from left-over old parts.
Thursday, February 12, 2009 by starkers | Discussion: Personal Computing
I've recently been builing my daughter a PC from old parts left over from various upgrades over the years and what a pain it has been... from beginning to end.
First off, the 450 watt generic PSU wasn't up for the job and it wouldn't fire up properly/stay fired up, so it had to be replaced.
With money being a bit tight these days that took a while, but once it was installed we were back in business... for a very short while. Yup, everything appeared to be working as it should, but XP kept going to a BSOD part way into the install, suggesting a hardware issue as no other software was installed. Grrrr, I then have to remove all the likely culprits one by one to eliminate the cause... no go, XP still BSOD's after the 'network' -' time' - 'locale' setup pages. Hmmm, maybe the BIOS date settings are wrong?
Nope, wasn't that either! Having eliminated that, the graphics card, RAM and soundcard I get to thinking it may be the HDD, given it wasn't so young any more, so I pop it into my spare rig and test it there... works fine and XP installs beyond the previous BSOD. Right, So I put it back into the rig I'm building but still there's an issue and now XP nor the BIOS isn't seeing the drive at all... in fact it isn't seeing the ROM drive or the other (smaller) HDD, either. WTF? So in goes the mobo disc and I reset to factory default settings, which seems to resolve the issue and we're back in business again... or so I thought.
Now this is just a standard issue of XP Home Edition and it should just install without the need of additional files... but no. The installation got as far as 'Installing Updates' and now it's asking for an 'aws' file that's part of SP1. WTF, again. That can't be right, so I try to start the installation from scratch, but that's no go, either. The rig wouldn't allow me to boot from disc and kept going back to the interrupted installation, which I had already concluded wasn't going anywhere without the SP1 file...
OK, I'll fix this sucker and download SP1 and burn it to CD. Yeah, right! Back to the drawing board... and into the BIOS to check everything is AOK. No wonder I couldn't boot from disc, the BIOS wasn't seeing the CD ROM ... again. Apparently the 'old' plug wasn't seating properly, so a new one fixed that and again I'm back in business... XP installs without an issue.
Could have saved myself a whole lot of time if only I had known about ActiveKillDisk before I started... would have wiped the HDD completely clean, including the old 'boot sector which contained a previous installation of XP with SP1, hence the asking of the 'aws' file.
By now I'm mightily frustrated and pissed. I've spent several hours getting this rig up and running... and now I have to contend with 'naked' XP while I perform all the updates and install the service packs etc. YUK, the Fisher Price blue of XP is totally disgusting after using WindowBlinds for so long to change it... and it's not exactly a short process to download and install umpteen dozen updates and patches to a bare-bones XP, so I was sure gonna have nightmares in Fisher Price technicolor.
Sure, I could have installed a trial version of WB to ease my pain, but my daughter doesn't see the point and she can't be educated if it's gonna cost her money she doesn't have/can not spare. In summary, then, the building of this rig was a right royal pain in the arse, and getting XP to install was a trial in itself... but having to sit though a couple of hours of a Fisher Price UI while the updates were downloading/installing was torture. The main thing is that my daughter has a functioning PC and it hasn't cost her anything, which is a blessing when she has two young-uns who are growing out of the clothes faster than she can replace them.
I never ever had this kind of trouble when building with brand new parts, and I may very well say "never again", but I have enough spare parts to build another 3 rigs... 3 copies of XP *shudder* to go with them... and a son who still doesn't have his own PC, just a shared laptop he can hardly get on because of the missus and 2 kids... yup, homework, etc. So yeah, I will do it again... though I probably will wear my rose coloured glasses to numb the effects of 'naked' XP next time around.
Oh, did I mention that having to work with 'naked' XP was the worst part of this ordeal.
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