Linux Is Burning My Laptop

Update: I ended up buying a new Intel laptop with on-board graphics. I exclusively use Ubuntu Linux there. It has been quite a while now, and I’m pretty much used to the workflow in Linux.

It’s not that I don’t like Linux. My brother did manage to install Ubuntu on my other laptop. But you had to be very careful while installing updates. Installing any kernel updates would break the system and you’ll be stuck in console.

I don’t say one cannot recover from that, but hell I don’t consider that to be my job. If there are a bunch of commands I can run to fix it, then why hasn’t someone created an automated method for rectifying it? I love Linux, but the same laws of software apply to it as well. If it doesn’t work, it’s broken.

Every year, I get a weird feeling that I have to switch to Linux. And this has been going on since about 2004. But my current attempt almost burned my Laptop to ashes.

A little history

Back then, the internet connections in my country were not that fast. So, I used to purchase discs from a local website, which used to download new images as they came up. A little later, we started getting DVDs, which meant we could use a lot of applications without needing a fast internet connection to download them first.

I’m a programmer. And I understand how powerful Linux can be. However, whenever I used to install Linux along with Windows, it’d always mess up my Windows installation a few days later. Last time, fiddling with Linux made me lose my Master File Table. I had all the files, but just didn’t know where they begun and ended.

My current burning attempt at Linux

Last weekend, I decided to wipe out my freshly bought Windows 8 and replace it with Linux. I’m always leaning towards Ubuntu, since it’s the simplest to get started with.

I love my Windows 8, mind you. The boot time of 15 seconds is a life-saver.

However, my Linux installation had a problem. My laptop would start heating up rapidly. The safety mechanism would shut down my laptop to prevent damage. This wouldn’t even let my installation complete.

It didn’t make sense. But the half-installed Linux had already wiped my Windows installation.

It’s happening to a lot of people

Research a bit on the internet, I found that Linux did result in overheating of Laptops. Some power management gone wrong?

In the end, I somehow managed to get Ubuntu installed, maybe because the weather turned cool in the evening. But, running Ubuntu was also resulting in sluggishness and overheating. Eventually, my session would shut down automatically.

Back to square one

It was almost Sunday evening, and I had to get my Windows installation up and running with all the tools to prepare for the week.

My attempt at switching to Linux completely failed due to a problem I did not expect. My earlier attempts were all on desktops.

This problem seems to be there with a lot of distributions. And if this helps, I have a HP G2 2005ax (AMD based). Right now, I’m learning to live with Windows.

Can this be solved?

I know that there are a lot of hackers out there who might be able to diagnose and fix the problem. Can you guys figure out something? Switching to Linux can itself be a big learning curve (though not as much as Vim), but this makes it even worse. :(


  1. A quick Google search indicates that installing the proprietary AMD drivers will fix your overheating problem:

  2. Does your computer have switchable graphics?
    In this case, have a look at the vgaswitcheroo modules and/or update your video drivers from AMD website (and yes, they have some Linux drivers, if you look around long enough).
    Kernel/Driver issues like that one are solved by the truckload with each kernel update.
    Look around the kernel changelogs to see if anyone solved this problem lately.
    Good luck!

  3. If you are on a ATI/AMD platform, then overheating this is most likely a problem with the GPU. The open-source Radeon driver (which usually gets installed in the first place) has problems with power management. The fix is to install the current ATI proprietary drivers instead. See also:

    or to tweak the open source driver, if ATI's Catalyst driver does not (yet) support your card (anymore):
    and similar threads.

  4. I used to have this problem with an HP Omnibook. I wanted to install Ubuntu and it took me 2 or 3 attempts to install it, without having the laptop overheated. (Not by configuring but by keeping the laptop cool. ;))

    Not sure which Ubuntu version you use or which Laptop model, but the newer the better. You should go to and ask how you can solve it there.

    BTW: have you tried to modify to APM/ACPI/… option in your BIOS?

  5. Renato Santos says:

    I have the same problem with Unbuntu on my toshiba m505-s4947 laptop. :'(

  6. Sandy Bridge CPUs suffered a severe regression in kernel 3.6 the jury is still out whether 3.7 solved it might not. I have stepped down to 3.5. Basically: all operating systems suck. You can pick your poison, but it will be poison nonetheless.

  7. Before installing Linux, I took significant effort to research a laptop that actually had fully supported hardware.

    (In fact, there's a small list on the Ubuntu website for example, though that is limited).

  8. I had the same problem with linux as well. It would always heat up to more that 75 degrees so i had to fix them. But now its all working and power management tweaks i made got me the same power back as in windows. You can start here
    Also install power management utilities . some quick search would lead you to recommendations on phoenix websire.

  9. Well,

    Linux is all about openness and working in 80% of the cases. You're the other 20% :)

    I spent countless attempts on making my video drivers work, starting with Ubuntu 8. In 12.04 an install works out of the box. Maybe in a couple of years your problem will be solved two.

    Openness is great, until you have to work with other closed systems (like hardware drivers). Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Then it becomes a pain.

  10. Why would you run Linux outside of a VM?
    Currently, VMs offer close to native performance, and provide same 'hardware' on any PC host. Snapshots are also very helpful when something goes wrong.

  11. Ubuntu doesn't work too well on all laptop hardware. I've a triple boot system myself, with Debian, Windows 8 and Ubuntu installed on it, and while the other 2 work perfectly well, Ubuntu heats up the CPU quite fast.

    I would recommend you try your hands on Debian (also very simple to install and use, even if not as easy as Ubuntu). It is the most stable linux distro I've ever used. Don't use KDE though, it is more resource-intensive and could heat up your laptop just like Ubuntu does. Use Debian with Gnome3 or XFCE instead.

    If that doesn't work, you could always go for VMs inside your Windows system.

  12. Mihailo Joksimovic says:

    I had (almost) the same problem on my Dell M5010 laptop.

    Mainly I had problems even starting the (Ubuntu) installation. But, after overcoming that, LapTop was heating a lot, but since I was fully enthusiastic I "solved" it by buying external keyboard (lol).

    A year later, my laptop ended up in a garbage with dead motherboard. At that time I decided to buy a desktop comp. I did, installed Ubuntu and it seemed fine at first sight. However, few days later, bugs started popping out … Very frustrating ones really — Chrome is unusable for example, flash videos used to run at double speed, etc etc etc. Very frustrating.

    Today Im using Windows 7 + Debian on Virtual machine on work, and MacBook Pro at home and Im happy man 😉

  13. I don't had overheating problems with Linux, offcurse, using ATI propetary drivers in my HP TouchSmart (A laptop know by overheating xD). In Windows 7, it get more heat that in Linux (but not in Windows 8)
    But the funny fact is that for the next versión of Ubuntu (Using 12.04 here), I will be forced by AMD/ATI to use the open source driver, because they think that keeping update the driver for "old" gpus (HD3200) is a waste of time, and the old driver can't work with the nex version of Xwindows.

    So thanks ATI/AMD, if the quality of your drivers was a shit, now my computer will be force to use a legacy versión of linux or overheat because you think that opensourcing or at least keeping updated your fucking piece of shit drivers is a bad idea.

  14. I also tried Ubuntu on my laptop and the experience was horrible: it was slow, laptop was heating really fast, and a lot of small annoying freezes. Then I installed Sabayon and it was much better. I have Windows 7 also on another partition but since I installed that distribution I only use for occasional gaming and for a GPS program. So if you have troubles with Ubuntu try other distribution before saying "Linux is burning my laptop". "Ubuntu is burning my laptop" would be more accurate.

  15. Run Ubuntu 12.04 32 bit (currently the most stable and well supported Ubuntu version) in Oracle's VirtualBox (free VM software). It's trivial to install and run (I had mine up in about 15 minutes on a machine with an SSD). And the VM runs nearly as well as native. Certainly, I can't tell the difference. It helps that Linux isn't a beast like windows. With a host machine that has 8 gigs of RAM and is at least dual core, you shouldn't even notice linux is running. Full screen it and it's like you have it installed natively. Now that I've done it, I'll never go back. Why relegate your machine to only linux, when it can be linux and windows with zero pain?

  16. I have a similar experience on my ThinkPad T400 with switchable graphics. However, with thinkfan installed, it really helps cool down the system quite a bit (dedicated graphics card still hovers at 90 to 95C though). Overall, the experience on ThinkPad is decent, and it has been a great platform for me to get fully immersed in Linux world

    Now, I tried to deploy Ubuntu 12.10 on my 2011 iMac. The experience is horrible at best. Ubuntu does overheat the whole iMac, plus it requires manual tweaking of brightness upon each boot up (truly a PitA). Looking at the bugtracker, the brightness bug has been around since forever, but I guess no one cares to fix it, so it is a low priority. Maybe it will take a couple news report on people going blind from using Ubuntu on iMac…to nail the bug once for all.

    For my 2010 Macbook Pro, I just had my motherboard replaced due to faulty nVidia chipset, most likely caused by thermal fatigue from simple daily use of Mac OS. So if Mac OS can trigger this graphics card issue, I wouldn't recommend running ubuntu on it at all.

    The point is that ubuntu needs to improve its out of box experience. It is still not quite near where Windows or Mac OS is today.

  17. I think you mean G6 2005ax and not G2 2005ax. This made me smile a little because I have a G6 2005ax laptop and I was struggling around with the EXACT same problem for a while. As others have mentioned, it has to do with open source drivers. the solution is simple: Go to the AMD website and download and install their Catalyst driver for your laptop. Then, open Catalyst Centre as administrative user and in the ‘Switchable Graphics Tab’, select the option for using only your integrated GPU. That solves the problem. i struggled with this for QUITE some time.

    Also, I feel the need to add that this problem occurs in every linux distribution. And the solution is the same. You might have to clear up one or more dependencies before you get to install the driver software though. And also, although this might be slightly unrelated, if you when trying another linux distribution, you find that the screen blanks out when you try too boot the linux DVD, use nomodeset as a booting option to boot the DVD and install it. Then, when booting into the new installation, use the nomodeset booting option again. After you install the AMD proprietary drivers, you will no longer need to do that.

  18. Raahul Seshadri says:

    Yes null, I meant to say G6. For me, installing catalyst drivers causes Ubuntu to boot in low graphics mode. The solution? I bought an Intel laptop with no external graphics, and it is running Ubuntu wonderfully.

  19. Steady Eddie says:

    Linux on a laptop is an f’ing nightmare. I’m not 16 yrs old any more and don’t have 2 weeks to devote to tuning cpu frequency, upgrading kernels, messing with all the sys tunables…. damn shame, because I’m sick of running windows on my laptop. I have no choice because I don’t want to kill my laptop.

    I am chumba wumba

    • Raahul Seshadri says:

      Exactly my sentiments. It’s not about “there are commands you can type to fix it.” I don’t want to type in endless commands I don’t understand just to get the system to work. People badmouthed Microsoft for messing up a lot of things in Windows, and still do. Linux deserves the same privilege.

      Note: I bought a new laptop and exclusively use Linux on it. Don’t take my comment to be from a M$ fanboy. But some things have to be said about Linux, however valuable it already is to me.

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