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At the very beginning, I am aware that I can provide very little info on my problem (and actually I'm ashamed about it). Thus, although I'd like to fix it, I'm asking first on how to get to the root of said problem.

System is few years old PC with Debian (3.10-3-amd64) jessie/sid, X and xfce running. Graphics is Nvidia Geforce 8300.

Symptoms are: system freezes with good deal of randomness. Usually screen displays some quick shakes followed by lots of colorful horizontal lines, followed by full screen filled with single color. At this point keyboard and mouse are useless (tried ctrl-alt-f1234... to get console, num/caps lock LEDs stop reacting) and I'm forced to hard reset.

I'm not entirely sure, but it looks it's connected to graphic acceleration: I can work for some time in xfce console and use opera without freezes, then freeze occurs at random moment when I'm using chromium or firefox, or after short time playing openarena. Glxgears didn't crash yet :)

Lately the system was upgraded via dist-upgrade, I've also done some cleanup in packages (perhaps I unknowingly deleted something important?). During upgrade both X packages and nvidia kernel were updated. [edit] the problem shown only after upgrade, previously everything was fine.

So far I've tried removing nvidia drivers, which seemingly helped (not entirely sure, freezes are random - system worked for quite short time, no freezes occured), but on default X config framerate drops on anything graphic intensive, so I tried to get nvidia back. Installed nvidia-kernel, settings, xconfig. Did not help, acceleration works, freezes still occur.

[Edited] The problem seems not to occur on old Windows 7 installation on the same machine. It works less fluent and more HD-intensive than Debian, but haven't frozen while playing HD video from youtube and during benchmark test from http://novabench.com Therefore I doubt it is hardware related, but this is still possible, computer has his age.

Also, to repeat, before upgrading Debian the problem didn't occur.

What else should I try? What additional information might be useful and how to get it?

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It seems to be a hardware problem. I'd check the following, in order:

  1. Try replacing your graphics card with another spare one that you may have around, or use the integrated graphics if any for a while, and check whether the random freezes keep showing up.
  2. Replace your power supply with a higher wattage output one. I know at least one case in which a cheapo 250W power supply wasn't able to cope with the graphics card consumption under heavy load, and the system freezed randomly almost exactly as you describe (it was a Windows box, though).
  3. If all of the above fail, and just in case, check your RAM sticks with memtest86+
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  • Please see the edit. The advice is the harder to follow because GeForce is already integrated and I have no spare parts unfortunately.
    – zencodism
    Apr 9 '14 at 18:59

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