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Okay, I will tell you upfront I have taken very few formal classes in terms of computer hard ware and bios settings and the like. That being said, I'm a problem solver. I love being able to tackle a problem and wrestle it down with understanding and finally beat it into submission with a solution. So if you give me a response and I ask for clarification, more often then not it's because I know a term by something other then what you are referring to it has.


So here’s the situation. I am building a computer to act as a print server and file server for my home network. I’ve stripped out the parts to do so from a series of 4 other computers that I know were working previously. I’ve assembled the system and I went to load windows.

One my first attempt windows XP finished loading it’s pre-installation check list but stopped at “Setup is starting windows”. Suspecting a bad disk, I used a different disk for my second attempt to load the OS. My second attempt was the same as the first.

Now suspecting my problem to be hard ware related, I first swapped out the optical drive and repeated my attempt. Same result. Replaced the Hard drive. Same result. Replaced the IDE cable for the hard drive. Same result. Replaced the IDE cable for the Optical drive. Same result.

Now I began to try different options. I put together a second computer and moved what, I am planning, to be the primary hard drive for the server to that computer and attempted to load windows through that system. Once again I was presented with the system failing to load in the same fashion has had been shown previously.

At this point I took the first hard drive ( 40gb ATA) and attached to my main system via an external USB enclosure. The drive come up in windows just fine, I formatted it, and re-partitioned it with out issue. I repeated this process with the other 2 hard drives (One is another 40gb ATA, the other is a 160 gb ATA).

With 3 confirmed functional hard drives, I returned to the two computers that I had built and connected the 40s. Once again I was presented with the same result. I swapped the first 40 for the 160 and once more tried. Again, the installation stopped at “Setup is Starting Windows”.

With this latest set of failures I took 4 optical drives (2 DVD drive, 1 CD, 1 DVD-RW) and in sequence connected each of them to an external enclosure, and accessed them from windows, to confirm that they were functional. All 4 functioned with out issue.

So I have
1) MoBo with 1.5 Gb of Ram and and AMD Sempron
2) MoBo with 768 Mgb of Ram and a AMD K7 processor
3) 2 40gb ATA hard drives ATA Connection
4) 1 160gb ATA Hard drive ATA Connection
5) 2 DVD ATA Drive ATA connection
6) 1 DVD-RW SATA drive
7) 1 CD Drive ATA connection

And it seems as if no matter what combination of hard ware I try, I am presented with the same result, the installation stops at “Setup is starting windows”. And when I say the installation stops, I mean it just stops. It doesn't freeze, it just stops. The hard drive spins down, the optical drive slows and then stops.

Frankly, I'm stumped. Anyone have any advice on how I can remedy this?

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Last Post by khakilang
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How old are the mbs? Would it help, perhaps, to update their BIOS code [flash]? It would appear that it is a hardware problem. Do forced restarts freeze also? Unplug everything you don't need for installation... USB, firewire, modem, simplify your graphics [ie. if it has onboard graphics don't use a graphics card]. Do a RAM test with memtest86+.
You don't need Windows to flash BIOS, well, not on my systems [although it is an option]. Just dl an update to a floppy or whatever your sys and BIOS will handle.

Edited by gerbil: n/a

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the MoBos are 10 months and 6 years old respectively. I can turn on the computer with out a disk in the drive and it boots up just fine.

How do I run the memtest86+?

The 6 year old bios I flashes the BIOS. Same result as before.

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Case like this, I would suspect it could be the RAM problem. Switch to other RAM beside the one you have and check the result.

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memtest85+. Gurgle it; from the prime site there are cd [.iso], USB flashdrive and floppy options, all bootable installers. Load it to a medium, boot with it, let it run as long as you can bear... an hour is a good start. Just ONE error is a total failure of that stick.
Because you are already having a lot of fun, you could try pulling the drive at that stage and modifying boot.ini by adding /pcilock to the top OS choice line [not the default entry]. See that the drive and partition numbers are correct.
/pcilock forces the OS to accept all hardware interrupt info from BIOS and not to build that configuration table itself.
You do realise that I am guessing here on that last bit.... you do have a hardware problem somewhere, your problem appears when Setup is interrogating all hardware devices. Oh, and give it time before quitting.. 10, 15 mins, maybe..? It is a newborn baby that is feeling its way.

Edited by gerbil: n/a

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i suggest try replace the IDE cable and try again... see what happens.

Already tried it, 3 times.

Because you are already having a lot of fun, you could try pulling the drive at that stage and modifying boot.ini by adding /pcilock to the top OS choice line [not the default entry]. See that the drive and partition numbers are correct.

There is no OS on the drive.

/pcilock forces the OS to accept all hardware interrupt info from BIOS and not to build that configuration table itself.

worth noting. Thanks for the info.

You do realise that I am guessing here on that last bit.... you do have a hardware problem somewhere, your problem appears when Setup is interrogating all hardware devices. Oh, and give it time before quitting.. 10, 15 mins, maybe..? It is a newborn baby that is feeling its way.

I left it running for 4 hours just to make sure I wasn't jumping the gun.

Case like this, I would suspect it could be the RAM problem. Switch to other RAM beside the one you have and check the result.

arg. Sadly money is a limited resource at the moment. I'm gonna stick a pin in swapping out the memory for right now.

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okay ran the memtest85. passed. So all 768 megs of ram is good. I've tested the hard drive and optical drive on other computers and both of them work just fine. Any other thoughts?

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So what is common to your setups that fail [excluding the hdds n RAM]? What are the mbs? Are you using a video card, or using different or same for each setup? Have you tried another cd?

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Hello,

I have seen this when there is a partition that XP does not recognise on the drive. Try deleting all of the current partitions and run setup again. (I have seen it when there was any type Linux partition and/or a partition from Vista or WIndows 7) If you have a server 2003 setup disk you can use it to delete the partitions and even create a partition and everything works.

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So what is common to your setups that fail [excluding the hdds n RAM]? What are the mbs? Are you using a video card, or using different or same for each setup? Have you tried another cd?

the only thing common in all the set ups are myself, the desk, the lamp, the monitor, the surge protector, the case and the power supply. I've swapped Hard drives, optical drives, cables, and Mobos (including the processors and ram). I even replaced the CMOS battery on the off chance that there was a goofy setting I was mission.

I've tried 4 cds (5 if you count 2003 server).

One MoBo has onboard video, the other does not. I've tried it both ways, with the onboard video and with a video card.

Hello,

I have seen this when there is a partition that XP does not recognise on the drive. Try deleting all of the current partitions and run setup again. (I have seen it when there was any type Linux partition and/or a partition from Vista or WIndows 7) If you have a server 2003 setup disk you can use it to delete the partitions and even create a partition and everything works.

I have repartitioned and reformatted all three drives several times. Presently all three drives have a single partition with NTFS file systems.

I've tried my 2003 server disk as well.

current results: installation stops at "Setup is staring windows"

next suggestion?

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The case!! Ohmygod... the case.
Check in BIOS to see if it is identifying the processor type correctly, and so assigning the correct hal.
I know you've checked there is no sag in the voltages.

Edited by gerbil: n/a

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One other thing to check.. Are the drives set up with the primary HD on IDE0 as the Primary and the CD as either the secondary or on IDE1 as the primary? I have noticed the XP only wants to talk to the Primary HD and if it is on the secondary channel then no go like you are getting. Also acts odd if CD ROM is Primary. Are you using cable select or jumper as primary and seconday? Have you tried it jumpered as master with no secondary on the cable?

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Also is this a dell? There is an option in the BIOS for setting the memory for installation or something like that. Limits the memory to 256MB and some will not load unless this is set.

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The case!! Ohmygod... the case.
Check in BIOS to see if it is identifying the processor type correctly, and so assigning the correct hal.
I know you've checked there is no sag in the voltages.

You know, I'm at a point that I'd consider swapping the case just because there's nothing else I can swap. But I have checked the BIOS. it's the IDs the processor just fine.

One other thing to check.. Are the drives set up with the primary HD on IDE0 as the Primary and the CD as either the secondary or on IDE1 as the primary? I have noticed the XP only wants to talk to the Primary HD and if it is on the secondary channel then no go like you are getting. Also acts odd if CD ROM is Primary. Are you using cable select or jumper as primary and seconday? Have you tried it jumpered as master with no secondary on the cable?

Presently the build had 1 hard drive (IDE0) and 1 optical drive (IDE1). Each drive is the master on it's respective channel. Each drive is set to master vie jumpers.

Also is this a dell? There is an option in the BIOS for setting the memory for installation or something like that. Limits the memory to 256MB and some will not load unless this is set.

Nope not a dell. One of the hard drives may have come from a dell, but that would be one of the 3 hard drives I've tried. The MoBo is a whitebox.

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Ok this is going to sound odd but have you tried opening and closing the CD ROM drive. I have had them not start back up but once you get them going....

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okay... I have no explanation for this one. I swapped the case, and it works just fine now...

WTH!? The case?! It was the freaking case?! How does that happen?!

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okay... same problem totally different hard ware. Not a single piece of this computer was involved in the server. Any thoughts?

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I knew there was a reason I wouldn't get credit for fixing that problem. The case?? I know about emi, but.... sometimes, when doing test installations I will just build a system on the benchtop, no case involved.
You did check the PSU earlier?
Anyway, this time I'm gunna throw for the lamp. [By that I mean that I already exhausted all my thoughts on the failure..]

Edited by gerbil: n/a

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I do it cos it's quick.... I can plug up a system in much less than 5 minutes...and if I only want it for a few hours, limited risk.

Edited by gerbil: n/a

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I usually do it naked that is without the case. Make sure everything works before committing to the case. No point put everything in and find out there is problem and get it all out again and waste all my time.

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