Q: I suspect my RAM may be bad. How can I perform a test in the absence of a RAM testing device?

A: To perform a thorough RAM test on your Linux system, we recommend compiling the system kernel with the option -j. This creates an unlimited number of jobs for the compilation, resulting in filling up the memory completely. If you see SIG SEGV -11 and SIG KILL -9 error messages during the compilation, your memory is likely bad.

This is how you run the test:

1. Go to the directory where you have the kernel source.

% cd /usr/src/linux

2. Configure the kernel. The configuration doesn't really matter, since we are NOT planning to use this kernel to boot your machine.

% make menuconfig

3. Insert a floppy disk into your floppy drive and execute the command:

%make -j zdisk

We recommend running the last command in a script that loops it for a longer period of time (such as 48 hours).

Alternatively, you can retrieve a copy of memtest86, from http://www.memtest86.com/ , and set your machine up (in /etc/lilo.conf) to be able, at your option, to boot directly into that dedicated RAM-testing program, instead of into Linux. memtest86 does very thorough memory-testing, with the disadvantage that the system must be off-line to run, and requires a sysadmin be at the console.