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I've got a Toshiba Satellite A665-S6094 that I've just installed Fedora 17 onto. When I have a process that utilizes 100% of the cpu for more than 15 minutes or so, the computer force shuts down due to overheating.

Back when I had windows 7 and I overused the processor the fan speed would go into "jet engine" mode while it made a dreadful sound, however it never shut down due to overheating. Fedora 17 doesn't seem to have this feature. I go into the BIOS and there is no option for fan speed.

What are the steps to attempt to remedy this situation?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 26 '12 at 1:12

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3 Answers 3

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Toshiba has always been a company to attempt to either maintain complete control over laptop power usage through their own software (Anyone with a Satellite that came with XP should know what I'm talking about), or through the TVAP (Toshiba Value Package) which alters the standard Vista/Windows 7 power functionality. In short, unfortunately... if you want the laptop cooling system to operate at peak functionality, you are expected to..

  1. Use Windows.
  2. Download and install all of the relevant Toshiba Software.

Is this a good thing? As you can see... not really. It's kind of Toshiba's way of saying softly that they don't really support Linux.

The advice in Eric Leschinski's answer is very relevant. The leading edges of the heat sink on the end of the cooling tubes (it's an assembly to shunt the heat off the motherboard completely) work like a lint trap in a clothes dryer. All it takes is time... every laptop will eventually build up a layer of lint between the fan and the heat sink. All temporary solutions aside, the only real way to clean a laptop cooling channel properly is to remove the fan, and remove the debris. Otherwise, blowing air into the exhaust just breaks the debris into chunks, which sits in the fan until it is turned on... which pushes the chunks back against the heat sink.

So... have the laptop cleaned out, and cross your fingers. It might be enough to stave off the overheating.

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How to troubleshoot and overheating laptop that shuts down due to overheating:

Your laptop processor generates heat, and if it gets too hot, it will damage the CPU and thus a shut down is required to prevent damage. Laptops have temperature sensors and BIOS settings to send a signal to the operating system to shut down when the heat passes a certain threshold. With these steps you can determine what the problem is:

Inadequate Ventilation:

If you have inadequate ventilation to the laptop, the CPU/Video card will overheat and the BIOS sends a signal to the OS to shut down. Make sure there is adequate ventilation to the CPU and video card. One way is to feel the keys on the surface keyboard, are they hot? If your laptop is kept on a soft surface which does not promote airflow underneath the laptop, then the laptop is more likely to overheat.

Dust bunnies:

Do not underestimate the clogging power of unseen dust bunnies. If the laptop is more than a year old or kept in dusty environment, then your ventilation system may be completely stopped. Dust bunnies coat the fan blades and metal heat exchange ducts. Don't take apart the laptop unless you are an expert. You can determine if this is your problem by sending a quick strong puff of air in the opposite direction that the fan blows. You can do this with your mouth, but don't spit. When you do this, a cloud of dust/smoke should come out the bottom of the laptop.

DON'T USE A VACUUM TO GET DUST BUNNIES OUT OF THE LAPTOP OR COMPUTER.

Your standard vacuum cleaner you get at walmart generates enough static electricity to destroy computers with a single touch. If you do use a vacuum cleaner, don't have its plastic touch the computer case. Use a vacuum specially designed for computers, or use canned air.

BIOS settings not up to date

The BIOS may not be updated as much as it can be. Go to the manufacturer or your laptop's website (in my case toshiba.com) and go to the download section for the relevant BIOS updates. You may get some new options to set the fan speed to go into "full power" mode at a lower temperature. This may be easier if you have dual booted your laptop with windows, you can download an EXE to flash the BIOS.

Damaged fans in the laptop

Do you feel air blowing out the exhaust port when the laptop fan is on high? If not, the fan may not be spinning at all or spinning at half speed.

Install a cracked/unlocked laptop BIOS to fiddle with fan settings

A cracked or "unlocked" laptop BIOS (found on overclocking websites) can give you options to custom set your fan temperature thresholds and settings. So you can tell your fan to go max speed all the time. As always, be careful with your BIOS options as this gives you the power to brick your CPU if it overheats and the OS doesn't respond by shutting down to prevent damage.

CPU/Video card Heat sensor failures

If the heat sensors are sending faulty readings to the BIOS, the a signal to shutdown the OS may be happening without reason.

Operating system problems

The reason the laptop is shutting down could have nothing to do with the heat generated. Depending on your operating system, there may be error logs you can find which log the error message.

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A warning: there are varying opinions on how good putting a vacuum cleaner (!) to your sensitive, delicate laptop components. I wouldn't do it. –  WindowsEscapist Dec 26 '12 at 1:39
1  
You might also want to consider installing a cracked or "unlocked" laptop BIOS (found on overclocking websites) if your manufacturer's latest version does not support advanced fan configuration. As always, be careful with your BIOS options. –  WindowsEscapist Dec 26 '12 at 1:41

As always, all the posts blame the cleanliness of your fans, etc. The problem is not with your laptop. I experienced the same problems running Windows all day long, and not so much as a degree in rise of temperature-run Fedora or any other Linux flavor and your laptop overheats instantly and shuts down.

I ended up trying and staying with Linux Mint, using Jupiter as as a control for the heat generated. This works on Ubuntu as well, but please don't let anyone con you into thinking that a dirty fan or dust is causing the overheat. These factors MAY contribute to the cause, but if the software is not written properly, or takes account your specific machines specs, then that's another story...try

http://techhamlet.com/2011/11/your-laptop-gets-overheated-while-using-linux-lets-see-how-to-fix-it/

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