Monday, February 1, 2010


Success! Finally!
As I sit here writing this I am finally experiencing the relief and joy that only comes as you patiently watch as Ubuntu installs on your newly assembled system.
Build Your Own PC Do-It-Yourself For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech))
I have come a long way in building computers and playing around with them. This recent construction project was a ground up approach. I bought the pieces all separately and began assembling them inside a old case that I owned, an eMachines computer that followed the rest to a sudden and unexpected death. Unexpected until I read story after story of the poor quality power supplies, Bestec, that failed and consequently fried your motherboard one day.

I took my time and downloaded the manual for this board as it was slightly used and verified and checked myself at every step. I was being a bit more meticulous than I usually am when tinkering around with my old PII's or PIII's I have cluttering up my basement much to the ire of my wife.

This build was slow and methodical and I was like a kid waiting for Christmas when I pushed the power button for the first time only to have my hopes dashed as nothing appeared on the monitor. The fans were running but nothing was happening.

A note that I think should be made about using a motherboard from someone else - it might be a good idea to clear the CMOS settings back to factory default to prevent the system from running as it shouldn't - overclocked when you weren't expecting it. If you knew how it was ran before and under what setup - then this might not apply.

My system will not boot!
Two possible choices - software failure or hardware failure.
Since I wasn't even making it to POST, power on self test, or even the memory count, I couldn't even enter the BIOS. Software was definitely not my problem.
I actually found this website to be the most helpful in uncovering the root of my problem.

As you guessed, I had built the system and wanted it to just run perfectly the first time it powered up. It was not to be. So following the general advice of a trouble shooter I eliminated possibilites and started with a barebones system.
Still, with only the motherboard, one good stick of RAM, and the CPU with heatsink - -nothing was happening. Edit - I was seeing the motherboard graphic appear on the monitor about half of the time.
Since the system was not even entering the BIOS portion of the boot sequence I knew there was a problem with my barebones system. Had I received a bad board?

I tried the advice listed in the website above and swapped out the CMOS battery.
Voila! The motherboard graphic on screen gave way to a RAM count and a system halt on the error of no floppy drive connected. I was in!
This is where I made my next mistake. Thinking I had solved all of my problems I promptly reconnected everything again and triumphantly pressed the power button only to see the motherboard graphic stare me in the face and refuse to proceed on to the normal boot sequence.

Now what? Back to the basics. Try it, yes it works. Okay, back to trouble shooting mode.
One by one I reconnected the floppy, test, the optical drive, test, and the hard drive, test. And I failed.
Now what? Was it the IDE channel, the cable, the drive, or a jumper setting? First, I swapped cables. Test - failed. Cable is not the problem.

Secondly, I swapped drives because I could see the jumper setting and had verified it was set to master. Test - failed. Drive was not the problem.
Finally, I tried a third hard drive that was actually working and not supposed to be an empty drive. Test - successful.

Then I connected my first attempted HDD as the slave. Test - failed.
Why? Oh, yeah, switch the jumper on my drive to slave if I am going to have two hooked up. Test - Successful.
Then I realized that this supposedly empty drive must not have been empty and may have been used previously as a slave and did not like being hooked up as a master.
Next I rechecked that jumper. I switched it to cable select instead of master. Test - successful

I reset up the original configuration, including resetting the jumper pin on the hard drive this time to cable select, knowing the drive worked and popped in my install cd and let the installer tell the drive how to behave.
The result - just as I finished writing this, my installation of Ubuntu is complete and I am smiling once again!

Lessons learned -
That CMOS battery is actually important.
Don't disregard the rules of trouble shooting. Eliminate possibilities and work slowly not skipping ahead cause your excited.
Provide a flow diagram that visually shows the steps and the tests and their outcomes.

Here is something else that might help. What are those POST codes?

I am reinstalling windows on an upgraded machine and now my recovery discs don't work!
-Yes, call Microsoft to get an activation code and download an iso, also slipstream in sata driver support.
Or use a Dell recovery cd with your own coa, certificate of authenticity.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails