Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am running Debian 6.0 Squeeze. Every half hour or so a dialog pops up on the side of my screen with the message -

Kernel failure. A report has been sent to the developers to help them fix the error. (Not the exact text but that's what it says)

Occasionally, say once a day it freezes and then reboots completely causing me to loose all my work.

I thought Linux was renowned for its stability. But here it seems to be worse than windows. What is happening?

Note - I used a USB stick and a Live Usb maker to install the system. Could that be a reason for the problem?

share|improve this question
    
Probably installing from usb isn't a problem. In your case I would try to reinstall with different distro, and if problem stays I would check hardware. Have you checked the logs? –  blogger Aug 23 '12 at 10:33
    
@blogger No I haven't. Where are the logs? And what should I be looking for? –  Kshitiz Sharma Aug 23 '12 at 11:04
1  
the most important log to look at for this kind of problem would be /var/log/kern.log. Unfortunately, if the system freezes, the triggering event may not get logged or the log entries may not be written to disk. remote syslogging to another machine on the network, a serial terminal, a line printer, or even a camera can be useful for capturing the log information. As for what to look for, start looking for any error messages, mentions of drivers or hardware. –  cas Aug 23 '12 at 11:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Some possibilities:

  • As Alan suggested, bad memory is a common cause of problems.
  • bad power-supplies can also cause random freezes and crashes.
  • low-quality motherboard. either due to shoddy manufacturing or due to bad/dodgy parts (e.g. a sub-standard or cheap version of a NIC that claims to be a particular brand/model but isn't - the manufacturer's Windows driver may compensate for its inadequacies but the linux driver believes it is an XYZ device because that's what it claims to be)
  • ditto for expansion cards

Are there any common patterns to the crashes? For example:

  • does it happen more often when you do certain things or run particular programs (if so, what are they?)
  • or after you've visited certain websites (e.g. badly written javascript code can leak memory like a sieve)
  • or at a certain times of day (when?)
  • or when other equipment is being operated nearby (e.g. a fridge motor turning on - a good UPS can protect against transient voltage fluctuations).
share|improve this answer

I have noticed for some reason (and whether this is true or not, I'm not sure) that Linux is more sensitive to failing hardware. I have seen this on my home office computer a couple of times. Your best bet is to start running hardware diagnostics.

For that I would recommend Ultimate Boot CD. In your case, I would start with running a Memtest (at least for an hour), followed by a hard drive test (which test will depend on the brand of your hard drive). Out of those two, I would bet a lot of money that something would show up defective - and my money would be on memory.

share|improve this answer
    
@AlanPhilips I have my system in dual boot with Windows 7 and it works just fine. So I doubt hardware would be the culprit. But I'll try that anyway. –  Kshitiz Sharma Aug 23 '12 at 11:31
    
I definitely would. Mine was dual booting XP and Squeeze, and turned out to have a bad stick of memory. Usually in a memtest, memory shows up bad after a few seconds - this one took 35 minutes to show up. Thats why I suggested running it for at least an hour. Good luck! –  Alan Phillips Aug 23 '12 at 11:38
1  
even an hour may not be enough. i'd suggest leaving memtest running at least overnight. –  cas Aug 23 '12 at 11:51
    
@CraigSanders I would agree. –  Alan Phillips Aug 23 '12 at 11:52

If that dialog pops up and the system is still responding, you can run dmesg from a terminal to see the kernel's messages, which will show the error.

share|improve this answer

I've noticed when trying to run Linux from a USB flash drive that on some PC's (seems to be mostly older Dell's) that, after a while, something happens where the system thinks that the drive is disconnected, even though it is not physically disconnected.

I have an old Inspiron laptop, for example, where, after about a day or so running from a USB stick, this occurs and everything crashes because suddenly Linux can't find its root volume.

I didn't do enough troubleshooting to determine if it was the flash drive (a 4GB Kingston), the fact that it is a flash drive and not a USB-enclosed hard disk, etc. but have seen this on other Dell PCs. I don't know if it's a subtle problem in the chipset the Linux drivers don't account for, some possible interaction with ACPI, or what.

Several years ago when I was using an old HP Pavillion as a server, I would have issues where USB attached drives would stop being recognized as connected. Only physically disconnecting and reconnecting them would get them to be recognized by Linux again. I was using a Belkin USB 2.0 PCI card at the time. I've placed the same card in a Dell Poweredge 2500 and have run drives for months off of it with no issues.

You may try partitioning your hard drive, or installing a second hard drive in your system, and running Linux from that.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.