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Rescuing old laptop

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ThunderZed:
I'd like to try to rescue a very old and quite battered Acer Travelmate 663LMi notebook of mine to use it only for writing.
Last time I used it was back in 2019 and I remember in 2017 I replaced its BIOS backup battery (Maxell ml1220), moreover I've said it's battered because its Pioneer CD player had stopped working few years before that.

A couple of days ago I connected it to my electric line to let its bios battery charge.
After 24h I tried to switch it on and I got these results:
- the very first Acer logo spreads on all the monitor with the "press f2 for system utilities" advertisement on the bottom left side then everything just stops;
- if I press F2 system starts loading the following infos (very slowly!):

--- Code: ---phoenix firstbios(tn) notebook pro version 2.0
copyright 1958-2002 phoenix technologies ltd.
all right reserved

bios version 3a18
system id= 01234567
build time 11/17/03 11:42:35

cpu = intel pentium m processor 1600mhz
1263m system ram passed
1024k cache sram passed
system bios shadowed
video bios shadowed
fixed disk: st94011a
atapi cd-rom: pioneer dvd-rw dvr-k12ra
mouse initialized
error
0271: check date and time settings
warning
0251: system cmos checksum bad - default configuration used

press <f2> to enter setup

--- End code ---
- if I press F2 another time then BIOS is loaded. A very hard problem occurs within BIOS: right and left arrow keys don't work, while up/down arrow keys work like F1 (help), F10 (save and exit) and ESC (exit) keys. Due to this problem I can't go to "boot" tab to see and change devices booting order though I'm quite sure they were set back to default order (HDD, CD, ...).
I switched my laptop off and let it keep on charging.

Today I tried to switch it on again and those infos were loaded faster but the interesting thing is that both "error" and "warning" messages are not loaded anymore, I mean the text stops to

--- Code: ---[...]
mouse initialized

entering setup...

--- End code ---
so now the BIOS loads automatically.

Do you know what's the problem and if it's possible to use this old notebook for my goal?
An idea rises up to my mind but I don't know if it's good and/or possible: I could disconnect both HDD and CD player because it's a very and fast thing to do, in this way I guess USB would reach the 1^ position of booting order. After that I could connect a bootable USB with a stand alone OS (eg. Puppy Linux) and switch the laptop on... What do you think?

abel2b:
If not used in long time CMOS (Bios) battery probably died and you cannot recharge, it must be replaced.... as for the rest my best guess is stuck keyboard keys and failed keypads, that would explain slow start and failed left right arrow keys... if posible disconnect keyboard flex and try with external usb keyboard...

Haenk:
It's possible (very likely!) the battery is weak and can hardly hold configuration data. Restoring defaults saved "ok" data into NVRAM, but that's only a temporary fix, another failure will happen soon.
I'm not sure if the battery is soldered, but I guess it is.
If you chose not to replace it, remove it - the Laptop should work fine, but will always using defaults and of course date/time will not be not set. Leaving a half dead battery in there might corrupt configuration data, I would not recommend that. It might start to leak, too.

The DVD-drive should not matter, if you don't need it, leave as is.

I would not recommend USB as a boot medium, a HDD is faster. Or if you want to fiddle around a bit, there are ATAPI to SATA converters, which sometimes work. That might enable you install a SATA SSD. However, that might not work, it's experimental at best.

ThunderZed:
CMOS battery is not soldered but there's a good news.

I let my notebook keep charging during these days. Today I tried the idea I told you at the bottom of my 1^ post: I disconnected both HDD and CD player and tried a Puppy linux live session via usb and it worked fine. After that I connected HDD back again and it worked! Now the old WinXP boots normally. Why/how could that happen? Was it a matter of contact between pins? Maybe the HDD just needed to spin and a bit of electricity to rescue?

Another good news: I tried to plug an external keybord via usb and switch on the laptop and it works in bios environment so now I can change the boot order as well. I just didn't know it was possible because it was my first time with this issue but now I wonder why my usb external keyboard works in the bios while my usb mouse doesn't!


--- Quote from: Haenk on March 07, 2024, 04:03:44 pm ---Restoring defaults saved "ok" data into NVRAM, but that's only a temporary fix, another failure will happen soon.
--- End quote ---
Do you mean the only way not to get other failures with this battery, and consequently to keep my bios modifications on, is to keep this laptop under charge permanently?
Anyway this battery issue doesn't deal with WinXP booting, I mean with the HDD itself, does it?

ClarenceMorse:

--- Quote from: abel2b on March 05, 2024, 06:54:45 pm ---If not used in long time CMOS (Bios) battery probably died and you cannot recharge, it must be replaced.... as for the rest my best guess is stuck keyboard keys and failed keypads, that would explain slow start and failed left right arrow keys... if posible disconnect keyboard flex and try with external usb keyboard...

--- End quote ---

Yeah, if there is a battery issue then this needs to be replaced by another one.

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