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Old 11-07-2003, 04:06 PM   #1
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RedHat 9 / W2K Dual Boot system locking up frequently... Overheating... ?

I recently acquired a new (to me) machine that used to belong to my brother. It's about 2.5 years olds, it's got 1.3Ghz Athlon processor, 256 MB ram, some generic graphics card (3DForce?), 2 hard disks, etc...

When I initially got a hold of it, it had W2K Pro set up using both of the disks. I decided to leave Windows on the first drive, and put RedHat on the second. The install went fine, and I had a well-functioning dual boot system for a few days.

Then, one day during a RHN update (to cups and coreutils, I think), the screen just went dark and the machine locked up. I had to cut the power off and turn it back on in order to reboot. From then on, RedHat acted really flaky. My X session would just freeze up at random intervals. It never seemed to freeze if I went in as root, but that may have just been coincidence.

The strange part was that Windows was also showing the same behavior. It would load up and then just lock up after some random amount of time.

I decided to reinstall RedHat, and it froze up during the installation process. Since the boot-loader wasn't fully loaded yet, I couldn't get in to Windows or Linux. So, I got out my Windows 2000 boot disks and did a clean windows install. Windows was back up again and ran stably for a few days. I got up the nerve to give RedHat another shot. The Red Hat install went fine, and ran fine for the first evening. I went to bed that night, and left RedHat running. When I woke up, I found that the display had blanked out again and the machine was locked up. Once again, both Windows and RedHat are acting very flaky and freezing up during and after they boot up.

Has anyone ever heard of anything like this? I'm inclined to believe that there is some faulty hardware, but it's almost too coincidental that Windows runs fine until RedHat shows up. I'm going to try loading just RedHat next to see what happens.

If anyone has any insight, advice, or ideas, I'd love to hear them.


Last edited by pistonhonda; 11-07-2003 at 10:31 PM.
Old 11-07-2003, 06:06 PM   #2
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Yep, this happens, but it's not RH's fault. Because RH and windows run off completely different parts of the computer, it's pretty safe to say that something affecting them both is a hardware problem. I'd start with the easy one, and check to make sure your fans are both working well, especially the cpu fan. Then, I'd check the memory to make sure that hasn't "bit the dust". In my experience (20 years now), your problem (flaky, unpredictable lockups) is a heating issue. Maybe a bad fan, or more likely, it's time to get a can of air and spray out those cobwebs inside. Especially clean around the IC leads on memory chips and other small chips (don't physically touch them if possible, you don't want to break/zap an IC) because they tend to be magnets for dust, especially when a badly designed motherboard has the fan blowing right on the memory (most of them nowadays, I'm afraid). Sometimes (very, very rarely) the heatsink might loosen up as well.

Because dust tends to take a while to build up, there may have been errors before, but the computer corrected them without your noticing. As time passes, they get worse, until you get the problem you seem to have now. your best bet is to clean it out every few months. How often depends on how much dust is in your house, but six months is probably too long. Keeping your computer clean also helps prolong it's life.

Of course, you might have a bad memory module as well, so test for that if the above doesn't work.

Last edited by scott_R; 11-07-2003 at 06:08 PM.
Old 11-07-2003, 07:11 PM   #3
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Scott, thanks for the reply.

The inside of the box doesn't look all that dusty, but I'll grab some air and give it a good cleaning out tomorrow.

My case is actually a server-type model and has about 3 external fans as well as the one on the processor. It doesn't seem to be blowing at the memory, either...

Using the system health part of my setup, it looks like the CPU is running at about 44 degrees C. I have no way of knowing how hot it gets while the OSs are running, though. I did some poking around on Google, and it doesnt look like I should be too worried unless the temp. gets up into the 75-90 deg. range.

Can the dust be a problem even if the system isn't overheating?

What's the best way to see if it's a memory issue, just buy a new stick and try it out?

Thanks again!
Old 11-08-2003, 12:01 AM   #4
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A little more information....

I just experienced another "freeze" during a RedHat install. I've noticed that when it freezes, I can tell instantly because the noise that the fans on the board/case make change noticably. It's a pretty loud running machine (as I said it has like 3+ fans), and the sounds became slightly more high pitched as soon as the machine froze.

Also, I quickly rebooted and went into the system health menu in the setup, and the CPU temp was only 49 degrees C (and the system temp was only 30)....


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