Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spontaneous Reboots

Mint Katya (a derivative of Ubuntu Natty Narwhal) on my AMD-64 system has suddenly developed a penchant for spontaneously rebooting.  So far, it has only happened while I'm typing. I think it has happened twice when I was typing messages in Thunderbird and once or perhaps twice when I was typing in the Yoono plug-in for Firefox. I don't recall any recent updates to T-bird, Firefox or Yoono, nor have I changed my keyboard (in case this is related to n-key rollover -- my fingers sometimes get ahead of my brain when I'm typing). The mosquitoes have gotten quite aggressive (and numerous) around my house; maybe they drove some gremlins indoors?

Update #1: I was sloppy above. It's not Mint that is rebooting; it's the X server. This is apparently a common problem,although the variety of symptoms posted there suggest that this is in fact multiple distinct bugs with a common end result (X crashing). Things I have discovered:
  • Unlike several of those reports, I have not experienced any crashes as a result of clicking. Only typing triggers a crash.
  • Unlike the reports from laptop users, power management is not the culprit (the machine that crashes for me is a desktop).
  • Someone pointed the finger at running the AMD-64 version of Natty on an Intel CPU. My copy of Mint is in fact based on the AMD-64 Natty, but my box has an AMD-64 CPU.
  • Turning the proprietary nVidia driver off and then on did not help. (I have a GPU from nVidia.)
  • Installing xserver-xorg-video-nv did not help.
Update #2: I used the wizardous sgfxi script to update my nVidia drivers a few days ago. Since then I have had no spontaneous X crashes. I hesitated to claim victory lest it be premature, but today I wrote a moderately lengthy blog post (touch-typing at my usual subsonic speed) with nary a glitch. So hopefully the driver reload cured this problem. Thanks to Harald Hope for a handy script!

Update #3: See this post for earlier problems and this post for a later round of nVidia issues (and how I resolved them).


  1. It's been very looong time since I got problems with the X server.

    Spontaneously rebooting sure it's not a derivative of Windows and not Ubuntu ? Next you will be getting that really nice looking blue screen...

  2. @Bo: If it were a Windows-induced reboot, the OS would delete itself from the hard drive prior to the boot, and grub would pop up a gloating message from Steve Ballmer.

  3. Thanks for this. I've had exactly the same issue with Katya and with Natty, but using the 32-bit versions. Nvidia proprietary is no better than nouveau for this, just as with you. I haven't tried the sgfxi script. Maybe that should be my next step? This is the first I've heard about it.

  4. @rk: I can't say with certainty that the Nvidia driver update cured it, but I still have not had any X crashes/reboots since I ran the script. I think the script goes to a non-repository site (Nvidia's web site?) and grabs the latest and greatest driver. I'm not sure that the proprietary driver install through the control panel gets the latest version. Good luck!


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