I have the same symptoms on a different laptop (Asus Zenbook UX32VD),
and only since 16.04 upgrade.
1) Only seems to affect GTK+ applications. Xterm, Chromium and KDE applications
work while e.g. gnome-terminal and gedit are missing characters.
2) I tried "fc-cache -f -r -v"
Possible upstream bug:
** Bug watch added: freedesktop.org Bugzilla #88584
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Public bug reported:
When switching window from gnome-terminal to firefox, the amdgpu kernel
driver suddenly crashed. This caused screen to freeze completely, but
ssh to the machine still worked ok.
There is a similar bug filed in
https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=206987 but not much
This is now fixed upstream in this commit:
This might be important enough to patch in Ubuntu eventually. Currently
virtualized 32-bit guest operating systems combined with amdgpu driver
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