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PC won't boot to a Live usb that is confirmed working

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Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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January 6, 2013 5:57:12 PM

I'm not sure if this is the right category for this, but there is no general hardware category.
If there is a better category feel free to move this mods.

I have an old system from circa 2001 system that has been sitting around.
I want to re-purpose it into a utm/router, xbmc, or mythbuntu pc.
it is a compaq 5320us specs are:
Pentium 4 1.6ghz single
OEM compaq motherboard (I can get a product number if that would help)
640mb SDRAM (1x128mb, 2x 256mb)
40gb IDE Maxtor drive
nVidia TNT2 vanta gpu


I want to boot a live linux of any distribution to format the hard drive and then install whichever distro I want. But nothing will boot. I have tried knoppix, ubuntu 12.10, live windows xp, you name it, but none will boot. All live usb disks are also confirmed on a socket 775 oem system and my am3 system.
I also tried one live ubuntu 12.10 disk, but that did not work either (I really prefer usb though).
If I unplug the cd drives and the hard disk so there is only the usb, it gives me an error that the system diskette is not bootable and to replace it.


I figured the problem might have been fixed in a BIOS update (it still has factory original), so I downloaded the newest bios from hp, and it has a windows and a dos utility. I assumed that a dos disk would not work either so I opted for windows.
Right now it has XP on the internal hard disk.
2 days ago I was attempting a software undervolt. However the junk oem motherboard does not support it, so I simply shut the PC down. When I came back to it today. it asked me to start in safe mode, safe mode with networking or CMD, last good config, or normally.

I tried safe mode networking, last good config, and normally. However all of them do the same thing.
When I select an option. The white dashed loading bars pop up across the bottom of the screen. And then slowly fill it to a white bar as it loads the operating system. However, it never moves past the solid white bar.
Safe mode loads drivers, but after it is done it just sits there also.

I am out of ideas, and any help is appreciated.
I also googled the problem and other people have had difficulty with this same PC model. and no forum thread gave a concise answer to the problem.
Also thank you in advance!
January 7, 2013 8:02:29 AM

Can you choose USB under boot order? If yes then the problem could be that some BIOSes recognize your USB as another hard drive when it is bootable. Insert the USB and start the computer. F2 to enter the BIOS then in the BIOS under boot order click on the hard drive option and see if your USB is listed there along with your hard drive and move it up in preference.
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January 7, 2013 7:17:00 PM

How far into the boot do you get? Can you tell if it is reading your USB stick or is it going straight to

What happened when you went into BIOS to change the boot order? You may need to change it under "HDD Priority" rather than "Boot Disk Priority".

The other thing is that your memory configuration seems weird. If you have different sizes it usually recognizes the lowest amount, so it is probably only recognizing 3x128mb. Looks like you can upgrade to 3x512mb for about $30, which could make a big difference:

http://www.computermemoryoutlet.com/Compaq-Presario-532...
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January 8, 2013 2:41:58 AM

I will write up a really detailed response for tomorrow. but for now.

USB- I can make usb the first prioity boot disk in the bios and select it in the boot order will all other boot disks involved and it tells me that the boot sector is missing.

For windows. I can select safe mode or normally like i said. Normally gets the loading bar and freezes at 100%. Safe mode loads drivers and the last one is always the agp driver. So could the windows issue be graphics related?

And once I decide on an application for this pc I do plan on upgrading the ram.
I have bookmarked that site for later use. Thank you! Standard sdram will work also right?
Should I try booting with only the 2 largest sticks?
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January 8, 2013 6:12:02 AM

AEracer7 said:
I will write up a really detailed response for tomorrow. but for now.

USB- I can make usb the first prioity boot disk in the bios and select it in the boot order will all other boot disks involved and it tells me that the boot sector is missing.

For windows. I can select safe mode or normally like i said. Normally gets the loading bar and freezes at 100%. Safe mode loads drivers and the last one is always the agp driver. So could the windows issue be graphics related?

And once I decide on an application for this pc I do plan on upgrading the ram.
I have bookmarked that site for later use. Thank you! Standard sdram will work also right?
Should I try booting with only the 2 largest sticks?



Since you can select USB then it should be able to boot, however, as has been noted above, some BIOS recognize some bootable USBs as hard drives. When setting the boot order in the BIOS not the change boot order menu at startup, check and see if your flash is listed under hard drives and if so change the priority to your flash rather than the actual hard drive.
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January 8, 2013 12:42:47 PM

AEracer7 said:
I will write up a really detailed response for tomorrow. but for now.

USB- I can make usb the first prioity boot disk in the bios and select it in the boot order will all other boot disks involved and it tells me that the boot sector is missing.

For windows. I can select safe mode or normally like i said. Normally gets the loading bar and freezes at 100%. Safe mode loads drivers and the last one is always the agp driver. So could the windows issue be graphics related?

And once I decide on an application for this pc I do plan on upgrading the ram.
I have bookmarked that site for later use. Thank you! Standard sdram will work also right?
Should I try booting with only the 2 largest sticks?


I though you were trying to boot and install Linux. Why are you now doing Windows? Are you saying that when you try the Linux distro that it goes straight to windows?

Is it possible that you have not burned the Linux CD to USB correctly? What was your process? You cannot just copy the files directly. I suggest using the program unetbootin on a working Windows computer to burn the CD to USB. http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

When upgrading the RAM, just use a vendor like the one I linked to that has a tool for matching RAM to your computer. If you want to go with another vendor, just copy every single detail of the specs (pc133, 512 mb sdram). Do not try to exceed the recommended specs and you should be fine.

If you can't upgrade memory first, it is possible that you are not meeting the minimum requirements. Try a lightweight distribution such as LUbuntu, which requires only 128mb. If you are trying to run the full Ubuntu distribution, the recommended minimum is 512MB and that could be your problem if your system is only recognizing 384MB.
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January 10, 2013 9:05:38 PM

The BIOS does indeed recognize the USB disk as a hard drive when I select boot options, and I am guessing that is the problem.

Here's my BIOS config

Storage Options
Removable Media Boot Enable
Removable Media Write Enable
Primary IDE Controller Enable
Secondary IDE Controller Enable
Diskette MBR Validation Enable
All of those say enable or disable. not enabled, however I have tried both settings and usb boot still doesn't work.

Boot Order:
USB Device First
40gb IDE hard disk Second
Compaq Ethernet Controller Third

In Device configuration my 40gb mator is the primary and only IDE device and the only listed hard disk

Other settings I didn't feel would help, but let me know if there's some I should expand on:
System Info, About, Save/Restore to Diskette, Device Security, Network Service Boot, System ID's, MBR Security, Energy Saver, Power-On Options, Onboard Devices, PCI Devices, Bus Options, Device Options


The only reason I was attempting Windows still is to update the BIOS, thinking that an update had possibly fixed the boot disk problem.

I used LiLi USB creator tool for windows. I know the boot disks worked properly because I used those same usb drives on my gaming machine, to install linux to the IDE drive, because I remembered that it has legacy support.

Okay sounds good thank you, I will probably go with that one because those are pretty reasonable prices.

I have actually ran Mythbuntu, Ubuntu, and currently LinHES since my last posting.
I would be happily running any of those as an HTPC, however Myth and ubuntu were too studdery in frame rates with my network tuners. And linhes will not boot past "initializing kernel" because it was initially install on another machine presumably.

So I am back to trying to use a live disk.

Thanks again guys.
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January 10, 2013 9:22:32 PM

Is there an option in your Bios for something like "HDD Priority" or "HDD Boot Order"? If it is recognizing your USB stick as a HDD, then setting it to boot from USB first will not work. You also need to tell it to boot from HDD first, and then select your USB as the first HDD.
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January 11, 2013 4:49:57 AM

Quote:
The BIOS does indeed recognize the USB disk as a hard drive when I select boot options, and I am guessing that is the problem.



Where do you see it listed as a hard drive? Where you see it, is there another hard drive listed? If so, depending on the bios, use your arrows or f5 f6 keys to promote your flash to the top or demote the others either way make sure the flash is at the top.
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January 11, 2013 12:06:02 PM

Also it looks like your computer has an optical drive. Another option would be to burn the ISO to DVD and boot from DVD.
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January 18, 2013 10:00:02 PM

The only time it says hard drive is when I push one of the f keys to select the boot device, It asks 40gb Maxtor Ide, or usb hard drive.
Can I burn a linux image to a dvd-rw? I have tried before with dvd-r and only accomplished wasting a few dvd's.
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Best solution

January 18, 2013 11:29:56 PM

Well, it looks like someone else has had the same problem with your computer:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2000634&page=3

Some old computer BIOS's do not support booting from USB and this may be one of them.

It should work with DVDR. Not sure about DVDRW but I don't see why not. Are you using IMGBurn? You need a program specifically for burning disc images (you cannot just copy the files). Sorry you are having a tough time with this.

Hope this doesn't turn you off of Ubuntu/Linux. It will be worth your while once you get it figured out.
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January 19, 2013 2:18:41 AM

Awe, that's too bad, I really liekd using live usb, oh well.

Okay sounds good, and no i use alcohol 52%.

No I have been using Linux for quite a while, just wanted to re purpose this pc.

Thanks for your help
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January 19, 2013 2:19:21 AM

Best answer selected by AEracer7.
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