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Old 01-26-2021, 08:02 AM   #1
masterclassic
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[SOLVED]Repairing an older win xp laptop boot-up.


Hello.

I'm trying to "repair" a win-xp installation on a Pentium 4 laptop, to rescue a friend with financial problem (in addition to several health issues). The laptop (from 2005) had rather low specs even when new (512MiB RAM only). It stopped booting-up. A technician said that the hard drive was dead and that he had to look for some other computer (he proposed to sell him a used/refurbished one).

I found myself that the hard drive was still running. Partition table and MBR seem good, the filesystem (ntfs) was accessible from an older Ubuntu 7 live cd (from 2007) and this manner I was able to copy/save user's files (text, office docs and spreadsheets) to a usb stick.

However I wasn't able to restore boot ability through the "recovery console" from the install cd (commands bootcfg, fixboot, fixmbr). I get the screen of selecting Normal boot/Safe boot/Safe boot with network support etc, but in every option the process stops, the computer freezes and what I can do is to cut power by pressing ON/OFF button for several seconds before retrying (with no better result).

According to some internet search, if the commands I used don't fix the problem, one has to go for a full install. I try to avoid this, in order to keep the software already installed and save any other user's files (it seems that such files can be located into many obscure locations of the hard drive's directory tree, e.g. email).

So, what I ask:
1. Is it possible to run any other recovery/repair activity from the xp install cd before full reinstall? I remember a "Repair" option, perhaps in older OS version (win95 ? ) , I don't know if this is valid for xp.

2. Is it still possible to reactivate xp after reinstall (on the exact same original hardware?

And yes, I know it is a bad solution, mostly because of low internet security standards and the fact that web servers need newer protocols. The only thing that makes me still trying is for keeping working an older OKI printer that is "windows only" (as I suspect from what I found in his manual). Otherwise, I plan to propose my friend some light Linux installation.

Any idea is welcome!

Last edited by masterclassic; 01-27-2021 at 09:03 PM. Reason: marking as [SOLVED]
 
Old 01-26-2021, 09:45 AM   #2
cynwulf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masterclassic View Post
I remember a "Repair" option, perhaps in older OS version (win95 ? ) , I don't know if this is valid for xp.
Boot from installation media and when prompted, hit "R" to do a repair install. Ensure the installation media is the same edition of windows and the licence key on the sticker should still work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by masterclassic View Post
The only thing that makes me still trying is for keeping working an older OKI printer that is "windows only" (as I suspect from what I found in his manual). Otherwise, I plan to propose my friend some light Linux installation.
Hopefully you can remove Windows XP from the equation - What OKI printer model is that?
 
Old 01-26-2021, 10:00 AM   #3
masterclassic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynwulf View Post
Boot from installation media and when prompted, hit "R" to do a repair install. Ensure the installation media is the same edition of windows and the licence key on the sticker should still work.
Thank you very much for this info.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynwulf View Post
Hopefully you can remove Windows XP from the equation - What OKI printer model is that?
It is a model from the OKI B2000 series, perhaps B2200 if I remember well. The OKI web page (support) lists only B2200n and B2400n models, that are network models (I guess they include a network port), however that printer is USB only, no network port.
 
Old 01-26-2021, 11:14 AM   #4
fatmac
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With only 512MB ram I would definitely install a very lightweight distro on it.

FatDog, SliTaz, TinyCore, perhaps AntiX, but nothing heavier, & you would need to give it about 2GB swap partition, if you want to use it online.

However, you might be able to obtain, free, an old machine that someone is willing to give away, (I regularly do).
 
Old 01-26-2021, 11:26 AM   #5
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmac View Post
With only 512MB ram I would definitely install a very lightweight distro on it.

FatDog, SliTaz, TinyCore, perhaps AntiX, but nothing heavier, & you would need to give it about 2GB swap partition, if you want to use it online.

However, you might be able to obtain, free, an old machine that someone is willing to give away, (I regularly do).
I can second those recommendations. You might get a minimal Debian on, but when it comes to a desktop (GUI) interface you would have to pick the smallest, leanest one available. With that little ram you would not want to run Mozilla (FireFox) or chromium (Googled or not), instead go for something lighter for a browser. Midori, perhaps.

I would create a USB device using E2B or Ventoy (links in signature) and copy the live ISO for likely candidates to it. You can then boot into those distributions and see how they handle your hardware and memory constraints before installing. Testing can give you more concrete information than any amount of online research. (But do both!)
 
Old 01-26-2021, 12:40 PM   #6
masterclassic
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Thank you all for your suggestions.
I'm aware of the too small RAM problem, that's what I already pointed out to my friend some months ago. I don't think it is possible to add any RAM to this laptop. I think its specs were low, even at the time of purchase (2005), and low cost motherboards didn't offer additional RAM slots. At the time I wouldn't get myself anything below 1 GiB (I went to 2 GiB in 2006).

This computer was maintained in the past by another friend, more experienced in the computer hardware and software. Unfortunately, that friend passed away about 2 y. ago, and now I try to help. Of course, finding any used/old desktop or laptop with newer specs is what I prefer too. My old Core 2 box is out of service due to motherboard problem, so I can't help that manner.
 
Old 01-26-2021, 12:51 PM   #7
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OKI B2000 series are fairly ancient. There is no Linux support at all for those as I recall. I think they were windows only - not even PCL. There is up to Windows 10 support however, but thats of no use to you. It may be a dead end.

XP will probably outperform any modern Linux on that old hardware, but XP is EoL for the last 6 years. Once you install a Linux distribution, thats probably the end of the line for the printer, and as others have said modern browsers and web pages will probably be unusable.

//edit: Not good: https://www.openprinting.org/printer/Oki/Oki-B2200

(classed as a "paperweight")

Last edited by cynwulf; 01-26-2021 at 01:05 PM.
 
Old 01-26-2021, 07:09 PM   #8
enorbet
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I offer two use cases. 1) IBM Thinkpad T61P Core 2 w/ original 512MB upgraded to 4GB RAM, and older still, 2) Ancient Sony Vaio P2-433MHz 512MB RAM.

On both machines I tried several live distros before I decided to just install Slackware Linux. It took a bit longer to boot (especially on the Sony) but once up was very noticeably faster than even Puppy Linux. The Thinkpad required an added firmware for wifi (easily done) but everything just worked on the Sony. Both started with XP (the Thinkpad had XP64 on it) and it was very much slower than any distro I tried, once up on the Desktop. I still have both but I haven't even booted the Sony in 4 years. It just takes way too long to boot even if it is passably snappy once up.

The IBM T61P is still my main laptop and the upgrade to a Samsung SATA 250GB SSD for 40 bucks and Slackware Current with Plasma 5 is way more than merely acceptable. I bought the T61P used for 90bucks. With maxed out upgrades it's still well under a 200 dollar machine and it's actually a pleasure to run.
 
Old 01-27-2021, 08:58 PM   #9
masterclassic
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The tip by cynwulf (message #2 above) did work, and now the computer boots (almost) as previously. Almost, because I can't know what updates were made to the system. At least it works now for document writing. So I mark it "solved".

I know the problem still remains for web access because most web servers need newer communication protocols. Anyway I'll give the laptop back to my friend and we'll speak about this issue and about some "new" (old) computer.
 
Old 01-28-2021, 03:14 AM   #10
cynwulf
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Good result.

It's not necessarily only a matter of "newer communications protocols", moreso lack of support. XP is EoL since 2014 - and few modern browsers will install on it (I can't think of any offhand, but others may know of one or two). A given XP installation is usually x86_32, and browsers for that arch. are also lacking nowadays.

//edit: Mozilla Firefox still provides 32 bit windows builds. But 52 was the last release for XP and Vista, so no good (similar story with Seamonkey).

If they're willing to dump the "paperweight", then you could consider getting hold of some more (used) RAM and getting as much in there as it can support and installing an amd64 Linux distribution. But first you need to determine if the Pentium 4 is 64 bit or only 32. If the latter, and if it's rather a low clock, it may not be worth your while. I used to have a 3.4GHz 64 bit P4 and it wasnt that bad at all. But anything sub 2.0GHz is probably going to chug.

Last edited by cynwulf; 01-28-2021 at 07:14 AM.
 
Old 01-28-2021, 05:11 AM   #11
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For this I used lilo. In contrary to grub lilo don't need Linux installed somewhere on hard drive. The are universal boot loaders - grub won't suit because it needs to have access to its modules. This is possible scenario: run live Linux distribution which ships lilo, edit lilo.conf - put inside only one item - to chainload Windows - execute command $ lilo /dev/sda - and reboot your computer. I never used other universal boot loaders but there are worthy to try. Grub4dos - but I am not sure it is correct name.
 
Old 01-28-2021, 05:25 AM   #12
masterclassic
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I know, major browsers dropped support even to vista, years ago. Perhaps K-Meleon browser could install and run in that system, if their web page is accurate.

I found in the laptop's documents that it uses P4 @ 3.0 GHz and can support up to 1024 MiB RAM SODIMM DDR (2 SODIMM slots, up to 512 MiB each). That's why I think P4 is 32 bit rather than 64 bit. So, if one of these ram slots is free, it could be possible to add a second used one, and all this for a "typerwriter" pc, and some web browsing with all the security risks of xp. It seems that a light Linux distro is the only way to extend the useful life of this system.

Otherwise, it could remain as a museum/collection piece (not a good one, as its case is already physically damaged). To be sincere, I almost never tried to use any of my older computers (I still have at home most of my older machines since 1992, but not any SODIMM ram). Time is more precious!!
 
Old 01-28-2021, 07:23 AM   #13
cynwulf
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As it's a mobile Pentium 4, I think all of those were 32 bit. But irrespective of that, the maximum 1GB of RAM pretty much rules that out anyway. It may be worth upgrading it to 1GB if you can find a cheap pre-owned module.
 
  


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