External monitor keeps going blank

Bug #1574617 reported by Hugh Wells
This bug affects 20 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone

Bug Description

I have an external monitor connected to my Thinkpad as an extended desktop. On Ubuntu 15.10 it worked fine but in 16.04 it 'crashes' under certain conditions.
When you move mouse from the external monitor across and hover over the laptop screen the external monitor blanks out. It sometimes 'comes back to life' after a few seconds. The monitor also sometimes drops out of it's own accord and appears to be random.
The laptop isn't disconnecting from the monitor as if you take a screenshot you'll still see your extended desktop with windows open but the monitor is no longer detecting a signal from the laptop.
To 'fix' either:
1. Run startx
2. Change something in the display menu (ie. the resolution), basically anything to force the laptop to 'update' the desktop and rescale
3. log out/shutdown/restart
4. Turn the monitor off and on, disconnect the cable (DisplayPort)

To be clear/Tldr; - this is not an issue with the monitor or cable, it still works fine with other laptops and had been fine up until the upgrade to 16.04. (When it initially started happening I assumed it was a cable issue so I have swapped out the cable a couple of times) and the monitor does not 'disconnect': just blanks out.

Hardware - Thinkpad T410 (Intel Ironlake)

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.04
Package: evince 3.18.2-1ubuntu4
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.4.0-21.37-generic 4.4.6
Uname: Linux 4.4.0-21-generic x86_64
ApportVersion: 2.20.1-0ubuntu2
Architecture: amd64
CurrentDesktop: Unity
Date: Mon Apr 25 13:26:31 2016
EcryptfsInUse: Yes
InstallationDate: Installed on 2015-09-21 (216 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS "Trusty Tahr" - Beta amd64 (20150805)
 PATH=(custom, no user)
SourcePackage: evince
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to xenial on 2016-04-22 (3 days ago)

Revision history for this message
Hugh Wells (winxp0922) wrote :
description: updated
Hugh Wells (winxp0922)
tags: added: blank graphics hardware monitor
Revision history for this message
Lucas Corte Real Saldanha (lucascrsaldanha) wrote :

I have the same problem happening after the upgrade from 15.10 to 16.04.

I have a Dell Latitude E7450 plugged into a dock with 3 external monitors (I'm not using the notebook display). After the upgrade by some reason two of the monitors randomly blanks and come back after 1 or 2 seconds. I couldn't find a way to reproduce the problem, it is random.

The interesting thing is that 1 of the 3 monitors never does that, the one that is using a VGA cable. The other two are using DisplayPort.

Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in evince (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Hugh Wells (winxp0922) wrote :

I'm thinking it could be a display port issue then?
My monitor doesn't take analogue inputs but has the issue with every digital port I've tried - docked or undocked. DisplayPort, MDSP, HDMI, DVI...

Revision history for this message
Lucas Corte Real Saldanha (lucascrsaldanha) wrote :

I found a way to reproduce it. It happens when the mouse pointer jumps between the two displayport monitors. If I keep moving the mouse between the two monitors it happens each couple of seconds.

If I disable the vga monitor. The problem is gone...

I have no idea of what is happening but at least know that disabling the vga monitor solves the issue for me.

Hopefully someone will find out what is happening.

Revision history for this message
Hugh Wells (winxp0922) wrote :

Hmmm, interesting - could be a display port issue?
I'm running Ubuntu 16.04 on a new laptop - Broadwell and I'm still having the same issues. Could we escalate this please?

Hugh Wells (winxp0922)
affects: evince (Ubuntu) → ubuntu
Revision history for this message
Lucas Corte Real Saldanha (lucascrsaldanha) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Lucas Corte Real Saldanha (lucascrsaldanha) wrote :

Linux kernel 4.5.3 fixed my issue

Changed in ubuntu:
importance: Undecided → Medium
Revision history for this message
Phil (phil-rosenstein) wrote :

Same problem here. ThinkPad Edge 15 with 2 external monitors. One is connected via old school vga connector, other is HDMI. Since upgrade to 16.04, the HDMI monitor intermittently blanks out when moving the mouse between the two monitors. In addition, there is a quick flash on the monitor which the mouse is "leaving". So if monitor A is on the left and B is on the right, and I am moving the mouse from B to A, B flashes right as the mouse passes to A.

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Jigyasu (arya-jigyasu6815) wrote :

I am also facing the same issue with 14.04 LTS and after that I upgraded to 16.04 LTS to resolve the issue but still this bug is there. I again reinstalled 16.04 two times to solve this issue because I'm not getting the appropriate solution and it's still there. Don't know what to do now ? Please guys can you help me How to resolve this issue.

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medevacs (medevacs) wrote :

Same here. Before I was using Xubuntu 12.04 LTS, everything was OK. Installed Xubuntu 16.04 from scratch and problem started - external display (HDMI cable connected to Thinkpad X220's display port via cable adapter) goes dark for a split second randomly. I have noticed this happens mostly, if not even only, when I watch a video on that screen. It can be a movie opened with VLC in fullscreen mode or youtube video in the browser's window. Interesting fact - it happens even if the video is paused. I highly doubt this is a hardware issue as it worked properly on 12.04 and on Windows 10. I also do not believe this to be related to faulty electric equipment at home as the whole setup is connected to an UPS so I hope whatever power fluctuations are there, get filtered out. Keeping mouse pointer either on main laptop screen or on external display, or moving fast between them does not make any difference.

Revision history for this message
Ron (rone) wrote :

Having the same problem here with a Dell Latitude with 3 displays, 2 DP, 1VGA Ubuntu 16.04, starting using 4.8-rcX kernels and around RC3 or so seems like the problem went away but then returned. Currently on 4.8.1 issue persists. Would be interested in any comments or workarounds.

Revision history for this message
Jigyasu (arya-jigyasu6815) wrote :

Finally for me the problem is solved last month by upgrading my kernel to 4.7 didn't remember the exact version now using 4.7.6 and still hasn't faced any problem. So guys who are facing the problem please update your kernel to 4.7.6. I guarantee you this problem will go away permanently from your Ubuntu 16.04. Here I am pasting a link to How to upgrade to 4.7.6 http://www.ubuntumaniac.com/2016/10/update-to-linux-kernel-476-on-ubuntu.html

Jigyasu Arya (lastnamearya)
<email address hidden>

Revision history for this message
medevacs (medevacs) wrote :

I did not choose LTS version of *buntu to be forced to manually swap kernels. I would expect this issue to get fixed and bugfix distributed via official update channels. Besides, knowing Murphy's Laws, if I update the kernel on my own, I will probably fix this issue but brake 10 others. So thank you but no thank you.

Revision history for this message
Alessandro Pellizzari (alex+pk) wrote :

I am still experiencing the problem on 17.04 with kernel 4.10.0-21-generic.

I'm on a MacBook 13" i5 (2015), with an external Dell P2715 monitor over displayport.

Revision history for this message
Elvis (lewis4u) wrote :

I too have this problem and it seems to me like it could be because of cable bad quality. I had some cheap HDMI cable and I also get blank screen now and then and it comes right back in 2 seconds. But when I changed the cable it never happened again.

Revision history for this message
Jari Hyle (rulqu) wrote :

I have EliteBook Folio 1040 ( kernel 4.10.0-40-generic ) and this is happening when connected to multiple external monitors. Otherwise it works fine but the screen which I am currently working on goes blank and comes back after few seconds. I tried using only one external monitor and it happened again.

This problem didn't exist with my old laptop but the fresh 16.04 install in the new laptop is misbehaving.

No problems with just the laptop's own screen.

Revision history for this message
Jari Hyle (rulqu) wrote :

I was able to reproduce this.

If I have terminal(doesn't matter if terminator or the one that comes with ubuntu) on and mouse pointer on the terminal while typing, it triggers the screen with the pointer to go black for a short time with the external monitors.

It doesn't seem to happen when the pointer is in another monitor while typing to terminal without the pointer.

Revision history for this message
bluehood (bluehood) wrote :

I can reproduce this consistently with one VGA and one HDMI monitor.

1) bring mouse pointer to VGA monitor
2) wait 4-5 seconds
3) bring mouse pointer to HDMI monitor, type ESC once or twice in a terminal

I tried fiddling with power management (`xset s off -dpms`) with no change in behaviour.

Revision history for this message
bluehood (bluehood) wrote :

The bug appears when switching from kernel version 4.9.0-3-amd64 to 4.9.0-4-amd64, and is still present when I try 4.9.0-5-amd64.

Downgrading to 4.9.0-3-amd64 worked around the issue.

Revision history for this message
abhimanyu (abhimanyu) wrote :

i am also facing the same issue on Thinkpad T410.
i did the following -
ctl + alt +f1 (it takes to run-level1),
#setsid unity

this will bring back the lightdm (display repo) but will kill the old sessions running.

Revision history for this message
Gamunu Balagalla (gamunu) wrote :

Looks like this is occurring on hybrid graphics systems. Not only Ubuntu, Arch, Fedora all affected by this bug.
I have two Dell Latitude 5580 and Dell Latitude e5570 laptops. One has Intel+Nvidia hybrid graphic system and other one has Intel+ATi hybrid graphic system. Both having the same issue HDMi goes to sleep immediately after X server starts.
The only desktop environment I found fixed this is Linux Mint Cinnamon and Mate both initially had the issue but after updating issue is gone. Looks like the bug is in the kernel.

Revision history for this message
Roland Lohner (loczaj) wrote :

Upgrading kernel to 4.17.2-041702 has solved the problem for me.

Revision history for this message
Julien-Charles Lévesque (jclevesque) wrote :

Duplicate status does not seem to be relevant, both because the issues described are different (flickering vs. completely black screen) and because the other bug is not marked as "Won't-fix" because it was reported on Artful.

I can confirm I have some form of this problem on an LTS release (16.04.5), computer is desktop and I only have the single monitor (Dell P2415, connected with high speed HDMI cable). Flickering happens intermittently (seems to happen more when I hover on icons in the launcher).

Revision history for this message
rbm (rogthefrog) wrote :

Same issue happening consistently for me. I've tried vanilla Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Mint 19, KDE Neon, same issue. I also have a mixed video hardware setup with dual onboard Intel outs and a separate Nvidia card with 2 outs. The 4 monitors are identical and all work, as so the cables.

Revision history for this message
Daniel (enoch85) wrote :

I am also affected. Running Ubuntu 18.04 MATE i686 with 1 VGA and 1 DP.

The DP screen goes blank randomly for 1 second and then comes back.

Running kernel 4.10.17 from mainline.

I could reproduce it by the steps provided in this issue.

Any fix for this sometime soon?


Revision history for this message
Oleg Gorobets (oleg-goro) wrote :

I am affected as well. I am running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on Dell Inspiron 15 with external monitor over HDMI. The screen randomly goes blank for couple of seconds, then returns to normal. It happens consistently. There is only internal graphics on this laptop (Intel HD Graphics 5500) so I don't think it is a hybrid graphics problem as it was mentioned before.

Linux kernel: 4.15

Revision history for this message
Oleg Gorobets (oleg-goro) wrote :

Update 1:
It looks like Dell Inspiron 15 indeed has some hybrid Intel/Radeon graphics but it was not clear to me at the beginning.

Update 2:
After fresh install of Ubuntu 20.04 (kernel: 5.4.0-33-generic) the problem still persists.

While I was on 18.04 I have discovered another error in syslog, which may or may not be related:
radeon 0000:08:00.0: failed VCE resume (-110). I have disabled VCE by following this advice (https://forum.manjaro.org/t/radeon-vce-init-error-110-hybrid-graphics/38845/7), the error log disappeared but the problem with blank screen was not fixed.

Any advice on how to investigate it further?

Revision history for this message
Chaim Eliyah (chaimeliyah) wrote :

Is this ever going to be fixed? This is persistent across many versions of Ubuntu.

Look, basically, if I tell your operating system to not turn the screen off, and your software does it anyway, and there's no workaround, that is a CRITICAL ISSUE.

And this is NOT a duplicate. Blank != Black. Starting the OS with a black screen is a different problem than "external monitor keeps going blank."

Revision history for this message
Halvor Lyche Strandvoll (halvors) wrote :

I am still experiencing this issue on Ubuntu 21.04, will this ever get fixed?

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