Post by Peter
Bit of a general PC repair question here, but it's one on which I was
hoping to install openSUSE, and I can't even get past the first hurdle.
An ex-friend-turned-trou-de-cul (French people are never your friends,
only future enemies) donated me a P4 desktop which supposedly worked
fine but upon switching on, it only lasts a few seconds before going
off. So although I can access the BIOS, I cannot even get to make any
configuration changes in time before it turns off.
Of course I've done a first check for loose or wrong connections. My
hunch is either the motherboard or PSU is at fault, but these are things
I cannot test as I have no suitable alternatives available. I'm going to
embark on a systematic process of elimination with some of the other
parts, but does anybody want to throw a suggestion into the hat as to
what is usually at fault in this situation? I'm not going to examine
every part to provide detailed specs just yet, suffice to mention that
it has integrated Intel 965 graphics, so it can't be that old 'unseated
video card' chestnut.
regular readers will recall that I enjoy working with 'decommissioned'
equipment from the "Closet of Anxieties". There are many failure-modes
in a corporate setting, and many of them don't involve the equipment not
working, for some suitable value of "working". Many of the items simply
don't work with later versions of MS-Windows, but when has that ever
bothered us Linux-weenies?
But sometimes equipment *IS* broken.
Sometimes the boot sequence goes very, very weird as in one tower I
played with recently. Consistency was not its long suite.
The ruberick in electronics for the last century is that solder joints
are the #1 failure mode. They can fail in many ways. Even if they
don't actually fail they can act as diodes, grow hairs (which is death
on a tightly laid out multi-layer PCB).
Then there's capacitors. Even if you don't have ones from the Era of
the Plague, then still do odd things, polarise, depolarise, crack,
explode, leak or stop working for anonymous reasons.
And resistors ...
Unless your 'amis' has been overclocking, the CPU is probably OK.
Ironic isn't it? But please don't try pulling and replacing the CPU.
You'll probably do a lot of damage.
My experience with "decommissioned" and "recommissioned" equipment is
that they can be "a learning experience". I've had a wonderful time
with old, slow, underpowered , memory starved desktops (that never
overheat), and with old, slow, low capacity disk drives (that seem to
live forever). I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
burn. But I've also had my share of systems that simply don't work in
various ways for reasons that don't seem to be easily explained. Its
the marginal, the intermittent ones that are frustrating.
Visual inspection of the mobo _might_ show something up, breaks, burns,
loose components, solder joints discoloured. I believe there is a tool
that lets your cell phone act like one of those IR spotters. It may
take hardware hacking and might damage your phone.
Suggestions for mobo problems include using a hair dryer to heat
specific parts, or a can of spray coolant to do the opposite.
Excellence is not an accomplishment. It is a spirit, a never-ending process.
- Lawrence M. Miller
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