Old Dell Inspiron 5100 - need to keep running for machine controller that cannot use newer than Windows XP


I had a hard drive crash on an Inspiron 5100 running WIndows XP Pro, replaced it with a newer computer, but now need to upgrade a separate machine controller PC that was running W98. That hardware cannot be upgraded past Windows XP.

So I formatted the crashed drive from the Inspiron 5100 along with a 2nd hard drive and proceeded to install XP Pro SP2 from an OEM install kit. I installed the product code that came with the OEM kit, but afterward wondered if I should have used the product code that was on the Inspiron 5100 case. I wasn't sure the OEM pack would like a different product code, and I only mention this in case it has anything to do with the setup problems I am having with reincarnating the Inspiron 5100.

The BIOS is A03 (2006) and it has a Dell-unique appearance and operation compared to the generic Phoenix and other common BIOS found on non-Dell many motherboards.

The Dell MB will run diagnostics on one of the drives but not the other, after successfully wiping and running diagnostics on them with 3rd party resources (UBCD). The Dell says no boot drive found initially but  pressing F1 allowed Windows to load anyway.

I pulled the CMOS battery hoping it would forget its past life, replaced it with a new one and it's even less educated than before...it fails a floppy seek test. I tried to install a floppy drive, but realized there is no FDC cable present, and I haven't found an FDC port on the MB (yet). I aborted the FD install goal and now just live with the F1 to get Windows XP to load.

It would be nice to get rid of that minor nuisance, but if it's because the BIOS doesn't like a 250 or 300 GB SATA drive, flashing the BIOS may be more trouble than its worth.

So now, if I go to Device Manager, the only apparent problem is one entry for Other devices (Ethernet Controller, PCI Device, SM Bus Controller, Video Controller and Video Controller (VGA Compatible).

An older forum post here (now closed, refers me to open a new post) with similar problems has links to drivers.

So, at last, my question...

If I select the Inspiron 5100 drivers I want to download, on a separate PC that has internet capability, I seem to be running into a problem that the download list  wants to auto-install after download. Of course I don't want those to install on a Toshiba laptop. Is there a way to just burn the drivers to a CD and install them on the Dell, or can I only download them directly to the Dell machine?

The 5100 doesn't have a network card at the moment (I don't remember removing it, but apparently did. Where it is intended to be installed, I cannot conveniently run a CAT 5/6 cable so I may go out & get a wireless NIC. I hope that doesn't present another driver problem.

Question #2: I have never found a use to date for a PCI-buss slot on a PC, but now see there are various NIC's, including wireless, that can use the PCI-E buss slot. However, there are apparently other parameters to worry about: -1, -8, -16 variants, etc. Is the Inspiron 5100 motherboard with A03 BIOS to old to deal with a more modern wireless NIC, and I should just pick up a basic PCI slot wireless NIC?

Question #3:  If anything I said above about avoiding BIOS updating is making my effort more difficult, please advise if I overlooked a simpler approach.

Even if I have to live with the F1 to boot into Windows quirk, the only remaining functionality I need for this machine controller application is network access...so I feel close to finished.

Thanks for reading and any advice.


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