What To Do If Your System Is Frozen

This topic came to my mind two days ago when I switched back to Jaunty Jackalope. I had dutifully typed in update-manager -d and gone through the steps to get Jaunty, complete with the Nvidia graphics driver 180 (which has replaced 177) up and running. Bingo! My system froze. I could move the cursor, but nothing was responding to the clicks. What to do?

As a well-versed geekette, I knew that hitting the power button should be the last resort. (If the system is writing to disk when the power button is pushed, the files will be messed up.) Thankfully, I had memorized the following sequence: REISUB. As in, holding down ALT + SysRq (Print Screen) and then typing REISUB.

What this sequence does is to allow you safely to reboot your system. I even found a definition of each letter in the sequence:

R Switch the keyboard from raw mode to XLATE mode (let the commands get through)
E Send the SIGTERM signal to all processes except init (terminate things nicely if possible)
I Send the SIGKILL signal to all processes except init (OK, processes must DIE now)
S Sync all mounted filesystems (make sure they’re not messed up)
U Remount all mounted filesystems in read-only mode
B Immediately reboot the system, without unmounting partitions or syncing.

(If you just want to shut down the computer, incidentally, the sequence is REISUO.)

I found, while trying to get enough information to submit a bug report to https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/, that my computer was not as dead in the water as I first feared. I still had the same problems after I rebooted, but I found that making use of the underscored letters on the commands at the top or bottom of applications would let me do far more than reboot.

For instance, in Firefox, there is a row starting File Edit View etc. The first letter of each is underscored, to let you know that ALT + that letter will run that command (here, pulling down a menu). Given that Firefox was one of the places where my computer had frozen, being able to get to the part of the menu that would let me CTL + Q (quit) was very much appreciated.

Happy Ubuntuing!

P.S. In my last post, I wrote that you would need the human icon set in order to benefit from Notify OSD’s beautiful, clean notification system. That was the information I had at the time. I use another set that is paired with the Clearlooks theme, and I have had no trouble.

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