Sorry for such a long post. I've been having a frustrating time with LMDE and this is both a request for help and a little venting...
I've been messing with LMDE for quite a while now, and have had no luck getting a stable install. The problems varied enough that I had trouble figuring out what was going on. Sometimes it would boot and run fine (quite often, actually). Other times it would crash with a Gnome error, or a Dbus error, or a file system error, or some other error... It almost seemed like there was a random crash generator in my system. It was driving me crazy because lots of searching turned up nothing.
I know what you're thinking... must be hardware, right? That's what I thought too, but the system in question has run just about every other version of Linux Mint, and several other non-Mint distros as well, and they all ran fine (or at least they crashed consistently if there was a hardware incompatibility). I have successfully run Mint distros going back to at least Mint-3 (Cassandra) and all ran fine. I remember the occasional tricky install, but once I got it going it was solid.
Not LMDE though. Install, crash! Re-install, crash! Re-install again, and finally it seems to be working. Update, and it's still working. Then a few days later, boom! Re-install again, and hey it worked first time this time. Update, boom! Re-install and don't update, and still it goes boom after a few reboots. It seemed like I had about a 1 in 3 chance of crashing each time I booted. Sometimes a reboot after a crash would get me going again. Other times things were broken and had to be reinstalled (Dbus was a common one).
It really seemed like it was bad memory or a bum HDD, but I run Mint-9 daily as my main OS, and occasionally run Windows XP SP3 and both run fine (even ran Windows 7 RC for several months without incident).
Out of desperation I did the whole hardware check thing anyway. Memory test, pass. Hard disk diagnostics, pass (even tried a different HDD). Checked the DVD-burner, it's working perfectly. Checked the install DVD several different ways, all passed. Test installed a few versions of Mint-10 (Gnome, KDE, LXDE) and they all worked fine. I really wanted to switch this machine to Debian, but, well, it just ain't working.
So today, while watching yet another boot fail - I can always see it coming because there are lots of red fail messages - noticed that LMDE was trying to boot from the WRONG DRIVE! What the... ??
Okay, this system has a lot of hard drives. 5 to be exact. 3 single drives and 2 RAID-0 stripes. I always install Linux to the first drive and Windows is on the 2nd. So, SDA1=Linux, SDB1=Windows. The 3rd single drive and the 2 striped arrays are strictly data. GRUB is installed to SDA, and that drive is in a swappable bay, so when I want to test a different distro I just yank the drive and put in another one (there is never more than one Linux distro on the system). So it's a fresh install and fresh GRUB on a clean drive each time. This system works well, because after each crash & burn with LMDE I can just pop my Mint-9 HDD back in and I'm back in business.
It seems that LMDE will start the boot process from SDA1, which is where it's installed, and then the drive order occasionally switches, (a different drive becomes SDA) and boom, crash. I'm not really sure what could cause this, but it only happens in the Debian edition of Mint. And the most frustrating thing is it doesn't happen every time.
So... anyone got any ideas about this?