Motherboard Dead – Now what?


“Oh, that doesn’t smell good” – My motherboard is dead, apparently as a doornail. So what to do?

First Steps

I had a look around today [Wednesday] for entry level machines. Adelong sells “box only” systems which I was tempted to get. I found what looked like a good deal on the Dick Smith Site – HP Pavilion E2180 2GB RAM including plus a 19″ widescreen LCD for AUD$800 and bought it. Apparently HP is offering a $150 rebate on it as well, which will work out quite nicely thank you very much.

I have brought the machine home and connected up to my current monitor and booted Knoppix 5.0.1 – all’s fine except that it doesn’t recognise the ethernet device :( The computer comes with Vista pre-installed, but I haven’t tried it yet. The machine is quite quiet which is a welcome discovery. I have not used the keyboard yet, but from a brief inspection it sounds quiet as well.

The box does not appear to contain a DVD for Vista. sda1 appears to have MS office applications preloaded. Perhaps this is a trial copy? Wasn’t mentioned on the ad. Maybe I should complain?

Burnt a copy of knoppix 5.1 but it’s not booting (can’t find media at /dev/sr0), nor does 3.6 nor 4.0.2. However edubuntu live 6.1 boots – and properly configures the network card (am doing this edit from edubuntu from the new machine). However, Edubuntu doesn’t seem to see the hard disk(!) Maybe that’s just an edubuntu thing? OpenSuse 10.3 (Gnome) also boots with the network card automatically configured.

Not Much of a Vista

Next step is to salvage the old hard drive and install it to dual boot. It looks like I’m not going to have a chance to use the preloaded vista in the near future (I will eventually, as there’s a music program which I want which only works on XP or Vista – I have an old version running on w2K but cannot upgrade atm). Before I bought it I checked the motherboard and saw it had two sata headers – which was just right to dual boot with two sata drives. Unfortunately I didn’t count on one of those sata headers being used for the dvd drive (shows how long it is since I have bought computer equipment). So – to use my existing drive I needed to either keep the dvd or keep the second hard drive. But I needed the DVD connected to install a 64 bit version of Linux, so my vista “experience” will be offline for the foreseeable future.

Question: If anyone knows how to extract the text of the vista licence from the hard drive (where is it?) please let me know.

The subassemblies inside the case are pretty convenient, although they don’t leave a lot of room to move, and it’s something of a pain to have to remove them to rewire stuff (see below). The bios also seems to provide a fair bit of flexibility (eg choosing boot devices and prioritising them).

Blankety Blanks

I decided to install opensuse 10.3/KDE/x86_64. I wasted a half dozen CD blanks before realising there’s something wrong with my laptop’s burner – had to burn it on a portable burner (and even then I had one coaster before doing a slow burn to get a properly validated CD). Note to opensuse: I know I can’t run an x86_64 distro on my old laptop but could you at least let me do the media check in it?

Lost Hard drive

I booted to the opensuse installer then got a bit of a shock – there were no hard drives!! Hmmm, given that I knew the 10.3 Live CD worked, it was unlikely to be a driver issue, but I thought I’d reload the live CD to get some idea of the modules to load… Only the hard drive wasn’t there for the live CD either. In order to plug the DVD in I had to disconnect the (vista) sata drive. In order to do that I needed to disconnect the second sata drive with my previous install on it, then forgot to reconnect it. D’oh!

There is a modem card taking up one of the pci slots, so I might ditch it and get a sata board. Or I might just get a usb sata enclosure.

Risen on the Third Day

After actually reconnecting the drive, it works. Install was relatively painless (biggest problem was choosing a name for the computer). Formatted a partition I had trouble with in the past and nominated it to mount as /home, rebooted, seemed to work, went to bed. This morning (Friday) I booted, umounted /home and mounted my previous home partition and everything is working mostly fine and dandy (software which I had before but which is not part of the standard install – like Thunderbird and a weather applet – still needs to be reinstalled though). Have updated fstab. Apparently it has a bluetooth device. I will need to check it.

Note to Open Suse:

Not sure I’m keen on device specific ids in fstab.

The install doesn’t seem to have handled UTC correctly maybe that’s because I’ve imported my previous /home?

3 Responses to “Motherboard Dead – Now what?”


  1. 1 AlphaG 17 May 2008 at 6:10 pm

    If you are properly licensed with an OEM version of the MS operating systems you will have a sticker on the machine someplace (like the base) with the product/serial number for entering into the the license request for the software.


  1. 1 Thanks Readerware « Brendan Scott’s Weblog Trackback on 3 July 2008 at 11:32 pm
  2. 2 Taste of Vista, Sillyness of EULA Laws « Brendan Scott’s Weblog Trackback on 10 December 2008 at 7:15 am

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