Help me fix my Windows XP
February 12, 2008 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I reinstalled Windows XP on a Dell machine running Ubuntu and it won't run above 640 by 480 resolution and 4 bits. It's an 80gb hard drive with 2gb of RAM, and there is nothing I can think of that would cripple the system like this. Any idea how to get the system running like it should be?

1) I installed Ubuntu over the original XP that came with the machine 5 years ago. After it was running slow, I upgraded the RAM to 2gb. Then when I switched back to XP, it no longer works correctly.

2) The XP disk I used came from Dell, and I think they thought that I still had XP running on the machine. Would there be some sort of difference between the CD they would send me to reinstall XP on a machine already running XP versus on a linux machine?

3) At no point during the installation of Windows XP did it prompt me for my serial number. Did it somehow know that this was a certified windows machine/cd, and if not, should I have had to put in my serial number somewhere?

I've done the XP install off of the CD twice now, and both times got the same results When I go into settings, it won't let me chance the resolution or color settings, although when I first finished the setting, a balloon popped up from the task bar and said the resolution could be upgraded, but when I clicked that to run, nothing happened.

If there is any other information about hardware/software that would help, let me know. What's so weird, is that the machine was previously running XP fine, and all I did was increase the RAM, and now it doesn't work.

Any ideas on how to fix this would be a big help. Thanks.
posted by andoatnp to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need drivers for your video card. Right click on your desktop and select 'properties'. Click on the Settings tab. Under 'display' will be your video card model. Take that info to the card maker's web site and download/install the current drivers. Presto!
posted by trinity8-director at 6:20 PM on February 12, 2008


What s/he said
posted by unSane at 6:21 PM on February 12, 2008

I apologize if this is too basic of a question, but have you tried installing the video drivers off the support CD that came with the computer? If you don't have that, visit Dell Support and download the correct video drivers for your model.
posted by saraswati at 6:27 PM on February 12, 2008

Arg, brief site hiccup and I'm too late :). What trinity8 said.
posted by saraswati at 6:28 PM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: First off, have you tried to install the new drivers? The recovery discs don't always automatically install them. Go start/control panel/system/device manager and click on your display device. Then click "advanced" or whatever it says and choose "update driver". Tell it you know the location and point it to your recovery CD.

Alternatively, visit and find the driver while on another computer. Download it (and uncompress it if necessary) to a thumb drive, then plug that into the borked computer and install it that way. This will be a way to ensure you get the most recent driver anyway.

On preview: hmm, site wouldn't load. Darnit, everyone beat me to it.
posted by TomMelee at 6:28 PM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: I guess that all makes sense, it just didn't occur to me that if windows xp would previously work on the computer, then if I upgrade the ram and reinstall the same operation system that it would run into problems. I'll do this right now, and if for some reason it doesn't work, I'll update again, but I'm hoping the drivers are the answer.
posted by andoatnp at 6:30 PM on February 12, 2008

Whilr you're at it, it wouldn't hurt to make sure you have up-to-date drivers for your other system components, either.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:44 PM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: I can't seem to determine what video card I have or what driver I need. Can someone help me figure out what driver I need. I have a Dell Dimension 4500s. When I open up Device Manager and click on Video Controller, under the General Tab, it shows:

Device Type: Other devices
Manufacturer: Unknown

How do I find out what video card I have or what driver I need?

Thanks again.
posted by andoatnp at 6:58 PM on February 12, 2008

Apparently the Dell Dimension 4500s has Intel Integrated AGP Graphics. This help page from Intel should help you get started.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:07 PM on February 12, 2008

Disclaimer: Now would be the time to disclose whether you bought a better video card with the PC.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:08 PM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: Spoke too soon: Intel has software that will tell you about your chipset.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:09 PM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: I have the correct video driver install, but now I have a new problem. Upon rebooting, it's asking me for a password. I'm 99% certain I never set a password.

I tried "default" "owner" "admin", the password that I used for everything everywhere, even though I never remember setting it up, and the serial number from the side of the computer. Nothing is working.

Is there some default password that I'm not aware of that is set up for the Owner or Administrator account?
posted by andoatnp at 7:31 PM on February 12, 2008

Best answer: Nevermind, I figured out that the Owner account has a blank password. I'm not sure why it initially had me prompted to login as Administrator, because with that account a blank password didn't seem to work.

All done... all my questions answered now. Thanks all!
posted by andoatnp at 7:41 PM on February 12, 2008

it just didn't occur to me that if windows xp would previously work on the computer, then if I upgrade the ram and reinstall the same operation system that it would run into problems.

Your ram upgrade didnt wipe out your video drivers your wiping of the disk and putting ubuntu on there did.

Also, ram and processor have nothing to do with video. Video is handled strictly by the video card. As others have stated you need to find the video drivers for your computer and install them. An XP disc has the bare minumum drivers to get a computer up and running. It is the responsibility of the person installing it to update all drivers. Right now youre probably running drivers from 2001. I'd also get any network or wireless drivers while youre there. You might even want to get the BIOS update too.

Welcome back to windows.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2008

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