So far I’ve installed a new motherboard, CPU, memory, video card and power supply into my old case along with a previously used SATA hard drive. Next up was the moment of truth. I carefully connected all the cables inside the case, leaving the case open when I was finished just in case I needed quick access.
I made sure the CRT was powered down and that the switch on the power supply was off, then connected both to the computer. Once I was satisfied that all looked well, I flipped the power supply switch to the “on” position. A steady green glow emanated from the motherboard’s diagnostic LED, letting me know I didn’t screw anything up so far.
There was only one last thing to do. I hit the power button on the front of the case and held my breath. After an impossibly short period of time, I was greeted by the following screen:
Success! I stepped though the BIOS, making fairly minor adjustments, then saved the settings and let it reboot. The hard drive I was using had an old install of Windows XP on it and all the new hardware confused the hell out of it. It got caught in a rebooting cycle, so I powered down and basked in the glow of a job well done.
At this point, you may recall that there wasn’t any optical drive attached to the system. I had already decided I was going to install linux on this machine (specifically, the just released openSUSE 11.4), but had to figure out how to get it on the hard drive.
I used a backup PC to download some disk images from the openSUSE web site and used a tool from the site to write one of the Live CD images to a USB flash drive. This enabled the USB drive to be used as a bootable CD, only with read and write access!
I plugged in the USB drive, turned on the computer and I booted into openSUSE from the flash drive. After a few false starts, I used one of the tools in openSUSE to wipe XP off the hard drive, then rebooted. This time, when the USB drive menu came up, I told it to install openSUSE onto the hard drive. Eleven minutes later, I had a working operating system on my new computer. Eleven minutes!! To say I was impressed was quite an understatement.
So I now have a new, fast, computer in my old case, using an old hard drive, old monitor and no CD/DVD drive. Sounds like I need to get some more parts…