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Ok several time now I have seen some strangeness with Ubuntu
I was in Mozilla reading a forum and the system just locked up witha blinking A., The one that indicates caps lock was just blinking and the mouse would not move. I had to power off the system.
Also I noticed that If I leave it for a while from time to time it is like there is a process taking up the cpu and wont release it. It takes for ever to do anything and the shutdown command takes for ever to come up. I endup powering off with the button.
The first one seems to be a system crash. You will have to check the system logs to see what exactly happened .In fedora I would have checked /var/log/messages. May be its the same for Ubuntu.
For the second issue, I guess you leave your firefox on when you are away (What made me guess this? Your first issue, the way you described it, the fact that u use Ubuntu... ). I have noticed that npviewer (a flash plugin) misbehaves a lot. You can try killing firefox and npviewer.bin to see if your system comes back to normal state.
When you see something is taking up lot of cpu, start a terminal program and run 'top'. Press, l. It will show you the process that use a lot of CPU. Press m, it will show you processes that use a lot of memory. Look for the 'PID' of the process that is taking all your resources. Issue the command 'kill -9 <PID of the process>'. (In Ubuntu, you will be logged in as a normal user. So the chances are less that you will kill any important system process.)
I had the same problem in debian.
It started when I bought a new belkin wireless router to support adsl2
Probably madwifi or the wpa or ....
The system locked up randomly
No problem when using another wireless router.
you can do
tail -f /var/log/syslog >> log.txt
to see the logs at the moment of the crash
root@cj454-lt:/etc/X11# cat xorg.conf
# xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type "man xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# Note that some configuration settings that could be done previously
# in this file, now are automatically configured by the server and settings
# here are ignored.
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following command:
# sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg
Identifier "Configured Video Device"