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I have an old PC lying around which I've installed Debian 6.0 on. Last night I was trying to SSH in and it wouldn't respond so I pressed the reset button. How can I find out what happened to it? It seems fine now.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Assuming your computer is usually stable, check for hardware problems, especially with the RAM (i.e. install memtest86+ and choose memtest at the boot prompt), but also with disks (disk errors sometimes crash the filesystem code; install smartmontools and run smartctl -a /dev/sda). If the problem was gradual, you may find something in the kernel logs (/var/log/kern.log), but often the crash happens too brutally for anything to be written to the logs.

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Reading the .1 logs is always a good place to start.

Use iptraf to see if your machine makes any suspisious connections (if someone got/has unauthorized access).

Run a rkhunter scan:
aptitude install rkhunter
rkhunter --update
rkhunter --check

And should it ever happen again, attach a monitor and see what the console says :)

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On a side note: If someone even remotely capable got into your system and shut you out there probably wont be any trace of it. – Mark Mar 6 '11 at 0:16

By this -

How can I find out what happened to it?

I presume you want to know what happened during your failed attempt at SSH!

One place to look into will be /var/log. Something like grep -ir ssh /var/log/* should give you the SSH related log entries.

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