[Techtalk] lockup keyboard lights blinking

Telsa Gwynne hobbit at aloss.ukuu.org.uk
Tue Feb 18 14:24:38 EST 2003

On Mon, Feb 17, 2003 at 04:28:08PM -0600 or thereabouts, Gretchen wrote:
> I have never had Linux really lock up on me until today.  My mouse quit 
> responding, and my caps and scroll lock lights were blinking.  I've had this 
> happen twice today both times when I was transfering files over usb.  Could 
> this be the kernal or BIOS trying to tell me something about the lockup?

Yes :) Older Linux kernels blink the lights in a set pattern to say
"I have crashed".

Newer Linux kernels blink the lights in morse code (!) to say "I
have crashed, and here is a clue to why..." It cycles through the 
same message several times. 

Apparently there is now work on writing something to decode the
morse for those of us who can remember how to send or read their 
name and not much else :) 

If you were running in X, you won't have got the OOPS message which
will have appeared on the console when it crashed. If you can stop
X and run the command that's causing it at the console command line,
you will get an oops message. This is a long set of hex numbers,
which are memory addresses. It is what kernel hackers use to figure
out what went wrong. 

(If you have a digital camera and no sunlight on the screen, I
must say that taking a photo of the oops and sending the URL to
where it can be found (not the entire photo!) is a _lot_ faster 
than copying the wretched thing down by hand...) 

There are instructions in the kernel source tree (and all over
the web) on what to do with your oops, but they may look a little 
intimidating. They are better than they used to be, though. If 
you want to have a go at working through them and sending a bug 
report, say, and we can give it a go.

Whether you get "I have crashed" or the morse code clues will
depend on what kernel version you are running. So the kernel
version will be a start :) 


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