I'm using a Ubuntu pre-installed Dell system equipped with AMD graphics, and it is running a Ubuntu 16.04. After a on-line update by sudo apt upgrade and reboot, I found my system is running in low-graphics mode and cannot login to the Ubuntu desktop successfully.

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  • This question has a whole bunch of answers that may be useful in your situation. The most promising answer out of them all may be this one. Let me know if that solution works or not :-)
    – Alex Lowe
    Dec 25 '18 at 7:18
  • @karel This answer is not out-of-date because the person who asked the question is using Ubuntu 16.04 and not 18.04 or greater.
    – Alex Lowe
    Dec 25 '18 at 7:37
  • @AlexLowe The fglrx answer is out of date for Ubuntu 16.04 because fglrx has been discontinued in 16.04 and later in favor of the built-in AMD driver.
    – karel
    Dec 25 '18 at 7:40
  • @karel Ok that makes more sense. Thanks for the clarification :)
    – Alex Lowe
    Dec 25 '18 at 7:45
  • @AlexLowe Never mind, I updated the question myself: askubuntu.com/questions/141606/…
    – karel
    Dec 25 '18 at 7:55

Users of Dell systems equipped with AMD graphics components running Ubuntu 16.04 may encounter system boot failure after carrying out an on-line update and it could be caused by the following 2 things:

Cause 1: The needed soft links in files under /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/ by the existing amdgpu dkms were overwritten by the mesa related packages in the update process, which results in a broken amdgpu driver.

Cause 2: The existing amdgpu dkms fails to build in the new kernel introduced by the on-line update, which also leads to a broken amdgpu driver.

  • Suggested recovery steps:

    1. When prompted by a "The system is running in a low-graphics mode" dialog box, try to switch to a virtual console, for example, by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F3 at the same time. And log in there using your username and password.

    2. Run the following command to remove the broken amdgpu driver and get the system to fall back to the built-in amdgpu:

      sudo apt purge amdgpu-core amdgpu-dkms
    3. Reboot the system and you should be able to successfully boot into Ubuntu Desktop this time.

    4. You can opt to install the latest packaged amdgpu driver here for better support of AMD's Raven Ridge APU and WX series graphics cards.

  • 1
    thanks, that helps. I purged the amdgpu-core and amdgpu-dkms, after that I can boot to Ubuntu desktop again.
    – Vic Liu
    Dec 25 '18 at 14:56

Ubuntu 18.04 may also encounter system boot failure after on-line update and it could be caused by: The AMD driver of the system is not fully updated during the update process, because to retire old AMD driver and install new driver, it needs to do the update several times, so the problem could caused by user do the system reboot before system complete the updates.

Suggested recovery steps: Restart the system with Ethernet cable connected, and press ESC when Dell logo shows, then it will show the grub menu, choose Advanced option for Ubuntu; Then Choose the kernel with (recovery mode); And choose the first option(normal boot) in recovery menu, it will boot with nomodeset kernel parameter; After boot into Ubuntu desktop, using command line or UI to do the update again, make sure all updates are completed, then system should reboot without problem, and the kernel should already be updated to 5.4.0 with new AMD driver.

BTW, it's better to make sure the update process is complete.

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