My Cranky Laptop

For a good long while I have struggled with my laptop, a lovely HP Pavilion N5495 with Ubuntu 6.10 inside. I would describe our relationship as a love-hate type. I hate it when it’s cranky, I love it when it works…and deep down inside I know the feeling is mutual. Each morning, when I start it up, there is a strong chance that it will freeze just after I log in and the splash screen finishes loading. Sometimes I am unlucky and even alt-r,s,e,i,u,b-prt scr does not elicit a response. I run fsck to check if the hard drive is okay and the results turn up positive so why does my laptop freeze on the first start of the day?

At this point I am very suspicious of the RAM so I run memtest overnight. The tests are passed numerous times and there are no problems with the RAM. I then reboot the computer and everything loads up well with no freezes or program crashes. Why?? It is at this moment when I thought of another absurd possibility: Can it be that the RAM needs to be warmed up before I start my laptop?

I suppose the sounds the fan makes when it revs up makes me think of my laptop as more of a lawn mower or a car than an actual PC; and the thought of “warming” up the memory before trying to start Ubuntu doesn’t seem too far out there in nonsense ville…as long as I keep thinking within the engine analogy. So, before my laptop’s first start of the day, I ran memtest for a few minutes. Guess what? My laptop starts with no problems.

N5495, I hate you.

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2 responses to “My Cranky Laptop

  1. Is my N5495 to blame? Is my RAM cheap? Is there a solution to this? I’ve never come across this problem before.

  2. Weeeeeeell, guess what? I changed my RAM and I’m in the Linux/computing heaven.

    My lesson:

    Run memtests. Online hardware forums tend to advise users to run memtest overnight to check for errors, but I recommend that you run the tests on a daily basis when you suspect your memory is failing because it’s not always the case that failing memory will produce test failures for each time you run a test. You may also find that some days are quite pleasant as your RAM is behaving for a longer period of time. But, once you catch fails on a daily basis, then it’s time to consider purchasing new RAM.

    Tell tale signs that your RAM is failing:

    Your PC…

    -freezes/crashes at reboot
    -freezes/crashes while you use it
    -freezes/crashes while you are running innocuous tasks

    /end lesson

    Now, for those who have had the hideous pleasure of listening to the story of N5495, you will know that I have clutched this terrible, ailing laptop to my bosom through hell and back. The enigma which was N5495 confused hardware techs across the country as whole technical support departments were unable to determine that this laptop suffered from a problem of bad RAM. Over the many months of my tragic suffering…my vainglorious ignorance…Windows XP simply could not operate properly, forcing me to consider and apply Linux as an alternative. Thankfully, Linux rose to the task of running with even faulty RAM. The Linux OS enabled me to work on my laptop with faulty RAM and forced me to learn of a new HORIZON of computing. So, if you find yourself at the mercy of INCOMPETENT technical service from some GENERIC BRAND NAME TRINKET PUSHING RETAIL CHAIN, S-A-V-E-Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F. Keep your warranty money, you can buy more boxes of Kleenex to cry yourself to sleep at night as you bask in the glow of your ever omnipo – er…loving – laptop monitor.

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