Hardware Troubleshooting Tools
CTCS Full System Burn in package (by valinux):
package to do heavy load, real world, total system tests of any linux
based system. If not running Linux, you could also probably boot off
the Linuxcare BBC CD-ROM (below) and then download/run ctcs to the
RAM disk to try a complete system burn in that hits CPU, RAM, and
WARNING: The hard drive use is very heavy and has been known to corrupt some live file systems. Be sure to not use a live file system , or have a complete backup on hand before using this package.
RAM or CPU problems will make themselves apparent within 5-30 minutes as multiple source compiles run and multiple hard drive bad block tests get run simultaneously.
CPUburn-in for stress testing CPUs and heat sinks:
Once you think that you've narrowed it down to the processor, or you just suspect the CPU or heat-sink--this test will turn up any problems after running it for only a few minutes. It is nice because it hammers JUST the CPU, and nothing else. It seems to be the best CPU burn in tester that I've seen thus far.
Memtest86 for burn in or error testing of RAM:
This is a new tester for me, but it looks fairly thorough. It's better than most of those "hardware testers" that you pay $300 or more for. This package is great because it can be run from it's own boot floppy, or can be added to your boot loader to do a full compliment of bit pattern based RAM tests that don't have to map around "used memory" that would be present if any operating system was active and running. Also comes with a fairly comprehensive explanation of all of the tests, bit patterns, and error codes.
Tom's Root Boot single Flopppy Linux T-Shooting boot disk; emergency recovery:
This little floppy's a real life saver! It packs over 2MB of data onto a 1.77MB formatted floppy with tons of emergency recovery and disk tools! Use it to FDISK NTFS partitions that you can't see with Windows FDISK, BeOS, BSD, Solaris, just about anything or any OS partitions. If you can't get a Linuxcare BBC (below)... this one is a must. I carry at least one with me at all times.
Linuxcare Bootable Business Card (BBC); emergency recovery PLUS:
This little business card sized CD hold 40MB of raw data, which after running through a loopback file system, gives you a full 180MB of content in the form of a full Debian Linux install, X11 GUI interface, networking stacks, browser(s), emergency recovery tools, SCSI/RAID drivers, and much much more. This one boots, mounts all the file systems that it can find (automagically), and lets you do whatever you need to the crashed system.[NOTE: Since this meeting, the BBC project has forked. The new forked code base is the "Linuxcare Bootable Toolbox". The original Linuxcare BBC creators took the original project and content have turned it into the LNX-BBC. You decide which is better.]