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Building a Linux box need help getting started

  1. Jan 19, 2009 #1

    CRGreathouse

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    OK, so I decided to put together a computer, but I'm having some trouble. Hopefully it's of the "you forgot something obvious" variety, rather than "it's broken".

    The thread is titled as it is because I imagine that if I fix this problem, others will come up I'll also need help with.

    So I installed the motherboard (Asus M3A78 Pro), chip+HS/fan (Phenom II X4 920), power supply, case fan, SATA hard drive, and DVD burner, and plug everything together (including the case audio/USB/power switch cables). The only thing that was confusing was the case fan, which has a second plug in addition to the CHA_FAN1; after hunting around for a while I decided it only needed the other if I was using a legacy motherboard without a CHA_FAN1.

    I plugged the computer in and was rewarded with the motherboard light. Next I turned on the power and saw both the processor and chassis fan spin up; good so far. Unfortunately, I didn't get anything on the screen -- not the POST, not BIOS, nothing.

    What now?
     
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  3. Jan 19, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Add some memory?

    Assuming you have an onboard graphics card, no BIOS message normally means dead (or not found) RAM -
    there should be POST beeps if the CPU is alive.

    I would try reseating the CPU and ram, reseting the BIOS/NVRAM on the motherboard then checking the power/reset switch connections from the case to the motherboard.
     
  4. Jan 19, 2009 #3

    CRGreathouse

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    Sorry, forgot to mention that part. I put in two sticks of 1 GB 1066 DDR2 memory in DIMM_A1 and DIMM_B1.
     
  5. Jan 19, 2009 #4

    CRGreathouse

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    Sorry, I was unclear. I get BIOS beeps, but nothing onscreen. And yes, I'm using the onboard graphics card.
     
  6. Jan 19, 2009 #5

    mgb_phys

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    You should be able to decode the beeps from the manual.
    Most likely is RAM/CPU problem, hopefully just not seated properly.
     
  7. Jan 19, 2009 #6
    Check the motherboard manual. The timing of the beeps has meaning: the manual will have a key to decipher them.

    Check the connectivity of all the components. Check the manual to see if you forgot any connections that need to be made (for instance, is the CPU fan connected to the correct power plug on the motherboard?)

    Check the settings of all jumpers and DIP switches. Find them in the manual, and verify they have the correct settings.

    As mgb_phys suggests, try resetting the BIOS by removing the motherboard's battery for a few minutes.

    Try removing a RAM module - first one, then the other. Occasionally you get DOA memory which will confuse the memory controller and prevent POST from succeeding. (This happened to me once!)
     
  8. Jan 19, 2009 #7

    CRGreathouse

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    I reseated the RAM and tried booting with both one and two sticks; no change.

    The beep code seems to be 1,1 (~200 ms beep, ~1000 ms silence, ~200 ms beep) but I can't find that code. My print manual doesn't have codes, and I wasn't able to find one online -- oddly enough.
     
  9. Jan 19, 2009 #8

    mgb_phys

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    Beeps normally mean at least the CPU is alive - good news!
    Onboard video normally uses system RAM so you can't boot without ram to see if that's the problem.
    Fans spinning up mean at least some of the voltages are good, so probably not the PSU (although you could check the voltages on the MB if you have a DVM, or at least on a disk drive connector.)

    Check BIOS reset, often there is a jumper that you can put either in reset-normal, with it in "reset" it won't boot.
    Then try removing the header connectors for the case lights/power etc - if you have connected them wrong you might be holding the reset down by connecting a LED across it (done that!) - you can make it boot by just shorting the power or reset pins on the header with a screwdriver.
     
  10. Jan 19, 2009 #9

    CRGreathouse

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    Stupidly enough, I can't find the codes. Where can I look? Google has failed me with queries such as "ASUS beep codes", "M3A78 Pro beep codes", "ASUS motherboard codes". The ASUS website let me look up the motherboard, but didn't give a list of codes (that I could see).

    Well, the fans are plugged in per the manual and both work. The audio is plugged in (only the HD audio, not the AC '97), as are the six panel plugs (speaker, power LED+, power LED-, HDD LED, power SW, and reset SW). Both the 4-pin ATX and 24-pin EATX power conectors are in. The hard drive and DVD drive have both a power plug and a SATA cable.

    I checked the clear RTC RAM, USB wakeup, and keyboard wakeup jumpers. The chassis intrusion jumper cap is on (turning the feature off, as recommended in the manual).

    The IDE connector is empty since both my drives are SATA.

    What's a DIP switch?

    I took it out just before composing this post. Maybe that will help.

    Did that, no effect. :(
     
  11. Jan 19, 2009 #10

    CRGreathouse

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    mgb_phys and signerror: I'd like to let you both know how much I appreciate your replies! It's a bit frustrating to not be able to use the computer I just bought, and having the two of you help me though this is much appreciated.
     
  12. Jan 19, 2009 #11

    CRGreathouse

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    Having the battery out for 5-10 minutes, replacing, and powering on again had no effect.

    On the beeps: The computer beeps softly immediately on power-up, and then about 8 and 9 seconds later. This is normal for POST, yes?
     
  13. Jan 19, 2009 #12

    mgb_phys

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    There are very rarely dip switches anymore.
    the most common is a jumper with two positions reset-normal. Plug it into reset for a couple of seconds to reset the bios and into normal (or just throw it away) to run.
    I have had motherboards where it won't start at all if it is in reset - and they shipped it like this, without any warning!

    If you have drives, sound etc all connected I would disconnect them - just leave the minimum needed to boot (RAM+CPU).
    If the case came with a dozen little 2pin headers for lights, switch etc I would remove those - or check that they are all correct, I have had problems where I was effectively holding the reset button down because they were connected wrong.

    Nope - just about anything other than one beep is a fault report.
    The asus baord has dual video - I'mguessing that both are active at boot but have you tried both?
    http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=149&l3=639&l4=0&model=2064&modelmenu=1

    The links to the manuals are on the downloads page
    http://support.asus.com/download/download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&model=M3A78-EMH HDMI
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2009
  14. Jan 19, 2009 #13

    CRGreathouse

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    OK, sounds good. I plugged them all in myself, I can remove them readily enough. :)

    Unplugged: six panel plugs, HD audio, front USB, HDD, DVD. Contact: nothing. Oh, right, I need the power switch... let me plug just that one back in. Now 5 of the panel switches are out and only the power switch is plugged in. Now it powers up, but with the same results.

    No, how do you do that?

    Edit: You mean try the HDVI connector instead of the RGB connector? OK, did that, no effect.


    The M3A78 Pro page you linked me to has the same guide that I have in paper, but that doesn't have the BIOS codes as far as I can tell.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2009
  15. Jan 31, 2009 #14

    CRGreathouse

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    I replaced the motherboard... still nothing.

    And the sound I heard was the hard drive beeping, not the CPU.
     
  16. Jan 31, 2009 #15
    Check your ram

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article855-page1.html

     
  17. Feb 2, 2009 #16

    CRGreathouse

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    I did not know that, waht. I tried it with just one stick of 1066 DDR2 and it still did nothing , though.

    I've tried four different monitors and none worked; it doesn't seem to be problems with the monitor (bad monitor, no driver/whatever, etc.).

    I replaced the motherboard with another M3A78 Pro; that's surely not the problem.

    I doubt both sticks of RAM are bad.

    I carefully removed fan and processor, scraped off the thermal paste, applied a thin layer, and reseated them; no change.

    I *want* to find out I'm doing something dumb, but I seem to have covered all the basics.
     
  18. Feb 4, 2009 #17
    I had this issue a while back there is workarounds if you have the hardware for testing the components in from your new build let me start of with the rundown on my findings from your post and my theory of it

    #1 your ram could be dead on arrival
    #2 Motherboard could be dead on arrival
    #3 nothing is stopping any pc from posting without hd's



    Workarounds

    I'll explain my story so you can understand how i worked around my post issues

    My first motherboard in my htpc stopped posting orderd a new motherboard had the same ram from the first mobo thinking it would work i didnt have the proper hardware to test the same ram of the old mobo

    So i got my new motherboard swapped it took about 20 minutes i did the first post nothing i went over it many times assuming it was doa now that i look back at the pattern i should have took all the sticks out and tested them in sequences on the slots

    I ended up sending back the mobo i had got my refund orderd a new mobo

    3rd motherboard did the same so i swapped my ram thinking about the sequences and how it would show me wich ram was good or bad or slot

    Conclusion i threw out the stick that was dead i belive it was just random bad luck for me

    3 mobos both right slot was dead

    i'm now on 2x1 stick

    If you have another motherboard wich it sounds like you do from the thread

    Test each ram stick for every slot you have
    dont give up on the sequences try all 8 for 4x ram slots
     
  19. Feb 4, 2009 #18
    CHA_FAN1 stands for chassis fan aka case fan
     
  20. Feb 10, 2009 #19

    cup

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    I had the same issue a while ago when I installed a new graphics card.

    At first, my computer acted like yours except that it kept restarting (instantly) over and over.
    My power supply was too weak.

    After upgrading the power supply my computer acted exactly like yours.

    I then proceeded to pull out all of the little wires controlling the LED's, the reset button and other stuff on the front panel of the computer case, and plugged in only the power switch one... And then it worked!


    Also make sure that the RAM is inserted properly, and that all of the fans are spinning.
     
  21. Feb 11, 2009 #20

    CRGreathouse

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    My power supply is weak -- 350 watts -- but I don't think that should be a problem. The board won't display anything onscreen even when the hard drive and DVD drives are unplugged. There's no video card (other than the onboard one) to draw extra power, either.

    I did exactly that, but without the same encouraging result. :(

    Yes, the RAM is inserted correctly (I've reseated it dozens of times, switched sticks, and tried with only one of the two.)

    The fans spin up just fine when I power it up. The motherboard light goes on as soon as I plug it in (if I have the switch on) before I even do that. And if I plug in the HDD it will spin up as well.
     
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