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Re: kernel panic - not syncic

On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 08:12:14PM +0200, Francesco Pietra wrote:
> I wonder whether a failure to boot (amd64 lenny, multiprocessor,
> raid1) requires attention. On resetting, the boot was ok.

Having the follow-on boot OK is good and bad:  good that you booted OK,
bad in that it's an intermittant problem.

> The message was
> kernel panic - not syncing: attempted to kill the idle task!

I have no idea what _would_ cause this; I would suspect either an
intermittant (or random) hardware issue or freak of nature (planets not
alligned correctly, sun spots, whatever).  Hope that its an isolated
incident but plan for it not being so.

> I was not at the screen during the attempted boot, so that I can't say
> more to this concer.
> I have looked at /var/log/syslog not finding a clear trace of the
> failure. The machine was not used today and all of today in syslog
> relates to 28 April 19.56-19.57.

Well, during boot, until /var is mounted rw, nothing will appear in

If you have a separate machine available (it doesn't have to be
dedicated to this), and if you plan to reboot this problem machine soon,
I'd set it up for serial console (boot messages going out the serial
port instead of to the vga screen), and capture it with the other

In /boot/grub/menu.list, you'd add an altoptions line:

# altoptions=(serial console) console=tty0 console=ttyS1,38400n8

the first console command says to send info to tty0, the second to ttyS1
(a serial port).  Check the docs for the order, this is for my server
when I run it from another box and I need to talk to the boot process
(for LUKS password), you may need the other order so that you can type
on the tty0 console but have messages go to ttyS1.  Adjust the ttyS1 for
whatever serial port you use and the speed, parity, and data bits (here

Once you have things set up and working, which will involve rebooting
the suspect machine, you'll see what happens.

If it were me, I'd also schedule some downtime overnight on the box and
run memtest (the memtest86+ package that installs into grub, or boot a
live CD such as grml that includes memtest as a boot option).

Good luck.


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