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Ubuntu 14.04, Kernel 3.13 crashes very frequently, notably when using Firefox, Eclipse and VLC. The effect of the crash is:

  • all USB devices stop responding
  • if playing a video, it hangs up and sounds like an old stuckup record (plays a second of the video in an infinite loop)
  • if I try re-pluging the USB devices they don't receive power
  • Hence SysRq does not work
  • no entry in kern.log or syslog

Note: nothing mentioned in the official debugging solution at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/DebuggingSystemCrash works for obvious reasons, no input devices active.

I have tried the following without luck

  • updating kernel (tried 3.19)
  • changing graphic drivers (nouveau, nvidia 331, 304 and 340)

Additional Information:

Edit: I am very excited, the problem is NOT solved, but for the first time, the system spit out a readable error.

System Setup: Kernel 3.18.7 - Nouveau Drivers

Error Image enter image description here

Alternate Error Image enter image description here

Any help will be greatly appreciated, even a whisper or debug options.

Edit 2015/02/24: Just remembered another piece of information that might help, I faced the same issue with Ubuntu 13.10. I solved it by replacing nouveau driver with nvidia 331.113 and turning off hardware acceleration on Firefox and VLC. Eclipse still crashed now and then, but tolerable (sad to say that).

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You can view some messages from the previous boot through journalctl with e.g. journalctl -b -1 (the -1 means "previous boot", -b -2 would give you the one before that etc.). The journal won't keep logs across boots unless the directory /var/log/journal exists, so sudo mkdir /var/log/journal if it's not there (and then systemctl restart systemd-journald or reboot to make it notice it).

Magic sysrq doesn't work when the kernel has panicked, which seems to be your situation. (But in case you want to make sure you have it otherwise, do cat /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq to check whether sysrq is enabled. 0 is disabled, 1 is enabled, other numbers enable individual features.)

Another thing that may be useful is to try a live distro in order to test very recent kernels/drivers; live/resque distros may make it a bit safer to experiment with various driver versions. Of course, it helps if you're able to find a "minimal" or as minimal as possible situation that reproduces your crash, so you don't have to be in that live session longer than necessary to find out if it's going to crash or not :)

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