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Hello all!

I came across this forum because it had several similar problems. I registered because it's got thousands of IT professionals! Maybe you can help me.

I've got a few PCs I am trying to get going. I am having this weird problem on 2 of them, and was with a thrid, but the 3rd stopped responding at all, so I will focus on the two I am still working on.

PC #1
Athlon XP 2200+ 256 mb RAM, integrated graphics with an AGP slot as well. Currently the video card is an nVidia TNT2 with 32 mb of RAM.
Windows 2000 OS, still a fresh install

PC #2
Intel Celeron 500 mhz, 192 mb RAM, AGP slot with an nVidia TNT2 ultra with 32 mb RAM (i think its an ultra, but Im not sure)
Windows 2000, still a fresh install

Rack
Belkin Omniview 8 port KVM switch. This is the older model that has a serial port that switched as well.
Acer 17" monitor that will do 1280x1024
PS2 keyboard and mouse
APC battery backup (3U, requires 20 amp circuit and plug)

Aux equipment
Sony Trinitron 19" monitor that will do 1280x1024
USB mouse
USB extension cables
USB hubs
network connected to the 'net

Problem with PC #1
It will boot into windows normally with integrated graphics however, it will not auto update drivers for integrated graphics. I don't really want to use the integrated graphics in the long term, so I'd like to use the AGP slot. (update - for some reason it will boot fine with integrated graphics now, but did not originally)
The PC originally had an nVidia Vanta of some kind in it. When I configured the BIOS to use the add on VGA card, windows would boot normally up until approximately the "preparing network connectins" portion in that box, at which point the PC would freeze, or the screen would go blank. (Freeze with the integrated graphics, blank with the add on). If it would go blank, both the monitor and the KVM switch would register that there was a signal. i confirmed this with the Sony monitor as well.
If I pressed F8 and went into VGA mode, the system would boot and I could install programs and what have you.
While in VGA mode I tried to install drivers for the nvidia video card and the setup would tell me that it could not find a device that the drivers would work for. That is with either card being dominant.
I have since put in two other video cards. A geforce 1 that apparantly does not work (it used to, that's why I tried it. this is its first failure), and now the TNT2. The TNT2 will allow the PC to boot into windows normally. I even changed the screen res to 1024x768. At which point the screen started having artifacts: the mouse cursor did not move correctly, and there were cursors all over the screen. I rebooted and got the same. I have not gone into VGA mode with this card as of yet.
I started the install of the OS on this machine last night or the night before. Last night I updated it via windows update, and I installed pcAnywhere. THe OS is now up to date according to Microsoft. I have also installed DirectX 9c.
When the PC boots into a blank screen I am unable to find the host that I started with pcAnywhere. This seems to indicate that the PC is not just putting out a signal that the monitor can't displa, but htat it is actually frozen. HOWEVER, when I boot into VGA mode I have recently been getting an error from pcAnywhere that says an unknow error has occured with pcAnywhere. Yet the host works normally.

PC #2
I was suprised to find a frech blank install of windows 2000 on this PC the other day. I had thought it was a configured and working box. I used to use this box years ago as a downloader in a remote location.
This machine is having a similar problem to the one above.
I continued witht he install on windows, updating all the security fixes and installing directx. This PC will boot into VGA mode fine. From within it, I have control and the pcAnywhere host works fine.
I ran the nVidia driver setup and it could not find the video card. This motherboard does not have integrated video. At first I thought that this might be due to the VGA mode I was running in. I have not tried to install the drivers in safe mode yet.
This PC will boot directly into a blank screen if left alone, the same as the other one. It's pcAnywhere host will not come up during this state.
I have not tried to swap out another video card into this system yet. I did upgrade its RAM from 64 mb (that didnt change this problem).

My thoughts:
I installed pcAnywhere on these machines to bypass any monitor issues, since the only common factor to these two machines (and a third that was having similar problems) was the video output path. I am not able to see the hosts when the PCs boot up into blank screens.
I have tried using the KVM switch AND the Sony monitor and get the same results.
I have two other servers hooked up to the KVM switch that do not have a problem with it. They are both Dell power edge's (2450 and 2500)
The power for all of this equipment comes from a single circuit and through the APC battery backup (the sony monitor is not through the battery backup).
PC #1 does not retain its CMOS information well after it has been unplugged.
The filesystem on both machines is FAT32.
I have updated drivers via windows update on PC #1 for those devices that windows did not auto detect, but I have not downloaded discrete drivers from the manufacturer's website.
PC#2 is so old I do not think that this would apply after all of the updates over the web.
I have not tried removing the discrete graphics card from PC #1.

Cabling
Since the devices operate fine in reduced software modes, I do not think that cabling is an issue.
I thought that maybe the cheaper nonshielded cables of the KVM switch were at fault, but the Sony has a gold plated shielded cable.

Sources:
PC #1 was pulled out of a dumpster at work. It did not have an OS, but so far it runs fine (except for the current problem). I might have swapped out the HDD, I don't recall.
PC #2 was bought from a friend of mine several years ago. I used it extensively for a time, but it has been sitting for a bit.
PC #3 was given to my through a friend a year and a half or so ago. This PC has been up and running several times since I got it, but I dont use it regularly.

Possible solutions
I think I will have to look into drivers for the motherboard of PC #1.
I did the installs on these machines a little differently than I normally do. I normally yank the HDDs, dump a bunch of stuff on them, and then let it install the OS form the HDD. PC #1's OS was installed off of the CD, and I hacked together some files onto a thumbdrive and later used a USB key to get it on the net. PC#2 had most of an install already on there and I just went with it.

If you have any suggestions, I would like to hear them. I have already ran these problems by two other techs and we've not come up with anything that has worked. I find it hard to believe that these disparete sets of hardware have almost the exact same problem, from what seems like totally different reasons. This is weird, even accounting for the normal level of weirdness that attaches itself to me.

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Last Post by allanonmage
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I remember at some point with one of the PCs scaling back the acceleration of one of the cards. That did not have a noticable impact on the problem.

I scaled it back all the way to the left.

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the screen supports 1280x1024. at no point will windows 2000 set a screen res higher than that unless I tell it, which I have not. I have not changed the res, AND I have tried to change it whilst in both safe mode and vga mode.

I am curious if maybe not having the kvm swicth's focus on the computer while in setup has anything to do with it. That is another commonality that I had not immediately thought of.

Thanks for the reply though.

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