This isn't especially a Linux question, but I didn't really want to post in General and risk my question being buried in other discussion.
A guy I work with has an IBM Thinkpad a20p laptop that I'm troubleshooting for him. He said he had been messing around with partitioning and had somehow borked it so that it wouldn't boot.
He doesn't care about wiping the hard drive and starting over, so I've used Knoppix to create a single primary partition (18GB).
The difficulty lies in trying to create a filesystem on it. I used mkntfs under Knoppix; during the "filling the drive with 0" part, it reached 37% and the computer locked up completely. No mouse control, no three-finger salute.
Using a Windows XP installation disc, a similar thing happens: as it is formatting the partition, at some intedeterminate time everything locks up. Once it was at 5%, another at 47% or so.
Thought it might be bad blocks, but I tried (back in Knoppix) using 'badblocks' first in a very extensive four-pass write test. It locked up trying to read the first pass; again, hard lockup, not just program crashing. Trying it a second time with the default options (presumably a simple read test) locked it up almost immediately.
So, it _seems_ to be directly related to the hard disk. Some initial accesses will work (hdparm, for instance), and it always makes at least some progress in formatting or badblock-checking. However, there were a few times when it seemed to lock up before even reaching the IBM splash screen at boot time (but then again, there may have been hard drive access).
Anyone know what could cause something like this? And can it be remedied without buying a new drive, or does this machine need to become a dedicated Knoppix box?
He wants Windows XP, but he has mentioned that all he really wants to do with it is use it for watching DVDs, which I could rig him up with in Linux, if XP won't cooperate. I haven't tried using another filesystem, but that's what I'll attempt next.
Edit: OK, I answered some of my own questions. I took out the hard drive (nice modular design!) and tried booting just from CD. Lots of lockups, sometimes before the IBM logo shows up. Sometimes when trying to go into the BIOS setup. So apparently, it isn't the hard drive.
Just to rule out one more possibility, I tried with the power adapter unplugged. No difference there - so it's not any kind of voltage spike or oddity in the adapter.
If it's the CPU, then it's probably a lost cause. I don't know if it would be worth the money to replace the CPU, though admittedly it is a very nice laptop (700mhz, 128MB RAM, 18GB hard drive assuming nothing's wrong with it). As the owner said, if there's nothing I can do then it's basically a "boat anchor", but then went on to point out that it's so light it wouldn't be very good at that either.