Hardware detection and burn in

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Currently, there is a hard drive labeled EVAL 2 in system evaluation 2 area (check the station next to the terminal). This is planned be replaced by a bootable CD. Eventually the whole thing may be ported to a network bootable system.

This process is in development. It's an attempt to add to the functionality of System Evaluation.

Hardware detection

  1. Open the system and examine it for suitability. Needed components:
    • processor
    • memory
    • power supply
    • video card or onboard video
  2. Also check for some things you'll need to know later on:
    • blown capacitors
    • type and number of RAM slots (i.e. DDR, RAMBUS, SDRAM)
  3. Disconnect any existing hard drive
  4. Connect the eval 2 hard drive
    • power
    • data cable (check to make sure it's not a cable select cable)
  5. Boot the system.
    • (If boot fails, go to troubleshooting boot problems section.)
  6. When prompted at the GRUB menu, select the standard (run this first) option
  7. After loading linux, diagnostic software is automatically run.

The first screen

This displays processor information. Use the System Evaluation 2 Triage chart to determine if the system is a keeper or not.

If it is not a keeper:

  • label the system with a REASON FOR RECYCLING label
  • place the system in SYstem Evaluation 1's INCOMING pile

If it is a keeper:

  • fill out a KEEPER label and post it on the front of the system.
  • record the processor type
  • record the procesor speed
  • record the front side bus speed
  • continue on

Subsequent screens

Each screen is designed to detect something about the system. When you see information, record it on a form (yet to be created).

If a screen fails to display information we need to determine if there's a bug in the software (and if so, fix it). Make a note of the problem and identify the system's ID number, so we can test any fixes.

If a screen displays faulty information, do the same.

When finished, reboot the system.

Burn in

(Burn in takes a while and therefore requires enough space. We may need to relocate system evaluation to the warehouse to do this properly. In the meantime, we should do it on a few systems to make sure we have a well developed process in place.)

  1. When prompted at the GRUB menu, select the MEMTEST option
  2. Allow the system to run uninterrupted through two cycles. (This will take a long while, and it's best to start working on another system in the meantime.)
    • The first cycle will run while the RAM is relatively cool and may not detect certain errors.
    • The second cycle will run while the RAM is warmer and may detect new errors.
  3. Any error indicates that the memory (or system) is bad.
    • Swap out the RAM for known good RAM and see if the problem persists.
      • If so, the system should be recycled.
      • If not, the system is good and can be kept. (What to do with the RAM? Leave it in? Pull for next system?)


Note that the burn in was successfully completed (if it was).

Fill out a regular KEEPER label and place on the front of the computer.

Put the report with notes inside the computer and seal it up.

Troubleshooting boot problems

  • In BIOS:
    • disable ACPI (power management stuff)
    • make sure hard drive is the first boot option
  • Simplification:
    • Remove unnecessary components (pull extra cards, disconnect unused drives from the motherboard).
    • For SDRAM based systems, try removing all but one stick of RAM
  • Systematic swapping of needed components:
    • For SDRAM based systems, try PC-100 RAM, PC-133 RAM, and possibly PC-66 RAM
    • Try swapping video cards out

Oddball things

Some processors are mismarked. Look closely. If it says "NOT FOR RESALE" on it, it may be an experimental processor that has a different speed. For instance a proc marked "Pentium II 233 NOT FOR RESALE" was correctly detected as a "Pentium III 450". The key was to know that "NOT FOR RESALE" indicated that this was a prototype developed at Intel that an engineer took home and later donated to Free Geek.