I've got a near-fresh Kubuntu 20.04 install. I was going through & getting everything setup, until it randomly failed to reboot. I'm using whole-disk LUKS encryption, including the boot partition (setup per here). The specific behavior is: I see the grub menu, select Kubuntu, enter my LUKS password, it successfully unlocks, then just freezes at the "Dell" logo.

Thanks to btrfs & Timeshift, I was able to rollback & figure out that it's installing build-essential that's causing it to break. I've tested it several times: I reboot smoothly, I do nothing other than

sudo apt install build-essential

I reboot again, and it fails. When it's stuck on the Dell logo, nothing is responsive - CapsLock light doesn't work, and no single key on the keyboard reveals anything (Ctrl+Alt+Delete works). If I reboot into recovery, drop down to a root shell, and

apt remove build-essential; apt autoremove

it still fails to boot. The only way to get it running again is to boot into a live USB & restore the btrfs snapshot from right before I installed build-essential. If I install build-essential again, it dies again.

Any idea how I could fix this would be greatly appreciated.

Edit 1: Because installing build-essential installs a bunch of other dependencies too, I actually went through them all & installed the dependencies explicitly, to see if it was one of them that was breaking the boot process. I have it down to just two: build-essential itself, and dpkg-dev, which are co-dependent. So it's absolutely one of those two packages, and nothing else.

Edit 2: If I edit the grub options to remove "quiet" & "splash," I can see that the final line of the boot process where it got stuck was "Starting Detect the available GPUs and deal with any system changes." The screen was flickering. However, a rebooted a second time & did the exact same thing - and that time it made it PAST that line, and the final line was "Started Run anacron jobs." Third try, the last line was "Started simple Desktop Display Manager." So it seems to be inconsistent where it's getting stuck.

Edit 3: If I boot to recovery, then continue boot, it succeeds. It only fails if I boot directly/normally. Even if I remove build-essential & dpkg-dev after the recovery boot, it still fails to boot.

Edit 4: Looks like this is graphics driver-related. If I add "nomodeset" to grub, it boots. Without it, it doesn't.

Edit 5: Solved by sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall. I still have no idea why build-essential would randomly break my graphics drivers & completely stop Ubuntu from booting - with no sane error message as a hint - but ~8 hours of lost time later, Ubuntu seems to be running stable again...

1 Answer 1


It was a graphics driver issue, solved by sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall. For specific steps in my debugging process, see the edits at the end of the original question.

In Ubuntu 22.04 and later use sudo ubuntu-drivers install instead.

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