bad kernel fried motherboard???

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Sat May 24 05:27:19 PDT 2003

On Sat, May 24, 2003 at 08:16:21PM +0800, Robert Storey wrote:
> I've been offline for a few days because it seems my motherboard is fried. I'm 
> sending this message from another machine.
> The really WEIRD thing - I had just recompiled a Linux kernel, then rebooted, 
> got a "kernel panic". Tried rebooting again into single-user mode, but kernel 
> panic again. Next attempt to reboot into the old kernel, but this time 
> nothing at all - no video, the motherboard just died.
> My question - is there any possibility that a misconfigured kernel could harm 
> the hardware? Or is it just a strange coincidence that "kernel panic" was 
> followed by real hardware failure?
> Sorry, I know this is off-topic, it was Linux not FreeBSD, but I'm still sort 
> of dazed.

It's highly unlikely that booting up a FreeBSD or Linux kernel will
lead to hardware failure due to bad or malicious coding --- the core
people of both groups have too much invested in their products to
knowingly permit such a thing, and they are not going to be easy to
trick into accepting it either.

On the other hand, compiling a kernel will exercise your system,
raising the temperature of the CPU and memory, which tends to make
failure more likely.  Similarly rebooting a system (especially if you
power it off) is a vulnerable time.  But you could achieve the same
effect by compiling any large package, or rebooting for some other
reason.  It's also the case that kit which does fail in this way is
probably pretty marginal anyhow, and all you've really done is hasten
the inevitable by a few days or weeks.

Oh -- the kernel panic is the symptom of the failure, not the cause.
Chances are it's the memory or CPU or video card that will fail before
the motherboard, which you may be able to diagnose by judicious
swapping of components.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                       26 The Paddocks
                                                      Savill Way
PGP:         Marlow
Tel: +44 1628 476614                                  Bucks., SL7 1TH UK
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