Bad Motherboard? Upgrade?

From: Augasm (baconeggsandspam_at_yahoo.com)
Date: 10/12/05


Date: 12 Oct 2005 05:06:06 -0700

I'm hoping somebody could shed some light on my problem, and possibly
advise as to a solution.

I have a computer I built about 3 years ago:
Shuttle AK37GT KT400 Socket A Motherboard
Athlon XP 2100+ (1.73GHz)
Kingston 512MB DDR333 PC2700 RAM

I ran linux exclusively, and it was never quite stable. Redhat 7.3 ran
best, but after a while I started looking around, and found SuSE 9.0 to
run OK. I've been running SuSE 9.2 for the last few months, and just
tried reinstalling SuSE 9.3 Pro off of the CD iso's. The stability of
the other distros that I tried in between were shocking, and the
stability of these installs that I did settle on have been getting
progressively worse. By "unstable", I mean that the installation
processes themselves tend to freeze frequently, requiring me to start
over 5-20 times, and the system tends to lock-up apropos of nothing.
Sometimes the lock-up still allows me to switch to other virtual
terminals, and lets me type a username to log in, but control
disappears and I'm never prompted for a password, so I can't do any of
the usual tricks to recover. But now on SuSE 9.3 Pro, it actually
freezes in the truest sense -- nothing can be done at all but soft
reboot.

When I take my harddrive into work, however, for the online updates
etc, it works just fine when swapped into a computer there. So the
harddrive can't be the problem (as well, I've used several harddrives
in the machine, all with the same problem).

The machine has actually been a dual boot along side of the SuSE 9.2
for the last several months, and while I only run the Windows 2000 when
I absolutely have to, I haven't had any similar problems -- Windows
2000 installs and runs as well as Windows can on any machine.

I've run memory tests exhaustively, and have it set to run one of the
quicker tests upon every startup (which I usually bypass, of course,
but I do let it run occasionally). I've never found a problem with the
memory.

I think it must be a hardware problem, and I'm down to the Motherboard
or the Chip. I do heaps of computational work, so I don't think it's
the chip. I think it's probably the motherboard. Is there a diagnostic
that can be run on the motherboard for me to confirm this?

I'm puzzled why Windows would run OK, while linux would be less
forgiving. Windows certainly does throw it's share of totally
uninformative and useless error messages, but they don't appear to have
much of a consequence -- nothing actually freezes like it does under
linux. Does anybody have any idea why Windows and linux would run so
differentially on the same equipment?

Secondly, I'm somewhat willing to spend some money finally fixing this
problem. If I replace just the motherboard, I could do it pretty cheap,
as Socket A seems pretty old by now. But if I can't prove that it's the
motherboard, I should probably spend the money on a whole upgrade at
the same time, which means board + chip + RAM. All the boards these
days seem to be 64bit. It appears linux can run fine on 64 bit given
the architecture directory on the SuSe install mirrors, but will
Windows 2000 load and run on 64bit? I'm certainly not willing to buy
another, newer Windows just because I need to occasionally run it
against my will. If Windows will run, will just about any 64bit board
suit for both the windows and linux, or must I seek out any particular
chip sets? I only build a computer every three years or so, and it's a
completely different scene each time I do.

Any guidance that anyone can offer would be immensely appreciated!