Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.
Unfinished Boot

When I try to boot, either from floppy or CD-ROM, my computer does a soft re-boot partway through the process. It doesn't even make it to the screen which asks if you have a color monitor, although I suspect it gets close to that point. I've tried running the boot disk on my kid's computer and it works fine. There is not a lot of difference between my computer and my kid's, but here are a few:

mine: Pentium 166

kid's: Pentium 133

mine: 96MB RAM

kid's: 32MB RAM

my video card: Creative's

kid's: Cirrus logic


video blaster 3D

mine: 1GB drive + Syquest SparQ

kid's: 540MB drive + CD-ROM



Any thoughts? Thanks for any help you can give me.

—Bruce Matthews Red Hat 4.2

It sounds as if the kernel doesn't care for your video card. This is highly unusual, but it may be the case. Try a different video card to see if it helps. You might also try the boot disks from Red Hat 5.0 to see if a newer kernel helps with the problem. If so, you may have to use the newer version.

—Donnie Barnes

Crashing XFree86

While using XFree86 3.3.1, it will crash unexpectedly and return the following message:

Fatal server error: Caught signal 4.
     Server aborting
X connection to :0.0 broken
     (explicit kill or server shutdown).
X connection to :0.0 broken
     (explicit kill or server shutdown). xinit:
connection to X server lost.

Sometimes, instead of Caught signal 4, it returns 11, but the rest of the message is the same. This usually happens when I'm opening or using a program.

—Aaron Walker Red Hat 5.0

This may point to a faulty memory chip. Try stress testing your system, e.g., by compiling a huge package with optimization, such as your usual kernel compile. If a similar thing happens, it's the memory.

—Ralf W. Stephan

This is usually indicative of a hardware problem. You should take a look at for information on how to determine if this is the case and how to fix it.

—Donnie Barnes

Damage After a Crash

My /var partition filled to 100% recently (I installed some alpha software that bombed 40MB of logs), and basically, I crashed. On reboot, there was damage to the file systems, so I know some things are broken.

My <path>/lost+found directories contain some chunks of data after running fsck, and I assume I can do something to discover what has been damaged and reinstall those packages. How do I do that?

The specific problems I'm now having are:

  1. xdm launches the xserver, but the login screen does not come up and the background graphic is a very large text “Red Hat Linux”. I think this is probably related to #2.

  2. bash (and other shells) can't seem to find/execute scripts. ls sees them and vi edits them, but bash says it can't find them on execute attempts. Thanks in advance.

—Rob Collins Red Hat 5.0

First, you can go to the lost+found directories and use the file command to see what type of data they are. Then use an appropriate viewer to look at the file. For ASCII text you can use more, less, etc. For files of type “data”, a good way to figure out what they are is to run strings filename | less to look at any strings that appear in the file. Those strings may yield some clues.

The next thing you'll want to do is run rpm -Va on your system. That will tell you about any files existing in your RPM database that have changed in any way. Some of them are normal (things in /dev, for example), but it should be easy to tell what else has changed. Look at the man page for RPM (man rpm) for an explanation of the Va output. Once you find files that have changed or are missing, you will want to fix them. The best way is to reinstall the package completely.

Both of your problems will probably be fixed by going through the above steps.

—Donnie Barnes