2 min

Power sequence bugs in the Linux kernel 5.19.12 update damage the built-in displays of laptops. When Linux users update their system, they are unaware of the hidden risks of complete wipeouts, reinstallations and wonky driver issues.

“After looking at some logs we do end up with potentially bogus panel power sequencing delays, which may harm the LCD panel”, Intel engineer Ville Syrjälä said in a discussion of the topic. “I recommend immediate revert of this stuff, and new stable release ASAP. Plus a recommendation that no one using laptops with Intel GPUs run 5.19.12.”

The Linux Foundation released an updated Linex kernel (5.19.13) just a day after the discussion. However, due to the distribution chain among desktops and kernel functions, some laptop users were caught up in it.

Flicker issues

“Two days ago, I updated to kernel 5.19.12, and my screen now flickers rapidly”, a user reported. “I can see the flickering even on UEFI (BIOS), so I think it is hardware-related, not OS/driver-related. The flickering is at such high rates that I can’t capture it with my phone camera.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with one user, as numerous similar reports were posted on forums such as Fedora, ArchLinux and Framework’s official forum. What’s worse, the flickering doesn’t stop after rebooting or even switching to base-level tools such as GRUB or BIOS, as reported by other users.

Only a couple of the users were able to successfully switch kernel updates via an external monitor and said that flickering reduced significantly as time passed. However, the panel power sequencing, also known as screen timing, was permanently damaged in laptops with integrated LCDs.

Linux kernel updates damaging desktop hardware is rare but not unheard of, as the Mandrake 9.2 release in October 2003 destroyed particular LG CD-ROM drives. Updating your Linux kernel to 5.19.13 or downgrading it to avoid any graphical flickering issues is recommended.

Tip: Stable version of Linux 6.0 is generally available