A few days ago my roommate got a box of random electronic parts donated to him. Most of the stuff was junk, only good to salvage parts off of. But there were two items that we did find of interest. Two motherboards that seemed like they were still in pretty good condition.
What if we could get them up and running again?
And so our weekend project was started!
First we got an old power supply and some old RAM we had laying around and plugged everything up to see if it would even turn on. That turned out to be a bit more trouble than we initially thought we’d have. Sean searched the internet for the manual to the motherboard and we found the pins that the power button was to plug up to. One small problem, we didn’t have a power button. So while Sean got something together, we used a set of hemostats to bridge the pins and power on the pile of parts. Something was wrong though, the monitor we had hooked up to it didn’t show anything. and since we didn’t have a PC speaker, we couldn’t hear beep codes. We almost resorted to the ancient art of poke-at-it-with-a-screwdriver when i noticed a jumper in between the two RAM banks. I pulled it out and tried the power and BAM! POST! By this time Sean had gotten a power button and a light soldered together for us to use. Now we needed some sort of boot up medium, and we decided that a USB drive would be optimal. We got a 2GB drive from Walmart and loaded it up with Lubuntu.
After tweaking the BIOS settings a bit we finally were able to boot off the USB drive and get to the boot menu for the drive. On our first attempt to boot from the drive we got a kernel panic so we decided to test the RAM. That ended up being a good idea, since we discovered all of our extra DDR RAM was bad. Into the trash with that stuff! Luckily there was a second bank of RAM slots on the motherboard which supported SDRAM, an older format of RAM.
Sean pulled out the motherboard for one of his first computers, Jenny, and luckily it still had RAM in it’s banks! Thank god for hording computer parts 🙂 We pulled out two of the ram sticks and tested them. They were good to go! We booted up and tada! We got a loading screen. It seemed to take forever to load, then we noticed we’d forgotten to put in the second chip of RAM, whoops :3
Now we’re in the process of updating the Ubuntu core and then we’re going to see if we can get some sort of clustering up and running. It would be neat to get a farm up and running.
There are more pictures on my flickr account