12 Jul 2014

So I went a couple days this week without a working X server. The reason for this turned out to be really stupid, but I was worried.

First, Tuesday, I got this when I ran startx:

A photo of a Linux kernel panic message.

The message seems indicates a bug in the intel graphics driver – A NULL pointer dereference. I rebooted and it was okay again (for the time being). I took the photo so I could figure out what was wrong at some point, and maybe report a bug. I still haven’t gotten around to that.

The next day, when I tried to run startx, I was presented with a blank screen. I could switch to another virtual console, possibly killing X, but wasn’t able to use it. At this point I started to worry that my graphics hardware was failing. This time trying again didn’t do any good – blank screen every time. I just used my machine sans GUI for a couple days, having somewhat limited time to troubleshoot. I figured it out Friday. I had the following at the top of my .xinitrc:

xrandr --output LVDS1 --off

Facepalm. I have no idea how that happened, but, that would do it. For those not familiar with the command - this just shuts off the laptop’s display. It was running when I ran startx.

Agh, deleted the line, and got back to my life. I’m actually really perplexed by how that ended up there. I Still haven’t dealt with the kernel panic. It’s possible the machine was just overheating (it was really hot that day, and it had been running warm throughout that chunk of 90-degree days we had.