When my desktop rebooted after upgrading Ubuntu Gnome 15.10 to 16.04, startup gets stuck in a state where it constantly switches between a terminal and graphics mode, as if it tries to start graphics but fails. It keeps doing that every 10 seconds or so.

My system is a recent PC desktop with a decent NVidia GeForce GTX 970.

So I suspect a problem with the graphics drivers, and I'm savvy enough to try and repair it from a console... IF the system would let me have a console.

When I CTRL-ALT-F1 for the TTY1 console, I'm lucky if I can squeeze in a couple of keystrokes before it switches back to graphics (which doesn't work). Then I need to hit CTRL-ALT-F1 again to try and get the next few keystrokes in. This is not workable.

So then I decided to restart in repair mode. Same problem: can't get a working console.

So then I decided to try and repair it using the live DVD. But when I boot it it gets stuck. I get passed the UEFI stuff. I tried both "Install ubuntu..." and "Try without installing...", but in both cases startup just get stuck after a couple of minutes DVD activity.

Inspired by https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BootFromCD and https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BootOptions, I tried with several combinations of boot parameters, such as vga=791, noapic, noacpi, ... But none seem to make any kind of difference.

I've been using Ubuntu since Hardy, and I've hit "system broken after upgrade" problems several times before, but in all cases I was able to fix them using a console and/or live DVD. Except this time...

So I'm basically dead in the water here.


It is very difficult to type in a constantly switching console, but not impossible. I found out that the constant switching was caused by gdm3, so I stopped stopped it:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 stop

I could probably have done it by ssh-ing to my desktop as well, which would probably have spared me the difficulty of having to type in a constantly switching console.

Once I got my console back, I figured out that it was a combination of the kernel and the nvidia-304 driver that was causing the problem (the usual suspects). This got my system working again:

  1. Manually install kernel 4.5.2, as explained here: http://www.ubuntumaniac.com/2016/04/update-update-to-linux-kernel-452-on.html
  2. Purge nvidia-304 and install nvidia-361

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