Please help me troubleshoot sddm login and display in X11 session on old Thinkpad

Hello. My old Thinkpad T510 has been showing me a garbled, but usable, sddm login screen. That has been an annoyance, but I can live with it.

More recently, though, after I enter my password and the laptop continues to start Plasma, the screen sometimes boots normally, but sometimes shows another garbled screen and freezes.

I’m trying to troubleshoot. Looking in the /var/log/gpu-manager.log, I see many lines that say “can’t access /run/u-d-c-nvidia-drm-was-loaded file” and finally:
“Takes 10000ms to wait for nvidia udev rules completed.
Single card detected
Nothing to do”

What other logs should I be looking at? /var/log/Xorg.0.log looks like it should be relevant, but it’s a lot to sift through.

Also, is this the right forum for this sort of question? I’m not sure if this is a KDE problem, an X11 problem, or a ThinkPad problem.

Any help in troubleshooting or finding enough info to ask an intelligent question in the appropriate venue would be appreciated! Thanks!

From “About This System”:

Operating System: KDE neon 5.27
KDE Plasma Version: 5.27.10
KDE Frameworks Version: 5.114.0
Qt Version: 5.15.12
Kernel Version: 6.5.0-18-generic (64-bit)
Graphics Platform: X11
Processors: 4 × Intel® Core™ i5 CPU M 520 @ 2.40GHz
Memory: 7.6 GiB of RAM
Graphics Processor: NVA8
Manufacturer: LENOVO
Product Name: 43142MU
System Version: ThinkPad T510

You can check journalctl and see if you can find what is going on.
sudo journalctl -b -1 -p 3 will f.ex show all errors from last boot.
Maybe something more in there to go on.

Also, that is a pretty old nvidia card in that laptop.
Internet tells me you have a NVIDIA NVS 3100M and a search on Nvidia’s website tells me you should use old drivers, I do not know how KDE Neon handles that, but it sounds like a driver issue to me.

Maybe you can use open source drivers instead if you not already are.
Sorry I can not be very more helpful than this.

you didn’t mention what video drivers you are using.

what does running ubuntu-drivers devices give you?

@bedna Thanks for your reply. Yup, old Nvidia GPU card. I used to use Nvidia drivers, which worked pretty well. But then the kernel dropped support for those drivers, so I switched to Nouveau. I am still using Nouveau, which worked well until recently.

The sudo journalctl command shows -- No entries --.

Also, the gpu manager log lists possible Nvidia cards, and my card is not among them.

I wonder if my GPU is falling out of support altogether.

@skyfishgoo Thanks for your reply. Oops, I forgot! Seems like an important piece of info. I used to use Nvidia drivers, but the kernel stopped supporting it, so I switched to Nouveau, and I’m still using it. Nouveau worked well until recently.

sudo ubuntu-drivers devices returns nothing at all!

I wonder if the GPU in my ThinkPad is falling out of support.

sounds like your trusty thinkpad is near EOL

maybe try a different resolution?

don’t know if its possible to have one resolution for the sddm screen and another for your desktop.

Not really, but also kinda.
On arch we have old sets of drivers we can use for nvidia, not sure how you handle this on Ubuntu, but that your card is not supported in the latest nvidia drivers is no question.

If you are using Nouveau and it just suddenly started to get worse and worse, your computer might suffer from hardware failure.
Because IFAIK nouveau did not drop support for older nvidia cards.

@skyfishgoo I suppose it might be time for a newer trusty old Thinkpad. You hear of folks rescuing old Thinkpads from a recycle bin; that’s exactly what I did. I put KDE Neon on it, and it’s been my daily driver for seven years. Not bad for a free laptop!

I think it IS possible to have a separate resolution for SDDM. I’ll look into that, thanks!

@bedna I run sudo sensors from time to time. Overall, it runs hotter than it used to.

Adapter: PCI adapter
GPU core:    1000.00 mV (min =  +0.80 V, max =  +1.10 V)
temp1:        +82.0°C   (high = +95.0°C, hyst =  +3.0°C)
                        (crit = +105.0°C, hyst =  +5.0°C)
                        (emerg = +135.0°C, hyst =  +5.0°C)

The GPU used to run closer to 70°C.

I wonder if new thermal paste would help. Nothing much to lose at this point.

Thanks for the replies!

my old craptop didn’t even have a heat sink on the GPU (old ATI with 64 whole MB of VRAM)

i hoping changing out the HDD for an SSD might lower the over all temps inside, but i don’t have any sensors at all in there.

I asked about this on LinuxQuestions as well, and someone suggested that I try to boot from a Live USB session to try to find out if it’s a hardware or software issue. So I made a Fedora 39 Plasma Live USB, and booted that.

It worked PERFECTLY. The splash, Plasma loading, the Plasma session itself, and SDDM all worked and rendered perfectly.

Also, it was a Wayland session, which has been problematic for me in the past. But it was fine.

Of course, a Live USB would have “Make this work on ANY computer” settings. I think that’s what I want!

All of this now leads me to think that maybe my problem is broken configurations, since I haven’t done a re-install in YEARS.

I removed my xorg.conf to try defaults, but that didn’t help. What other configs can I inspect, change, or remove?

Also, I rebooted into Neon like usual and selected the Wayland session. There were still garbled screens during boot. Also, it failed to boot once, like it has been lately. However, now that it has started, it seems to be working well, but that has been the case lately in X11, too.


i would just try creating a new user and copy your configs over one by one until it breaks, then that’s the problem one.

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