As an intermediate Linux user, I decided to try Arch Linux (having only experience with Ubuntu before, 3 years ago), and everything was going well until the part where I tried to get a graphical environment set-up.

I have an NVidia GTX660 card, and decided to go with Nouveau drivers. I also installed the Plasma 5 DE (using the plasma group from the pacman repositories).

The thing is, it's practically unusable; my system is bound to freeze up completely after 5 minutes tops and I have to use the REISUB keys or press the reset button on my PC. I can move my mouse cursor but that's it.

I followed all the Arch Wiki pages carefully and have a fairly standard installation, I didn't do much special (except maybe go with btrfs over ext4) or mess with configuration files.

I've looked at the log files using journalctl -xe -b-1 -p0..4 to see what happened before doing the REISUB trick. It consistently contains nouveau entries in red at the end, such as PGRAPH engine fault. There are quite a lot of warnings from various KDE apps and the QT libraries too.

My question is, what can I do to make my system more stable? Looking around on the internet, it doesn't seem common that Nouveau is doing that badly for anyone.

My primary options seem to be:

  1. To install the proprietary drivers, which I would like to avoid since I don't need any fancy 3D support, and I read is against the Linux spirit (my intention is to get proficient in this platform)
  2. Use a less graphically intensive DE, I have tried most of them and xfce4 or lxde/lxqt feel a lot more stable for example. However, in my opinion the design looks pretty old-fashioned in those and I really want a modern looking DE. I don't like the UX in Gnome.

Your third option, if you are running an old kernel (you don't say which kernel version you have) is to upgrade your kernel.

nouveau is under constant and rapid development, a new version may fix your problems.

If you are already running the latest (or very recent) kernel, upgrading the kernel is unlikely to help and the proprietary nvidia drivers are probably your best option. in my experience, they "just work".

If you prefer the nouveau drivers for Free Software reasons, you can always keep trying every few kernel versions until you get a nouveau release that works for you.

  • I follow Arch's rolling release philosophy, I'm using the latest everything. Would downgrading potentially help? – MarioDS Oct 15 '15 at 4:38
  • it's possible, but unlikely. bugs and the occasional regression aside, software tends to get better over time. – cas Oct 15 '15 at 4:40
  • As a software engineer, I've seen evidence of the contrary a couple of times ;) but I don't doubt that what you say is true for OSS, especially the *nix world. – MarioDS Oct 15 '15 at 4:42

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