Sep 28, 2005

To be free and inhuman?

A student brought her wailing infant into stats class today. That's a new one. She should join the noisy bubble gum chewing club and the awesome zombie brigade. Crying baby + hot, stuffy classroom + being expected to use a Student t distribution to construct 95% confidence intervals for the variance of a random sample of 25 in six minutes = grrr.

I just installed a 300 GB Serial ATA hard drive in my old Dell Dimension, finally having found the S(ATA) power converter required to hook it up to a 4-pin power plug. Of course, my mobo is old and has no SATA interface, so I had to install a SATA PCI card. Somehow, I managed to get Windows ME to install fine, but whenever I try to upgrade to XP it gives me a stop error halfway through the installation. Furthermore, in order to even get into ME, I have to set the boot order in the BIOS to CD-ROM as first priority and have the ME install disk in the master CD-ROM, which will allow the option of booting from the hard disk to be shown at start-up. Otherwise, when I start up the system, it tells me I have an invalid disk in the floppy drive.

Ideally, for it to function properly, the hard drive should be the first boot device. Of course, The only devices that the BIOS lists for boot order are:

Other ROM

No SCSI device is listed, of course, because the HDD is connected to the PCI card, not the mobo. What I really need to know is how to set the Serial ATA drive as the first boot device. Anyone have any knowledge on this? I'll try a few things I have in mind when I get home, but suggestions would be appreciated.

Playing Astro Lounge by Smash Mouth at a high volume while driving around earns me odd looks from people, I found, especially in the vicinity of Wal-Mart. Good music, what's that?


Lithium said...

Admittedly I am not familiar with any Dell Dimension model; I've only really made my way through a Dell Optiplex model. If your motherboard is too old to support SATA technology on its own, it may require a BIOS update that enables SATA/SCSI. You may need to find a driver of some sort which installs a Serial ATA Controller.

Have a look around your BIOS and see if there is a way to enable any form of "SATA mode". As I said before, I'm not really familiar with Dell's models or their BIOS layouts and settings so I may not be of much use to you at all.

If things are too old though, you might just have to find a newer BIOS or software updates that support the technology (or at least enables it), or buy compatible hardware. As for installing Windows XP, I really don't recommend using "upgrade" methods to install and especially from Windows ME.

Have you attempted to install Windows XP on the hard drive as a "clean" install? You may need to press F6 during the install to configure any SCSI/RAID drivers, too. This might not be new information to you, though.

Timberwolf said...

I was hoping you would come along and see this. Who else would address my computer issues so quickly?

I checked the Dell website and it appears I already have the latest BIOS version release (I have a Dimension 4100 model, for the record). Then again, there could be other sites out there offering more recent updates, but I have no idea where to start looking. There's certainly nothing in the current BIOS which even hints toward SATA, though.

The Win XP install did give me the option to do a new install, but it resulted in the same error message as when I tried to 'upgrade.' Actually, I have received about three different error messages thus far, including one that tells me hal.dll is corrupt or missing. Of course, the disc I am attempting to install from is old and anything but legitimate, but I have never had problems with it in the past. I suspect I may have to purchase a new copy of Win XP. Oh, I tried to install a new SCSI/RAID driver as well, but it notified me that TXTSETUP.OEM could not be found on the floppy. Why that didn't get included, I have no idea.

Timberwolf said...

Upon further consideration, I may end up taking this one back and getting a regular hard drive that's more compatible with my dated system. For some reason, I have always had plenty of trouble with Maxtor drives.

Lithium said...

I haven't had much problems with Maxtor, and I particularly tend to consider them in any hard drive purchase I may consider making. Taking it back for a more compatible hard drive may be the better and more convenient option, in any case. Although I know that ideally you would like to get the problem solved as opposed to just avoiding it.

As for Windows XP, I could supply you with a copy that definitely works, but you and I would have to find a better means of communicating about that than an openly public comment system. I don't mind giving you Window XP, if you would like it, that is.

Per chance you could tell me what each error you have received has said specifically? If you don't recall, that's fine, but if I could solve your problem and avoid you having to search for hardware more compatible, it will give you far wider options for what kind of storage medium you choose.

Timberwolf said...

The specific error:

A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.

If this is the first time you've seen this Stop error screen, restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow these steps:

Check for viruses on your computer. Remove any newly installed hard drives or hard drive controllers. Check your hard drive to make sure it is properly configured and terminated. Run CHKDSK /F to check for hard drive corruption, and then restart your computer.

Technical information:

*** STOP: 0x0000007B (0xF7AFC63C,0xC0000034,0x00000000,0x00000000

It doesn't make much sense to me.

It would be terrific if you could send me a copy of XP, though, and I can start a new install to see if it behaves any differently, at least. I'll get on AIM one of these days.