Ubuntu – Dell Vostro hangs/freezes randomly after AC power or wifi swtiched off


I am running Natty Narwhal on a Dell Vostro (I don't know the model number). The machine will hang (freeze) hard a random time (0-5 minutes) after I either remove the AC power cable or disable wifi using the switch at the front of the machine.

Here are some details:

  • Hard freeze means even the mouse cursor doesn't move. I can't switch virtual terminals using "CTRL+ALT Fn".
  • I have not tried to ssh in from another machine, or using a serial console.
  • This is independent of the graphics driver (it's an nvidia card)
  • It's a Broadcom card, but I have NOT tried the proprietary drivers (wifi works)
  • If both AC power and wifi are on, but I switch off the wifi, it will soon hang.
  • If I boot up without the AC power, it will hang within a few minutes of boot
  • If I boot up with the wifi switched off, it will NOT hang, unless I pull out the AC power.

The frustrating thing is that last week I googled around and found someone with very similar problems (and they had a solution) but now I can't find it again. This person claimed that his machine also didn't crash if he plugged in an ethernet cable, and then unplagged the AC power. I have not tested this.

After pulling out the AC power, there is no change to the outputs of

  • lspci -nnvv,
  • lsmod, or
  • iwconfig.

Unless someone asks, I will not pollute this site with the complete output of all these commands; here is a selection:

iwconfig (full output):

lo        no wireless extensions.

eth0      no wireless extensions.

vboxnet0  no wireless extensions.

virbr0    no wireless extensions.

wlan0     IEEE 802.11bgn  ESSID:off/any  
      Mode:Managed  Access Point: Not-Associated   Tx-Power=0 dBm   
      Retry  long limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
      Power Management:off

lspci -nnvv (only the broadcom secton)

12:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM4313 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller [14e4:4727] (rev 01)
    Subsystem: Dell Device [1028:0010]
    Control: I/O- Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx-
    Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort- <TAbort- <MAbort- >SERR- <PERR- INTx-
    Latency: 0, Cache Line Size: 64 bytes
    Interrupt: pin A routed to IRQ 17
    Region 0: Memory at fb400000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
    Capabilities: <access denied>
    Kernel driver in use: brcm80211
    Kernel modules: brcm80211

lsmod | grep 211

    brcm80211             748941  0 
    mac80211              294370  1 brcm80211
    cfg80211              178528  2 brcm80211,mac80211

Best Answer

  • My DELL Vostro 3700 behaved very similarly last weeks. I've solved these issues today, after having installed 3.0.0-13-generic kernel. So, try to:

    • pass pcie_aspm=off to kernel (edit /etc/default/grub and run update-grub);
    • install Broadcom's STA driver which works great while on battery also.

    Hope this helps you too.

    Well, I have got my wired network with me while reinstalling BTA's drivers.

    FYI, now I have GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="acpi_osi=Linux pcie_aspm=off" in /etc/default/grub.