Monday, June 18th, 2007...11:32 pm

White screen of Death

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Oh! The last couple of weeks have been really dreadful. I have had ubuntu go crashing down …my website host had several outrages and I was left in the lurch trying to recover data. The latter has got a simple and elegant solution. You might have heard it being repeated several times before …and I will do nothing less than the same. The three steps to keeping your data safe on a hosted server are: backup, back up and backup. But better still to have a look at the tao of backup.

On the other hand I had the fortune of facing the white screen of death on ubuntu. Though wikipedia has a small write-up here, its nothing compared to what I faced. Although I am not sure why it happens ( I think it is to do with the display system – X server), I think I have got the solution to it. I had a really lengthy post out there in launchpad and two guys did their best to help me out. If I hadn’t chickened out and gone for the easy way out, we would have probably solved the problem. If this has got you curious you read about it here. But trust me when I say it will bore you to death. That brings us back to the white screen of death…

You have got three ways to sort this problem out:

  1. Option 1: If you have a Nvidia graphics card then simply,
    • Open up a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 (you could use F2 to F6 instead of F1) to enter a TTY session
    • Then log in with your username and password
    • At the prompt type the following:

      sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx

    • Remember that you will be prompted for your password and that you need a valid internet connection for this method to work.
    • After the installation is done, you will return to your prompt.
    • Now hit the combination of: Ctrl+Alt+F7 to return to your gnome session.
    • If you still face the white screen, then log back to TTY session.
    • Type at the prompt: sudo reboot to reboot your pc and see if this helps.
  2. Option 2: If oyu don’t have a graphics card installed then,
    • Open up a TTY session by hitting Ctrl+Alt+F1
    • After you are logged in, typ the following at the prompt:

      sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

    • A blue screen will open up and run you through various options. Hit enter to choose Yes and move on to the next option. Occasionally you may have to hit the TAB button to choose the OK option. For all of them the default options will suffice.
    • Stop at the section that mentions about Xserver loading modules when starting up. Run through the options using the UP and DOWN arrow buttons. Deselect, repeat deselect the glx optiion by pressing the spacebar (There should be no star between the parentheses next to the option.
    • After running through all the options you will be back at the prompt.
    • Try first Ctrl+Alt+F7 or sudo reboot to log back inot your ubuntu session.
  3. Option 3: Sometimes if you had enabled desktop effects enabled without having a graphics card aor having the restricted drivers then you are faced with the same white screen:
    • Again, enter a TTY session by typing Ctrl+Alt+F1
    • Run the following command

      sudo killall.compiz.real

    • Then reboot.

If all of these options do not work then you can post your problem in the ubuntuforums or in launchpad. There are many in the community who will get you out this sticky situation.

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  •   sudhakar
    August 29th, 2007 at 8:15 am    

    white screen problem…


    when i run compiz or beryl (UBUNTU)… am getting a white screen…

    when i press alt+tab , am able to see ubuntu icons…when i release then also it showing white screen…

    pls tell me what to do ?

    i installed beryl using suod apt-get install beryl

    is it correct ???

    my system conf :

    256 mb ram , intel 2.4 Ghz , intel 865 motherboard …

    pls tell me should i need to install anything…?

  • Have you tried what I have suggested in the post above?

    Try them if you haven’t, I am sure it will work.

  •   sudhakar
    September 30th, 2007 at 5:29 pm    


    I bought new desktop PC with intel core 2 duo , motherboard intel G33FB with inbuilt intel graphis accelerator..

    when i enable the desktop effects its giving me the white screen problem..

    Previously i got the same problem with my old PC …but solved it using dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg ..

    I selected “i810″ previously in the first step..and it worked fine.

    pls suggest me what to select during configuring since i810 is not working for my new motherboard.

    which driver i have to select…

  •   Alex Thompson
    July 23rd, 2012 at 10:53 am    

    The ideas shared by you looks good but i have not faced this kind of error till. I hope this might be helpful for me in someday. California website design

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