A DRM-Based Linux Oops Viewer Is Being Proposed Again - Similar To Blue Screen of Death

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 10 March 2019 at 12:37 PM EDT. 31 Comments
Back when kernel mode-setting (KMS) was originally talked about a decade ago one of the talked about possibilities of implementing a Linux "Blue Screen of Death" / better error handling when a dramatic system problem occurs. Such an implementation never really materialized but now in 2019 there is a developer pursuing new work in this area with a DRM-based kernel oops viewer.

Ahmed Darwish is the developer now pursuing this "kernel oops viewer" with the intention of implementing the support as "minimal" DRM drivers for each hardware -- something slim enough that these drivers could still work in the cases of major kernel problems, so not using any dynamic memory, IRQs disabled, and other minimal assumptions about the state of the hardware or its capabilities. Ahmed looked at using the standards offered by UEFI, but the UEFI-provided frame-buffer is normally lost once the operating system DRM/KMS drivers take over.

He is taking design inspirations from Windows as well as macOS in their kernel error message handling. At this stage though it doesn't appear he has any code even prototyped, but is igniting the discussion on the mailing list for bouncing around ideas.

It's been a few years since similar functionality was proposed -- the last time that comes to mind was 2014 when talk of a DRM log viewer came about back when various systemd-aligned developers were working on user-space VT handling with a goal of killing off the kernel VT support albeit never realized. Another interesting effort that has yet to materialize in mainline for the Linux kernel is also displaying kernel errors as QR codes.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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