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Stuck at a gray screen after latest upgrade

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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Hi,

I've installed Pop OS today and all went well. When I logged in, I decided to update my system with "apt upgrade". After that, when my system boots and I enter the hard drive password, it gets stuck at a gray screen. My external 4k monitor does not turn on, which makes me think it's related to the upgraded NVidia driver.

The only way to exit the gray screen is to briefly press my laptop's (a Dell G5 5590) power button, which for some reason forces the boot to continue, after which the 4k monitor turns on and the GDM screen shows up with the user names. The issue looks similar to the following thread but in my case, Pop OS is already installed:


I'm new to the forum, so I'm not sure what information to post in order to help debug the problem. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks
 

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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Errata: when I briefly press the power button, the laptop is suspended. Then I have to press the power button again to wake up for the boot to continue.
 
Last edited:

derpOmattic

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What version of Pop are you on?
What happens if you press crtl + alt + F3? (or F4)
If that works TTY3 or TTY4 will ask for your username and password then log in without the graphical display. If you can log in that way we can see what's happening via CLI.
 

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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@derpOmattic Yep, I am able to login. Now I know what the issue is. I've upgraded from nvidia-driver-440 to nvidia-driver-455 and that's exactly what's causing the issue.

The problem is that my external 4k monitor doesn't power up when gdm starts but the laptop screen does. So if I suspend the system and wake it back up, the 4k monitor powers up normally and then I am able to login (I can login without the external monitor as well). So it seems to be a problem of the new NVidia driver with my external monitor, which is not powering up upon boot. Also, when Gnome blanks out the screen after some idle time, the same problem is back again.

I'm trying to downgrade the nvidia driver but that is an incredibly difficult task. I've tried the following:

Code:
sudo apt-get purge '*nvidia*'
sudo apt-get install nvidia-driver-440
But that will always bring the newest 455 versions of whatever nvidia package the metapackage contains. Even if I skip the nvidia-driver metapackage and try to apt install all the packages individually, the same behavior persists. I'm still researching how to downgrade the nvidia driver, so far with no success.
 
Last edited:

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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OK, I managed to downgrade to nvidia-driver-450 and the problem was solved.

Unfortunately, I had to download the driver from NVIDIA's site, stop the gdm server, log in to a TTY, and install it on top of the 455 drivers by running NVIDIA's .run file. I really hoped I could do it through apt but it's weird that it always insists on pulling the latest versions. The following threads helped me:


However, that is not ideal, and I still wonder what happened and why my external monitor is bugged with the latest version. I just can't bother to make the computer sleep and wake it back up everytime that bug happens with the latest driver.
 

derpOmattic

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If you don't want to upgrade NVIDIA drivers for a while you can use sudo apt-mark hold <package(s)>.

In regard to the sleep/suspend/wake issue, some people with NVIDIA GPUs benefit from enabling hibernate instead of suspend. Maybe read up on it and see if it sounds like your situation. This thread has four scenarios: a default encrypted with swap partition, default unencrypted, Legacy GRUB and encrypted with swap file. Make sure to read all of it.
 

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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If you don't want to upgrade NVIDIA drivers for a while you can use sudo apt-mark hold <package(s)>.
The real problem is that after you upgrade the NVIDIA driver, there's literally no way to rollback with apt because it will always try to install the most recent version of the driver regardless of you explicitly choosing an older version, so `apt-mark hold` is not useful for my case (actually it might be useful from now on). As I said, I managed to solve the problem by downloading the 450 driver from NVIDIA's site (a file with a .run extension) and overriding Pop's 455 driver. If anyone knows a cleaner way to rollback with apt please let me know.

In regard to the sleep/suspend/wake issue, some people with NVIDIA GPUs benefit from enabling hibernate instead of suspend. Maybe read up on it and see if it sounds like your situation. This thread has four scenarios: a default encrypted with swap partition, default unencrypted, Legacy GRUB and encrypted with swap file. Make sure to read all of it.
I have no problem with suspend. The problem is that NVIDIA 455 messes up with my external monitor and the only way to make the monitor work is to suspend the laptop and wake it back up. The problem returns whenever the monitor sleeps.

With NVIDIA 450 everything works OK, so it's really a problem with the latest NVIDIA driver (455).
 

SteveS

New member
Aug 24, 2020
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Hmmm, this is suspiciously similar to an issue I'm having after a recent upgrade. Pop version is 20.04 and reinstalled last weekend while I was changing things about. The system was typically booting to desktop in a few seconds but now gets stuck on a grey screen for exactly 1m 30sec before the hard disk comes active and boot reaches the desktop. I'm using AMD open source drivers. The time makes me think it's waiting for a stop/start job to occur? How do I check the boot logs again?


EDIT: Fixed it. I used
Code:
journalctl -b
and scrolled through the boot log until I came across a gap in the time stamp. It related to a partition I'd set up to mount at boot during the latest Pop install but something went awry and I hadn't fixed it yet. The partition ended up not being readable after the install for some reason. I went to /etc/fstab and commented out that line and I'm back to regular boot times.

@thiagoaraujos, try and be patient and let the machine boot and time how long you're on the grey screen (don't give it much longer than 1m:30s) to see if it's waiting for something. If so, try that command above in terminal and scroll through and see what you find. Your external monitor may not be starting because the system hasn't reached the graphical state yet?
 
Last edited:

thiagoaraujos

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Oct 17, 2020
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@SteveS Thank you for the comments! Actually, it reaches the graphical state and I'm even able to move the mouse and see the cursor on the secondary monitor (the laptop's monitor). However, the primary (external) monitor was not starting so it gave me the impression the system got stuck at a gray screen, but it turns out the gray screen is Pop's GDM background and I'm able to move the mouse. In other words, on the secondary monitor, it's just a gray screen, and the primary monitor is supposed to show the user names, etc, but I was not seeing them due to the monitor's failure to start.

So it's really a problem with NVIDIA's driver, and specifically on my external monitor. After rolling back, everything is now working OK.

Thank you to everyone who commented here! I'm still curious about a better solution to rollback the NVIDIA driver but I'm happy that everything is now working OK! The NVIDIA driver still has some minor issues, like occasionally messing up with my dual monitor layout after waking up from suspend, but I'm running a system-sleep script on wakeup to always reapply whatever configuration is set, so it's all good now. A little hack here, a little hack there to overcome a few issues but overall I'm pretty happy with Pop OS.
 
Last edited:
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