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I use Arch Linux with the 5.2.5 stock kernel, Cinnamon 4.2.3, LightDM 1.30.0 and Mesa 19.1.3. My GPU is a Radeon RX 550 2GB.

Sometimes, my desktop freezes as if there's a problem with the GPU or the graphics driver. This happens when I'm using the Cinnamon desktop, or sometimes when the screen is locked as well. Not only it freezes, but whatever is being rendered to the screen gets visually corrupted (it closely resembles the last image that was displayed on the screen, but is corrupted and static).

I've been getting this since I first bought this graphics card almost two years ago. At first, there was nothing I could do about it, except a hard reset. But, since a couple of months ago, I noticed I could switch to a tty console (this was not possible with previous versions of the kernel or mesa) and then issue systemctl restart lightdm. This gives me a new X.org session with valid display output and I can login and resume my work.

Except, everything I was working on during the X.org session gets closed without saving.

Is there a way to perhaps restart the graphics driver itself, without losing the X server session?

  • No way that I know of. It sounds like bad hardware is also a possibility, if not the GPU itself than possibly something else. – Rafael Kitover Aug 13 '19 at 1:46
  • @RafaelKitover I'm positive it's not the GPU. The TTY console works and I noticed the mouse cursor works as well (it's hardware-accelerated and bypasses X if I'm not mistaken). Also I managed to open a terminal and type cinnamon --replace and when I hit Enter, the screen flashes and the Menu and taskbar are working again, but not the remaining of the screen. – Marc.2377 Aug 15 '19 at 3:21
  • Bad hardware, such as failing power supplies and motherboards, and yes GPUs can cause symptoms like this. The GPU may not necessarily not work at all to be bad, but it could also be other components in the system. – Rafael Kitover Aug 15 '19 at 15:23
  • I'd suggest running windows for a couple of weeks, and if you see the same level of instability it would be more indication of a hardware problem. – Rafael Kitover Aug 15 '19 at 15:43
  • Nice idea. It appears to be rock solid with Windows, but I'll test further. Will also test without Mesa (i.e. software rendering). – Marc.2377 Aug 15 '19 at 19:57

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