Intermittent ALT+TAB Failure

I’ve had Manjaro/Budgie installed on this machine (a ThinkPad T440P) for over a year, without any particular drama to speak of. About a week ago I began having trouble switching between running programs with the ALT+TAB function. Normally, I hold ALT and then tap TAB to switch between the running programs. But, lately I may have to tap TAB a dozen times to get the focus to advance to the next running program. And, even if the focus does advance to the next program, releasing ALT may drop me back into the same program where I started.

Rebooting the machine tends to “fix” the problem for a day, or a day and a half, but the problem eventually returns. I may have to tap TAB 13 times to advance one program, 5 times to advance to the next, 9 times for the next, etc. Each time I tap TAB, the focus box (the white box in the preview surrounding the program with the focus) blinks, but it does not necessarily advance to the next program. Sometimes the white focus box will disappear all together and then it’s necessary to either release ALT and then start over with a new attempt at ALT+TAB, or (while still holding ALT) use the touchpad to manually select the program of interest.

I’ve noticed two things that seem to be related. Usually when a program is running, a blue bar will appear beneath its icon in the panel. If there are two minimized instances of a running program, then there will be two blue dots under the panel icon. When the ALT+TAB function is chronically broken (refuses to work at all), instead of just really annoying (need to tap it a dozen times), an orange bar, or dots will replace the blue bar, or dots. Using the touchpad to select the affected program via its panel icon will extinguish the orange bar/dots and the blue bar/dots will return. After doing this, ALT+TAB tends to be more responsive, but if the orange bar/dots are there, an ALT+TAB failure is virtually guaranteed.

I’ve also noticed that phantom icons may sometimes pop up in the panel, without my having started a new program. This typically happens when the ALT+TAB function is chronically broken. The icons look sort of like the Text Editor program icons, but without the pencil. Hovering over these icons reveals their name as, “Launch Preview Daemon.” They will sometimes pop up with a failed attempt to ALT-TAB. Left clicking on them does nothing, but right clicking reveals a 3-item menu of: a star, a “+” and a three-bar “hamburger” menu. Clicking on either the +, or the hamburger menu does nothing. The only way that I’ve found to (temporarily) get rid of these opportunistic panel icons is to right click on them, left click on the star (to pin them) and then left click on the star once again (to unpin them) and then they will go away. I’ve seen as many as 7 of these icons accumulate on the panel at a time, accompanying failed ALT+TAB attempts. But, if the ALT+TAB action actually happens to work correctly, the number of these icons may sometimes decrement by one icon.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see if I was running out of RAM the last time that this issue occurred, so I started the System Monitor program. It reported that I was currently using 5.3GB (62%) of 8.2GB of RAM. IIRC, the up time was 2 days and +/- 10 hours. What do I typically have running when I experience this problem: four Firefox windows containing many dozens of tabs each, a pair of LibreOffice Calc spreadsheets, the Text Editor and a game, or two of Spider Solitaire, in progress.

I should also mention that when using the ALT+TAB function normally, several boxes pop up providing a preview of the currently running programs, for example: four for Firefox, two for LibreOffice Calc, one for Spider solitaire, etc. When ALT+TAB is misbehaving, I sometimes also get an additional preview box showing all of the aforementioned boxes in one single box … appearing almost like a desktop screen shot. There may be one, or even two of these additional “compilation” preview boxes.

I have other machines running Manjaro/Budgie, as well as machines running Solus/Budgie and I’ve only experienced this problem on this particular T440P laptop.

As an exercise, for one minute I held ALT and repeatedly tapped TAB. Some of this activity was captured by the journal. Excerpts from journalctl may be viewed here:

Any ideas, or suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance!

[copernicus gumby]# inxi --admin --verbosity=7 --filter --no-host --width
  Kernel: 5.15.32-1-MANJARO arch: x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 11.2.0
    parameters: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-5.15-x86_64
    root=UUID=d7d0d413-433b-4bec-9ed5-aeaf8caf7542 rw quiet apparmor=1
    security=apparmor udev.log_priority=3
  Console: pty pts/0 wm: budgie-wm DM: LightDM v: 1.30.0
    Distro: Manjaro Linux base: Arch Linux
  Type: Laptop System: LENOVO product: 20AWS0DU00 v: ThinkPad T440p
    serial: <filter> Chassis: type: 10 serial: <filter>
  Mobo: LENOVO model: 20AWS0DU00 v: 0B98401 PRO serial: <filter>
    UEFI: LENOVO v: GLET43WW (1.18 ) date: 12/04/2013
  ID-1: BAT0 charge: 44.5 Wh (100.0%) condition: 44.5/56.2 Wh (79.3%)
    volts: 12.3 min: 10.8 model: LGC 45N1147 type: Li-ion serial: <filter>
    status: not charging
  RAM: total: 7.65 GiB used: 5.95 GiB (77.8%)
  Array-1: capacity: 16 GiB slots: 2 EC: None max-module-size: 8 GiB
    note: est.
  Device-1: ChannelA-DIMM0 type: DDR3 detail: synchronous size: 4 GiB
    speed: 1333 MT/s volts: N/A width (bits): data: 64 total: 64
    manufacturer: Elpida part-no: EBJ41UF8BCS0-DJ-F serial: <filter>
  Device-2: ChannelB-DIMM0 type: DDR3 detail: synchronous size: 4 GiB
    speed: 1333 MT/s volts: N/A width (bits): data: 64 total: 64
    manufacturer: Crucial part-no: CT51264BF1339.C16F serial: <filter>
  Info: model: Intel Core i5-4300M socket: rPGA988B (U3E1) note: check
    bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Haswell family: 6 model-id: 0x3C (60)
    stepping: 3 microcode: 0x28
  Topology: cpus: 1x cores: 2 tpc: 2 threads: 4 smt: enabled cache:
    L1: 128 KiB desc: d-2x32 KiB; i-2x32 KiB L2: 512 KiB desc: 2x256 KiB
    L3: 3 MiB desc: 1x3 MiB
  Speed (MHz): avg: 1456 high: 2587 min/max: 800/3300 base/boost: 2600/2600
    scaling: driver: intel_cpufreq governor: schedutil volts: 0.8 V
    ext-clock: 100 MHz cores: 1: 858 2: 1526 3: 2587 4: 854 bogomips: 20762
  Flags: abm acpi aes aperfmperf apic arat arch_perfmon avx avx2 bmi1 bmi2
    bts clflush cmov constant_tsc cpuid cpuid_fault cx16 cx8 de ds_cpl dtes64
    dtherm dts epb ept ept_ad erms est f16c flexpriority flush_l1d fma fpu
    fsgsbase fxsr ht ibpb ibrs ida invpcid invpcid_single lahf_lm lm mca mce
    md_clear mmx monitor movbe msr mtrr nonstop_tsc nopl nx pae pat pbe pcid
    pclmulqdq pdcm pdpe1gb pebs pge pln pni popcnt pse pse36 pti pts rdrand
    rdtscp rep_good sdbg sep smep smx ss ssbd sse sse2 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3
    stibp syscall tm tm2 tpr_shadow tsc tsc_adjust tsc_deadline_timer vme vmx
    vnmi vpid x2apic xsave xsaveopt xtopology xtpr
  Type: itlb_multihit status: KVM: VMX disabled
  Type: l1tf
    mitigation: PTE Inversion; VMX: conditional cache flushes, SMT vulnerable
  Type: mds mitigation: Clear CPU buffers; SMT vulnerable
  Type: meltdown mitigation: PTI
  Type: spec_store_bypass
    mitigation: Speculative Store Bypass disabled via prctl and seccomp
  Type: spectre_v1
    mitigation: usercopy/swapgs barriers and __user pointer sanitization
  Type: spectre_v2 mitigation: Retpolines, IBPB: conditional, IBRS_FW,
    STIBP: conditional, RSB filling
  Type: srbds mitigation: Microcode
  Type: tsx_async_abort status: Not affected
  Device-1: Intel 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics
    vendor: Lenovo ThinkPad T440p driver: i915 v: kernel ports: active: eDP-1
    empty: DP-1, DP-2, HDMI-A-1, HDMI-A-2, VGA-1 bus-ID: 00:02.0
    chip-ID: 8086:0416 class-ID: 0300
  Device-2: Chicony Integrated Camera type: USB driver: uvcvideo
    bus-ID: 3-12:4 chip-ID: 04f2:b39a class-ID: 0e02
  Display: x11 server: X.Org v: with: Xwayland v: 22.1.1
    compositor: budgie-wm driver: X: loaded: modesetting alternate: fbdev,vesa
    gpu: i915 display-ID: :0 screens: 1
  Screen-1: 0 s-res: 1600x900 s-dpi: 96 s-size: 423x238mm (16.65x9.37")
    s-diag: 485mm (19.11")
  Monitor-1: eDP-1 model: LG Display 0x03fc built: 2013 res: 1600x900 hz: 60
    dpi: 132 gamma: 1.2 size: 309x174mm (12.17x6.85") diag: 355mm (14")
    ratio: 16:9 modes: 1600x900
  Message: Unable to show GL data. Required tool glxinfo missing.
  Device-1: Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor HD Audio
    vendor: Lenovo ThinkPad T440p driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel
    bus-ID: 00:03.0 chip-ID: 8086:0c0c class-ID: 0403
  Device-2: Intel 8 Series/C220 Series High Definition Audio
    vendor: Lenovo ThinkPad T440p driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel
    bus-ID: 00:1b.0 chip-ID: 8086:8c20 class-ID: 0403
  Sound Server-1: ALSA v: k5.15.32-1-MANJARO running: yes
  Sound Server-2: JACK v: 1.9.20 running: no
  Sound Server-3: PulseAudio v: 15.0 running: yes
  Sound Server-4: PipeWire v: 0.3.49 running: no
  Device-1: Intel Ethernet I217-LM vendor: Lenovo ThinkPad T440p
    driver: e1000e v: kernel port: 3080 bus-ID: 00:19.0 chip-ID: 8086:153a
    class-ID: 0200
  IF: enp0s25 state: down mac: <filter>
  Device-2: Intel Wireless 7260 driver: iwlwifi v: kernel pcie: gen: 1
    speed: 2.5 GT/s lanes: 1 bus-ID: 03:00.0 chip-ID: 8086:08b2 class-ID: 0280
  IF: wlp3s0 state: up mac: <filter>
  IP v4: <filter> type: dynamic noprefixroute scope: global
    broadcast: <filter>
  IP v6: <filter> type: noprefixroute scope: link
  WAN IP: <filter>
  Message: No bluetooth data found.
  Message: No logical block device data found.
  Message: No RAID data found.
  Local Storage: total: 232.89 GiB used: 108.57 GiB (46.6%)
  SMART Message: Required tool smartctl not installed. Check --recommends
  ID-1: /dev/sda maj-min: 8:0 vendor: Samsung model: SSD 840 EVO 250GB
    size: 232.89 GiB block-size: physical: 512 B logical: 512 B speed: 6.0 Gb/s
    type: SSD serial: <filter> rev: CB6Q scheme: GPT
  Message: No optical or floppy data found.
  ID-1: / raw-size: 63.71 GiB size: 62.46 GiB (98.04%) used: 40.86 GiB (65.4%)
    fs: ext4 block-size: 4096 B dev: /dev/sda3 maj-min: 8:3 label: N/A
    uuid: d7d0d413-433b-4bec-9ed5-aeaf8caf7542
  ID-2: /boot/efi raw-size: 488.3 MiB size: 487.3 MiB (99.80%)
    used: 146.1 MiB (30.0%) fs: vfat block-size: 512 B dev: /dev/sda1
    maj-min: 8:1 label: N/A uuid: B465-565C
  ID-3: /home raw-size: 160.63 GiB size: 157.11 GiB (97.81%)
    used: 66.74 GiB (42.5%) fs: ext4 block-size: 4096 B dev: /dev/sda4
    maj-min: 8:4 label: N/A uuid: 442235df-197b-417c-9484-5cae4cd11843
  Kernel: swappiness: 60 (default) cache-pressure: 100 (default)
  ID-1: swap-1 type: partition size: 8.06 GiB used: 846.6 MiB (10.3%)
    priority: -2 dev: /dev/sda2 maj-min: 8:2 label: N/A
    uuid: 58d5bce4-a763-4b14-98f7-614340392f5e
  Message: No unmounted partitions found.
  Hub-1: 1-0:1 info: Full speed or root hub ports: 3 rev: 2.0 speed: 480 Mb/s
    chip-ID: 1d6b:0002 class-ID: 0900
  Hub-2: 1-1:2 info: Intel Integrated Rate Matching Hub ports: 6 rev: 2.0
    speed: 480 Mb/s chip-ID: 8087:8008 class-ID: 0900
  Hub-3: 2-0:1 info: Full speed or root hub ports: 3 rev: 2.0
    speed: 480 Mb/s chip-ID: 1d6b:0002 class-ID: 0900
  Hub-4: 2-1:2 info: Intel Integrated Rate Matching Hub ports: 8 rev: 2.0
    speed: 480 Mb/s chip-ID: 8087:8000 class-ID: 0900
  Hub-5: 3-0:1 info: Hi-speed hub with single TT ports: 15 rev: 2.0
    speed: 480 Mb/s chip-ID: 1d6b:0002 class-ID: 0900
  Device-1: 3-7:16 info: Validity Sensors VFS 5011 fingerprint sensor
    type: <vendor specific> driver: N/A interfaces: 1 rev: 1.1 speed: 12 Mb/s
    power: 100mA chip-ID: 138a:0017 class-ID: ff00 serial: <filter>
  Device-2: 3-12:4 info: Chicony Integrated Camera type: Video
    driver: uvcvideo interfaces: 2 rev: 2.0 speed: 480 Mb/s power: 500mA
    chip-ID: 04f2:b39a class-ID: 0e02
  Hub-6: 4-0:1 info: Super-speed hub ports: 6 rev: 3.0 speed: 5 Gb/s
    chip-ID: 1d6b:0003 class-ID: 0900
  System Temperatures: cpu: 57.0 C mobo: N/A
  Fan Speeds (RPM): fan-1: 0
  Processes: 254 Uptime: 4d 17h 4m wakeups: 34 Init: systemd v: 250
  tool: systemctl Compilers: gcc: 11.2.0 clang: 13.0.1 Packages: pacman: 1513
  lib: 458 Shell: Bash (su) v: 5.1.16 running-in: gnome-terminal inxi: 3.3.15

I should have mentioned that tapping ALT+TAB only once at a time to repeatedly jump back and forth between the same two programs always works as expected. The problem is only encountered when jumping between random running programs.

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Bump for a second look.