I have an Acer Aspire 3680 notebook which I bought new in 2006. The hard drive has finally died and I was lucky enough to find another IDE 2.5" drive to replace it. However, I can't remember the build number of my original installation of Windows XP SP2, and my original license key has been rejected so far with every attempted install of Windows XP. Therefore, I must assume I am trying to install the wrong build and the kernel is not compatible with my key. Can anyone help?
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You can only use the key printed on the laptop's label if you're using the same version of XP - Home, Pro, Media Centre Edition. In the circumstances, perhaps you should have bought a dead but identical replacement for your laptop which has the hard disk and system still intact.
Alternatively, you could download a free Operating System by using Linux. Test one out as a LiveCD with no impact on the hard disk - download PCLinuxOS from http://www.pclinuxos.com.
Thank you saga for the kind advice. Should I take this to mean that if my original installation was XP Home (SP2) then I can use my license key and borrow any copy of XP Home on CD to install on my laptop? One of my friends has an old copy of Home, with no service packs. Perhaps I can try this one? Your idea about Linux sounds quite attractive and I will definitely check it out when I get some spare time. As of now, I need to get my laptop up and running again because I am in the middle of mid-term exams at university and it's not convenient to use the library computers (I live off-campus). In the end, I guess it all comes down to trial and error.
I wouldn't wish to raise your expectations too much because it never worked for me and I always believed it to be that the CD was encoded with the PID and if it didn't match, it wouldn't work. However, many people have posted that it does work within the same product group so yes, an XP Home disk may well work so long as it isn't an OEM version, bundled with, say, Dell or HP drivers.
I recommend you download Service Pack 3 on to a memory stick and run that to install it before you bother with drivers and certainly before you go online with the new installation. You'll get better drivers afterwards, once the network adapter driver goes in, with the pack installed.