Fedora 14 Hangs - PS2 Mouse is Bad Mmmkay - SOLVED

(insert mental picture of South Park's Mr. Mackey here)

Smolts Profile is here.
  • Fedora Core 14 x86_64 dual boot with Windows 7
  • ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
  • Intel i7 processor
  • 3ware 9650SE RAID card
  • ATI Radeon HD4350
  • PS2 Mouse and Keyboard
Things would work great for about 5 or 10 minutes and then the system would lock up.
  • Mouse cursor freezes
  • Keyboard has no effect
  • Can SSH into system and shutdown gracefully
I found that the best stress test for this problem was a vigorous game or two of minesweeper - very mouse intensive that game!

The various Linux message boards are full of descriptions of this sort of thing and most folks thing that this is a mixed bag of problems - similar symptoms but perhaps a large variety of causes. Hard to say without having a definitive analysis of each instance.

There are lots of "home remedies" - changing kernel versions, changing video drivers, changing the boot parameters for the kernel, changing xorg.conf, etc. but again, these are hard to evaluate for several reasons
  • As mentioned this is probably a heterogeneous grab bag of problems.
  • Since these freezes are somewhat random did the "solution" really fix the problem or is it more like an amulet that is felt to ward off demons? (In fact some of the proposed "solutions" can't possibly be such because all they do are make explicit some default setting that was already in place).
  • Once an individual finds a solution they may simply move on and not report what they found.
I was getting increasingly frustrated with these very reproducible freezes - things just shouldn't be this messed up! I tried all the proposed fixes and workarounds and no luck whatsoever.

Finally I decided to swap out the PS2 mouse for a USB mouse - and Voila - no more crashes!

Interestingly the PS2 keyboard can also produce a version of this problem but with the PS2 keyboard the pattern is somewhat different in that
  • It takes much longer to hit.
  • Best way to hit with keyboard is to use the keyboard to scroll through a long web page by continual presses of the down arrow or page down key.
  • When the keyboard causes the freeze the mouse continues to work.
  • A USB keyboard can be plugged in at this point and will work fine but the PS2 keyboard will not work again.
What's the deal with the PS2 devices and these repeated hangs? I have no definitive answers but here's what I do know
  • PS2 devices are headed the way of floppy disks, analog video, IDE harddrives, etc. Not quite gone as the hardware still supports them, but just not mainstream anymore. USB is the new standard. So problems in this area will simply not get the attention that a problem in a more critical area might receive. Darwinism at work - the PS2 species is dying out!
  • As I understand it there is a lot of interrupt sharing that goes on with the PS2 bus and sooner or later, some interrupt is not handled correctly, perhaps due to this sharing, and wackiness ensues.
  • I haven't (yet) done the experiment which I should do of trying to repro the freeze with Windows 7 on the same hardware. I rather suspect (but don't yet know) that Windows 7 will not suffer from the same freeze - if true that would point to an interaction between the Linux Kernel and the PS2 interrupts - I will try to get to this experiment and report back.
Now solved - the problem is due to a device driver conflict. The fix is simply to "blacklist" the asus_atk0110 driver (which seems to be a driver which controls the fan speed for the ASUS motherboard - i.e. something I don't have the chassis support for anyway).

Go to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and add the line

         blacklist  asus_atk0110

Now PS2 input devices can be used without problem. 
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