the observation is correct - automatic reboot upon lockups is not possible in Linux yet.
The soft-lockup detector looks like the logical place to put this feature. I have whipped up a
patch for this and have queued it up for v2.6.26:
it adds softlockup_panic=1 boot option, a /proc/sys/kernel/softlockup_panic sysctl, and a
CONFIG_SOFTLOCKUP_PANIC=y .config option - whichever is the most convenient to use.
this feature should be used in conjunction with panic_timeout=2, so that every panic reboots
the box after two seconds. Probably /proc/sys/kernel/softlockup_thresh should be decreased as
well to 10 seconds (down from the default 60 seconds) - so the combined reboot delay should be
(Note: the feature will be default-available on all default kernel builds, but the sysctl will
default to off. I.e. the config option influences the value of the default, not the
availability of the feature.)