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ajt (2546)

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UK based. Perl, XML/HTTP, SAP, Debian hacker.

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Journal of ajt (2546)

Thursday October 03, 2002
03:07 AM

Memory Fiasco

[ #8151 ]

Today is my partner's birthday. I couldn't think of what to give her, so in the end I settled for some DVDs and flowers. At the last minute I noticed that notebook RAM prices have fallen enough so that I could upgrade her Dell Inspiron. Not a very romantic gift you may say, but she does complain when it runs slowly.....

Last night the RAM arrived, and I dutifully installed it. It was a tight squeeze to get it in, but after some cursing and a good push I got it seated properly, and the POST reported a full 256Mb.

Then the problems began. Whenever I've upgraded RAM on a machine, notebook or desktop I've just added RAM, and rebooted, seems to work with well on any system I've ever worked with before, however it didn't in this case. It seems that Win 98 partially saves a chunk of it's self in RAM, and the RAM upgrade meant it wasn't where the it was expected to be. The system refused to boot, and very quickly the file system got messed up in a big way.

The Inspiron now happily tells me to read an online guide about memory upgrades, which is very unhelpful. It's not mentioned in the hard copy manual, and as the unit won't boot, I'm hardly in a position to read anything online......

So I reinstalled Windows 98 last night. I considered Win2K, it has enough RAM now, or even a Linux distro, but I don't think either would add to my popularity at the moment.

With my parents visiting over the weekend, it now won't be until next week that I can get her machine back and running.

The upside is that when I've finished, it will be a clean install, with only the programs she wants, so it should run faster.....

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  • Dell reserves a (hidden?) partition on disk to use when suspending. According to various Linux HOW-TOs for installing Linux on an Inspiron, the partition size is roughly RAM + Video RAM + delta. Dell ships some sort of utility for adjusting the partition size, on one of those "extra" CDs they give you that didn't look useful and probably went into a desk drawer.

    • dws,

      You are correct, on the Dell CD, there is a Phoenix BIOS save-to-disk tool (PHDISK.EXE). It only runs in real-mode DOS, and annoyingly isn't mentioned in the printed manual - hence my cock-up.

      Thankfully, I now have the machine up and running, however the disk is so badly fragmented that there isn't an big enough chunk of empty disk space to write the save to disk file yet, so I'm still getting the irritating error message on boot.

      I must admit I don't think I really want this feature, with 256Mb of

      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."