It may be that the hardware is supposed to be compatible, but is it on the list in the link I provided? And what specific error messages are you getting? The errors are important!!
Click on Start-Run and enter MSCONFIG. Remove all startup items and reboot. Still have a problem? This will rule out something running in the background.
Check your BIOS revision and get the latest VIA 4-in1 drivers. Joe suggested using aa single stick of RAM - try it in different memory slots, one at a time, and see if the problem is a bad RAM socket.
<hr>I am aware Linux is difficult unless i grow a beard but the failure of XP is driving me up the wall<hr>Understood. But I don't think XP is the problem; you're among the minority of people who have encountered stability issues. Deep breath, patience, and let's eliminate possibilities - something in your environment must be different to be causing such instability. Write down the error message you see and post them here, chances are high that they will say something specific and allow you to troubleshoot effectively instead of grasping at straws.