Misadventures in tech

AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series Freezing on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

I have a new desktop computer, complete with a Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU. As a linux user, I immediately installed Pop!_OS 20.04 on it as soon as it was built. However, I found that the system would randomly freeze:

  • Logging into a new session would sometimes freeze the system for 10+ seconds
  • Opening Firefox for the first time after a fresh boot would reliably freeze the system for 10+ seconds
  • Opening Google Maps in Firefox would sometimes freeze the system indefinitely
  • The system would sometimes display a black screen when resuming from sleep
  • Sometimes glitching/artifacting would happen after resuming from sleep
  • HDMI audio would sometimes stop working until a reboot

After trying unsuccessfully to debug using syslog and dmesg for a few days, I updated the Linux kernel. Lo and behold! All the abovementioned problems were gone. I suspect that the issues have to do with the kernel-level drivers for the AMD GPU. The linux version that ships with Ubuntu 20.04 (and all derivatives thereof) is 5.4, whereas I’m currently running 5.9.0.

If you experience any of the freezes listed above, try updating the Linux kernel.

How to Update the Kernel

In order to update to the latest kernel, I used the handy tool Mainline. You can install either via PPA or by building from source. As this tutorial instructs, on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, Mainline should get you all the way there. Unfortunately, with Pop!_OS, we have to manually make a systemd-boot entry.

Links describing the issue with Google Maps:

Links describing other freezing issues: