Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Meltdown and Spectre patch stops Ubuntu computers from booting

It's not just Windows – Linux Ubuntu systems being bricked by Meltdown/Spectre patches, too Meltdown & Spectre Patches Causing Boot Issues for Ubuntu 16.04 Computers
Kristine Garrett | 12 January, 2018, 01:35

Some Ubuntu users have reported on Ubuntu forums and Launchpad bug tracker that they're finding their Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus unbootable after installing the Linux kernel update (linux-image-4.4.0-108-generic) containing the Meltdown fix.

Several users reported that after auto-updating their Ubuntu 16.04 systems with the Meltdown/Spectre security fixes, their computers would not boot up. There have also been predictions, anecdotes and benchmarks that suggest Meltdown patches are causing performance issues, despite Intel insistence that the impact is small. Unfortunately, that update introduced a regression where a few systems failed to boot successfully.

This is the problem - you can't fix the chip. "We apologize for the inconvenience", Ubuntu says i n the new notice USN-3522-3.

A Canonical spokesperson was not available for comment on the issue, but two new Ubuntu 16.04 updates [1, 2] with Linux kernel image 4.4.0-109 were released two hours before this article's publication.

Earlier this week, Microsoft had to temporarily pause the rollout of select security updates to AMD systems due to boot-up issues arising from incompatibilities with the security patches released following the Meltdown and Spectre revelations.

IBM is preparing to release its own patches and firmware upgrades, while AMD CPUs have been affected less seriously - by the Spectre flaw, not Meltdown - and its patches should be out very soon.

Canonical has addressed the problem in an Ubuntu security notice, affected users are advised to switch to the last working kernel version via GRUB.

Some users said no log files were written that could have helped them locate what is causing the problem, but others captured kernel panics with traces being output on their computer screens.

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