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Trying To Restore Gateway solo 5350

I have a Gateway solo 5350 that I dug out of our barn, and i’m trying to restore it. it doesn’t appear to have any major flaws, in fact, it actually runs pretty well aside from a few things that i’m wondering about. when I try to boot it, I think it goes through the steps OK on till one point, although i’m not entirely sure because I don’t really know what the process is supposed to look like. when I turn it on it shows the big GATEWAY logo and the option to ether BOOT FROM NEWORK or CHANGE SYSTEM SETTINGS. when I select the latter, it goes to bios smoothly, when I wait, it continues to a black screen that says:

initializing intel(R) boot agent version 4.0.19 PXE 2.1 build 083 (WfM 2.0)

and then it goes to a screen that says OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND and doesn’t do anything else. it doesn’t have a hard drive so I burned a disk with ubuntu 8.04.4 and tried to load it with that but it made no difference. is there some keyboard command that I have to do while booting up? I also noticed upon opening it up that there isn’t any thermal paste left, is it safe to run a laptop without paste? also I do not have the original power adapter, instead I found one in our barn that has slightly less voltage than the original one. does that effect the way it runs? it is hard to find info on this particular laptop, since it is so old. anyway, let me know have any suggestions. thanks!

also I am wondering, is it possible to run widows vista on this old of a laptop?

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The hard drive is probably missing or long dead, along with the battery. These 90’s batteries can be opened easily and rebuilt, but you need a spot welder to do it properly. Unless you have this and need it, I would say leave the dead battery installed to balance the chassis and keep the appearance intact as well as you can. Unless it’s inhibiting the bootup process, leaking or trying to charge failed cells, it isn’t going to hurt anything.

If you want to be sure the drive is dead before replacing it, what you can do is try installing an operating system on it; use a Win9X series operating system or Win2K if possible. XP will run like a slow dog on a machine this old, especially with SP3. If it came with XP and you don’t have a choice, just keep that in mind and look at a RAM upgrade of 1-2GB to help the notebook compensate. If it doesn’t support this, max it out as far as it can go.

In terms of the hard drive if you have any problems or the drive doesn’t show up, it’s probably dead (if installed). If that’s the case, you’re SOL on finding a spinning IDE hard drive unless you get lucky (last ones were made in ~2010), so you will need to convert the notebook to solid state. The catch is you will need to format the SSD on a Vista/7/8.x/10 system, as old versions of Windows (9x/2K/XP) do not partition SSD’s properly. In addition to that, hardware TRIM (and user overprovisioning) is REQUIRED and is non-negotiable for 9x and 2K - it can’t be shoehorned in like you can with XP. Even then, it’s better to do some overprovisioning to avoid lifespan problems.

The other problem is if the drive caddy is gone, most of the IDE notebooks use an adapter to avoid pin damage and have a caddy designed accordingly. That’s going to be found in a donor with a dead drive or on eBay. The adapter isn’t hard to find, but the caddy is a bit harder to acquire.

Adapt this how you want, but for my conversion to the nc6000 I have (WinXP), I chose a Silicon Power A55 128GB SSD (M.2 SATA). If you manage to find it (unlikely), the A55 64GB SSD will work well for Win9X.

Follow these guidelines for formatting:

  • 128GB: 120GB (8GB OP space)
  • 64GB: 60GB (4GB OP space)

In addition to the SSD, you will need an M.2->IDE adapter (with case). These are more expensive then M.2->SATA as a translation chip (similar to the one in i915 notebooks with IDE) is required, but other then the requirement to format externally (due to the age of the OS not doing it right) and the adapter, it’s doable. This is usually what I tell people to try first as native IDE SSD’s are rare and overpriced. Unless you get lucky and find one on Amazon, this is an eBay purchase. Search for “M.2 to IDE” without the quotes.

In terms of the adapter, yes. The original is probably 18-19V and you lose ~1V when the adapter is under load. Find an appropriate adapter. Again, for my nc6000 I had to substitute the 18.5V for a 19V I had from a 2007 DV Series notebook (it had the classic bad GPU problem). It’s working well for why I dug it out despite being .5V more then the original adapter, but as I said before you end up losing ~1V to load, so it balances out.

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thank you for the advice, Nick! I think I will try replacing the adaptor, I think you're right, the original is 19 volts 4.3a and the one i'm using is 12 volts 2a

i'll probably look for something on ebay.

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For Win9x you need to use FAT32 (NTFS for 2K/XP). Depending on your luck (primarily based on if you use Vista, 7/8.x or 10), you may need to use a FAT32 formatting tool that handles it specifically. You can get by with one of those IDE USB 2.0 adapters - doesn't need to be done on the actual system. XP was an option on that Solo notebook, but the problem is SP2 and SP3 raised the requirements beyond what many of these early XP machines came with to do it well.

I don't recommend the mSATA adapter for one reason: M.2 has overtaken it. mSATA drives are harder to find then M.2 drives. Watch out what keys the adapter you buy supports. You want one with B+M keying for the SSD I linked. However, most of them seem to be B or B+M compatible.

That adapter can probably barely handle the computer with how much lower capacity it is.

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