System Locks Up Randomly, Audio Loops Last 200ms

At seemingly random times, my system completely locks up. I cannot:

  • move the mouse
  • enter another TTY
  • put the laptop to sleep by pressing the power button or closing the lid

Interestingly, if audio was playing during the freeze, it will loop the last 200-300ms forever. The fans spin up gradually to their max speed over a period of about 3 minutes after the freeze.

The only interaction I can have with the system is to switch between the keyboard backlight levels of 0, 1, and 2 using the function key.

This issue occured on a previous installation of Fedora Workstation 38, on Fedora Silverblue 37, and on NixOS 23.05, so it may be a hardware issue or it may be Linux-specific.

I am currently running Fedora 38 Workstation on Wayland with an Intel i5-1135G7, 16GB of RAM, and 150GB of space on the root partition (because of a previous dual boot). I’m on btrfs and PipeWire as well. I have 8GB of zram (zswap? I’m not sure if there is a difference). I use Flatpaks pretty heavily. I’m on a Dell Inspiron 7506 2n1.

My first thought was that it was related to resource constraints, like memory pressure or CPU lockups, but much of the time it happens when my system is under relatively low load. It does seem to happen slightly more often when under load, but I don’t think that is the only issue. My RAM and CPU (as shown by an indicator in the top bar) are at very reasonable levels when it freezes.

Second, I thought it might have to do with a specific setting or application, including video decoding, virtualization, or gaming. However, this seems to have been mostly disproven. At one point in time, I had changed some mount options in /etc/fstab like noatime, and I thought that those might be causing it, but there was no difference between on and off.

I have looked through a couple of logs, but I’m not very experienced with them so I don’t know exactly where to look and what to look for. Nothing really stood out to me.

Let me know if there’s specific details I can provide that would be helpful.

When reporting problems it is good practice to:

  • provide enough detail to allow others with the same hardware to reproduce the issue. You can do this by posting (as text using the </> button or bracketing the text with triple backquotes) the output of inxi -Fzxx or the link to a Linux Hardware Database (LHD) probe after uploading the sanitized probe.

  • make sure OS and firmware updates have been applied (this avoids wasting time on issues that have already been fixed, and helps ensure that your configuration is close to what others are using).

  • run memtest86+ and check the drive health (e.g., using Gnome DIsks)

If you have access to another system you can try connecting to the “locked-up” system with ssh to see if the issue is a kernel crash or failure of keyboard or display.

You can use journalctl -b N to look for errors around the time of the issue on a previous boot.

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As suggested, you might also post the output of inxi -Fzxx (as preformatted text using the </> button on the toolbar) so we can see many details of the hardware, OS, and drivers involved.

Have you installed codecs from RPM Fusion? I had a similar issue with freezing, which occurred seemingly randomly, but after a bit of analysis I noticed that freezes happened when multimedia was involved, like watching a video from the web or in a media player or just browsing folders with media files (thumbnails).