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Old 04-22-2009, 03:51 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Cambridge, MA, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu (Dapper and Heron)
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Appropriate terminology for "everything freezes"

This is a question about the right language to describe and investigate a sudden "hang" or "crash" of the computer. (Well, pointers to a fix would be great, too.) I've been using Linux for ten years and Unix for decades, but haven't come accross this behavior much, so I don't know how to search. A search for "Crash" brought up nothing useful.

The incident: I run Firefox 3.0 on Ubuntu "Hardy Heron" (= 8.04 LTS). On some web page (e.g.,, I click a button or link, and the computer freezes:
* The screen still shows the same content (no black screen, "kernel panic" or the like)
* The mouse pointer won't move any more.
* Keystrokes have no effect. That includes Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and CapsLk (which normally toggles the LED). Ctrl-Alt-F1 etc doesn't switch to other tty.
* The network interfaces stop responding to ping from other machines.

The only thing I can do is hold the power button for 7 seconds to turn it off cold, then power up to boot again. After the reboot, clicking the same button or link works just fine.

So, what do you call this kind of event in Linux Lingo? That would allow me to more effectively search for reports of incidents, and hopefully find fixes.
How do you investigate what's wrong? I don't suppose there would be a core dump or backtrace to be found.

As it happens once a day, it's kind of annoying.

Thank you,

Old 04-22-2009, 04:07 PM   #2
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"hang", "freeze" and "locks up" are all used to describe that kind of behavior.

Unfortunately so many users are inexact when they speak that you have to wade through many posts that don't really indicate a true "freeze" of some sort (especially the "everything freezes" - many users assume whatever affects them affects everyone and everything and it is often not the case).

You might put the word "host", "system" or "server" in your search to limit it to whole system "hangs".

e.g. "server freezes" or "host locks up".

P.S. I don't think there is an official designation for this.

You might want to insure you have kdump running and see if you force a dump when this lock up occurs.
Old 04-22-2009, 04:45 PM   #3
Registered: Apr 2008
Location: Toulon (France)
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I already have this kind of freeze by browsing webpage with many flash animations... While I'm not sure of the solution, I have the feeling that thing runs better since I've installed the adobe flash plugin instead of the free one. For fedora (and maybe ubuntu and other distro too), they have a repository. Now sometimes, there's just firefox that crash... Better than a whole system frozen... If it's really in relation with flash animations, you could use the "flashblock" firefox plugin.


crash, freeze, hang

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