Fedora Developers Brainstorming Options For Better Memory Testing

Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 21 July 2020 at 03:23 AM EDT. 25 Comments
In looking beyond the massive Fedora 33 release in development, Fedora developers have begun discussing options for allowing better memory testing on their distribution for evaluating possible faulty RAM issues that otherwise often get mixed in with other software bugs and other sporadic behavior.

Currently Fedora does ship memtest86+ on all installations, but that only works on legacy/BIOS setups and not modern UEFI-enabled systems. It's only the proprietary memtest86 that has UEFI support right now and not the open-source memtest86+. Thus memtest86+ is inaccessible to those on modern platform booting from UEFI, but even if/when memtest86+ offers UEFI support there are other potential obstacles around Secure Boot and similar potential blocks. Additionally, while memtest86(+) is great at rooting out faulty memory scenarios, it can often take some time to spot any issues as another obstacle for end-users.

Another issue with the open-source memtest86+ is that its development was on hiatus for years with its last official release being in 2013 while there was the memtest86+ v5.31 beta issued in April. There is no word when that next stable release may occur.

Meanwhile the Linux kernel has its own built-in memory tester (exposed via CONFIG_MEMTEST) but isn't too useful. Others meanwhile prefer multiple concurrent kernel compiles with GCC as on some occasions have caught memory errors that reportedly were not caught by memtest86(+).

So far the discussion is still ongoing about better avenues to allow RAM testing on Fedora. One user-space Linux solution brought up is memtester that may not be as robust as memtest86+ but can help in weeding out some memory issues.
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