Author Topic: When your Linux desktop freezes...  (Read 430 times)

Offline Jason Wallwork

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1190
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
When your Linux desktop freezes...
« on: January 26, 2017, 08:51:07 am »
When your Linux desktop freezes and you can't get out other than by powering down the machine, here's another solution.

Ctrl + Alt + *

This kills the foreground process that is likely causing the problem. Your desktop might come back at this point likely with an error, but if not then:

Ctrl + Alt + F1 to bring up a virtual terminal.

Use htop or install htop via the console if you don't have it already. In Ubuntu-based distros, this is:

sudo apt-get install htop

Then run htop (just type htop).

You'll get a list of processes and you can play your game of whack the mole. The offending process is likely near the top but look for anything that is using a ridiculous amount of processor resources and that might help you. Unfortunately, this is more of an art than a science. Use the arrrow keys to select the process and then the function key to kill it (I think it was F9 but it shows you at the bottom). Then Ctrl + Alt + F6 (sometimes it's F10 instead) to get back your desktop. If you still can't click to open anything, Ctrl + Alt + F1 and rinse and repeat.

Background: Turns out compiz was the culprit on my desktop. Either it's still buggy or it's just buggy on my setup. I went in and turned it off. Interestingly, killing compiz caused the outer window bar (with minimize, max and close buttons) to disappear, the same behavior that MIKE was noticing at the last MUG. Perhaps it's compiz again.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 03:38:21 pm by elpresidente »
Primary: Desktop Tower with LM 18.3 Cinnamon on i5-3470 3.2 Ghz with 12 GB RAM, 64 GB SSD for OSes, 4 TB RAID-10 array for programs/data

Secondary/Test: Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook Z830-00K w/ Linux Du Jour, (i3-2367M 1.4 GHz, 4GB DDR3, 128GB SDD)

Offline ssfc72

  • Posting Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 645
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: When your Linux desktop freezes...
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2017, 10:50:20 am »
Good to know, Jason. Thanks!
Mint 18.3 on an HP Pavilion X360, 11" k120ca notebook
Cellphone ZTE Axon 7 Mini, PCMobile pay as you go

Offline fox

  • Posting Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 701
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: When your Linux desktop freezes...
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2017, 12:54:08 pm »
Thanks for posting that, Jason. I was aware of those commands to get you out of a freeze, but they never worked when I had the freezes on my dual monitor setup (iMac + external). Fortunately, now that I have a 27" iMac (albeit a 2010 model), I don't need a second monitor anymore.
Ubuntu 18.04 and Pop!_OS on 2011 iMac
Linux Mint Cinnamon 19 on "late 2015" 5k iMac
Ubuntu 18.04 (Unity, Gnome) and Arch on Dell XPS 13


  • Guest
Re: When your Linux desktop freezes...
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 06:53:59 pm »

"Veddy interesting!" <^8# Geez, you'd think these tools would've gotten past unstable, having been around for so long. I'm inclined to think it's more a statement on just how long we hold onto technology that developers quickly breeze beyond then deprecate - or just add something that destabilizes older wonky stuff?!?

Yeah... Technology... <phhhhtttt!>