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#1 2019-07-24 02:34:16

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Random freezing on desktop

My Ascii install has a strange problem. At random intervals an application I am using will freeze. The mouse does not stop moving, but the application(s) will not respond. Any sound that happens to be playing is also stopped. Fortunately, it is not permanent. The application resumes responding again after a few minutes. At first, it happened with the Firefox browser, and I suspected it was something to do with the extensions I had installed. After visiting the Mozillazine forums, I removed an extension at it seemed like the problem was gone.

But now it is occurring again, and this time not with the browser. I was looking at potential wallpapers in the Mirage image viewer and it froze. Again, the mouse did not stop working. The application simply would not respond. After a while, it returned and jumped all over the place to catch up with the mouse clicks it had been ignoring.

As I have posted elsewhere, I like to have Gkrellm on my desktop. I could see it as this happened. It did not stop updating, and it did not show any huge spike in CPU usage as some sort of loop problem might cause. When the freezing app was the browser, there was a large spike in processes. But when the image viewer was frozen, there was no spike in processes.

Now I am suspecting this has something to do with the video driver. There is a problem that occurs in Windows with nVidia drivers. The display will freeze, but only for a few seconds, and then an error is generated. "Display Driver Stopped Responding and has Recovered" is the error message. There are a number of threads about this error on various support boards out there. The recommended solution is to change the timer that triggers the error, but that just means your system freezes longer. The real solution is to make sure the card is properly initialized when loading the OS. I stopped this problem on my Windows systems by turning off "quick boot" so the BIOS had time to properly start everything. It was a frequent annoying problem, but has only hit me once or twice since making that change.

But it seems very possible that this sort of problem could be different in Linux than in Windows. Maybe the conflict can cause just a particular program to freeze instead of the whole display? Which log would I check for display driver errors?

The only other possibility I can think of is a conflict with the Trinity desktop resources. I wouldn't let it install the whole different desktop base it wanted to install. My system is still using the default desktop-base that comes with Xfce. So I would expect any problems to occur within Trinity, not Xfce. But these are very complex systems. I suppose it is very possible that some of the libraries conflict and could cause a problem like this. In which case I guess I would need to use "uninstall --purge" or something like that to get rid of everything?

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#2 2019-07-24 20:17:33

climbingturtle
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2019-03-13
Posts: 5  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Could you elaborate on which graphiccard model you are using and also what driver is active for it, nouveau or Nvidia proprietary?

You can try to use bellow to find which driver is in use:
lspci -nnk | grep -i vga -A3

Are you able to test your system with an other card?

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#3 2019-07-25 00:47:39

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Well, I thought it was clear that I was using the nVidia driver since I compared it to the nVidia problems in Windows. But anyway:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GK106 [GeForce GTX 660] [10de:11c0] (rev a1)
    Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. GK106 [GeForce GTX 660] [1043:8422]
    Kernel driver in use: nvidia
    Kernel modules: nvidia

The other cards I have are of the same generation. Well, one other machine has a GTX960 but I don't want to go disassembling machines to swap parts around. That's a considerable risk of damaging things. I guess I might install Devuan to that other machine and see if similar problems occur. But I was hoping to work out the problems on this "test" machine before installing on my other machines.

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#4 2019-07-25 02:35:58

aut0exec
Member
Registered: 2018-11-21
Posts: 45  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

I had this problem earlier last week but was using Ceres. Screen freeze was random and unpredictable. Would be fine for only 2 minutes one boot and then it would be fine for hours the next boot. Ever since installing the nVidia proprietary driver the system has been stable and running for almost a week with no freezes. Machine is a HP Z420 with a Quadro K2000.

Since you mentioned that Windows also had the problem though, I'd be more inclined to think that you have a possible hardware issue. The card swap might be worth it to keep yourself from going crazy trying to find a software fix for a hardware issue....

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#5 2019-07-25 17:10:55

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

But I solved the problem in Windows. Just turn off "quick boot" and allow the MB and card to fully initialize and the problem goes away. Also, this machine is dual-boot, with a currently working Windows install. It works flawlessly, or as close to flawlessly as any Windows install can run. No freezing or other noticeable problems when running browsers and media players and many other tasks at the same time. Admittedly, this is using an older driver. I have not updated the driver in years. The Linux driver in the repository is probably newer and it could be that the current nVidia driver has grown more complex and error-prone with the need to support newer generation cards.

It looks like the best bet is to remove Trinity desktop first, because this is the odd thing that practically no one else has (apparently no one else on this board, anyway). Some sort of conflict could occur even if I am in Xfce rather than Trinity. If that doesn't fix it, I guess I'll go back to the OSS nouveau driver. I don't think that is suitable for actual gaming, but this is not the machine I plan to do much gaming on anymore. smile

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#6 2019-07-25 22:59:17

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Well, this is why I used a test system first.  It's a good way to learn that something sucks before getting to tangled up with it. It turns out the "tde-trinity" package used to install Trinity desktop is a meta package and does not allow uninstall. Aptitude just says it can't find the package. There is apparently no way to get rid of it other than a complete re-install of Devuan. Or maybe some sort of tedious search for all of the packages it pulls in and removing each one.

That leaves removing the nVidia drivers, which will be easier. And if that doesn't fix the problem I can go the full re-install route.

Edit: And things continue to get worse. The supposed command to remove the nVidia drivers doesn't work. Looks like it's re-install no matter what. Ugh... I guess I'll be trying an earlier version of the nVidia drivers after all this trouble.

Last edited by Micronaut (2019-07-26 00:35:50)

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#7 2019-07-29 16:47:48

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

No, it's not the video drivers at all. I had just finished running the installer, and was in the process of adding other things manually, when it happened again. This was with the default nouveau driver in place, and I wasn't using any graphical application like a browser or the image viewer. Just a text editor (mousepad) and the file manager. I can't imagine how any of the small things I like to add could have caused it, so it seems likely to be a compatibility problem with the system itself. Nothing like this occurred with Mint 17.3 on the same hardware. And it sure doesn't happen with Windows. Now I am wondering how to proceed with any further debugging to isolate it further. Is there some sort of "watchdog" you can install in Linux to monitor for some specific condition?

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#8 2019-07-30 14:40:10

climbingturtle
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2019-03-13
Posts: 5  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Maybe the system interrupts reported in /proc/interrupts can help you? If you can observe abnormally large values for a device then maybe that is the one, otherwise you hopefully can exlude some factors.

You can view it with cat /proc/interrupts or watch cat /proc/interrupts to get a live output. My recommendation for best troubleshooting would be to save the output to a file and on a schedule with cron or likewise.

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#9 2019-07-31 20:45:22

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Interesting that the entire system does not lock up, though. It does seem to be the display that gets interfered with even if it is not specific to the graphical driver. I ran my test system for a few more hours today, and it had more freezes. Once I figure out where to enable compositing, it froze the entire display solid instead of just one window. And yet the streaming audio I was playing continued. But interaction was not possible, and I had to hit the "Big Red Switch" to recover control of the system.

Finally, I went back through the list of things I added when I installed. Only one of them is graphics related, and I thought it was only a set of command line utilities. "mesa-utils" is a package that I've been using since I first learned about Linux. But it's graphics related, and not essential anymore, so I removed it. The system then ran for several more hours with no detectable problems. Hmmm... Could there be a library conflict? The Linux version of DLL Hell? I'll have to run it a few more days to be sure.

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#10 2019-08-05 13:33:08

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

After the freeze problem hit again, I realized I would have to try different hardware. The test system is ~12-year-old hardware. If not for the huge amount of kernel modifications for the Spectre and Meltdown panic, I bet it would still work fine. But things have changed and some hardware is just going obsolete.

The next system is "only" ~5-year-old hardware. smile A Haswell generation CPU on an Asus motherboard rather than the ancient nForce. Since it is a completely different system, there might be other problems. But I'll be watching for the video freeze problem and report if this occurs again. What concerns me is some of my other systems are older than this, though not as old as the first test system. I hope they are still compatible with all these kernel tweaks.

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#11 Today 21:16:38

Micronaut
Member
Registered: 2019-07-04
Posts: 47  

Re: Random freezing on desktop

Now I am wondering if I ought to open a completely different thread. Before resorting to trying a completely different distro to escape the random freezing problem, I decided to experiment with enabling swap. Since modern computers always have plenty of RAM, at least for ordinary desktop use, I have tended to skip the swap partition and just run any Linux without swap at all. But when I edited a swap partition into my Devuan test system and enabled it, things seem to work much better. Haven't had the time to test extensively yet, but it seems to have run for a whole afternoon without any freezing. This seems bizarre, since I've never come close to filling the RAM on this machine, so I don't see how swap would make any difference. But as I have searched around other forums, the discussions (which can get very technical about kernel issues) seem to say that swap is very deeply embedded in how the kernel works and you ought to have at least a token swap partition on any system.

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