In an attempt to further diagnose the laptop, I figured it might not be a bad idea to see how it responds to WinXP Pro. If there genuinely are hardware issues, then WinXP would show problems as well, and I would know it's not just Linux driver issues.
Along the way, I made several mistakes. First, I tried to just boot from WinXP Install CD. But when I got into the Setup, and tried to Partition/Format for installation, I received the following:
Alright; a very fast internet search will remind everyone that a HDD can only accept 4 partitions. With 3 reserved for root, swap, and /home, that only leaves one left. But WinXP only needs one. Hmmm....
Setup cannot create a new partition in the space you selected because
the maximum number of partitions already exists on the disk.
I assumed perhaps the Gateway Recovery Partition as still hiding somewhere, even though sudo fdisk -l in hadn't shown anything else, and neither did gparted.
My solution; I used sudo gparted to create a new partition in the remaining 36GB of space, formatted as FAT32 (since Linux doesn't yet natively support NTFS writing). At this point, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a back-up copy of the MBR, just in case.
dd if=/dev/hda of=mbr.save bs=512 count=1
I have used gpart in the past, and has success with it. I tried to read the partitions on the drive, and it appeared to have gone correctly, so I wrote the new partition table. That was a mistake; now the laptop wouldn't boot
Great, I totally fscked that up. Alright, I went back to the Ubuntu LiveCD, and it still worked fine. One thing I noticed; now fdisk -l gives the warning similar to "partition does not start at end of cylinder". OK, so gpart didn't quite work in this case. Good thing I had the backup MBR; just turn around the above diskdump (dd) command to restore from mbr.save
Things still weren't quite right, warnings about "no media" during booting. So I just went ahead and burned a new copy of the Super Grub Disc v0.9766.
The default options set me back on the right track.
When I ran the WinXP Install CD again, at the Partition screen, I was given the choice to Delete/Reformat the 36GB partition. Windows XP Pro went in just fine. Possibly the Gateway Recovery CD containing WinXP Tablet has errors, or there may truly be something wrong with the graphics hardware.
I made a quick modification to /etc/boot/grub/menu.lst to add the WindowsXP boot option, sticking this bit after the Ubuntu-installed MEMTEST86+
The HDD now has 4 partitions. I'd have liked to have a FAT32 that I could have used as a "shared" partition that both WinXP and Linux could write, but that's a different issue.
title Windows XP