Memory testing

Q Some distros, when they boot up, have a menu list with install options that sometimes include a hardware check utility like the Memtest app. Is it possible to have that code and the program boot from a hard disk partition, and how would one go about it?

A This is indeed possible, and often very simple. Some distros have a package for Memtest86 or Memtest86+, a fork of the original project. In such cases, installing from the package manager will usually add a bootloader menu entry and everything is done for you. If you want to install manually, go to either www.memtest86.com or www.memtest.org, depending on which variant you want to try, and download the pre-compiled version. In the case of Memtest86, this is marked as "installable from Windows and DOS" but it can also be installed from Linux. Unpack the archive and copy the .bin file to /boot - you will need to be root to do this. Then, also as root, edit /boot/grub/menu.lst (some distros use /boot/grub/grub.conf) and add one or both of the following sections, depending on which variant you installed.

title memtest86
kernel /boot/memtest.bin
title memtest86+
kernel /boot/memtest86+-2.01.bin

If you have a separate /boot partition, you can omit the /boot part from these, for example

kernel /memtest86+-2.01.bin

If your distro uses Lilo instead of Grub, add either of these sections to /etc/lilo.conf

image=/boot/memtest.bin
label=memtest86
image=/boot/memtest86+-2.01.bin
label=memtest86+

Don't forget to run /sbin/lilo after changing lilo.conf!

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