I'm trying to troubleshoot an issue with my graphics card (Radeon RX590) in Ubuntu 20.04. The main symptom is that, after a few minutes (arbitrary length) the screen freezes for a second, blacks out, then comes back with all the graphics messed up:

photo of a distorted screen photo of a distorted screen

Is there a name for this specific sort of distortion? It's not "tearing", it's not "purple screen of death".

  • I dunno what to call that, but have you tried the proprietary drivers?
    – KGIII
    Nov 23, 2020 at 0:52
  • I can't get them downloaded fast enough - the screen crashes and I have to reboot before the download completes. At some point I'll get them installed though!
    – Wogan
    Nov 23, 2020 at 1:15
  • Hmm... Try adding 'nomodeset' to your boot parameters. A search engine will explain that for you.
    – KGIII
    Nov 23, 2020 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


These types of geometrical screen irregularities are . Visual artifacts are anomalies during visual representation of digital graphics and imagery.

A common cause of visual artifacts is a faulty graphics card if the computer has a graphics card installed. For other possible causes of visual artifacts search for questions that are tagged with the tag. Searching for combinations of tags will also help here. For example Ubuntu running in VirtualBox can have special types of visual artifacts that only occur in VirtualBox, and Ubuntu 20.04 can have special types of visual artifacts that only occur in Ubuntu 20.04.


I am having this exact problem, and have been for longer than 11 days; thus I haven't noticed your thread until now. :) My system only crashes after using Godot engine for a random period of time.

So, for those who hate chasing things:

Here is an extremely-easy-to-do walkthrough of how to add nomodeset to your boot parameters, along with an explanation of why that's a bad idea to do all the time. (Short version: nomodeset just turns off your video drivers entirely. Great for getting in to your system to download & install the right drivers; lousy for regular use where you wanna have 2 monitors &c.)

As per the suggestion above I will try to download the proprietary version of the drivers, although...it was supposed to ship with stable ones to begin with!

Edit: Following this guide, I tried the PPA third-party repository. They don't work, either. If I plug my monitors into my motherboard, things work okay, but...I don't get to use my video card. :( Things aren't as fast as they ought to be, &c.

I cannot figure this problem out. It makes me sad.

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