Hanging Linux? Freezing Linux?

June 25, 2006

Okay, so the past few days I've been spending more and more time with Linux via the Mepis live CD.  I've just been poking around, trying to see what can be done.  While I did discover XsawTV was able to show my VHS-C camcorder on the computer monitor, I've not been able to capture it.  And I have no idea if there are tools on the Mepis CD for burning a DVD.


I was showing my wife, Jane, some video of the kids at their Bible school program.  I was also showing off our possibly new desktop of the future.  I went to open a movie file, and Linux began opening the program and then froze.  It just froze right there with no warning and absolutely no way to back out.  No alt-ctrl    -del maneuver or escape protocol.  It just froze.  Stuck.  Jammed.


How embarrassing.


Nothing I knew to do except push and hold the power button until it shut down.  Then push it again to start the boot-up process all over again.  And this is not a short process.


Okay.  Maybe it was a fluke, right?  What are the odds of it happening again?  With a totally different file…slim and none, right?


One of the little guilty pleasures I discovered was the racing Tux game.  What a cool game!  So after dinner, I thought I would just fly down the mountain and snatch a herring or two.  I got into the start menu and located the game.  The screen began to change and then…




Stuck.  Hung.  Froze.  Again.




That ain't right.  I have a very crippled and sick Windows OS that hasn't crashed that much.


I am less than impressed since this is the equivalent of Windows crashing from opening up a solitaire game.  What's more, I know of no way to recover from such a thing, like the ubiquitous 3 finger salute we have in Windows.  Which means a serious reboot, since neither mouse nor keyboard could get anything to respond.  And rebooting takes several minutes.


What the hell could have gone wrong just playing this stupid little game that it crashed?


And how do I recover without having to do a hard boot?



  1. Hi there!

    I read this story with great interest. I thought you might like to know how I recover from this kind of thing.

    Basically, press Ctrl-Alt-F1 to go to a text terminal. From here, you’ll need to log in as root, so you’ll need the root password (not sure what this is in MEPIS) or log in as the standrd user and use SUDO.

    Type the command ps ax | grep , where is the name of the executable which crashed. Hopefully, it’ll come up with two matches. The top match will usually be the right one (the second is usually the search operation you just ran). Take a note of it’s PID, a four digit code to the left of the list. Type “kill ” and the process will be killed. Press Ctrl-Alt-F7 to switch back to your desktop environment.

    If it’s just your desktop environment which has frozen, you can try Ctrl-Alt-Backspace. Unfortunately, such freezes are common with LiveCDs as they are very RAM intensive. I don’t remember ever having had that kind of thing in my HDD-installed system. TuxRacer could have crashed because it uses OpenGL, and not knowing what kind of graphics card you have, it could be struggling, or if it shares RAM with the system, back we go to the old RAM-intensive problem again.

    Anyway, good luck in your experiments with Linux, and thanks for linking to my blog!

  2. Oops, where I said “ps ax | grep” I meant “ps ax | grep ‘progname'”, where ‘progname’ is the name of the program which crashed. Using greater than and lesser than brackets was a bad idea, they got interpreted as HTML!

    The same goes for where I tpyed “kill “, I meant “kill ‘PID'” Apologies for that.

  3. Thanks for stopping by and double thanks for the guidance!..I think.

    I’ll have to think about all of this, as it does provide some grist for some other thoughts. Mainly, the fact that we have to go back to the whole text terminal/flashing cursor mode which isn’t too handy.

    Since I like to try things with editing video, the liklihood of me taxing my system into a crash or freeze is more than a more average user. I’ll accept some argument that the Live CD RAM usage might have something to do with it. But on Tux Racer?

    “If it ain’t broke, let me have a shot at it.”

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. I’m having a similar difficulty with Linux. I have a full Puppy Linux 5.1 installation on the HDD of my old Dell laptop.

    There seems to be a common thread with my freezing problem. I am moving the cursor in Xwindows with a browser open. So far, I have experienced this in Firefox and Opera. It is not the xorg.conf. I do have to do a e2fsck to get the system to boot. It has been known to hang in the full HDD image and in the CDROM image boot. Either way, Linux will need to have the e2fsck run or it will not boot anymore. It hangs in xwin.

  6. nothing against puppy at all i use it to recover data if i break window :S. I just think you should be trying a better distro. i got debian on a really old, half dead PC and it can run call of duty 4 server plus many other things without crashing!!!

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