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I'm helping my dad fixing his old computer. I am now running it from Fedora 16 with XFCE Live CD.

If I try to install, as soon as it gets to the part where it writes partition to disk however, the computer just freezes (screen image is frozen, no mouse nor keyboard response--even num-lock won't change then). The only way out is a reset.

This issue occurred, though less consistently on Windows, it occurred too after installing Xubuntu 11.10.

I suspect this issue is hard-drive related, since now the Live CD runs smoothly and since it freezes on writing partitions. I am not sure however. (I also ran a metest which was passed without error.)

Is there a way to find out what the source of the problem is and can I do this from the live CD? And so how? (I am pretty illiterate regarding hardware).

Could you guide me through please? Where do I start?

PS: I can do the troubleshooting from Xubuntu 11.10 LiveCD alternatively.

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NB: this issue might take a while to resolve since my dad didn't have the patience and preferred to move back to Windows. –  Benjamin Dec 30 '11 at 17:23

2 Answers 2

You can check what is going on with hdd using a package called smartmontools.

Run smartctl -A /dev/sda, where /dev/sda is bad hdd and check if there is something bad (look for the info about every parameter in wikipedia).

If only X(GUI) freezes, than you can press alt-sysrq-r and then ctrl-alt-f1 to switch to the console and run dmesg to find out what errors are shown there. For more hotkeys google magic sysrq key.

And, of course, you can run mhdd or victoria hdd testing tools and choose there an option to remap bad sectors (if any).

But first of all check all cables connected to hdd and replace them if possible or at least reconnect (may be it is not fully plugged in).

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Hi, thanks, could you translate the alt-sysrq-r for me? I don't know what the sysrq key is. –  Benjamin Dec 26 '11 at 10:52
    
sysrq is the same key as print screen. More info in wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_SysRq_key –  int Dec 26 '11 at 11:01
    
Ha! Correct I've never seen it before :) –  Benjamin Dec 26 '11 at 16:45

Check all other consoles (ctrl-alt-f1 through crtl-alt-f7) for "weird" messages (like: "PCI interrupt 10 not in use, disabling device").

This once was a problem I observed on OpenSuSE. Workaround: Kernel-option "noirqdebug" during install. Else the idle CD-ROM (I was installing via PXE) would disable the IRQ for the primary network card...

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