Posts Tagged ‘system crash’

How to disable ACPI on productive Linux servers to decrease kernel panics and increase CPU fan lifespan

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Linux TUX ACPI logo / Tux Hates ACPI logo

Why would anyone disable ACPI support on a server machine??
Well  ACPI support kernel loaded code is just another piece of code constantly being present in the memory,  that makes the probability for a fatal memory mess up leading to  a fatal bug resulting in system crash (kernel panic) more likely.

Many computers ship with buggy or out of specifications ACPI firmware which can cause a severe oddities on a brand new bought piece of comp equipment.

One such oddity related to ACPI motherboard support problems is if you notice your machine randomly powering off or failing to boot with a brand new Linux installed on it.

Another reason to switch off ACPI code will would to be prevent the CPU FAN rotation from being kernel controlled.

If the kernel controls the CPU fan on  high CPU heat up it will instruct the fan to rotate quickly and on low system loads it will bring back the fan to loose speed.
 This frequent switch of FAN from high speed to low speed  increases the probability for a short fan damage due to frequent changes of fan speed. Such a fan damage leads often to  system outage due to fan failure to rotate properly.

Therefore in my view it is better ACPI support is switched off completely on  servers. On some servers ACPI is useful as it can be used to track CPU temperature with embedded motherboard sensors with lm_sensors or any piece of hardwre vendor specific software provided. On many machines, however lm_sensors will not properly recognize the integrated CPU temperature sensors and hence ACPI is mostly useless.

There are 3 ways to disable fully or partially ACPI support.

- One is to disable it straight for BIOS (best way IMHO)
- Disable via GRUB or LILO passing a kernel parameter
- Partial ACPI off-ing - /disabling the software that controls the CPU fan/

1. Disable ACPI in BIOS level

Press DEL, F1, F2, F10 or whatever the enter bios key combination is go through all the different menus (depending on the vios BENDOR) and make sure every occurance of ACPI is set to off / disable whatever it is called.

Below is a screenshot of menus with ACPI stuff on a motherboard equipped with Phoenix AwardBIOS:

BIOS ACPI Disable power Off Phoenix BIOS

This is the in my opinon best and safest way to disable ACPI power saving, Unfortunately some newer PCs lack the functionality to disable ACPI; (probably due to the crazy "green" policy the whole world is nowdays mad of).

If that's the case with you, thanksfully there is a "software way" to disable ACPI via passing kernel options via GRUB and LILO boot loaders.

2. Disabling ACPI support on kernel boot level through GRUB boot loader config

There is a tiny difference in command to pass in order to disable  ACPI depending on the Linux installed  GRUB ver. 1.x or GRUB 2.x.

a) In GRUB 0.99 (GRUB version 1)

Edit file /etc/grub/menu.lst or /etc/grub/grub.conf (location differs across Linux distribution). Therein append:


to the end of kernel command line.

Here is an example of a kernel command line with ACPI not disabled (example taken from CentOS server grub.conf):

[root@centos ~]# grep -i title -A 4 /etc/grub/grub.conf
title Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (2.6.18-36.el5)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-36.el5 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 console=ttyS0,115200n8
initrd /initrd-2.6.18-36.el5.img

The edited version of the file with acpi=off included should look like so:

title Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (2.6.18-36.el5)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-36.el5 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 console=ttyS0,115200n8 acpi=off
initrd /initrd-2.6.18-36.el5.img

The kernel option root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 means the the server is configured to use LVM (Logical Volume Manager).

b) Disabling ACPI on GRUB version 1.99 +

This version is by default installed on newer Ubuntu and Debian Linux-es.

In grub 1.99 on latest Debian Squeeze, the file to edit is located in /boot/grub/grub.cfg. The file is more messy than with its predecessor menu.lst (grub 0.99).
Thanks God there is no need to directly edit the file (though this is possible), but on newer Linuces (as of time of writting the post), there is another simplied grub config file /etc/grub/config

Hence to add the acpi=off to 1.99 open /etc/grub/config find the line reading:


and append the "acpi=off" option, e.g. the line has to change to:


On some servers it might be better to also disable APIC along with ACPI:

Just in case you don't know what is the difference between ACPI and APIC, here is a short explanation:

ACPI = Advanced Configuration and Power Interface

APIC = Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controllers

ACPI is the system that controls your dynamic speed fans, the power button behavior, sleep states, etc.

APIC is the replacement for the old PIC chip that used to come imbedded on motherboards that allowed you to setup interrupts for your soundcard, ide controllers, etc.

Hence on some machines experiencing still problems with even ACPI switched off, it is helpful  to disable the APIC support too, by using:

acpi=off noapic noacpi

Anyways, while doing the changes, be very very cautious or you might end up with un-boot-able server. Don't blame me if this happens :); be sure you have a backup option if server doesn't boot.

To assure faultless kernel boot, GRUB has ability to be configured to automatically load up a second kernel if 1st one fails to boot, if you need that read the grub documentation on that.

To load up the kernel with the new setting, give it a restart:

[root@centos ~]# shutdown -r now

3. Disable ACPI support on kernel boot time on Slackware or other Linuxes still booting kernel with LILO

Still, some Linux distros like Slackware, decided to keep the old way and use LILO (LInux LOader) as a default boot loader.

Disabling ACPI support in LILO is done through /etc/lilo.conf

By default in /etc/lilo.conf, there is a line:

append= acpi=on

it should be changed to:

append= acpi=off

Next to load up the new acpi disabled setting, lilo has to be reloaded:

slackware:~# /sbin/lilo -c /etc/lilo.conf

Finally a reboot is required:

slackware:~# reboot

(If you don't have a physical access or someone near the server you better not 🙂 )

4. Disable ACPI fan control support on a running Linux server without restart

This is the most secure work-around, to disabling the ACPI control over the machine CPU fan, however it has a downside that still the ACPI code will be loaded in the kernel and could cause kernel issues possibly in the long run – lets say the machine has uptime of more than 2 years…

The acpi support on a user level  is controlled by acpid or haldaemon (depending on the Linux distro), hence to disable the fan control on servers this services has to be switched off:

a) disabling ACPI on Debian and deb based Linux-es

As of time of writting on Debian Linux servers acpid (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface event daemon) is there to control how power management will be handled. To disable it stop it as a service (if running):

debian:~# /etc/init.d/acpid stop

To permanently remove acpid from boot up on system boot disable it with update-rc.d:

debian:~# update-rc.d acpid disable 2 3 4 5
update-rc.d: using dependency based boot sequencing
insserv: Script iptables is broken: incomplete LSB comment.
insserv: missing `Required-Start:' entry: please add even if empty.
insserv: warning: current start runlevel(s) (empty) of script `acpid' overwrites defaults (2 3 4 5).
insserv: warning: current stop runlevel(s) (2 3 4 5) of script `acpid' overwrites defaults (empty).
insserv: missing `Required-Start:' entry: please add even if empty.

b) disabling ACPI on RHEL, Fedora and other Redhat-s (also known as RedHacks 🙂 )

I'm not sure if this is safe,as many newer rpm based server system services,  might not work properly with haldaemon disabled.

Anyways you can give it a try if when it is stopped there are issues just bring it up again.

[root@rhel ~]# /etc/init.d/haldaemon stop

If all is fine with the haldaemon switched off (hope so), you can completely disable it to load on start up with:

[root@centos ~]# /sbin/chkconfig --level 2 3 4 5 haldaemon off

Disabling ACPI could increase a bit your server bills, but same time decrease losses from downtimes, so I guess it worths its costs 🙂


How to automatically reboot (restart) Debian GNU Lenny / Squeeze Linux on kernel panic, some general CPU overload or system crash

Monday, June 21st, 2010

If you are a system administrator, you have probably wondered at least once ohw to configure your Linux server to automatically reboot itself if it crashes, is going through a mass CPU overload, e.g. the server load average “hits the sky”.
I just learned from a nice article found here that there is a kernel variable which when enabled takes care to automatically restart a crashed server with the terrible Kernel Panic message we all know.

The variable I’m taking about is kernel.panic for instance kernel.panic = 20 would instruct your GNU Linux kernel to automatically reboot if it experiences a kernel panic system crash within a time limit of 20 seconds.

To start using the auto-reboot linux capabilities on a kernel panic occurance just set the variable to /etc/sysctl.conf

debian-server:~# echo 'kernel.panic = 20' >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Now we will also have to enable the variable to start being use on the system, so execute:

debian-server:~# sysctl -p There you go automatic system reboots on kernel panics is now on.
Now to further assure yourself the linux server you’re responsible of will automatically restart itself on a emergency situation like a system overload I suggest you check Watchdog

You might consider checking out this auto reboot tutorial which explains in simple words how watchdog is installed and configured.
On Debian installing and maintaining watchdog is really simple and comes to installing and enabling the watchdog system service, right afteryou made two changes in it’s configuration file /etc/watchdog.conf

To do so execute:

debian-server:~# apt-get install watchdog
debian-server:~# echo "file = /var/log/messages" >> /etc/watchdog.conf
debian-server:~# echo "watchdog-device = /dev/watchdog" >> /etc/watchdog.conf

Well that should be it, you might also need to load some kernel module to monitor your watchdog.
On my system the kernel modules related to watchdog are located in:

If not then you should certainly try the software watchdog linux kernel module called softdog , to do so issue:
debian-server:~# /sbin/modprobe softdog

It’s best if you load the module while the softdog daemon is disabled.
If you consider auto loadig the softdog software watchdog kernel driver you should exec:

debian-server:~# echo 'softdog' >> /etc/modules

Finally a start of the watchdog is necessery:


debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/watchdog start
Stopping watchdog keepalive daemon....
Starting watchdog daemon....

That should be all your automatic system reboots should be now on! 🙂