CAUTION: The following may appear to be generalized bashing of Packard Bell. It’s not, only their computers, and specifically my experience with their computers’ motherboards. Please read in that context, thank you.
Three Packard Bell computers, of models spanning an estimated four years. Rate of failure once I try to do anything whatsoever to them: 100%, 3 out of 3.
I seem to have discovered why the hard drive suddenly wouldn’t work when I transplanted it back into the Snail — the motherboard had begun to fail. I had even managed to get GRUB to work on that hard drive, and then it would always Kernel Panic, with some error message about crc check failure. Everything related to the IDE controller on the other computer (“Nemo”) was set to be the same as the older machine, I put in a generic initrd, 486-optimized 2.6 AND 2.6.26 kernels, still no dice.
I tried to make a boot disk on another machine and boot the Pentium from that, but then the floppy drive, which previously worked, to not recognize the disk. I tried several others, and they were recognized, but (as known and expected) were bad system disks. Then it, and the ability to recognize the keyboard, failed as well. Nothing I did helped one iota; not even a chance to try D. Small Linux and it’s 2.4-series kernel.
I can’t even use the case, because the motherboard uses a vertical riser, making the expansion cards for sound, modem, etc parallel to the motherboard instead of perpendicular, like every motherboard I have uses. The case can’t be easily reconfigured to that without metal cutters and a grinding wheel, so it’s virtually useless. I like how it looks — near-perfect rectangular solid, if you’re curious — that I might find another usage for it.
So, the Snail is salted. 😦 Let us all have a moment of silence, and think of the hundreds of thousands of other computers that have given their functionality to make our world what is today.
I hate Packard Bell computers. Seriously. I could go on about this, but I don’t need to remember this paticular rant. 😉 However, I will give these two pieces of advice: If you own a Packard Bell computer, be absolutely religious about backups. I’m not kidding. And if you acquire one, do NOT use it as your primary machine. Be ready to salvage parts, because the motherboard may fail, sooner rather than later.
On another note, I need to decide on my next project. I’ve got a 450MHz AMD K-6-2 that I could try to put FreeBSD on, if I can ever figure that OS’s device tree out. However, I’ve recently discovered some interesting Debian utilites that, apparently, are designed to generate .deb archives from the source tarballs. If I can ever figure out that system, perhaps I can build myself a partly-i686-optimized Debian Testing system. Really wish I knew how to make one of those “thoughtful” emoticons show up here… 🙂