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Old 05-06-2004, 02:16 PM   #1
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Unhappy Debian freezes on AMD Athlon during high disk activity


months ago I installed debian woody on my aged PC
In the meantime I have upgraded to sarge, some packages are sid. I am basically VERY happy with debian. But there is one issue: the system freezes sometimes...

I did some tests in the last couple of weeks, and found out that it freezes in 100% of the cases when I compile a new kernel. Strange?!? I assume it because of the high disk or processor activity? Not sure.

I tried compiling a new 2.6.5 kernel with the following kernel versions: 2.6.0, 2.4.18 and
kernel-image-2.6.5-1-k7. No matter what kernel version, the system freezes after a few minutes. The mouse does not respond, and I cannot switch to another console oder restart x11. It is not possible to reset with crtl-alt-delete, no ping or telnet works from the outside. I have also waited for hours if the system comes back - no luck...

Now, don't get me wrong - I hardly have freezes with Windows Me on this machine - might be, because I don't put a high load on the system with running OpenOffice...

Here is my configuration:
cpu: AMD Athlon 850 MHz
motherboard: VIA VT8363 (sound onboard: VIA AC'97 Audio Controller; VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller; NIC onboard: Realtek RTL8139/810X; VIA Tech 8038 PCI to USB Universal Host Controller)
graphics adapter: Diamond Viper II Z200, 1600x1200, 60Hz
WDC WD400EB-00CPF0, 40GB
WDC WD205AA-00BAA0, 20GB
ram: 120MB + 512MB

BIOS V1.65, Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Release 07/27/2000 W, Copyright 1984-2000

It would be great if you can help me! Having a non-stable system is no fun... Any suggestions are welcome!

Thanks, Roland
Old 05-06-2004, 02:35 PM   #2
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ime (in my experiences), this problem occurs the most often when your cpu isnt properly ventilated. youre compiling, which takes loads of cpu power, which sends alot of electricity through those transistors. try taking the side of the case off and blast your best fans in your computer. if you cant afford to do that, blow out the cpu heatsink w/ compressed air.
Old 05-06-2004, 03:36 PM   #3
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I had a very similar system up to quite recently. I had a 950MHz Thunderbird, and these processors generate an insane amount of heat. I switched to a brand new CPU fan a couple of months ago and all stability problems went away - it was simply overheating, just as LavaDevil94 suggests your system might be.

A reliable and good heatsink/fan combination, such as the Arctic Cooling Copper Silent is reliable, silent and outperform pretty much any CPU cooler I have had previously. Plus, they are very affordable.

It sure is worth a shot. Other options you may want to try is booting the system with just one memory stick to see if it's the memory that's acting up (and/or you can use memtest86). You may also have a flaky or underpowered power supply on your hands, so if you have the opportunity you could pop in another and test it.

Now that I re-read your specs - two optical drives and two hard better have a 250W (I popped a 320W P/S in my system when I had three HD's and two CD-ROMs - better safe than sorry) or more powerful P/S in there or you will be balancing the line of reliability just because of the system craving more power than your power unit can supply.


Last edited by hw-tph; 05-06-2004 at 03:37 PM.
Old 05-07-2004, 05:24 AM   #4
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Hi, I have had some stability issues also with my machine recently. I had win2k installed and it crashed all the time, so I moved to Mandrake 10 and at first I thought it solved the problem. Not when I start gimp and do "selective gaussian blur" on some image I get my machine stuck totally every time. I think there might be several causes:

1) bus error on high load (maybe incompatible memory type/mixed memory from vendors)
2) IDE controller error on high load (got some kernel bad EIP with stack containing IDE-routines in it)
3) BIOS fault

Tests to be done:
1) download memtest86 and run it (see its homepage for details
2) Downgrade you bus rates from BIOS (e.g. 10-20%)
3) Upgrade bios, or atleas see its errata

My friend did part 1 with memtest86 and found out that his motherboard doesn't support that version of processor without lowering BUS speed 10%.
Old 05-08-2004, 06:18 AM   #5
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Hi guys,

here are some news about my hardware problem:
1. I ran memtest86 for 5 hours - it did not come back with a single error - good news.
2. I already have an P/S with 300W - that should be enough. But I also plugged out one of my CD drives, because it does not work anyway (cannot open the drawer, for what ever reason) and I only use the other one...
3. I opened the side of the case, and checked the heat produced by the CPU and the hard drivees. The CPU seems to be pretty cool, but the hard drive gets warmer and warmer. I am compiling the kernel for one hour now (no freeze up to now! which was impossible days ago!).

I am continuing the "kernel compiling" test for a couple of hours, and see what happens. Might be I have to cool the hard drive, or leave the case open (which is annoying, because more noise the usual).
Anyway, thanks for your replies!

Keep you posted about the outcome...

Greetings, Roland
Old 06-09-2004, 02:31 PM   #6
Registered: May 2003
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I have a similar problem that happens from time to time. I moved from Mandrake to Debian hoping that this would bring a solution somehow but it still happens after upgrading kernel.

I have 768MB of RAM (256 + 512). I am going to remove the 256 MB chip and see whether it is any better. I have one of the best cpu fan available according to the few reviews that I have read here so I hope it's not related.


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