Linux Mint

Gnome 3 DE freezes in Linux Mint

So its been a few days now in the relm of Linux Mint and I seem rather pleased with it, except for one small yet critical bug.

Every once in a while the desktop environment of Gnome 3 seems to stall and lock up, with no prior warning. An apparent random freezing. Once this has happened re-focusing on different windows seems intermittent at best and impossible at worse. Usually one window will also remain unresponsive while the others can sometimes be switched between.

Continuing to use any extension or menu to switch windows (such as ALT+TAB, the start menu, or the infinity logo) has a high chance of just respawning Gnome 3 all together. If it respawns then all the windows seem to crash and their corresponding tabs at the bottom of the screen disappear too.

I’m usually not running anything intensive on my Toshiba Satellite Pro, just Chrome, Thunderbird and Clementine. All packages are updated to current.

Currently the only solution is to restart the X server (CTRL+ALT+Backspace) which will kick you out but bring the system back up. I can usually restart the X server, login again and be back at a working desktop in 20 seconds, but the annoying point is all unsaved data will be lost and your windows will obviously all be closed. (See the updates section below)

There seems to be a bit of chatter about this going back to December 2011, but no solution.


Update 30th March 2012: My system has been very stable today, with no Gnome3 craches or hiccups in 3 hours of usage. Two things I’ve done differently today is not open up Thunderbird and not allowed the DE to become locked due to inactivity. Perhaps I’m onto something.

Update 30th March 2012: The new LMDE Update Pack 4 is meant to update Gnome to 3.2.2, the kernel to 3.2 and drag Thunderbird up to version 11 (as well as some other stuff). Hopefully this will produce some more stability, but with no mention of the bug specifically, I wont be holding my breath. Source of LMDE update pack 4.

Update 7th April 2012: When the Linux system hangs, press ALT+F2 and then type “r” before pressing enter. This will hopefully reboot the Gnome3 shell without taking down the whole X environment, so you’ll even keep your open windows and work! Wahoo. Thanks to @owenreesh who send me this on Twitter.


If and when I fix this problem I shall edit this article to point out the solution.

If this is happening to your Linux Mint or other Gnome 3 based system please drop a comment below and I’ll inform everyone when a solution is found. If you know of a solution to this pleasssse share it to.


2 thoughts on “Gnome 3 DE freezes in Linux Mint

  1. Same things happening to me. My whole system freezes randomly. Mouse, most of the keeyboard, Ctrl+Alt+ Delete doesn’t call for reboot. I’ve designated a Xkill short cut Ctrl+Alt+X, that doesn’t work. What does work Ctrl+ALT+F1-F6 which drops me to a TTY login console. I could login as user or root from the console but cant kill the frozen session, or even login as root and initix or startx for a graphical interface for the signed in root user. My personal opinion Linux Mint 12 seems buggy at best, and maybe a bit unstable over all. Kind of a shame, I skipped 10 and 11, but MInt 9 Isadora was the stablest Linux I ever used. I’ll keep my eye on this post and update if I come up with something

    1. Thank you for your reply Childe.
      Whats happening to your system sounds even more annoying than whats happening with mine.
      Next time it happens, try pressing ALT+F2 and then typing “r” and hitting return. That reboots the shell without killing the enviroment, so you shouldnt lose anything (fingers crossed). Also do you use Thunderbird by any chance?

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