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Vista Reinstallation goes to black blank screen with white mouse pointer.

RickNCN
RickNCN used Ask the Experts™
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I have a freak of a Vostro 220s pc. I’m trying to reinstall Vista using Dell’s reinstallation DVD The PC has a new mobo and hdd. It boots to the vista disk, I get the initial screen which is just a black screen with a light gray/dark gray bar at the bottom saying “loading files” for a minute or two, then it goes to a blank black screen with a white mouse pointer. Seems like the GUI interface should come up next – that blue/green background and the Vista setup windows… but it never comes up.

This is just the current point I'm at in troubleshooting this PC. I'll give more detail in a subsequent post, but wondering if anyone has a fix for this to begin with.
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Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Is the new board from Dell? The OEM operating system is locked to a Dell BIOS string.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
you can always test if the hardware behaves if you boot from a live cd : ftp://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V6.7.0CD-2011-08-01-EN.iso

Author

Commented:
Warning - this is the weirdest PC failure / troubleshooting I've encountered. Maybe you can figure it out. I can't. Dell tech support can't:

Yes, the new board is a direct replacement from Dell.

I have tried a Knoppix disk and it worked for the most part but it did give me some strange delays in copying files to/from the hdd.

Let me back up and try to give you the highlights on the problems I've had with this PC.

1) the user reports for 6-12 months that the PC is slow and unresponsive. I could never pin down a cause

2) a month ago, user reports error starting up "SYSTEM" registry corrupt. They shut down once or twice and then it stops booting into Windows XP at all.

3) Thinking it's a failing hdd I ghost it to another drive.

4) I boot to knoppix with original drive and try to pull all registry files out of a system restore point to put back in place. I experience strange slowness in booting knoppix and especially in copying / renaming files in the file manager. restoring reg files didnt help

5) diagnostics partition on hdd not accessible.I run diagnostics from the F12 menu (are they from the BIOS?) passes those quick diags

6) I download the Dell 32 bit diagnostics from the support site. It passes everything except a disk error: 0F00:1332. Most websites call it a hdd failure.

7) Dell tech support agrees to send a new hdd.

8) I run into all the same problems: diagnostics shows same error 0F00:1332, I copy image of original drive to new drive, I get a boot error. I try to install Vista on the new (and old) hdd from scratch. The Vista disc fails to load on the internal optical. ("CD-ROM Boot Priority.. Boot ReadyCDBOOT: Couldn't find BOOTMGR) Or it would load files very slowly and just stop at some point. So I get an external usb optical and Vista setup runs.

9) Vista setup: it will begin but sometimes it sees a hdd sometimes not. (same thing in the 32 bit diagnostics, sometimes the hdd shows, sometimes not)  When it does, I try to choose the 250 gb partition, it continues, the setup routine tries to format the drive and it fails. "Windows has encountered a problem communicating with a device...status: 0xc00000e9 unexpected I/O error. OR - "Failed to format the selected partition [Error: 0x80070057]" "Windows could not format a partition on disk 0. The error occurred while preparing the partition selected for installation. Error Code 0x80070057"

10) SO, Dell replaces the hard drive AGAIN AND the motherboard and throws a sata cable in for good measure... I put all the new hardware in, of course reusing the memory and CPU.
STILL have all the exact same problems!!
So, I boot a live linux disc and start GParted. I try to repartition it and format it there and voila: ERROR again: "An error occurred while applying the operations"

11) What are the chances of all the same errors on a new motherboard, 2nd new hard drive and new sata cable? I put the hdd in a usb enclosure and format it with my Win7 PC. It formats fine. No errors!

12) I pull out both mem sticks and put in one known good stick of my own. Same problems.

13) I put a good hdd I've had for a while in the system - same disk access errors.

14) If you're thinking: strange rootkit MBR code? maybe I copied it from original hdd to hdd #2? well, I didn't copy anything to hdd #3 from the original. I used it as-is from Dell. Using HDD #3 showed all the same problems

The only thing left? the CPU and power supply are the same. I think it's got to be the CPU creating some kind of I/O error??

Author

Commented:
One other thing I did that I forgot to include: The original Dell DVD was slightly scratched. It almost never booted in the internal optical but it did fine in the external usb optical. So I copied it with IMGburn on my Win7 pc. The copy disc boots from the internal optical now but it didn't help any of the disk i/o errors.

Author

Commented:
One other clue: If I boot the Vista disk and get to the "Where do you want to install Windows?" screen, sometimes I get:
"This computer's hardware may not support booting to this disk. Ensure that the disk's controller is enabled in the computer's BIOS menu".

I assume that means turn on AHCI, not ATA right? It is already enabled

Author

Commented:
searching for:
"..Ensure that the disk's controller is enabled in the computer's BIOS menu"

some report that turning OFF AHCI and ATA on resolves that. I'll try it but when I did so earlier, I had all kinds of problems: the BIOS wouldn't detect the hdd correctly. The reported capacity was wrong, the hard drive manufacturer name was gibberish...

Author

Commented:
I boot Vista disk with ATA on. When it gets to the disk selection window, of course no drive is shown. I click "Load Driver". Browse the gray driver disk Dell included with the PC and navigate to the i386 folder where the storage driver is and it takes the path but the window shows no compatible drivers. If I uncheck "hide drivers that are not compatible with hardware on this computer" it shows all the drivers. I choose the ICH9 SATA AHCI controller driver but after loading the driver, no hdd is found. I dounload the correct driver from the Dell website and put it on a usb drive. Same procedure. It doesn't see the correct driver on the usb stick. I force it to select the ICH10R SATA AHCI controller. Same deal. Doesn't find a hard drive.
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
when the disk was replaced - did you do a fresh install? otherwise, you copied the problem along to the new drive
you can also have had the bad luck with : a bad disk/ and or mobo (= 2 problems with identical behaviour), say the disk controller on mobo and disk, or bios problem

>>  When it gets to the disk selection window, of course no drive is shown.   <<   why?  it should see it; first always make sure it is seen in the bios, no use trying to start anything if the disk is not seen

Author

Commented:
When the disk was replaced the first time (hdd2) at some point I did try to ghost the copy of hdd1 to hdd2. But after that failed, I just tried a fresh install. What possible issue could be copied from an old hdd to a new one that would then prevent Vista or XP setup from formatting the drive?

Also, the 2nd replacement drive (hdd3) exhibits the exact same problems as hdd1 and hdd2 and it was never altered or copied to at all. I just put it in and tried formatting through Vista.

As far as I can tell, either all three drives (1 samsung, 2 WD) have the exact same problem, or two motherboards have the same problem or the CPU is causing this (but I can't see how a processor could cause these symptoms)

=-=======================
[>>  When it gets to the disk selection window, of course no drive is shown.   <<   why?  it [should see it; first always make sure it is seen in the bios, no use trying to start anything if [the disk is not seen

yeah, good question... I see I said that but I think that's backwards, wouldn't you expect if BIOS is set to ATA that would make it VISIBLE to any, or most, OS setup progs, right? It's when you turn on AHCI is when the OS setup needs the drivers loaded, No? But that's the opposite of my experience. Vista sees the hdd every time with AHCI on. I assumed it loaded a default storage driver.

Testing this, I turned on ATA and restarted, Pressed F12 and the Blue Dell Boot selection menu comes up. The Hard Drive is NOT listed there in the menu.
I turn on AHCI in the BIOS and press F12 and the hard drive *IS* shown in the boot selection menu.  Same thing with Vista setup: ATA on, no drive visible to setup, AHCI on, drive is visible.

While I was doing that, after I selected AHCI in BIOS and restarted, it sat for a good long time on "AHCI is detecting SATA port0...." at least 10-15 seconds. Seemed a bit odd to me. I'm starting to think Dell has a chipset or BIOS problem on these motherboards and they somehow worked around it in production, as they create an image and just clone them off and stick them in a chassis. But the issue causes problems for owners of the boards who have to reinstall from the hardware itself.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
>>  What possible issue could be copied from an old hdd to a new one that would then prevent Vista or XP setup from formatting the drive?    <<    The reason for the formatting was copied along
   >>  , the 2nd replacement drive (hdd3) exhibits the exact same problems   <<  then it is not a drive problem, but probably a motherboard (eg disk controller problem) - OR - a bad Vista DVD, was that DVD original, or copied?
as for the bios settings  - do not turn it around - approach it in the correct way : set the setting, and verify it shows; some boards have different settings (eg with ATA and Sata combined), and some settings show ATA, some Sata, and some BOTH
>>  after I selected AHCI in BIOS and restarted, it sat for a good long time on "AHCI is detecting SATA port0...." at least 10-15 seconds  <<   that can be caused by the fact it did not find a driive that supports AHCI

of course, a s you say "Dell has a chipset or BIOS problem on these motherboards "  that can be the case, you can contact them for info

Author

Commented:
The Vista disk was an original Vista SP1 disk provided by Dell for that PC. It did have some small areas of light scratching. That disk in the internal drive just did not boot. (I've seen MUCH worse disks boot and work, but whatever). I copied that original disk with IMGburn and used the clone in the internal drive and it worked great.  The slightly scratched original disk worked fine in an external optical usb drive. They BOTH gave the same results whether from external or internal optical drives.

Dell tech stopped by today, tried a third hard drive, saw all the issues and threw up his hands. Called Dell, asked them to replace the PC. So we shall never know...
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
replace the PC - well, it's a solution for you...