Using Linux

Using Linux: Solving the Frozen GUI Login Screen



This post is a re-post of a bug report that I posted on the Ask Ubuntu forum. You can view the original article/topic at the following URL:

1) The Situation

As of about two days ago, upon attempting to log into my Ubuntu machine, any inputs in the Ubuntu login GUI result in a total freezing of the system. Prior to UN/Password being submitted all elements of the interface behave as expected (to include widgets, mouse, keyboard etc.) The only recourse is to force shutdown.

Ubuntu GUI login screen frozen
Ubuntu GUI login screen

Background details:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  • MSI 64x single boot (UEFI)
  • Admin boot password is active
  • Any GUI-based login attempts lock the entire system requiring forced shut down

I’ve been trying to figure this one out since Saturday morning (almost two days now).

2) Known Facts

  • No errors currently exist in the system BIOS
  • Live images can boot into both Legacy and UEFI. (Tested with Kali live, Ubuntu Live, Grub2 Repair Disk, and the super awesome USB version of SystemRepairCD )
  • The projects I was working on prior to the manifestation of the issues at hand involved installing Google Cloud SDK, Firebase, NPM, and NodeJS.
  • Last week I set up a WAVES blockchain node

3) Hypothesis

The problem likely exists within a PATH conflict. I recall having trouble with some bugs related to NPM and NodeJS permissions and so (as is suggested in the official documentation, and as is suggested by Firebase documentation), I set up an alternative PATH.

Please see the following for reference: NPM: Fixing NPM Permissions

So all of that having been said, the problem remains. Additionally I attempted the following at the GUI login page:

(Control) + (Alt) + (F1)

The command froze my system… Again.

Please assist me with this error as I really need to be operational again before the work-week begins.

Thank you all in advance.


(20170724) It appears as if several other people are having issues with GUI related errors which come from the newest line of NVIDIA GTX graphics cards.


This post explains the basis for a working solution: How to change proprietary video driver using the command line?

In summary, the most recent Ubuntu update threw off the synergistic balance between many of the latest NVIDIA mobile graphics cards and the Ubuntu system. As a result, users were met by a frozen GUI or a command line upon attempting to log in after the update completed. Ultimately, the working solution is to take the following steps:

1) Reboot your machine

This may involve a forced shutdown if you’re stuck at the frozen GUI login page. To perform this, simply press and hold the power button till your system shuts down. Press the power button again to initiate the Power-On sequence.

2) Make sure Safety Boot is disabled

It is important that you perform this step as it will save you from having to perform another more complicated step during this process. “Safety Boot” is disabled via your BIOS/UEFI boot menu. Accessing the BIOS menu can be a matter of frustration for some, as the methods of entry are different for many computers (it’s based on your hardware, so you may end up having to look it up). That being said, MANY machines can be forced into the boot menu by consistently pressing (or holding) either the DELETE, F10, F2, SHIFT, or the ESC buttons several times during the initial booting process until the menu appears. Once you enter the BIOS menu, navigate through to the “Safety Boot” setting and ensure that it is disabled.

Please note that not all machines are equipped with Safety Boot.

3) Reboot your machine

After making sure Safety Boot is disabled, restart the system again

4) Access the grub menu and load the previous update

GRUB menu on Ubuntu
GNU GRUB (v2.02)

For some systems, the GRUB menu is displayed every time the computer is turned on. For other systems (like mine) you’ll have to press and hold the SHIFT key while booting up the system to access GRUB. Upon getting to the menu, navigate to the “Advanced Options” section and select the previous update of Ubuntu (just look at the version numbers).

GRUB advanced menu
GNU GRUB (v2.02) – Advanced Options

There is no need to access the system via safety mode etc. Simply use the previous edition of Ubuntu which predates the faulty GPU driver update.

5) Download alternative graphics drivers

Once inside the system you’ll need to get the Ubuntu driver tool by typing the following commands into your system Terminal:

sudo apt install ubuntu-drivers-common
sudo apt-get update

Now run the tool with the following command:

sudo ubuntu-drivers devices

This will give you a readout of your graphics cards and the available drivers which correspond to them. Here is an example of what this list may look like:

== /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:01.0/0000:01:00.0 ==

vendor   : NVIDIA Corporation
modalias : pci:v000010DEd00000DDAsv000017AAsd000021D1bc03sc00i00
model    : GF106GLM [Quadro 2000M]
driver   : xserver-xorg-video-nouveau - distro free builtin
driver   : nvidia-304-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-304 - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-331 - distro non-free recommended
driver   : nvidia-331-updates - distro non-free

Notice that one of the options says “recommended”. That’s the one to get. Just download and install that driver (and reboot the system) with the following commands:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-331
sudo apt-get update
sudo reboot

6) Reboot and update your system (the final step)

You can now log into your user account via the Ubuntu GUI (using the most current updated version of Ubuntu – the one you normally use by default).


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