[ubuntu-x] -nvidia upgrade issues

Bryce Harrington bryce at canonical.com
Wed Nov 4 22:41:18 GMT 2009

On Wed, Nov 04, 2009 at 02:26:56PM -0800, Bryce Harrington wrote:
> I've been looking into some problems people have been reporting
> upgrading to Karmic with -nvidia installed.
> One thing I've noticed is aside from whatever issue is occuring with
> nvidia, there are bugs elsewhere which are compounding the problems and
> leading to some poor user experiences.  A common scenario occurs if for
> whatever reason the -nvidia kernel module fails to build in DKMS:

One example is if 'patch' is not installed - bug 434154.  Then if there
are patches to be applied to the kernel module, DKMS fails.

I can't tell yet if this situation is the root cause of most of the
issues or just a corner case, but certainly that's something that could
have been missed during development since most developers *would* have
had patch installed.

> 438398 - If DKMS fails to build the kernel module, the package upgrade
> does not kick out.  It shows package upgrade as successful.  So this
> leads directly to...
> 451305 - Jockey misses that the driver failed to build, and so is not
> letting users know about the potential problem.  It goes ahead and
> updates xorg.conf as if the driver was there.  X tries to obey the
> configuration settings, but of course they won't work, so it exits on
> startup with an error message.  *Normally* bulletproof-X would kick in
> at this point, display the error to the user, and give them some tools
> to diagnose and/or debug the situation.  Unfortunately...
> 474806 - The new gdm no longer supports the FailsafeXServer option, so
> the diagnostic session no longer can be triggered to come up.  Instead,
> gdm tries several times, then gives up, but then...
> 441638 - The gdm upstart job notices gdm has failed and so restarts it.
> X of course continues to fail, gdm tries a few times and continues to
> fail, repeat ad infinitum, and the user is just left looking at a
> flashing screen.  Ick.
> The above appears to be a pretty common scenario that we're getting a
> rash of bug reports about.  It's hard to be certain because many of the
> bug reports are only including information about the failed boot, not on
> the failed build.  So I'm not sure if it is just one reason why the
> build fails, or several.  However if we can solve the above bugs it
> should give much better visibility into things.
> Btw, workaround for anyone experiencing this issue is to purge your
> nvidia (and fglrx) packages, remove /etc/X11/xorg.conf, and reinstall
> nvidia (or fglrx).  It appears that in most of the bug reports this gets
> the system functioning again.  Doing a full reinstall of Ubuntu rather
> than an upgrade also appears to work around the issues.
> Bryce
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