Intel-powered laptops are at risk if a Linux update is applied, as the notebook display could be physically damaged.
This is one of those horror scenarios that PC owners dread, of course, and the update in question is the recently released version 5.19.12 of the Linux kernel.
Unfortunately, a bug in the graphics driver – for integrated Intel GPUs, this is – triggers a power sequencing issue which, as Phoronix (opens in new tab) reports, manifests as very fast white flashes happening on the screen. And as mentioned, these can potentially damage the panel, so this is a very serious hardware issue caused by a software flaw.
As you might imagine, action has been quickly taken, and Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman promptly released Linux 5.19.13 where the faulty patches for the Intel graphics driver have been reverted.
Kroah-Hartman noted: “This release is to resolve a regression on some Intel graphics systems that had problems with 5.19.12. If you do not have this problem with 5.19.12, there is no need to upgrade.”
Only some distros are reported as having the issue, having upgraded to kernel 5.19.12, namely Arch, Fedora, and openSUSE Tumbleweed. Hopefully those distros will provide the fresh release in a swift manner.
Analysis: A worrying lapse that could be very costly
Going by user reports, some folks with Intel GPUs in their notebook have been unaffected by version 5.19.12, but others certainly have been hit. Perhaps the latter are in the minority, which might be a factor as to how this gremlin survived into the stable release.
It’s a worrying – and rare – lapse for Linux, of course, given the possible gravity of the damage that might be caused. A ruined laptop display is a nasty affliction, and not something that’s going to be easy or cheap to fix.
Even those Intel laptop owners apparently not experiencing the problem after installing 5.19.12 should be looking to upgrade to 5.19.13 anyway, we’d think, just to be safe (who knows if the flaw could still pop up, even if it didn’t initially).
Don’t forget that this could also be an issue for those running an Nvidia GPU and Intel CPU with Optimus tech, as it intelligently uses both discrete and integrated graphics respectively, meaning that with the latter, the awful flashing screen might rear its head.
Via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)