Don’t forget to check your RAM

Experiencing strange, intermittent faults on your computer? Don’t forget to check for a basic hardware problem such as faulty RAM before doing a lot of time-consuming testing of software installation and settings. If you are fortunate enough to be using Ubuntu (maybe using a Live CD or USB stick), it is easy to run memtest86 (assuming you are using a computer with an x86-compatible processor) and see if there is problem with your memory. Run it looking for patterns of bad RAM because you might be able to sidestep them. To display error reports in a useful format do the following once memtest has begun:

c for configuration
4 Error report mode
3 for Bad RAM Patterns
0 for continue

Let the system do multiple passes to be confident you have picked up any intermittent errors. This may take an hour or so. If bad RAM is detected and it is not too extensive, you can edit /etc/default/grub to sidestep the bad parts.

E.g. sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Uncomment the example and use your own details as per the memtest output:


Don’t forget to run the following afterwards to update your booting:

sudo update-grub