Friday, April 9, 2010

Windows 7 won't power off

Maybe I'm bitching about a bug, but this one happens often enough that I don't think it's intermittent behavior, so it's fair game. Most times (read: not all the time, but a lot of the time) I try to "Shutdown" my Windows 7 laptop, Windows goes through the motions - but doesn't actually power off. I have reached the point where I watch for when Windows should have powered off, then just pull the plug.

Note that I don't usually leave the battery in the laptop when I am at work. This is a Dell D430 laptop, and it's connected via a mini-dock when I'm at the office. There's not much ventilation in the dock, so when the battery is left in, the system gets really hot. Easy solution: I take out the battery when I put the laptop into the dock.

But Windows only fails to power off since I moved to Windows 7. This wasn't a problem with Windows XP or Windows Vista. And it is never an issue when I run Linux (from a USB flash drive) on the same hardware.

People sometimes complain that Linux doesn't support this or that hardware feature on their computer, so that's why they don't use Linux. But why does the latest version of Windows not work with this basic feature of laptops?

So I'll ask you guys: What is going on here? Any suggestions for what Windows is (or is not) doing, that I can fix?


  1. Hmmm ... perhaps poke around the hardware settings to see what power management scheme was chosen? ACPI, ACPI2, whatever. Have you checked if this is a known issue for your model laptop? I'll admit that's pretty bizarre since the power management stuff has supposedly been "standard" for some years now (and MS itself has been a big part of that process).

  2. He said it was fine on vista and xp, so I doubt it's acpi settings. Good guess though.

  3. This was a pretty common issue in Windows 98 and earlier, too.

  4. I have the exact same problem. When I shut down my PC, probably 10% of the time it acts like it is shutting down but then does not power off the computer. I have mature hardware (I built the PC nearly 5 years ago), so it is not like I have some bleeding edge new hardware that is not supported. And it usually powers off itself, so I can't believe that it is a hardware problem.

    It is quite irritating, especially when you start the shutdown process then leave the room, only to discover some time later that it is still on and the screen is displaying:

    System halted.

    By the way, I should mention that I am running Linux. I am currently running Fedora 12, though the problem has been persistent since some mysterious kernel update during Fedora 11. (Actually, when the problem first surfaced, it wouldn't power off after every other boot. Now the problem only occurs 1 out of every 10 boots, so it has actually improved somewhat.) Does anybody have any idea what is going on here?

  5. Anonymous: Im agonna guess your video card is an Nvidia, right? Yup, that's an ACPI issue. This happens in Windows for me too.

  6. @Anonymous: Yes, I do have an Nvidia card (a GeForce FX 5200, to be exact), which brings up another problem I'm having. After a few minutes of inactivity, Linux turns on the screensaver and eventually puts the monitor to sleep. However, then the monitor turns on, displays "DVI No Signal," turns off, turns on, displays "DVI No Signal," turns off. Lather, rinse, repeat. This problem happens on every boot and is readily reproducible.

    I do not recall experiencing this issue before installing Fedora 12, so I wonder if something in Fedora 12 is broken? I started using Nouveau with Fedora 12 (previously, I used the Nvidia proprietary driver), so maybe Nouveau is to blame? Is there a workaround?

  7. Well gee, Let me think for a sec ... you're having the problem only since you started using the Nouveau driver. Hmmm ... yes, it just might be the Nouveau driver.

    That was easy.

    The NVIDIA card is proprietary, and they DO NOT share their programming specs with anyone without an NDA. So the open source guys have to do this all blind, by reverse engineering the hardware. They've made GREAT progress so far, but that means you prolly won't see fully compatible open source drivers for a while.

    If you really really need to have 3D support (games, etc.) then you shouldn't have bought a closed piece of shit like the NVIDIA, should you?

    Have you tried the simple test of running X with the generic VESA driver, and see if this causes the same behavior? That's basic troubleshooting for you. You won't have 3D support, but it will let you test the screensaver to see if you get this again. (Note for you Windows guys out there: you'd do the same thing under Windows if you have video problems - try a generic driver, see if the behavior repeats.)

    Coincidentally, testing with a generic VESA driver will also help you figure out if the Nouveau driver is causing your system to not shut down completely for that 10%. As the oter Anonymous points out, this is most likely an ACPI bug. If you can update your card's firmware, do that, or go back to the proprietary NVIDIA driver.


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