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I have this old computer - P4 2.0ghz, 1.2GB RAM and onboard graphics(no external card), 80GBHDD. It has xubuntu installed on it and it regularly hangs when it takes more system resources for say like graphical programs, too many tabs on firefox etc. It just either hangs the system or shows black screen.

Tested if it was issue of HD but it wasn't because i have used linux livecd and problem is still the same even if I have removed the HD. I have also tested with USB linux (puppy linux and ubuntu linux on 8gb drives). Tested windows XP as well on this HD and results are the same. Tested another HD on this machine, results are still the same with it. System hangs or goes black screen and requires restart.

I thought later it could be thermal heat issue and then applied thermal paste on heatsink but still it fails to work for me. It continues to show symptoms. Another thing which was yet to be tested is changing of CPU fan which was not done because I have not found any fan for old pentium 4 machine in the market. I have to hit online stores (but i am in india and it's hard to find it in online shops which can deliver it to me).

So far I don't see this as HD or Monitor or OS issue because I have tested with other HD and results are the same. So it could be either CPU fan or motherboard? What could be possible issue with the hardware?

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Honestly, this sounds more like a RAM issue to me. I would try running Memtest86+ on it and see what happens.

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I did memtest before installing ubuntu, i didn't noticed any issues. So what could be the problem? – Mahesh Apr 5 '12 at 2:11
Have you tried testing the power supply? Low power could also produce these symptoms. I'd recommend trying another power supply. If that doesn't fix it, then you should pull everything out of the case and bench-boot it repeatedly. Add one component each time until it begins having problems. – Nilpo Apr 5 '12 at 4:54

Sounds like a cpu heat issue, at boot enter the bios and check for a hardware monitor option and see what the cpu temp reads at. How hot is it in the room where you run the computer? Is the fan noisy? Try using a spare electric fan up next to the case, with the side cover off, and get it as close to the cpu heatsink as you can, does the problem persist?

How about if you run it at night, some place cool?

Weather shows 94 degrees in Mumbia at the moment. That could definitely be a factor if it's that hot while running the PC.

Maybe try and underclock the chip via the bios so it runs a bit cooler and slower, though more stable?

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I tried with spare electric fan but problem still persists after long timesay 2 hours or so. But it does allow me some time which is usual case it doesn't. – Mahesh Apr 4 '12 at 0:41
Yes. CPU does make noise too, like starting trouble of bike. It just gets overheat for no reason IMO. – Mahesh Apr 4 '12 at 0:45

I would focus on hardware to solve this one. Probably one device is malfunctioning and suspending the whole system. Part swapping and restesting... This is tedious.

If it is on the motherboard it will need replaced or it is just overheating.

One remote possibility is to install a different video card and disable the one on the motherboard in the bios settings. This is unlikely it but I have seen it before.

Very hot room temperatures do cause the circuits to overheat and malfunction.

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There is no video card. I agree temperature is quite hot here. – Mahesh Apr 4 '12 at 0:39

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