The spontaneous shutdowns and laggy performance I mentioned a few weeks ago returned with a vengeance yesterday, so much that using my Inspiron was nearly impossible. And since my recent addiction to OpenTTD needed satisfying, finding the problem was moved way up on the list.
Luckily I’m on a three-day weekend, and could properly chase the issue. In the end, it turned out to be a faulty memory stick, which makes sense I suppose. The CPU was cranking at full speed, fans whirring and the entire system lagging, while it tried desperately to communicate with the failing stick. I probably should have guessed at that.
I confirmed it overnight, by running the memory test from an Ubuntu boot disc, and was greeted in the morning by a long list of errors, highlighted in red and looking quite guilty. Proof is in the memtest, so to speak.
It’s a little disappointing since this was a PC100 256Mb stick from Crucial, which I held in high regard. I guess I don’t really know how old that chip was to start with though; it served me for about three years after I reclaimed it from another machine. There’s no telling how long it was in that one.
Replacing it should be easy … I think. There was a time when a stick of PC100 was something you found in the bottom of a cardboard box in a thrift shop, and took home out of pity or a feeling of luck. Nowadays though, it might be a little more difficult to come by … and in Japan, it might be a rarity.
I shall find out today though. I will make a run of the local recycling shops and see if anything looks like a fit. If not, I see where a new one online runs about US$35, which stands up to a cursory examination of ebay prices — US$25 plus shipping.
In the mean time I’m running on half the memory and seeing no drop in performance. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue, but I will still find a replacement.