I was at school SSHing to my homebox. All of a sudden, my connection was closed. Attempting to reconnect failed. When I returned home, I discovered that my computer was off.

Nobody was at my house and I am sure that I did not have a power outage.

How can I figure out how or why my computer shut off? Is there some log in /var/log that could point me in the right direction? Should there be a core dump somewhere that I should find? If so, how do I use core dumps?

2 Answers 2


It is unusual for a kernel error to shutdown the power, it would either hang with a kernel panic or reboot. It was most likely an hardware issue.

If there was a kernel panic search for "kernel panic" on the logs dir:

grep -r "kernel panic" /var/log
  • +1 for suggesting that it is a hardware problem.
    – Bobby
    Feb 3, 2011 at 19:15
  • 1
    The computer shutdown very well could have been a hardware problem. Sometimes it is a toddler problem. (My two year old loves the shiny blue power button)
    – kzh
    Feb 3, 2011 at 23:39
  • 2
    I had a room mate who was an electricity nazi. So I set up wake-on-lan.
    – djeikyb
    Feb 4, 2011 at 1:09
  • My hardware problem ended up being a bad CyberPower UPS.
    – jtlindsey
    Dec 21, 2017 at 13:02

The relevant files in /var/log are messages, dmesg

issue, command last to see the exact reboot time. You will see a line starting with reboot (or may be shutdown) for all reboot/crash.
cat /var/log/messages from a terminal and check for messages at the time stamp of reboot or just before it. dmesg can give the last boot time messages.

Hope this helps.

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