Troubleshooting tips needed

I'm stuck with Windows for some work functions but I love to play with Linux distros and always have at least one installed on a separate SSD on my workstation. Zorin is the first OS that makes me want to keep it around and do everything I can to stop using Windows. However, I've always had issues with any Linux distribution crashing or having graphic issues (black screen, can't get out of it without a reboot). I just dealt with them in the past because I knew I was going to end up on Windows anyway but now I want to find the root cause and get rid of it once and for all. I would like help in general troubleshooting for crashes and any Zorin-specific info that can be provided.

AMD Ryzen 5 1600 CPU (first gen)
Gigabyte AX370 Gaming mobo

The hardware always has the latest updates.
The reboot/black screen issues have occurred with this hardware config from the beginning and I've tried Ubuntu, Fedora, Manjaro, and at least half a dozen others whose names I can't remember.
I've used custom AMD drivers in the past but haven't bothered in at least a year because they made no difference in stability.
I enabled crashdump today and confirmed it is ready to store the dump (hasn't crashed since I rebooted after installing crashdump)
I ran 2 passes of Memtest86 today with zero errors.

Not only do I want to keep Zorin installed, I'm ready for a hardware upgrade (CPU & motherboard, might go with onboard graphics this time). Before I buy new stuff, I really want to do all I can to find the root cause of the issues just in case there's a change I can make to improve stability. Any advice is appreciated!

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Considering that you have had no luck on any distro, it really comes down to what you say above.
AMD is rather lackadaisical in their support for Linux. The company donates to Linux (Fedora, I believe) but provides no real support code-side. They say that their drivers are open source... but there is a lot of code not put into the open source. They just keep it... and post some old drivers on their website and say, "Here, Linux. You can have these."
There is, sadly, no direct fix. That so many distros cannot work on that hardware is a testament to this. There is plenty of motivation and no luck.
Finding the root cause would require digging through the AMD drivers and finding the conflict.

Thanks for the response! I have an older NVIDIA card that I can use to see if the issues are only on the graphics side and don't extend to the CPU and chipset. I'm glad I started investigating before rushing out and buying more AMD gear!

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-Chuckle- Uh... How old is this Nvidia card? You may be jumping out of the frying pan, into the fire.:wink:

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I kinda suspected that I might be setting myself up to fail with that one!

It is worth trying anyway.

For the vast majority of people, their Nvidia and AMD products work just fine. It's just when they don't, fixing the issue is like pulling teeth.

Finally, a support related post that involves some science! I love it when other folks are happy to do some good solid science testing, and swap parts and see what works and what doesn't work.

Just make sure you keep account of everything you do, so that you have something to fall back on incase there are issues that are caused by you yourself. But I love your willingness to try new things.

And I will tell you something else, you have no idea how lucky you are to have other parts on hand when it comes to GPU's. We are in a serious tech shortage that has effect GPU's heavily. Most people can't get video cards anymore.

And have you seen the cost on these new video cards? Holy shmokies, I know, outrageous prices. Anyways, please keep us updated, I am interested in how you make out.


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I forgot to mention that the issues occur with both X11 and Wayland.

The Black Screen of Doom struck overnight (technically, it isn't Death but I can't think of anything more clever than Doom at the moment). I had to do a reboot and that did trigger a crash dump. Do I know how to read a dump? Hell no! But it seems clear that it's hardware and it won't be fixed by software. The NVIDIA card I have is the GTS 450 and it is supported in legacy NVIDIA drivers. I'll give it a shot tonight.

I'm painfully aware of the GPU shortage that even predated the worldwide chip shortage. The GTS 450 has a sister and was running in SLI mode in my son's PC when the sister croaked. The single card couldn't run his games so we went looking for a modern replacement. And looking. And looking. I can't remember product names but it was shortly after the launch of the current gen cards. We found a previous gen, but still awesome, card at Best Buy for list price. I don't know how that fell into our laps! Long story short, if the GTS 450 is stable I will keep it. I don't play games and I'm not about to pay a premium for a video card!

GTS 450 installed along with the proprietary NVIDIA driver. Should be fun!

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I threw the bank at my PC, but intentionally opted for Intel with UHD graphics because I knew I would be running Linux and had previous problems with NVIDIA support.

So I would be interested to learn how you get on both with the AMD processor and GPU.

I'm no Linux expert but I've found that in some cases the Xfce version of a distro runs fine while the Gnome version has weird graphics issues and sometimes crashes.

The bad news is that I had another black screen freeze overnight. The good news is that after I remove the NVIDIA card my eyes won't bleed looking at a low res screen!

I don't think the NVIDIA experiment proves or disproves anything, given the age of the card. The AMD chipset can't be ruled out, either.

A large part of Zorin's appeal is how good it looks with the Gnome desktop. That said, a black screen (or hard crashes) looks the same with any desktop. I'm going out of town for a few days but when I return I may do a separate install of the Lite XFCE version.

Maybe what I need is separate Windows and Linux PC's and a KVM switch. Assuming I can find a bulletproof hardware config for the Linux machine!

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I tried Zorin Lite. XFCE looked better than I expected it to but it's not something I want to work with on a daily basis. I'll upgrade using AMD for Windows and make a separate PC with Intel and UHD for Zorin. And try to find a good KVM switch.

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You gave it a fair chance. AMD can be a bit sticky on Linux in general, no matter which desktop you use.

So...I'm an idiot. I like to share with others when I do something stupid because it makes me feel better if someone learns from me, laughs at me, or feels smarter than me. It's a service I provide. The stupid thing I did was trust the Windows BIOS updater for my motherboard. I've built my own PC's since the mid-90's and one of the primary rules has always been "Don't trust a Windows BIOS updater." But that's what I did.

The Gigabyte app told me I was at 'x' level BIOS and the updater didn't find any updates. Made sense because it is a gen 1 Ryzen board. Before I gave up entirely, I decided to check Gigabyte support and discovered there have been quite a few updates that the app never found. I decided to apply them and that's when it got hilarious.

I thought I was at the F31 BIOS. The non-Windows updater said I was at F4, which was released in 2017. The non-Windows updater was correct, I really had been sitting on a BIOS version that barely covered the early adopter Ryzen bugs. I've spent the morning slowly working my way up to F31, including a critical firmware update. Now I'll bring it up to current and see if that fixes the Linux issues!


It sounds like I was doing the same thing at around the same time... and reached to the same conclusion as you did :wink:

For those still following along, the BIOS and firmware updates made both Zorin and Windows grumpy. Which is understandable, given they presented 4 years of changes in one day. Windows can suck it, I'll get around to reinstalling it eventually. I think it's best to do a fresh install of Zorin so it encounters the new baseline architecture up front rather than trying to adapt to it after the fact.

I know that one is not supposed to update the BIOS unless there's a problem to fix but I wanted the Zen 3 CPU support and there were security fixes so I went all-in on the updates.

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Close, but no cigar. I made it 24 hours without any issues but sometime last night the Black Screen of Nothingness occurred. I'll go with the two PC's, one KVM approach and consider this topic closed. It's a bummer but dual-boot is a pain in the rear when you only need the Windows environment briefly for work each day so in the long run it's for the best. Thanks for the advice and hearing me think aloud!

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