I purchased my Linux box, an EZgo pc, from Directron
last April. It’s about the size of 5 CD jewel cases stacked atop each other, and a little wider— its form factor is based around its DVD-ROM drive. It has functioned very well since I got it, until a few weeks ago.
I wondered if it was the system overheating, but shutting it down and giving it time to cool off didn’t fix the problem. Then I thought it was the hard drive going out. The EZgo was failing to boot all the way— it’d just freeze while doing a filesystem check. I spent some time setting up Linux on a second hard drive on the other PC, transferred all my files to the other PC (wondering why the hard drive seemed to work fine for that purpose when I was booting off the Linux rescue CD), reformatted the hard drive, and transferred all my files back. It worked fine for a few days, then started freezing again.
Fortunately, the fine folk at Directron are perfectly willing to say “go ahead, open the case up and see if you can fix it yourself, it won’t void your warranty” if you can talk a good line about knowing what you’re doing inside a machine. So I opened it up, figuring there might be a loose connection or something in there. One person on the online help forums suggested reseating the heat sink would also be a good idea.
When I got inside the box, there was a fair amount of dust... and fluff. Frizzy fluff. Frizzy cat fluff. Some of it was caught in one of the fans, some of it was blocking the heat sink.
You see, silver tabbies like Yeti are known for having very fine fur. Not only do they have fine straight hairs like ordinary cats, they also have a fuzzy, downy undercoat. I’ve found little fuzzy Yeti undercoat hairs in my contact lenses before. And sure enough, winter had rolled around and Yeti had grown his winter coat, and some of it got into the computer past the little screens on the intake fan.
Moral of this story: heat sensors on the motherboard are a useful feature.