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I am not very technical. My system has frozen 3 times in March--- this is what was on screen...

Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS tty1 login: [683454.747106]
kernel panic- not syncing: attempted to kill init!

I know the system is running:

Linux 2.6.32-40-generic-pae #87-Ubuntu SMP Mon Mar 5 21:44:34 UTC 2012 i686 GNU/Linux Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS

Can you tell me what this all means and why it is happening and what can I do about it?

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I have noticed for some reason (and whether this is true or not, I'm not sure) that Linux is very sensitive to failing hardware. I have seen this on my home office computer a couple of times. Your best bet is to start running hardware diagnostics.

For that I would recommend Ultimate Boot CD. In your case, I would start with running a Memtest (at least for an hour, overnight if possible), followed by a hard drive test (which test will depend on the brand of your hard drive). Out of those two, I would bet a lot of money that something would show up defective - and my money would be on memory.

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sometimes it happens for some kind of filesystem corruption or partition damage.
for example recently, when i try to run *.vdi file,that installed in another machine, i see this line when i start that virtual.
Possibly even Hard Drive failure?
try following guide,
[it worked for me, virtual OS:centos 5.5] :
1.When in Rescue mode (from the CD) - Choose Continue.
2.Before running 'chroot /mnt/sysimage' Run:

# df -h
# fdisk -l
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