Linux Freeziness

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

I’ve been using Linux for quite some time now. It’s been more than 10 years since my first hesitant install of Debian (from the front cover of a tech mag) in early 1998, and a little longer since I first poked at my cousin’s Linux computers. In the earlier days of my Linux use there was rarely a time I had to power-cycle a locked up machine when I was running a ‘stable’ distro. Sure, sometimes a bleeding-edge X, or somesuch, would lock up – but I was nearly always able to switch to a console or get a serial terminal and kick it in the arse.

Things seem to be a bit different now. More and more often I’ll have to hold down that power button. Sometimes I can magic-sysreq a reboot, but often not. The culprit is usually web browsers, but sometimes other X applications. It does seem to be an X thing. I use an RC Firefox with a beta Flash, so I expect breakage. What I don’t expect is breakage in my userspace apps to lock up my machine irretrievably. Especially since I’m using a stable distro, aside from the Flash and Firefox my machine is 100% Ubuntu ‘gutsy’ (no proper ‘net yet so I haven’t done my dist-upgrade, the 13th I’m told now, Friday the 13th! Joy.)

Linux never used to do this to me. Has robustness suffered in the quest for a snappier user experience? Am I just unlucky? It could be my non-free video driver (nvidia) I guess. I haven’t had the time to try debugging the problem, I should really, since it can be replicated.

Maybe I’m just seeing the past through rose coloured glasses, could it have been worse than I recall? I’ve had to reboot twice this morning, so now I’ll stop trying to play with the Firefox RC and get back to browsing with Opera.

That aside, it looks like Firefox 3 could win me back from being an Opera user. If my bloody Linux stops hanging when I use it!

One thought on “Linux Freeziness”

  1. I don’t think it’s rose-coloured glasses: I get a lot more crashes too, mostly actual kernel panics. In my case it’s related to power management.

    My suspicion is that a lot of it’s ambition, Linux is moving towards much more aggressive use of the hardware for various reasons rather than what I gather was the (desktop) aim of the early naughties: yes! it can use the hardware! our job is done!

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