Monday, 16 February 2009

dell mini ram trouble

Odd problem with my dell mini on Saturday. I needed to get a few packages up to ubuntu intrepid versions, and found that wasn't a trivial affair given the "lpia" archictecture that the pre-installed 'dellbuntu' insists upon.

I was installing dependencies, but they were still appearing to be missing. Very odd, so I decide to install the vanilla 32 bit Ubuntu8.10.

I partition the drive (ext2 with no swap) and stick in an 8.10 usb startup disk. Start the install and BOOM!! major problems at 27%. I get warnings that "source and destination files don't match".... "you probably have a dirty CD, or a damaged hard-drive".

Bummer - it has to be the hard-drive right? We all know these solid state drives are friable?

A quick google suggests several folks have had trouble with the dell mini drives, so I was 100% certain that was the problem.
Anyway... long story short, it turns out it wasn't that at all.

My RAM was hosed. memtest86 on the startup disk (which I tried on a whim whilst googling for SSD device checking software) found 40,000 errors at a very specific range of addresses.

So I popped in a different ram block, and voila! All is well. Ubuntu 8.10 was running flawlessly 20 minutes later.

On the off chance any ubuntu devs reading this.. it might be worth adding a line to the error dialog stating that the memory could be an issue as well as the more likely CD or hardrive cause.

Even more importantly, THANKYOU for having that memtest86 on the install media by default.. you saved me from ringing dell support (a fate worse than death methinks?)

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