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Chinese laptop - can it be converted to US / English ?

Posted on 2006-11-17
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Last Modified: 2008-03-06
Have a user who bought a laptop - Fujitsu - off the street in China.  Of course, when you power it up, everything is in chinese.  Question is - if I reformat the hard drive , and install US version of Microsoft Windows - will it boot up ?  Or, is the chinese most likely embedded into the bios and i will have to do major configuration with the bios ?  Is it possible ?

Thanks !
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Question by:dmccormi35
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8 Comments
 
LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 17967686
If the BIOS is in Chinese, you won't be able to change that.  Most laptops require specific drivers for the motherboard, so if you don't have those, you won't be able to get Windows to run.  The display, the soundcard, the network, and the chipset drivers all need to be in place for the specific model.
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Author Comment

by:dmccormi35
ID: 17967725
Well, when i went into the bios - its all in english - should i give it a shot and try fdisking the hard drive and then trying to install windows ?
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 17967778
You will still need the chipset drivers - better see if you can find those before you nuke the machine.  Everest can help identify what they are, if the manufacturer ever posted them on their website: http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4181.html  You still have a working laptop; if you try to install Windows and you don't have all the drivers, you could end up with a non-working doorstop.
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 2000 total points
ID: 17967942
STOP !!!

Do this:

(1)  Note the current properties of the C: drive (how much space is used).

(2)  Download the demo copy of Boot-It NG from www.bootitng.com

(3)  Create a bootable floppy (or CD)

(4) Boot to Boot-It.  At the first prompt, select CANCEL  (don't install it on the hard drive);  then click OK to go to Maintenance mode.

(5)  Select Partition Work.   Be sure the system partition is highlighted (it's probably the only partition on the drive) in the center of the display;  then click on ReSize (on the right).   ReSize the partition so you have as much free space as the C: drive was using in step #1.

(6)  When that's done, click Close and Reboot (to XP).  After you get to XP, it will detect the "new hardware" (the resized partition) and ask to reboot.  Do that.

(7)  Go to Disk Management and create another partition in the free space on the drive.

(8)  Reboot to Boot-It ==> same as before:  CANCEL at first prompt; then OK; then Partition Work

(9)  Highlight the 1st (system) partition; click Image; choose Create Image; then (when you see "Paste Pending for Image Creation") highlight the 2nd (new) partition, and click Paste.    Select the default size; and choose whether or not you want to validate (not necessary) ... and wait for the image to finish.

NOW you can safely install XP to the FIRST partition and confirm that you can get all the appropriate drivers, etc. installed and everything working well.   If things go haywire, a quick boot to Boot-It; selecting Image - Restore Image; and restoring the image to the 1st partition will have the laptop restored to its current state :-)

Any questions ... just post back.  I'm going to be gone most of the rest of this afternoon --> but I will respond when I can.
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 17968587
If the BIOS and KB is in european/western style, I'd think you can install any ordinary O/S on the machine and have it running nicely. I suppose you could do that anyway, but there'd be problems if you don't know chinese. Since you'll probably want to install a new copy of windows, or another O/S in your own language, you could begin with cleaning out the HD. Probably you could use one of the more popular Linux distributions and have your hardware working OK without the need for an extended driver search.
/RID
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 17970096
In all likelihood there won't be any problem installing the English XP on this system --> HOWEVER, it's not uncommon to find that drivers are not available (especially for unique sound chips used in some Asian models) or are very difficult to find.   The simple (and SAFE) approach is to just image the drive before you start --> as I noted above.   Then you can safely try the install; or an alternate OS if you choose ==> and still have the ability to easily revert to the original OS in ten minutes :-)
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Author Comment

by:dmccormi35
ID: 17972343
Gary - thanks so much ! I would rather error on the side of caution vs not ...
I am waiting to hear from the person to see if they want me to give this a try ... but i will just do this as the accepted answer
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 17973011
You're welcome.   As I noted, it's pretty likely you can install XP with no problem => but I certainly see no reason to take any chances; and with an image you can simply restore the image if anything goes wrong and you'll still have a functioning laptop :-)
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