Kernel Update today, Downtime, Multiple Reboot-Attempts

Today, the PC which is hosting my site and blog, which I name ‘Phoenix’, received a kernel update.

Debian Team has not been following standard guidelines in their propagation of kernel updates, as the last 3 updates produced the same kernel-version number:

 


3.16.0-6-amd64

 

Because even Linux computers require a reboot after a kernel-update, this blog was temporarily off-line from about 13h05 until 13h25. I apologize for any inconvenience to my readers.

There is a fact about the build of Linux on this computer which I should bring up. I have the following on-board graphics-chip:

 


GeForce 6150SE nForce 430/integrated/SSE2

 

And this proprietary graphics driver is the only one, capable of working with the said graphics-chip:

 


NVIDIA 304.137

 

The graphics driver is installed from standard Debian repositories.

Somewhere between these software-packages there is a problem, which Debian Team has never been aware of, but which has existed ever since I installed Debian / Jessie on this computer. Directly after a reboot, the ability of the X-server to start, is not reliable. Sometimes, the X-server starts on the first try, but on other occasions I need to make 7 reboot attempts, before the X-server will start, and from one reboot-attempt to the next, I change nothing.

Once the X-server has started successfully, this graphics-chip will work 100% for 30 days !

I have been reluctant to point this out for the past few years, because if a Debian developer finds out about it, he will try to fix this problem. And when he does, he will brick my computer.

This afternoon, 7 reboots were in fact required, before the X-server started. That is why the reboot-procedure took 20 minutes of time.

(Updated 07/14/2018, 16h45 … )

There is another observation to add.

A typical Linux-guru who has the gumption to fix this problem would next ask me:

“What error messages are in your ‘Xorg.log’ file, when this happens?”

But you see, in the past few decades, Science and Technology have undergone a major transformation. Everybody is cool with the fact that computers malfunction. But everybody was extremely bothered when computers spit out error-messages. Therefore, modern computers malfunction, but produce no more nasty error-messages.

There are no error messages in any of my log files, to help explain what goes wrong.

(Updated 07/14/2018, 16h45 : )

My best guess as to what might be going wrong would be, ‘After a physical reboot, the graphics-chip has some bits in one of its registers, the values of which are random. But only one combination of bit-values will lead to a successful X-server start.’

I also know, that when I just perform a Log-Out, Log-In, because this is a Debian / Jessie machine, (that therefore still uses the ‘kdm’ display manager,) the X-server is restarted. I.e., the NVidia Splash-Screen is displayed. However, in this situation, the X-server restarts generally succeed on the first try.

Dirk

 

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