Help! Can't install XP on an old Compaq.

A friend of mine brought me his old Compaq Presario SR1114NX pc the other day after having some trouble with it. I get the pc, hook it up, and when I turned it on, I got a disk read error when it tried to boot up. Ok, so I restart it and go into the BIOS, and when I got there, I noticed that the system didn't recognize the hard drive. It acted as if there wasn't one installed. I shut down the system and opened the case to make sure everything was connected properly, and then I closed the case and powered up the system again only to see the same recognition of the hard drive.

Ok, I've built computers for a while now, and I know that this is a fairly old system (friend said he got it in 2004, but I think it's even older than that). Anyway, I'm thinking bad hard drive, and I happened to have a hard drive laying around, so I put my drive in the system and it was recognized normally.

I order the guy a hard drive (he didn't want mine, only 20gigs...), and the drive comes today. I install that drive, and it was recognized normally. Now here's where the problems start. After I get the drive installed and recognized, I put my XP Home CD in so I could install Windows. I restart the pc, and it comes up like you'd expect...hit any key to boot from cd...I hit a key and I get the 'windows is setting up' message. But instead of the normal blue screens that follow, my screen just went blank. No loading windows, no nothing, just blank.

I happen to have a couple extra xp discs lying around, so I tried both of those and got the same blank screen. I even went back into the pc and connected a couple of different dvd drives, just in case his drive was bad, but I still go the same blank screen when I tried to boot off the XP cd's. I even tried switching the cd drive ribbon cable with one that I had here, and that didn't work either.

I've tried everything I know to try to get XP to boot, and I'm out of ideas here. I know my cd's are good, because I just used one of them the other day on another system, and I've never had any problems out of any of them. I am hoping that someone can come up with something that I missed, because I don't know what else to do other than to tell the guy that its time to get a new system. I hate telling people that, even when its true.

Thanks for any tips you can offer or any help you can give. I really appreciate it.
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  1. First suggestion - try installing linux (ubuntu or something). Might be able to see if there is an issue with boot files.

    I did a clean install of XP on an older Dell, but it worked fine, so it's not the MB lock (at least I don't think it is).

    And just to make sure I'm reading this right. The system appears to boot from the CD, or at least prompts for it. You hit a button and it actually tells you that windows is about to set up, but then the screen just goes blank.

    Do you hear the CD drives spinning at the beginning?

    Did you try his DVD drive in a functioning computer? Or any of the other ones? Just to make sure they all work, and that it isn't something in the wiring connecting the DVD drive to the mb. Did you try other connectors for the DVD drive like you did with the HDD?
  2. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of linux in any form. I had Mandrake a LONG time ago, but I haven't really messed with linux at all since then.

    Your understanding is right. The pc starts out like normal. It then gives me the 'hit any key to boot from cd' message. I hit the spacebar. The pc then gives me the 'now setting up windows' message. Then the screen just goes blank. Nothing else happens.

    I can hear the cd drives spinning when the pc tries to boot from the cd, but a minute or so after the screen goes blank, the cd drives stop spinning.

    As for the cd drives themselves, 2 of them were in his pc to begin with. I tried using both of them. One of them I don't think works at all, as it would never even get to the point where it gave me the 'hit a key to boot from cd' message. The other one did give me the 'hit a key to boot from cd' message, but it ended up with the blank screen after trying to load windows.

    And then I tried a drive that I use just for situations like this. I have alot of people who come to me with older systems, and sometimes their cd drives are shot, so I keep one here just for such emergencies, so I KNOW it works. My cd drive game me the same 'hit a key to boot from cd' message, followed by the 'now loading windows' message, followed by the blank screen of doom.

    I've been at this for years, and I've never had a system act like this. Usually it is just a bad disc or a bad drive or bad ribbon cables, but I think I've eliminated all 3 of those and it still won't work like it is supposed to.

    I am about ready to call this one a mobo issue and tell the guy to get a new system. Only thing is he's already paid me, and I hate doing the 'moeny back' thing, so I'd really like to get this one going if at all possible. Please let me know if you have any more ideas. Thanks.
  3. Here's a link to Ubuntu. You can just download it and through it on a USB or burn it onto a CD. It is very intuitive, and should at least go through the motions, and if it works, you can format the drive and kill off ubuntu. The layout of the OS is kinda like old-skool Mac.

    Have you tried all new cables for the components. However, if it spins for a little, during the install and then dies, it very well may be the Mobo.

    Also, if you do the ubuntu onto a USB, you could eliminate the problem of the CD drive, and just boot from the jump drive. That may be a way to remove one of the problems without too much difficulty.

    There are instructions on the Ubuntu download page on how to proceed with the USB install, if you are not familiar with how to do that.
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