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[personal profile] kengr
Saturday someone posted a Dell Dimension 5100 on Freecycle. Since I have an old Dell Dimension I use for a "bench" system, I figured it'd be useful for parts if nothing else. So I replied.

Got an answer back Sunday, but too late to do anything about it (also, as I later discovered, bus service at the place where it was is not good on Sundays). They gave me their address and said they'd have it sitting on the porch, and come by whenever.

I'd already told them I wouldn't be able to come out monday. Tuesday was the 4th, and thius the buses were on the Sunday schedule.

so It was Wednesday when I picked it up. That was a fun trip. The TriMet trip planner offered me an option that'd take 71 minutes but involved *3* transfers. There was also one that only involved one transfer, but that would take 91 minutes.

I went for the 3 transfer one. Was a bit tight on a couple connections but I made it. I took the one transfer route home.


Got the computer home and tried to start it. Got some beep codes, but nothing else.

Opened it up to look inside. All 4 DIMMs were present. Had a dual port video card, with VGA, DVI and S-video out.And a modem card (whoopee, haven't had a phone *line* for something like a decade). Two big surprises were that it had a DVD RW drive. And that it had a SATA HD.

Drive was only 80 gig, but that's usable. And the data cable was missing. Fortunately I had a spare. And a couple other cables were unplugged. So I plugged them in and checked the DIMMs.

Yeesh. 4 256 meg DIMMs only 1 gig of RAM. Even for an XP box, that was kinda sad.

Plugged things back in and tried again. Still with the beep codes. A bit of research online revealed that it was a memory problem. So I unplugged all the DIMMs and reseated them. Nope.

So next I unplugged all but one. And wonder of wonders, it booted right up. Win XP Pro. And various files. Only service pack 1 though.

Trying each of the DIMMs in turn revealed that one of them was bad. Ok, no problem. I'd gotten the specs for the system by then, and knew that it'd take 1 gig DIMMs. and I just happened to have 4 of them from a system where the motherboard had failed.

Plug them them in power on, and it boots ok, Great!

Next step was to install software I wanted and update the OS and things.

That became a problem. Even after installing service pack 3 from a thumb drive, the drivers for the ethernet port (and the onboard sound and a few other things) were missing.

Dell's web site was less than helpful. Even though I had the service tag for the system, I was having trouble downloading the various drivers.

Dell would really rather you use their software to download and install things, but since I needed the ethernet driver to connect the system to the internet, that wasn't gonna happen.

I finally managed to download one of the two ethernet drivers for the system.. Only to find it wasn't the right one. More hoop jumping and I had the other. and it *did* work.

I still haven't gotten around to downloading the rest of the drivers, but I have gotten most of my "standard stuff moved over. As well as adding a second 80 gig drive.

It'll be a nice secondary (or even tertiary) system for my setup. Especially since it's apparently 64-bit. Have to try Linux on it at some point.

One other thing to investigate is the fact that the Windoze product key sticker on it is for XP Media Center 2005. That's not what's installed on it currently. But given that it's got some fairly high end sound hardware it'd be worth checking out if I can find an install disc.

Also have to grab the install key from the version of XP it's currently using (fortunately I have the tools for that.

And I need to zap the admin password as the default account doesn't have admin privileges (another thing I have the tools for)

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