Dell computer meltdown

Discussion in 'Technical' started by Wild Trapper, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    Dell computer crapped out on my wife.

    I took it in to a shop because I wasn't sure which of 3 components was the faulty one. I've no spare parts around so I paid the $25 to have it checked. Turns out it was the motherboard. This means if I replaced it, it'd be the third one.

    I went in and picked it up, my wife was with me. There is a pawn shop right across the street from the computer shop and my wife likes to go to pawn shops to buy rings and stuff. She said, "Maybe they might have a computer". They did! Asking price $249 with 20% off. The guy sold it to me for $200 with monitor. It had Windows Vista on it, About 80 gig HD, 1 gig of ram, (I put in another gig to make it 2 gig ram), no dvd writer, just a player, I'll take the writer out of the Dell.

    The only bad thing is it's only 32 bit processor, but it will do the job for what my wife uses a computer for.

    So, I'm fed up with Dell computers. ("THAT IS MY RANT"). Oh, I don't like HP all that much better but that is what my laptop is and so is the $200 pawn shop computer.

    A few months back I got my hands on an old emachine. The people that had it said the motherboard was bad in it, I had to check, it was not bad. Problem with that one was it is a 586 processor and password protected. I installed Tiny XP on it to bypass the password, but tried and failed to get Linux to load on it. I think the problem is not enough ram, it's 512 but upgradeable as there are 2 slots, but it is DDR type. So, does anyone know if I can get 1 gig DDR cards? Sorry I can check that online.
  2. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You can get 1 gig DDR memory sticks, just be sure to get the same Mhz speed that you're currently using in that tower for compatibility purposes. I mostly see what the fastest Mhz memory it can support and go with it to increase the speed of the memory bus on the computer.

    If your computer can handle PC 3200 400Mhz DDR ram then just upgrade it with 2 one gig memory sticks.
  3. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    Thanks, Since that computer was a throw away I picked up free, I don't have the book. However those 1 gig strips are what I'm looking at. Not sure if the system will handle those, because it is a 586 Intel processor. All I'd care about is to increase it enough so I can install a Linux destro. I couldn't get past the password, so I loaded Tiny XP on it and it runs just fine.

    As for the HP I picked up at the pawn shop, I put the old HD out of the Dell into it and loaded Linux on it so I can duel boot that system with Vista.
  4. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    WT, what was password protected? The bios on the MB? Look on the MB for the part number or MFG, you can usally google the mfg and get all the information you need. I've done that before for "free" computers.
  5. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    OS but also in bios set up. I didn't need to know the set up password, because the only thing I couldn't do in that was change the password. To run windows the only listed user was password protected, so I couldn't run windows. By installing TinyXP I essentially bypassed the protection of both as all I wanted the computer for is for a backup and to use to keep records on in my shop. Nothing fancy.

    I did, however find some information on retrieving lost passwords after I'd loaded TinyXP onto it.
  6. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    If you can get into the BIOS that should list the speed of the ram that you need, but if it is password protected then you will need to reset the bios. This is usually a jumper on the MB that you set for a few seconds then undo and it puts all of the BIOS settings back to the factory.
    Get your system speed for the memory, upgrade it and install Linux and be happy :)
  7. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The easiest way to reset the BIOS on a computer is to have it "Off" and then unplug the power cord from the wall to the power supply "at the power supply slot".

    Then remove the side cover so you can access the CMOS battery "coin battery" on the MB. Then depress the little metal tab that holds it into the battery slot, and remove it from the motherboard for about 2 minutes. That will allow it to discharge the capacitor on the MB.

    Then install the CMOS battery exactly how it came out of the MB, then plug in the power cord to the power supply, put the case cover back on and power it up.

    If it's a Dell tower, then it should still have the Dell service tag # on it. If it does, then let me know what it is and I'll see what memory came on it from the factory so I can help you make sure you get the correct memory type for it.

  8. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I may be WAY off base here, but I haven't seen a "coin battery" on a MB in years (admittedly, I haven't tinkered with hardware in a long time). Most now are LiIon type that are soldered on the MB and not removable (don't get me started on this, had a MB with a bad battery, mfg wanted more than the cost of a new board to replace the battery, NOT including shipping on my own dime both ways).
  9. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    There was a label inside the case to disable etc the password, but hard as I could I couldn't find the pin configuration shown on the label. I did locate the battery and remove/replaced it. That allowed me to reset the clock and CMOS as well. Cold out in the garage today so didn't get to do a lot with it.
  10. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member


    All the mobos and laptops that I've worked on or built from scratch have the coin style CMOS battery that is removeable, i.e. a Maxell CR2032 battery.



    Usually on a Dell tower there is an Express Service Code and a Dell Service Tag listed. What model of Dell tower is it? Is it a Dimension 2350, 2400, etc?
  11. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    Dimension 5100 about 3.5 years old. I've no plan to rebuild it now anyway. I might decide to use the case sometime later for a project, but a Dell case doesn't lend itself to standard MBs or so the computer guy in town told me. Lot of misinformation out there!

    I've been working on that eMachine and not having much luck with the Linux idea. Damn Small Linux works on it, but it's a bit awkward to use. Even the newest version. The problem, I think is with not enough ram. I checked it online with newegg's rem memory locater and it says it comes with 128M or some such, I'd have to recheck that but it does take DDR cards. I may head into town and see if I can get some DDR that will at the very least double what I have with only one card and two slots. I'd like to just pick up a 1 gig and stick it in to see what happens.

    The problem with TinyXP that I installed on the eMachine, is, I can't get any sound, while I do with DSL (Linux), so I know it's not the hardware. I may have to see if I can download the right driver, if that's possible with TinyXP.
  12. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I put an AOpen mobo in a dell tower before so it's not that hard to do, except when it comes to hooking up the dell power and led front connectors. I had to modify it a little with custom cables but it did work fine when done.

    That emachine should be able to handle 1 gb sticks in each slot, so if you can find some PC3200 400 Mhz memory for it (and it will take it?), then I'd go that route for sure.

    I bet that TinyXP doesn't have the right sound driver you need to get the sound to work. You might be able to download and install it, but I haven't used tinyxp before, so others here that have should chime in and let you know hopefully.
  13. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    I did find a 1 gig card at Office Max for $$, but it did fit and the computer booted fine. I think one will be enough for that machine as I don't plan on anything high end like cad or gaming.

    I wanted to take the DVD RW drive out of the Dell and put it in the hp I found at the pawn shop, but the hp is set up for SATA cables and the dell cables wouldn't fit in the slot on the hp, different size. So now I'll be looking for a SATA DVD RW drive. Gonna have a hole box of old computers and parts when I get done.
  14. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker


    Finally got all up and running. The wife's computer is running Vista and she actually likes it. I did set her up with Firefox and Thunderbird instead of IE and Outlook. A little learning curve for her, but she hasn't complained yet. Just changed out the DVD player for a read/write drive.

    The old emachine I got free at the yard sale is still doing great for my main in house computer, haven't put all aspects to the test yet, but I got another ram card for it and that makes 2 gigs. It is running on Linux only, no duel boot.

    Someday I'll be get around to building a computer, but at the rate I find bargains on computers, I may just play around with the old ones.

    Internet had been giving us fits - dropping out and just not working. Phone company found mice in one of their junction pedestals and gave me a new DSL modem, working a lot better now.
  15. LowMan

    LowMan Monkey++

    I spent $700 on a new Dell laptop and had to work on it myself a week after I got it cause Dell techs couldn't assemble it correctly. What a joke.
    I'm done with Dell as a result.
  16. magnus392

    magnus392 Field Marshall Mags Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Macbook for the WIN!
  17. Byte

    Byte Monkey+++

    Ophcrack seesaw LC3 (now known as lophtcrack)

    Byte I define my evil or does my evil define me? Oh yeah here's my disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only! Only bad people crack passwords!

    EDIT: Forgot to add there is ye'ole backdoor to winblows pwds! Boot into safe mode (you do know how to force this if the f8 option is disabled right? while in safe mode you are operating as administrator) and bring up a cmd prompt:

    type net user administrator *

    That's it. Reboot and select sign in as different user. Sign in using the administrator account. It should no longer require a password; just leave it blank. If you're finally able to get into windows you can then set the default boot user account to not require a password at boot and windows will then boot to the desktop automagically. Or if you prefer a little, and I do mean little, boot security you can set the default boot user account password using the net user command as above. Replace the * with the password of your choice. But you didn't hear any of this from me!<net user="" username="" *=""></net>
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