Ubuntu – Dual Boot on Dell G5 SE w/ AMD Ryzen 7 4800 – Display Issues


I had to quickly replace a laptop that suddenly failed. On a whim, I bought a Dell G5 SE with a AMD Ryzen 7 4800 card. This solved an immediate need to continue working, however, I want to switch to Linux for a variety of reasons. I realize this is not a site to ask for advice, however, I've never installed Linux, don't know much about hardware, and am hoping this post can be helpful to any longtime Windows user wanting to make the jump to Linux

I have tried installing Ubuntu 18.04 as well as 20.04 (the latest). Both of these installs have not been ideal, and I think it has to do with my graphics card, which is AMD Ryzen 7 4800. Its a newer card, and I gather that support of this card from the community is lagging. I concluded this because when I install Linux, I would get caught in infinite boot – the system would never boot into the OS. Troubleshooting lead me to conclude Linux did not have the necessary drivers for my video card, and I don't know how to remedy that.

When I install Ubuntu 18.04, the OS wouldn't boot unless I updated the kernel to use nomodeset. This was fine until I tried to use the HDMI port on my machine, or change any of the Display settings. I went looking for AMD drivers (specifically, AMDGPU), and those didn't fix the problem, and in fact, messed up the graphics on Windows too. I ended up doing a factory reset and starting over.

When I install Ubuntu 20.04, I basically had to start it in safe mode, and upgrade the kernel to 5.7 by following these instructions. Like I said before, I'm a novice Linux user, and not exactly sure what this means, but from reviewing posts that sounded similar to my problem, that was the best, most straight forward answer to try. After upgrading the kernel, I could boot normally, without special parameters. Everything worked great, for about 15 minutes. After that, my machine would freeze. Sometimes the mouse would remain active. At one point, I had a youtube video playing when it froze – the audio kept playing but the screen was frozen. Not exactly sure what triggers the freezes, although each time I tried changing the Display settings, the system would freeze. Furthermore, I could not play audio through the HDMI – only the system speakers would work. The system did not feel hot, so I'm not sure I can blame over heating on this.

So in short, what should I do? Should I try to run multiple displays via a USB-C and not use my HDMI input? Not sure if that bypasses the video card or not. Does anyone know why my machine crashes using Ubuntu 20 w/ 5.7 kernel? Should I get another laptop that has an older graphics card that would be supported?

Best Answer

I took the suggesting in the comments and installed Ubuntu 20.10. I didn't have to modify any kernels, and my hdmi port worked the whole time during install. After install, and I started to install programs and adjust settings, my machine crashed and froze up a few times. But then I installed all the requested software updates, and I haven't had any problems since.