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Re: Linux crashes a lot - more info

John Reinke <jmreinke@ukans.edu> writes:
> I should have included some specs. I guess I was too frustrated to think of
> that...
> Hardware:
> 500MHz Athlon (NO overclocking, no overheating)
> 96MB RAM  (appended 96M in LILO, and accounted for in 'free')
> ATI Rage Pro (8MB)
> Software:
> Debian 2.2 (Potato net-installation)
> 128MB Swap
> XF86_Mach64 X server (set to 1024x768 resolution)
> I'm able to compile a kernel without crashing. I don't know if Windows will
> run on it, because it's a dedicated Linux machine. Before I installed
> Potato, I had Corel Linux (Slink) installed. Although I was using KDE, it
> crashed just as often - usually under the same conditions, but I thought it
> was KDE.
> Let me know if there is other information I should provide. If it's in the
> logs, which logs should I look in? I know Linux isn't supposed to crash
> this often, but from people's reactions, there really is something wrong
> here...

What kernel are you running?

Some things you can try:

1) Do a thorough memory test using memtest86 in the Debian hwtools
package. This is a standalone code. You build a boot floppy with it
and it boots directly into the memtest program and tests your RAM. You
can also try the memtest in the Debian sysutils package. I've never
used that one so I don't know how thorough it is.

2) Try appending 95M of RAM instead of 96 at boot. The BIOS on some
machines reserve upper areas of RAM. I've never seen this in a
desktop, but I've seen it in quite a few laptops.

3) Check your BIOS for any "aggressive" settings, eg., wait-states on
RAM, write combing, etc. I don't know anything about Athlons so there
are probably some Athlon-specific settings. Set these to their most
conservative values and see if any of them have an affect.

To me it doesn't sound like a Linux or Netscape problem you're having,
but a hardware problem. Flaky things like this are almost always
hardware related. That's not to say it couldn't be software. I don't
know that all the issues, if there are issues, with Athlons running
Linux have been ironed out, but that seems less likely than a flaky
bit of hardware. The real trouble is that flaky hardware is one of THE
hardest problems to find!

Good Luck,

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