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memtest - RAM tester
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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 655
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb 2010, 23:22    Post_subject:  memtest - RAM tester
Sub_title: Does/did it work?
 

G'day,

I'm having an irregular series of freezes of various Pups which I think may be a RAM strip or a hard-drive beginning to show its age.

In older Pups there's a system tool called "memtest" which I hoped would show if I had a RAM problem.
On running this, a console box is displayed but its messages I do not understand as being a good or bad result.

Could anyone advise on what should be shown by memtest for good and bad RAM or is this an application that did not work? It seems to have been dropped in newer Pups?

I tried a live CD of a program called RAM TEST which did not find anything wrong with my computer's two RAM strips after running for some hours. Pup's memtest runs for only a few seconds before stopping and telling me to hit <Enter> to close the program.

David S.
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G0XAN

Joined: 08 May 2009
Posts: 31
Location: Brighton, UK

PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 16:03    Post_subject:  

I had a similar thing recently. Turned out to be an intermittent memory problem. Sometimes Puppy would run happily for hours, sometimes it would barely finish booting. Sounds like your problem is similar, either bad RAM or mobo.

My (computer's) memory problems were confirmed by Memtest-86 http://www.memtest86.com. Ignore the "Price $9.95" and click on the "Free Download" button to the left... Since it is available as Linux source and binaries I assume it was what was packaged with some of the Puppies.

Just download the ISO and burn a CD. As the RAM problem was intermittent I did have to leave it running for several hours before I got a fault.
However, it is thorough and will continue to run until you pull the power, just repeating the test suite ad infinitum. Errors are logged to the screen so you can happily leave it running all day/night and a glance at the screen will tell you if anything has gone wrong.

I would recommend leaving it to run for several passes - all weekend if necessary!

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Béèm


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 11782
Location: Brussels IBM Thinkpad R40, 256MB, 20GB, WiFi ipw2100. Frugal Lin'N'Win

PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 16:53    Post_subject:  

I use ultimate boot CD and run memtest86.
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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 655
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 18:29    Post_subject:  

G'day Goxan & Béèm,

Thanks for your advice regarding memtest-86.

As a live CD, I ran memtest-86 overnight and it found no errors with my RAM.

My Medion 8188 has two 512MB RAM strips (as Béèm knows Very Happy ) so, based on Goxan's experience, I may pull one out and see if I can induce a quicker error by repeating the testing over the next few nights using one strip at a time.

For the last couple of days, all the Pups have run without any freezes.

So until I find what really is the problem (RAM, hard-drive or motherboard), for me, it's a daily synchronised back-up and crossed fingers.

David S.
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G0XAN

Joined: 08 May 2009
Posts: 31
Location: Brighton, UK

PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 15:50    Post_subject:  

Hi David

You have my sympathy in trying to find an intermittent fault!

I had to run Memtest-86 a couple of times on my PC before the memory/mobo fell over. The first time it ran for a few hours, completed at least one full pass and found no errors. Next day I ran it for several hours and it found at least one error in every complete pass.

I have heard it said (on here somewhere I think) that a memory fault is about the only thing that will cause Linux to totally freeze - not sure how true that is.

BTW my username is G <ZERO> X A N (my ham radio callsign)

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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 655
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 20:03    Post_subject:  

G'day G0XAN,

Sorry for mis-reading your forum name/call-sign.

I'm used to ham call-signs like VK2DR (was my my father-in-law's) but as I'm not a dit-dah-ist, I did not recognize yours as one.

Don't know if it's good or bad, but I still can't stop my computer with a prolonged memory test.

Anyway, my money's still in my pocket until I do.

David S.

(Edit: Oooops - missed out a 'not' in the third paragraph.)

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G0XAN

Joined: 08 May 2009
Posts: 31
Location: Brighton, UK

PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar 2010, 17:43    Post_subject:  

Hi David

It's sounding like maybe the hard disc is playing up?
If you are running a frugal install there will stuff going backwards & forwards to the pupsave file. Similarly with a full install,

If puppy usually freezes after a relatively short while, you could try running from CD with pfix=ram. This should take the HDD out of the equation (and probably work the RAM harder). If Puppy doesn't freeze, maybe it points to the HDD rather than the RAM being at fault?

Another idea to try might be to put your pupsave file on a USB memory stick which will also take the HDD out of the loop.

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Béèm


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 11782
Location: Brussels IBM Thinkpad R40, 256MB, 20GB, WiFi ipw2100. Frugal Lin'N'Win

PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar 2010, 20:12    Post_subject:  

A couple of weeks ago I did that ram rest on my MD8818.
No problems after an 8 hour run.
Not that I had problems, just to see how it works.
So keep fingers crossed now.

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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 655
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar 2010, 20:21    Post_subject:  

G'day G0XAN,

Sorry for confusing you with my missing negative Embarassed - since the problem and then running the memtests, the computer has been fine.

I run frugals and fulls (2 hard-drives with 28 partitions, and about 30 frugals in two of those partitions) and the freezing was with both fulls and frugals running off (I think mostly) the second hard-drive. The major file corruption was on the second drive's data partition.

The computer has 1GB of RAM so hardly ever uses the swap partition with Puppies.

I'll let you know if it decides to freeze up again, but as we are now heading into cooler weather and I did read somewhere that some computer "freezing" problems may be due to excessive heat Very Happy , it may be a while before anything bad/good happens.

David S.
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purple_ghost

Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 414

PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr 2010, 08:28    Post_subject: How old is computer?  

Was the RAM added after the original build of the computer? RAM tends to -relatively - use a lot of power. Does the computer tend to fail when using a lot of power, as in more intensive programs?

One might hypothesize the issue is power supply. Either the old power supply inside the computer or power out of the wall. Several years I had had boot failures when an electric heater was running. Usually the computer would function just fine while the heater was on.

Last fall, as the temps were still warm. I had a lot of problems with a computer memory faults due to heat as well. I could see that on the tower because I was using Windows, and used SpeedFan to see temps inside computer. Failures occurred while running intensive programs, or watching streaming movies. I had the A/C running so the room temp was not high, while it is also true the entire power grid was being maxed out due to the entire city running A/C.

Perhaps someone here can suggest how to monitor temps on the MOBO with whatever version of Puppy you prefer. On that tower I had the power supply replaced with a more quality Power Supply while having CPU heat sink reset and all the fans changed. (I had a larger fan put on CPU). Now the temps stay down, tower never fails. There is apparently, no long term damage to the memory.

I am guessing you already know that you can alleviate some overheating problems by blowing out the inside of the computer. Never open the little box which is the power supply, dangerous voltages inside. Possibly lethal voltages, even after the computer has been unplugged. Computer shop advises blowing out computer at least once a year, a local tech wanna be says every six months. My local computer shop has advised me that on can sometimes clean the connections on a RAM stick with an eraser (only erasers from an ink pen, never a pencil) And I am the US to help others to identify what kind of ink pen eraser they are talking about.

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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 655
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr 2010, 19:36    Post_subject:  

G'day purple_ghost,

Thanks for your thoughts on my computer problem.
I had a failure to start past the "Intel" logo about a week ago, the first time this computer had shown a problem since I started this thread. So your post is somewhat timely. Being a cold start-up fail, your thoughts about the power supply, CPU-intensive programs, and heat are probably not what I've got.

I run this computer without its solid side panel, sitting on my desk-top. So I can see all its workings and even do a "temperature check" by putting a finger on the heat-pipe's cooling plates. I can also check the internal dust with a finger-wipe Very Happy .

I'm fairly certain my issue is an intermittent fault in either a RAM strip or in the motherboard. When the computer failed to boot recently, I took out a RAM strip (one of the two 512MB, both original with the computer) and on re-booting, I had a full start-up. But putting that strip back in and taking out the other one, I also had a good start-up. So I still am unsure of where the problem lies/lay.

Your comment about cleaning the RAM strip contacts certainly is most interesting. Just pulling one strip out and and putting it back could have restored a suspect contact. I'll wait and see what happens.

David S.
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purple_ghost

Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 414

PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr 2010, 22:05    Post_subject: Have you ever replaced the little MOBO battery.  

Just a thought, I once worked on a computer where the MOBO battery was completely discharged. The particular BIOS did not remember the info on the drives,(both the hard drive and the optical drive) and in that case, would not detect the drives again without my going back into BIOS and telling it to look again.

I recall reading online of what some call Monday morning syndrome. When people came back to the office on Monday, their computer would not start. Older computers can have separation in some of the connections on the MOBO, which can cause the issue.

That does not give you any more to try, other than replacing the little coin battery on the MOBO. About that: IF you decide to replace the little coin battery. A reminder to observe prevention of electrostatic discharge. How the little battery comes out is not something that one easily figure out by looking. Look up on the internet how the battery comes out. And of course, make sure you have the correct value for the battery.

Of course if it was me. I would choose the nearly free thing to do first. Remove the RAM sticks and clean off the contact, and blow out the RAM slots really well.

If you decide to replace the power supply, please be very careful to notice who manufactured your computer when you go shopping. Dell used to use reverse polarity than all the other manufacturers. Wrong power supply would blow out the MOBO. The other day I had a shop repair a Gateway tower, (I have arthritis in my hands) who put a reconditioned Gateway Power supply and said only a Gateway Power supply would work. I do not know if that was electrical or because of the size. ??? I have been told the rule of thumb on what is quality Power Supply is that the heavier the Power Supply by weight, the better it is. ???

Once before I made the suggestion on the board that many mass produced computers, having been manufactured to be sold for as low a price as possible had very poor quality power supplies which had limited wattage. Some other fellow said I was off beam, A power supply either worked or did not. In some ways, that fellow is right about ninety nine plus percent of the time. As they say, if it not broken, do not fix it.

I have applied the shotgun solution to my intermittent problems. I paid to replace several things, and it worked. Dong which thing really solved my problem, I still do not know.

Hopefully someone on the forum who is more knowledgeable about hardware than I will come along with a better suggestion of what to try, in what order.

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looseSCREWorTWO

Joined: 04 Feb 2010
Posts: 812
Location: Australia, 1999 Toshiba laptop, 512mb RAM, no HDD, 431 Retro & 421 Retro

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr 2010, 02:34    Post_subject:  

G'day,
Some of my "rescued from dumpster" computers need the coin battery on the motherboard replaced, but usually you'll know because when the 'puter is switched off for a couple of days it loses track of date and time settings.

The possibilities seem to be-

1. Swap Partition
If the Swap Partition has resided on the same part of the Hard Disk Drive for a long time, maybe it's getting tired. You could "retire" that area of the HDD by reformatting it to Unallocated Space and creating a new Swap Partition in a new part of the HDD.

2. Dodgy HDD.
To test, follow G0XANs ideas for Booting the PC from a CD with your pup_save file, pup_***.sfs file, vmlinuz and initrd.gz on a USB Flash Drive (plugged in at Bootup). Plus deactive any Swap on this HDD. Try this for a week or two (my 'puter runs like this all the time). It takes the HDD right out of the equation, so if probs come back you'll know it isn't the HDD.

3. Faulty RAM.
As you have 2 sticks of RAM, you could beef up your Swap Partition by 512mb and try running with 1 stick of RAM for a couple of weeks, then switch to the other RAM stick and see how that goes.

4. Having eliminated Swap, HDD and RAM, the only other thing it could be is the CPU or Motherboard.

Maybe someone else knows an easy way of testing them.
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Peter.author

Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 18 May 2011, 10:40    Post_subject: memtest - RAM tester  

I'm probably a little late in contributing any thoughts on this but, if not, any observations on this problem would be appreciated. Since changing to Puppy 5.1.1 (the Ubuntu based one), I get messages in red telling me I have only one or two Megabytes left in RAM (out of 512) and to re-boot to flush the RAM. This is remarkably unhelpful advice when in the middle of downloading something.

The PC's POST checks out the RAM as OK, the processor is an AMD XP1800 at 1.6 GHz and the pupsave file is on a USB memory stick although I have about 20GBytes free on the hard disk. Previously running Puppy v4, I had the yellow messages that RAM was being saved to pupsave but never the red message. I note from using 'free' on the console that RAM usage is always very high, like about 80 per cent, even when just idling with the browser open but not linked to a site and no videos etc playing.

Any thoughts VERY welcome. Thank you.
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bigpup


Joined: 11 Oct 2009
Posts: 5479
Location: Charleston S.C. USA

PostPosted: Wed 18 May 2011, 21:33    Post_subject: Re: memtest - RAM tester  

Peter.author wrote:
I'm probably a little late in contributing any thoughts on this but, if not, any observations on this problem would be appreciated. Since changing to Puppy 5.1.1 (the Ubuntu based one), I get messages in red telling me I have only one or two Megabytes left in RAM (out of 512) and to re-boot to flush the RAM. This is remarkably unhelpful advice when in the middle of downloading something.

The PC's POST checks out the RAM as OK, the processor is an AMD XP1800 at 1.6 GHz and the pupsave file is on a USB memory stick although I have about 20GBytes free on the hard disk. Previously running Puppy v4, I had the yellow messages that RAM was being saved to pupsave but never the red message. I note from using 'free' on the console that RAM usage is always very high, like about 80 per cent, even when just idling with the browser open but not linked to a site and no videos etc playing.

Any thoughts VERY welcome. Thank you.

Your pupsave file needs to be bigger. It is filling up.
Adjust with the program resize personal storage file
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