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March 11, 2015

Fixing Intel GPU crash on Linux Mint 17

The older ThinkPad I’m using now has an Intel 965 graphics processor, and is running Linux Mint 17.1. Today I decided to try installing Google Chrome because of a Firefox problem I was having with a particular web site’s buggy Javascript. When I visited the Chrome site, the screen went black. The system still seemed to be responsive, and I was able to reboot it using Ctrl-Alt-Del (which brings up a shutdown dialog) and Alt-S (which selects Shut Down).

After rebooting, I took a look at /var/log/syslog and saw that there had been a GPU hang. Some web searching led me to a known bug that described the problem and some workarounds. I pieced together the solution from several comments on the bug: it involves installing a 3.19 Ubuntu kernel and a cutting edge X server.

First, fetch and install a recent kernel (note that the wget commands are split into two lines for clarity):

mkdir /tmp/kernel
cd /tmp/kernel

wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.19.3-vivid/\
linux-headers-3.19.3-031903-generic_3.19.3-031903.201503261036_amd64.deb
wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.19.3-vivid/
linux-headers-3.19.3-031903_3.19.3-031903.201503261036_all.deb
wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.19.3-vivid/\
linux-image-3.19.3-031903-generic_3.19.3-031903.201503261036_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-image*
sudo dpkg -i linux-headers*

Then install the cutting edge X server:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Finally, reboot the system and verify that you are running kernel 3.19 and Mesa 10.6:

uname -r
dpkg -l libgl1-mesa-dri

After this, visiting the Chrome site should not cause the screen to go black.