Lenovo ThinkPad W520 – Workaround For Linux Freezing Issue At Boot

I have been a proud Lenovo ThinkPad W520 owner for the past several years, but there has been a persistent issue I have experienced, as I have gone the route of dual booting Windows and Linux on my laptop.

Through the years, I have run Ubuntu 10.04, Xubuntu 12.04, Linux Mint 13, Linux Mint 14, and Linux Mint Debian Edition on this laptop.  Of these distributions, Ubuntu 10.04 is the only one I haven’t had an issue with.

The issue I have experienced is that after a fresh install of Linux, the laptop will freeze every other boot.  Sometimes, it freezes before reaching the login screen, sometimes before even reaching the boot splash screen, and sometimes just moments after logging in.  Other times, it would boot and function normally for hours.  It has been a very flaky issue.

In 2012, I posted a thread on the Ubuntu Forums on how I fixed the issue for 12.04.  I have applied this fix, necessarily, on Linux Mint several times since then as I have done new installs.  I wanted to create this post so others can find this information, and understand that it may apply to other future distributions down the line until this issue gets fixed upstream.


The Workaround
I have consistently resolved this issue by adding a boot flag to GRUB.

Edit /etc/default/grub, and add “nox2apic” to your boot parameters, like so:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nox2apic quiet splash"

After making this change, run update-grub and reboot the computer.

This has saved me so much frustration over the years, I hope it helps you as well!  If you run into a similar issue on another ThinkPad model, please let me know in the comments if this fix worked for you!

7 Thoughts on “Lenovo ThinkPad W520 – Workaround For Linux Freezing Issue At Boot

  1. Ross Cadogan on August 18, 2016 at 3:36 AM said:

    Thanks, Kirk! My Thinkpad W530 had the same freeze-on-boot error with RHEL7.2. Adding the nox2apic boot parameter to /etc/default/grub as you described also worked for me.

    RHEL7 or GRUB2 users should run “grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg” instead of “update-grub” after editing /etc/default/grub.

    • Avatar photo Kirk Schnable on August 20, 2016 at 3:47 PM said:

      I’m glad to hear it was helpful! Thanks for the additional information. Sorry to hear this issue still isn’t fixed in later kernel versions or even hardware versions…

  2. Alex Copeland on December 30, 2016 at 1:17 PM said:

    Thanks. Worked here, too. Arch on W530.

  3. lmcwilli on April 3, 2017 at 6:04 PM said:

    Just switched to Discrete Graphics in the bios. That stopped the freezing behavior.

  4. Thank you very much!
    I have had difficulties installing Linux Mint on a Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop.

    Entering “nox2apic” only worked for a short while; entering “noapic” seemed to do the job.
    My fingers are still crossed, but once I am more confident, I will post a synopsis of my problems and a link to this thread on the Linux Mint site.

    • Avatar photo Kirk Schnable on November 15, 2018 at 11:50 PM said:

      Hi Brant, thanks for the feedback, I’m glad that this thread was able to point you in the right direction! I’m still using the nox2apic fix on my ThinkPad W520 with success on my most recent Linux Mint install, so it’s interesting that you’ve encountered this difference and may be related to the model of the laptop.

  5. Jani on April 3, 2019 at 6:39 AM said:

    Kirk, thanks for sharing this! Still an issue with Mint 19.1 on W520.

    As a sidenote, with discrete graphics disabled in BIOS, booting works fine even without nox2apic, but shutdown hangs. 🙂

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