Assembly checklist

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There is a version of this checklist in Spanish for use in Spanish Build; that version is located here.

Work through every step as well as you can, and then ask a neighbor or your build instructor if you still have questions. Try and learn the reason for each of the steps: this knowledge will come in handy later when, inevitably, things aren't going as smoothly.

Use your resources! There are lots available to you - your neighbor, the Build assistants and instructors and, of course, the internet. Searching the web for answers to the challenge you are facing is one of the best ways to learn. You can also access tips and troubleshooting ideas on our wiki ( under Build tips or in our Troubleshooting Guide (

Supplies like cards, rails, hard drives, cleaning supplies, etc. can be found on the metal racks in the center of the build workshop. Here you will also find a box containing an assortment of common DDR memory.


Check what needs to be built on the white board

  • Head to the To Be Built Rack and scope out a system you would like to build.
  • Be sure to pay attention to the Build label. It will give you a lot of important information, like the type of video, if it did not POST, if the processor is Dual Core, etc. Make sure that the box you are about to Build is appropriate for its spec.
  • If everything looks good, Grab the system from the To Be Built Rack, take it back to your build station, and figure out how to pop it open.

Check capacitors

  • Visually inspect motherboard capacitors for bulges/leaks. If you find one, ask your instructor for a "Rejected" sticker.

Secure the case

  • Cover any open bays or slots. Replace any other missing case parts. (You can substitute a CD-ROM drive if no compatible bay cover is available. Please make sure that it works after installation.) Some cases require specific (proprietary) parts. If we don't have extras on hand, we unfortunately have to recycle them...
  • Ensure that all components are securely fastened.
  • Check for/remove any loose screws or unnecessary cables. If you're unsure of how to do this, ask an instructor.

Are there Asset tags? (identifying the last owner)? Or branded hardware tags on the faceplate (identifying original components such as RAM, HDD, Optical Drive etc)?

  • If there are, remove them.

DO NOT remove Microsoft Windows Branding (Certificates of Authenticity) FG-PDX, "uncovered electronic device" Processor/graphics tags or Green Light stickers.

Clean and vacuum out box

  • There is a vacuum available on the Build supply shelf by the cleaning supplies. The most effective way to clean out a box is to use a paint brush to kick up the dust while vacuuming.

Test battery

  • Grab a voltmeter and set it to DCV=20. Place one wand on the battery itself and one wand on a metal part of the case. The battery passes if its voltage shows as 3.0 or greater.

Install RAM

  • For DDR2, try speed 533 (PC2-4200) first. If that doesn't work, try higher speeds. Sometimes the BIOS will tell you the needed speed.
  • If your system's memory slots will not accept DDR2 memory, they will require another type. DDR3 is acceptable - ask your instructor for DDR3 RAM. DDR1 systems should be rejected and sent back to Prebuild as yellow-light systems.
    • NOTE: Usually RAM should be paired in dual channels for higher performance (i.e., 2 sticks of RAM used in specific slots, often color-coded). Make sure you try all combinations of slots if you are having trouble getting the system to recognize the RAM, and consult an Instructor if you're still having trouble.
  • Write down what type and speed of RAM you installed; this info will come in handy later.

Install video card if needed

  • You do not need to install a video card if there is functional onboard video.
  • Ask an instructor if you need a PCI-e card; AGP cards are available in the Build room.

Attach monitor, keyboard, mouse, network, sound and power cords

Initial power on

  • See if expected memory value is displayed during POST or in BIOS.

Power down

Remove floppy drive if possible

  • Remove the floppy drive if you can find a matching face plate to cover it. If there are no covers available, you can leave the drive in, but make sure it is unplugged from the motherboard and power supply. Make sure the floppy drive (sometimes called Diskette) is disabled in BIOS and removed from the boot sequence if possible.

Check for onboard NIC ((Network Interface Card, or ethernet.)

  • If none can be found, install a network card.

Install hard drive

  • Get the appropriately sized (according to spec sheet) hard drive from the supply shelf, or from an instructor. Also check to see if you need an IDE or SATA hard drive and make sure you have the necessary cables and power connections.
  • Install the hard drive and attach it to the power supply and motherboard. (If the drive has IDE connections, make sure the jumper is set to the Master position. Ask an instructor for more info.)
  • You will need to ask an instructor for any high end hard drives.

Install sound card if needed

  • If there's onboard sound, there's no need to install a sound card.

Install CD/CDRW/DVD/DVD-RW Drive(s)

  • If there are already optical drives installed in your system, take a look at their face-plates to determine their capabilities. If the drives are within spec for the box you're building and have IDE connections, confirm they're properly jumpered as Master/Slave, or just Master if there's only one drive.
  • If the the drives are outside of spec, pull them out and sort them into the appropriate boxes on the Build shelves. Replace with appropriate drives as needed.

Cover open slots and bays

  • Make sure you have coverings for all spaces that will not be filled with a card or drive. Look at similar cases for examples of what case pieces may look like. Be sure that these are screwed in tight and test them by pushing on each with your finger. If a slot cover falls out while a computer is on it can short out the motherboard.


Enter BIOS setup

  • Turn on the computer. The keystroke to enter BIOS should be displayed on the flash screen, before bootup, as well as the Boot Menu key, if applicable. If no flash screen appears, you have to guess the BIOS keystroke. Delete, Escape, Enter, F1, F2, F9, F10, and F12 are typical.
  • Get into BIOS, and write down both the BIOS and Boot Menu keystrokes; this info will come in handy later.

Check date and time

  • Check date and time in BIOS and change to the correct time if needed.

Restore BIOS defaults

  • You might need to search around to find the BIOS values that need checking. While you search, enjoy the pleasure of learning about BIOS configuration!

Detect hard drive

  • Search BIOS to see if it is recognizing the hard drive.

Set boot order

  • It should be: 1st-CD-ROM; 2nd-Hard drive. If possible, disable all other boot devices such as floppy drive or network boot from the boot sequence.

Where possible, edit any/all of the following settings:

  • Enable USB ports
  • Enable Hyper-threading
  • Disable Quick Boot
  • Disable Logo Display (Sometimes called Silent or Quiet Boot)
  • Disable Plug & Play OS
  • SATA Operation: set to RAID Autodetect/AHCI

Save and exit BIOS

  • The system should reboot to the Ubuntu operating system.


Login to the system

  • username will be Default User
  • password = freegeek

Run "basiccheck"

  • From a terminal, type "basiccheck" Read through each of the tests and verify that they pass. When the last test is finished, close the terminal.
  • Refer to the basiccheck checklists hanging on the supply shelves to help determine whether each test passes or not.

Test USB ports

  • Plug in a USB mouse, move the mouse and make sure the cursor moves on-screen. Repeat with all USB ports, including front ports, if any.

Run the Restricted Extras & DVD Codecs Installer

  • Support for DVD playback, Adobe Flash, and several other features are not included in Xubuntu by default, but can be added with the following steps.
  • Plug in an ethernet cable from the workbench if you are not currently connected.
  • To Install Restricted Extras & DVD Codecs.
  • Navigate to Menu >> Other >> Install Restricted Extras & DVD Codecs
  • Answer Yes when prompted to confirm the installation and provide the default password when prompted.
  • Wait for the installation to complete and close the completion notification when it appears; if the notification informs you that the installation has failed then proceed to the alternate installation steps below.

Alternate Installation Steps

  • If for some reason the automated installer fails it can generally be corrected with the following steps.
  • Open a terminal window
  • Type sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras and press Enter. Provide password if prompted.

Play an audio CD

  • Do you hear what you expect? Is it loud enough to be heard easily? Repeat for each CD-ROM drive. Repeat for additional sound ports.
  • Note if any standard sound ports do not work. These will need to be covered with electrical tape. If all onboard sound does not work, install a sound card.

Read data CD

  • If your file browser sees files on the drive, the CD-ROM can read files. Repeat for each CD-ROM drive.

If you have a DVD Drive, Read DVD

  • Insert a video DVD (movie, TV show, etc.). A media player should open automatically and the DVD should start to play. If you are prompted to search for suitable plugins or codecs close the message and the media player, then try the Alternate Installation Steps for the Restricted Extras & DVD Codecs Installer listed above. If you still see the message then check with an instructor. Repeat for each DVD-ROM drive.
  • If you are getting multi-color lines when testing video playback, replace the hard drive.

If you have an Optical Drive with CD-RW function, as of 12/20/13 we are no longer testing the writing & blanking

If you have an Optical Drive with DVD-RW function, as of 12/20/13 we are no longer testing the writing function

Remove all CDs and DVDs from the drive(s)

Reboot the system

  • Open a terminal and type sudo reboot. Wait while it reboots, and ensure that the system powers on and offers a login screen without user intervention (e.g. requiring you to "press F1 to boot.")
  • If it doesn't boot smoothly, double-check your boot priority options in BIOS and try again.

Run "printme" from terminal

  • From a terminal, type "printme," this will generate a questionnaire in Command Line.
  • Refer to your written notes for the RAM type and speed, the BIOS key and Boot Menu key, if applicable.
  • When it asks what is notable about this system, refer to the white board for what should be included, and ask your instructor for any needed clarification. Press enter to create a web document.

Check in with Build Instructor

  • The Build Instructor will check the printme and edit it to sign it off.
  • Your instructor may ask you to replace certain components, which will require re-running the "printme" form. Some changes may also need to be made in the web browser. If your instructor gives the "thumbs-up," proceed to the next step.

Save Printme to the desktop

  • After your Build Instructor has inspected the system, click "Print" from the printme on the web document. "Choose "Print to File" and select "Desktop" as the folder in which to save it. Name the file "Build Printme" and click print.

Shut down system and place on QC shelf

  • Open a terminal and type "sudo halt -p" then press enter. When the system has shut down, unplug all cables, double-check that the case is secured properly, and place it on the QC shelf in the Build room.

Clean up work area if it is your last Assembly of the day

  • Please put all tools away, throw out any garbage or sticker remains, put screws in the appropriate bins, wrap cords around your keyboard and mouse, turn off your speakers and monitor, and generally straighten up.

Thank You For Volunteering!

  • If you are interested in further learning opportunities after finishing the Build program, ask your instructor about Post-Build options!
  • We want to know what you think! Go to to fill out the Build Program Exit Survey.