Computer in question: Dell OptiPlex GX400
Ok, I wiped the HD clean with microscope diagnostics tool. Now that the HD is wiped it won't boot my XP CD. It's not the XP CD that came with the computer, the people I'm doing this for don't have their original disc so I'm using one of mine. Note: I've tested this CD on other comps, works fine.
When the computer boots you get the Dell screen, saying press F2 for setup and F12 for Network Boot. When I press F12, like suggested in some of the other threads, it either continues to load as if I never pressed it or just gives me a keyboard error. I've set it up to load cd rom first but still nothing. There is an additional DVD drive on this comp, I've tried unplugging it to see if there was some kind of confliction, but all it did was give me an error saying it couldn't read either rom. I've posted this on several sites now and no one has been able to help me, anything that could get this over with would be great, thanks!
Sounds like you have a Rom drive problem in that it is not seeing the loaded CD. Have you tried the CD in both drives just to be sure? The error claiming it could not read either drive sounds like one is a CD rom drive and one is a DVD rom drive. If you put a DVD in a CD rom drive it will show no error it just will not load. Also on older machines when no operating system is installed sometimes they only recognize PS2 devices and not USB keyboards and mice. I keep an old keyboard and mouse to work on machines of this type. Hope this helps.
The thing is is it did work before the wipe, though it took forever (a CD bootup for datawipe prog I have), I defenitly put this XP CD in both drives and at best I get the normal CD Rom to read it for like 2 minutes, makes some weird sounds, but it did that before too, then does nothing. For the keyboard I have an old one and a USB one. The old one works most of the time, the USB one works for like 2 seconds then stops working. Either way, I still get a keyboard error if I hold F12, though it does say it's attempting to load that boot option, but then just goes to the normal "hit F1 to retry boot / hit F2 to enter setup" screen which I can't get past.
It could be hardware or software. I take it you totally wiped your hd. If it's hardware you may want to test your hd on another pc hooked up as slave. You can then run a diagnostic hd tool. If it's the bios try taking out the battery for 30 secs and reboot. You could try another cd-rom from another pc.
Or if it's software (drivers etc) you may need to reset, or degug (as Dell calls it), completely. This takes entire computer back to there being nothing on it but dos. If you're confident your cd can istall xp this is what I did with the help of the excellent Dell support guy:
Note: Please backup data before doing this as it deletes all data on the Hard Disk. (In your case if you can hook up as slave to another pc and get any data you need (http://www.pcinspector.de/Sites/file_recovery/info.htm?language=1 PC Inspector is free and can retrieve lost data.
'Enter' is user entered. Normal type face is what the system returns. x ’s are variables.
When DOS screen arrives:
-F 200 L1000 0 <Enter>
-A CS:100 <Enter>
xxxx:0100 MOV AX,301 <Enter>
xxxx:0103 MOV BX,200 <Enter>
xxxx:0106 MOV CX,1 <Enter>
xxxx:0109 MOV DX,80 <Enter>
xxxx:010C INT 13 <Enter>
xxxx:010E INT 20 <Enter>
xxxx:0110 <Enter> ß Leave this line blank
program terminated normally
Yea, going to have to find a computer I can plug this in too and see if any of that works, thanks for the help, I'll reply again once I follow your steps, if anyone else can think of something not mentioned here I'll take extra advice as well.
I've had a few problems doing what you're doing, over the years. The advice of checking the HD is good. You don't even need another computer if you have a "USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE" device. It's a cable with a USB on one end, and a multi outlets on the other end for SATA and IDE. There is also a power cable with plugs for both. It's really simple to use. I got mine from geeks.com for $13. Extremely handy tool. Anyway, it may sound dumb, but are you sure the HD was formatted? With this device, you can format a drive, or look at everything on it. Last time I installed a brand new HD, it didn't recognize the drive at all, until it was formatted. Next, one time my keyboard didn't work unless it was plugged into the "first" USB outlet. Just last year, I sat here for quite awhile, trying to figure out why nothing happened when I pressed F8 to "Agree". Until my daughter came over and hit the F-Lock key... Maybe these points show I'm not an expert, but you learn from these experiences. My point is that it could be some small detail that you haven't considered or something you assume is right - that's not. In "problem solving" situations, if you've "tried everything you think it could be", then the answer is something you don't think it could be, so just keep a very open mind.