Category Archives: Software

Kernel Freezes, Crashes? Try This Quick Fix

I’ve written about kernel freezes a few times lately, and have spent hours and hours researching what others have done to fix them.

In some forums, they blame bad hardware, like corrupt hard drives or memory segmentation faults etcetera. Testing of hardware always showed me as not having any problems in that area though.

My problem with my Acer Aspire was that any 3.* kernel ran fine without freezes, but most 4.*kernels would freeze. Some, like the 4.4.0+ kernels would freeze all the time, and 4.4.15 would freeze only once a day or so.

Really wanting to have an answer to why it was happening, I finally stumbled on this github thread which was explaining about the CPU feature of being able to save power by changing the current CPU state, or C-state for short. Seems that when my Acer computer was being put into a lower power mode, it would instead just shut down completely!

The repair is very simple, and involves a quick edit to your Grub boot menu.

Adding a C=State Parameter to your Grub boot file.

Adding a C=State Parameter to your Grub boot file.

Do a sudo edit of your /etc/default/grub configuration file to find the line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”

As I use medit, the command to edit the file would be:

sudo medit /etc/default/grub

Replace it with this line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash intel_idle.max_cstate=1″

As shown in the highlighted  line of text in the image above, I commented out the original line, and simply added the new one.

After you save the file, do a quick: sudo update-grub to let grub know that you’ve changed it, and then reboot.

This will force the CPU to always run at full power, and in the case of my Acer Aspire XC-603G, preventing the CPU from locking up!

Since I made this change, I’ve had zero freezes on this machine.

 

Kdenlive Crashing Issue Resolved

We  rely heavily  on Kdenlive, as we shoot and edit video for our website, Roku and YouTube channels almost daily.

Kdenlive

Kdenlive

Running version 15.12  became a chore, when about 3 days ago, it started crashing. Either just freezing up, or force closing itself in the middle of an edit. Not something you want happening when working against a deadline!

With nothing showing up in the logs, it was time to figure out what was going on through trial and error.

First thing I did was do a reinstall of the software. reboot, and try again. Same problem…

Next, I tried using  the Package Manager to do a Complete Uninstall of Kdenlive. This is supposed to delete not only the software, but also the configuration files. After doing the uninstall, then a reinstall, I tried running the program again. Still broken…

There was only one thing left to try, and of course that turned out to be the problem.

Because I use a wide array of graphic elements over and over with each new edit project, I always started with a saved master file that would load my most used graphics, ready for use.  After the master file was loaded, I’d then load the video clips I wanted to use, and then save that project to the desired name; usually the current date.

Seems my master.kdenlive file was corrupt! Starting over from scratch, and building a new master project file, cured the problem completely.

Files can get corrupt for a number of reasons. Hard drives starting to go bad, lost bits after a back and restore, or in my case after some reflection; our cat running under my desk and yanking the power cord out of the socket!

Lesson learned , if a much used project file is crashing; build a new one!

 

 

Kernel 4.4.15 Long Term Support Is Out – It’s Great!

In my  last post I mentioned that I had to downgrade my kernel for Linux Mint 18 because of freezing issues with the 4.4.0 that shipped with Mint 18.tux

With the announcement and release just yesterday of the newest long term support kernel 4.4.15, I decided to bite my lip and give it a try, as I really wanted to have all that is new and improved on my primary computer.

Heading back to the Ubuntu repository, I was able to find, download and install 4.4.15 using the same steps outlined in my last post.

My first impression after running it for 24 hours, it’s great!  Just 1 freeze so far, unlike all the freezing I had with 4.4.0.

Well done to the Linux Kernel team!

Making Mint 18 Work For My Situation: Downgrading The Kernel

I truly love Mint 18 Beta, but as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having random freezes, 2 or 3 a day when doing general computer work, and 100% of the time if I try to Normalize audio in Audacity. These freezing problems were also occurring in Mint 17.3 after I let a kernel update proceed.

After much experimenting while running Mint 17.3, I found  the 3.16 kernel to be totally stable on my current platform.. Wanting to run Mint 18 Beta for its obvious software upgrades, I decided to attempt to downgrade the kernel.

Because the Update Manager does not offer a way to downgrade kernels using the GUI, I did it manually.

First was to find the kernel I wished to install. The kernel I wanted is in the Ubuntu Trusty kernel repository.

It is extremely important that you download the kernel image for your hardware architecture!

The kernel designed for my machine is the: linux-image-3.16.7-992-generic_3.16.7-992.201604152257_amd64.deb package

Once downloaded, you can simply double click on the package to open the package installer automatically, and once the installer reports that all dependencies are met, go ahead and install it.

Next, reboot your machine, and using the grub menu, select the kernel you wish to boot into. If you don’t see a grub menu at system startup, you can follow these instructions:

To show the grub menu at boot, you need to edit the GRUB config file, as I was booting quietly, not displaying the boot menu. To do that, simply drop to a terminal and edit it with your favorite text editor. I use medit

$ sudo medit /etc/default/grub

will open your text editor in super user mode.

Edit grub

Edit grub

Editing Grub

Editing Grub

You’ll see in the above example, I’ve commented out, using the # symbol, to have the boot process ignore the two commands at lines 7 and 8. Doing this, will now let me see the grub boot menu at startup. Save and close the file, and then, it’s very important that you tell grub that you’ve changed it. Do this by issuing the command:

$ sudo update-grub

Now it’s time to reboot. When you do, at the grub boot window, arrow down to Select previous Linux version, and select that.

 

Since downgrading my kernel, I have had zero, none, nada freezes on this machine. All the applications that are designed for Mint 18 work without issue, and I am one happy goat farmer!

Showing Mint 18 with older kernel

Showing Mint 18 with older kernel

When you’re done, go ahead and uninstall the kernels that were causing you problems.

As new versions of kernel version 4.2+ are released, I will of course give them a try as time allows.

Goat Farmer’s First Impression: Mint 18

I have been so looking forward to Linux Mint 18. As much as I like Mint 17.3, it is based on the older Ubuntu Trusty base files and software that I really wanted to upgrade, I simply couldn’t.

I do a lot with Twitter, so wanted to upgrade to the latest Choqok version, or maybe even try Corebird. I also really wanted to run the newer versions of kdenlive video editing software.

After downloading the Beta version of Mint 18, and burning it to a USB stick. I preceded to install it. My only problem was that after booting to my USB stick, Mint could not see my network adapter. I went ahead and added my wireless network manually, and after that was done, unplugged and then hot plugged the WiFi dongle back in. This let Mint find it, and everything worked fine after.

Installing was as expected. Make sure you check the tick box that you want to install the multimedia codecs, as they are no longer contained in the disk image.

After installation, Mint 18 booted up just fine, and this time the WiFi adapter was working. Next, came doing a cache update and installing all the available updates.

On my Acer Aspire machine that I’m running Mint 18 on, I had previously had problems with the system freezing up at random times. This proved to be a kernel problem, and I’d found that running kernel 3.16 eliminated those freezes. Mint 18 comes packaged with kernel 4.4

Yes, the freezes were back, and unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to revert to an older kernel with Mint 18. I did find however that the freezes became fewer after I loaded the propitiatory driver for my Intel processors.

Intel Driver

Intel Driver

Further, I find that the system will completely freeze if I attempt to do a Normalize on an audio file when using the Audacity audio editor.

The freezes are down to one a day, with no pattern to them. I find this acceptable for now, and hoping for a patch that fixes it.

Mint 18

My only other head scratch, was that though I installed Mint 18 on an empty drive, it didn’t create and set up a swap partition. Seems unnecessary anyway, as I have 8 gigs of RAM in the machine and even when I had a swap under 17.3, it never got used.

Kdenlive video editing is found to be much faster under Mint 18, with rendering a 5 minute video taking about 18 minutes, where it used to take 35-40 under version 17.3. This is a bonus, as I edit a lot of video!

Final verdict, I’m keeping it!