannot do that in your OS.

Good luck.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:28 am

I will try the level 4 and 5 updates, see if it can update the kernel and fix the stability issues. However, today when booting up there were updates, so I allowed them to be installed, but it froze completely during the update. I then rebooted, and before I could do anything it froze again. So I am writing this using a different OS. Maybe Linux Mint is broken somewhere and it's time to switch again to another distro.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:24 pm

I just looked at the Update manager settings, levels 4 and 5 are shown as unsafe and dangerous, which I would prefer not to use.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:47 pm

@avoura: Well, to non-technical users, upgrading your kernel might be considered "dangerous", because if there is a regression, etc. in the newest kernel, it might cause system instability, things might stop working, so on. However, if you already have problems with system instability, it makes sense to go ahead and upgrade, because your problem might be solved by new bug fixes to hardware drivers and other OS internals.

Linux Mint tries to be very user-friendly, so they do *not* want to break a newbie's working system and cause them unnecessary trouble and frustration by automatically upgrading core system components (which might have been working fine with the older version). To scare newbies away from mucking about with things like kernel upgrades, they mark them as "dangerous". It's a little bit like the way Windows pops up a scary warning message if you try to look inside the "\WINDOWS\SYSTEM" directory.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:36 am

I enabled the level 4 and 5, and it offered me some Linux kernel updates, which I installed. So far it has not frozen, although I was wondering if a different distro choice might be the way to go, something more stable and which works okay with AMD graphics drivers.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby alexdowad on Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:10 pm

@avoura: I guess whether to change to another distro or not is your decision. Personally, I like Mint and want to keep using it, but I just want my computer to work reliably. After upgrading to the newest version of the Linux kernel, I have had no freezes in a week. Previously, the computer would freeze up at least once every couple days. If I go for another week with no freezing, I am going to mark this thread as [SOLVED].
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:39 am

My Linux Mint froze again, so the problem is not yet resolved.
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby Roland on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:53 am

Do you use the 32 or 64-bits version?
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby avoura on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:10 am

It is 64-bit version
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Re: Linux Mint 13 keeps freezing completely

Postby Roland on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:40 am

On my new PC I had lots of freezes with the 64-bit version; and only some freezes with the 32-version so I thought Mint 64 was unstable.
However, my 5-year-old laptop runs smoothly in 64-bit mode; it never freezes.
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