System hangs during boot... sometimes...

Hi,

I have a Pentium 90 Mhz, VA-501 motherboard, 3c509 combo ethernet card, Diamond Multimedia 4MB video card, 528 MB Fujitsu hard drive, and a keyboard. When installing redhat 6.2, both from CD image as well as floppy image (for both rh 6.2 and 7.0), the system hangs (by this I mean nothing, not even ctrl-alt-del works) sometimes.

A few rare number of times the system did boot successfully and I was able to install redhat. Now I boot from the hard drive but have only once been able to pass the boot without a hang.

The system hangs in one of two spots. The first and more common point is a few lines after decompressing the kernel, at "Calibrating Delay Loop ..." it hangs. The less common point is after saying that the IDE channels are not 100% native and then detects the IDE channels as part of the PCI bus, I think. Then it hangs.

Why does this hang happen? Note that if I keep pressing the reset button, eventually I can probably pass the hang points but it seems to be random. I tried bootin without a hard drive, without a floppy drive, without cards, with less ram, even with a different power supply. No sucess. Is the motherbaord simply not linux compatible? This would be ironic since the system came with a "powered by redhat" sticker on the front, in a similar manner as window system have designed for windows stickers.

- Apparatus
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ApparatusAsked:
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barreroConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Did you have any problems with windows or any other OS in this computer? Just to try to have a second advice :-)
I know the tests or requirements of MS and Linux differ, but it can help to find the problem
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ridCommented:
Hi!
My guess here is that you may have problems with your hard drive. It may be a good idea to try and find a good diagnostic program and run that, perhaps even do a "low-level format" (a zero-fill) and start again. The "randomness" may be a result of the HD sometimes actually finding what it looks for, before timing out.

Likewise, it could be a small defect in your RAM. There are memory check software available on the 'net. If your BIOS can be set to do a thorough memory scan at bootup, this may possibly find something.

Regards
/RID
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ApparatusAuthor Commented:
I tried swapping the hard drive with another and changing the memory. The problems still occur. Interestingly enough, though, I plugged the same hard drive and same cards into a new motherboard and everything works. I'd still like to get this one working though.

- Apparatus
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ridCommented:
So the problems seem to be related to the MB or other hardware attached to it. Does the BIOS have some kind of speed settings? Like memory refresh rates, wait states etc? You could try to step down, or even find some "safe" default settings to try (i.e. slow, but secure).

Regards
/RID
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ApparatusAuthor Commented:
Yes I already tried that. Itried a number of combinations in bios, starting with everything set at normal/standard.
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Manfred BertlManagerCommented:
can you boot the setup from cd without problems?
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ApparatusAuthor Commented:
no, any boot be it net, cd, floppy, or hard disk gives me problems.
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Manfred BertlManagerCommented:
hmm.. so i agree with /RID, it is your MB, RAM, cables or CPU which has a problem. but before you throw your computer out of the window, you can try to de-mount all parts and cables and put them together again, in some cases this helps. :)

kind regards,
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ApparatusAuthor Commented:
I was in the process of reinstalling all the hardware that I had put in the garage to test MS-DOS on the system. When I rebooted and went to get the setup disks I came back and found that system had rebooted without problems. I rebooted three more times and all worked well. I suspect that I changed something or unclogged a piece of dust, but since barrero's comment ultimately led to a solution, although not directly, I'm awarding him the points. Thank you everyone for the adivce.
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