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  #1  
Old February 10th, 2005, 09:02 PM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Computer without an operating system

Hello,

I need some help with an computer that I bought used. It did not come with an operating system. I think that everything has been cleared out. I thought when I bought it, it would be as easy as just popping in an operating system disc but that has not proven to be true.

The problem is when I start the computer it will only go into the bios. I try to put in the operating system disc and the computer will not recognize the disc drive (CDRW/DVD). Since it will not recognize the disc drive it will not run the disc to insatll the operating system. I have not idea how to get the computer to recognize the drive. Can any one help me figure out how I do this?

The only thing that I really know how to do with the computer is surf the web so I am really confused. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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  #2  
Old February 10th, 2005, 09:40 PM
photolady photolady is offline
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How about some system specs, ie, what computer? Try pulling the cmos battery to reset BIOS. Is the computer, when booting up, recognizing the cdrw/dvd drive? Is it recognizing it in Setup/BIOS? Have you checked that all cables are connected correctly and jumpers set correctly?
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  #3  
Old February 10th, 2005, 10:36 PM
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Strider Strider is offline
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Isabel, if your computer has a floppy disk drive, and if you can find or make a boot disk (aka emergency startup disk), try booting from floppy. If the option 'with CD-ROM support' is available, select it. During the boot process from the floppy, it will tell you the drive letter of the CD-ROM if it is detected. If you get through this far, see if you can launch setup from your install CD.
Post back with as much information as you can find about your computer, as Photolady said.
Good luck!
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  #4  
Old February 10th, 2005, 11:13 PM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Computer without an operating system

Thank you both for replying. The computer is a Dell Optiplex GX260 with a Lite On CDRW/DVD drive. It also has a floppy drive.

How would I pull the battery? Where is it located?

When it boots up the only option that it gives me is to go to the bios. I was told not to really touch any of the settings on this by a computer guy in town. When you turn the drive on to auto in the bios (as opposed to off) it says device unknown.

My husband set up the cables. The monitor works and the computer will turn on and go to the bios. I am not sure what the jumpers are to tell you if they are ok or not.

The computer does have a floppy disc. Do you know how I would get a boot disc?

If you need any more information I will try to provide it.

The trouble is that I don't know a lot about computers and I have never had one that did not already come with an operating system.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old February 10th, 2005, 11:35 PM
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Strider Strider is offline
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I think that by going straight to the BIOS that 'the computer' thinks that something is amiss. It sounds like there is a problem with the CD-ROM from your description of 'unknown device' when you turn it to auto in the BIOS. Although with it 'off' you should get a 'boot disk not present' error. Check the ribbon cables to both the hard drive and the CD-ROM. Make sure the pink stripe on the cable connects to pin 1 on the drive. Pin 1 is usually closest to the 4-wire power connector. if both the hard drive and the CD-ROM are on the same cable, make sure that the CD-ROM jumper is set to slave.
You can download a file that will create a boot disk from bootdisk.com. I suggest a Win ME boot disk 'cause I know that it'll give you the option of booting with CD-ROM support.
Finally, resetting the BIOS might fix it. The battery is a large watch battery somewhere on the MB. I think that Dell's tech support site has specs and diagrams of your computer, if you have the time and perseverance to rummage around on their site.
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  #6  
Old February 11th, 2005, 02:01 AM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Thanks for your reply.

Well the computer doesn't go straight to the bios. When you start it you have two options: F1 Boot and F12 set up utility. When you select F12 that is what takes you to the bios. But those are the only two options so I guess essentialy it does go straight to bios.

Checked the wires and they seem to be ok. The disc drive and the hard drive were separately connected.

I guess I will try to download the boot disc and see if that works. I am starting to wonder if I was sold a computer that is not working correctly. After I download the disc and put it into the floppy drive of the computer that I bought will it guide my through the set up? I have never had to reboot or set up a computer before so I am not sure what to expect.

Thanks again for your help.
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  #7  
Old February 11th, 2005, 02:18 AM
photolady photolady is offline
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Below is a link that might help:

http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...n/ug/index.htm
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  #8  
Old February 11th, 2005, 02:28 AM
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Strider Strider is offline
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The file you download will create a boot floppy. Read the readme.1st file on the site.
When it's created, put it in the floppy drive, power on the computer, and select F1 Boot. (The computer may automatically boot from the floppy.) You should see several lines of white text on a black screen, and ultimately an A:> prompt. If you get that far without error messages, put your Windows install CD in the CD-ROM drive. If the startup process from the floppy told you that your CD-ROM drive is E, for example, type E: at the A:> prompt. (Use whatever letter is assigned to your CD-ROM drive.) The CD-ROM should spin up and after a few seconds the prompt should be E:> Type setup and mash enter.
Copy down any error messages and post them back.
I didn't look at the link that Photolady just posted, but it may be worthwhile to check out.
Good luck.
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  #9  
Old February 11th, 2005, 04:54 AM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Thanks so much for the site to find the boot disk. I did everything that you told me and I got through all of it until the part where I had to type the E. I put in the cd and typed the E and got the prompt, then typed setup, but then it said "this program can not be run in dos mode". So I tried it again and typed in setup.exe but it said the same thing.

Do you know what I should do next?

Again, thanks so much for the help.
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  #10  
Old February 11th, 2005, 05:55 AM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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One more thing, everytime since I posted last I tried to do somethings in c:\> just to see if I could get anything work and when I try to type an command on the c:\> prompt I get a message that states: Invalid media type reading drive c; then it says abort, retry, fail. What am I doing wrong? Thank you so much for being helpful.
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  #11  
Old February 11th, 2005, 08:54 AM
photolady photolady is offline
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If you got the bootdisk from bootdisk.com, I believe the cdrom drive letter would be R not E. You need to pay attention when the floppy loads the cdrom support, as it tells you exactly what letter it assigns to your cdrom drive.
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  #12  
Old February 11th, 2005, 05:53 PM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Thanks again for the help. I tried it again this time using R instead. It told me the same thing about this function can not be performed in dos. I don't know why it is telling me this. Is there something else I should type in when I get the prompt? I have never worked with dos or setting up a computer. Do you think there is something wrong with the computer?

I tried the link that you sent. It was really helpful for a lot of things and I am sure that I will be using it for reference in the future. Unfortunately, I did not talk about setting the computer up without an operating system I guess because they expect it to come with one.

Thanks again for all of your help.
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  #13  
Old February 11th, 2005, 06:29 PM
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Strider Strider is offline
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Hi Isabel,
We're making progress.
It sounds to me like the boot disk is not loading drivers for your CD-ROM. While the computer is booting from the floppy, do you get an option to start up with CD-ROM support? If not, you may have to create another boot disk that has CD-ROM support. What version of Windows is the boot disk for? What version of Windows are you trying to install?
The error you get when trying to access the C: drive just means that the C: drive is not formatted. You'll have to format it to use it. Look in the tutorials section here at CTH. The format utility should be on the boot floppy.
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  #14  
Old February 11th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Spider Spider is offline
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To set the Dell to boot to the CD first, perform these steps in this order...
  1. turn on computer and immediately start pressing F2 key at one second intervals
  2. press Alt+P key once to go to page 2 of 7
  3. it will be highlighted on Diskette Drive now press spacebar to disable
  4. press down arrow key to move to next device Internal HDD (hard drive) and press spacebar to disable that
  5. press down arrow key to highlight and disable the last one, it should be USB Storage Device
  6. stick in your operating system CD
  7. press Esc key
  8. Save changes and exit should be highlighted now...press enter
  9. You will see on the screen Press any key to boot from CD and five dots will start appearing one-at-a-time.
    That is a five second count before it will skip the CD boot and boot to the hard drive...so press any key before the fifth
    dot appears and the CD boot will start loading the Windows Setup

Last edited by Spider; February 11th, 2005 at 07:15 PM.
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  #15  
Old February 13th, 2005, 01:42 AM
Isabel_L Isabel_L is offline
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Sorry that it took my so long to write back about the problem. I decided to leave the job to the pros. My husband had a friend at work that knows a lot about computers and even builds them so we had him take a look at it. He put the operating system on fine and as we speak I am using the computer in question. I am so happy!


Thank you both for being so helpful to me. It was really appreciated. I am glad that there is a place like this that people can go and find help.

Thanks again, Isabel_L.
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