I have an i7 laptop built in 2010/2011 with 8GB RAM. I moved its original HD & OS, Ubuntu 10.04, to an external USB enclosure - booting from this provides me with an outdated but stable system.
In place of the old HD, I have put in a new SSD brand and name suggested to me by system76 support.
I just about successfully installed Lubuntu 18.04 from a USB stick for a minimal installation. I battled with system crashes before and after the install, fortunately not during the install.
After the install, I have been able to have a running system once for about 10 minutes, other times mere seconds, and yet other times crashes happen during the boot process (on a number of occasions the system crashed before the BIOS splash screen even displayed, some crashes occurred before the GRUB2 menu displayed, some after the menu displayed, but before OS selection, some shortly after OS selection, some later, some just before the login screen appeared, some after, and few after login).
I had to use
dpkg --configure -a twice after two random crashes following
apt upgrade (during the upgrade), and then I still needed to redo
apt upgrade to finish the upgrade.
Just to say that I see no pattern.
It even crashed when I logged in in console mode (graphics was started, but I did not use it, Ctrl-Alt-F1 brought me to tty1).
The actions I attempted are:
1. making sure the microcode was up to date,
dmesg now shows (after several reboots) a microcode revision 0xa dated 2018-05-08.
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="amdgpu.dc=0" (as seen somewhere on the net)
3. configuring my
/boot, to limit SSD writes
None of these actions however seem to have any effect on the frequency or randomness of the crashes.
For investigation or configuration purposes, I can mount my new partitions from an Ubuntu 16.04 Virtual Box VM from my old system.
I have not been able to find any reason for the crashes in any of the logs, but maybe I am looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place (
Booting from USB stick (live ISO / multiboot) with a variety of images leads to similar system instability: tried Antergos (can't even boot), Manjaro (can't install), Mint19 and Lubuntu (yes, even the one I finally successfully installed).
I am now looking for more things to investigate or configurations to solve these very frequent crashes - which given my old OS stability, I do not believe are hardware related - other than maybe related to the SSD.
I have now tried Ubuntu 18.04 and 14.04 from live USB stick, installed on the new SSD, and installed on another old 30GB HDD in a USB enclosure. All 6 options suffer from the same instability.
I have also cloned my old Ubuntu 10.04 original HD to the SSD, this boots without a hitch & stays stable. Ubuntu 10.04 is also stable from the live USB stick.
I contacted my PC manufacturer's fantastic support, and like me they come to the apparently only possible conclusion that the GPU is the problem as it is not supported by modern drivers.
The GPU is an ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 5870 Graphics with 1GB GDDR.
If anyone has a kludge, a configuration (GRUB & OS) or a fix they can share, to make my new OS's work with this old graphics card, I'd love to hear from you.
AMD do not seem to offer much support for old hardware on Linux.