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Alan Cox publishes a kernel patch with fixes for the 2.6 kernel series. I do not have experiende with it, but knowing the quality of older -ac patches I think this could be the best choice. You can try it and if it doesn't work you always can throw it away.
I'm speaking for the 2.4 kernels, and it should be the same for the 2.6 series too. It would be something like
patch -p1 patchname.patch
but don't quote me on the exact syntax, as i've only patched a 2.4 kernel ages ago.
then recompile the usual way. Search LQ and you will find the exact syntax for it.
I don't think patch the kernel will fix your freez, it may fix it only with a deficient driver/module
which is updated by a corresponding patch (a patch that update code for the fautly module).
The original kernel is tested before go into final distribution, so modules should be fine without
patch but there can be exeption, who knows...
The main reason of freezing things as far I know may be related to bad RAM or bad graphic
driver. With BAD RAM, I mean realy bad ram chipset (hardware) or wrong software RAM usage
(wrong software code).
I would investigate with dmesg, the log files in /var/log to find where something goes wrong
I have experienced also some freezes like yours because I had an experimental feature turned on in my network driver. So rebuild your kernel and try to leave out the experimental stuff, although most of it is quite stable they are marked experimental for a reason.
Thanks, everyone, for these very good suggestions. I'm working through them now. Memory is fine, it turns out. I'm poring over the logs looking for something goofy. Good learning experience. I'll report back when I turn something up.
I feel like there must be a couple of logs that I'm not finding. I know most are in /var/log, but I'm pretty sure there are some screen messages that I haven't turned up in a log.
clawhead, actually if it's really frozen you can't, but it actually sometimes happened to me that X hunged and I couldn't ctrl+alt nothing, but i could access from my other machine with ssh and kill X.