On the Old Dell

We have this old laptop, a Dell Latitude D510. It used to be hooked up to a corporate network, and I always had a feeling that this instance of Windows XP was always trying to reach out to those domain controllers of yesteryear, trying to reestablish network connections that haven’t existed in years.<br />n<br />nOne evening recently, I tried to change the Windows network setup so that it was on our local Windows WORKGROUP (does that have to be capitalized?) rather than the old corporate domain. As soon as I clicked OK, that I was sure I wanted to do it, it thought for a while, then Bam, it welcomed me to our local WORKGROUP.<br />n<br />nUm, ok, I thought. At that second, I remembered that I don’t have the administrator password for this machine. And Rita’s login was an admin user. And when I now tried, I could not log in with her regular credentials. In short, I was locked out of this machine, other than a local, non-admin account I had created moments before changing that network setting.<br />n<br />nI couldn’t get to any of the years of files Rita had been accumulating. She hadn’t yet finished backing all her stuff up to our local-network file server. I was a little bit worried, but not greatly.<br />n<br />nSince I have had some recent experience with Ubuntu linux, I decided to create a USB thumb drive bootable with Ubuntu and see if I could see her documents. Turns out, I was able to get to her docs. And I could see our file server. So I copied everything from her My Documents folder, as well as her Desktop folder. Those are pretty much her two main file repositories.<br />n<br />nAnother couple of days go by and we decide there’s nothing else there worth saving, so she gave me the go ahead to wipe that laptop’s hard disk and start over. So that’s what I did. Once XP was finished formatting the main partition to NTFS and installing itself again, I realized I had no network connectivity. Windows seemed to know there was an on board NIC, but there were no drivers for it.<br />n<br />nI checked Dell’s website, but the drivers and software section was confusing. So I did what we all should do in just such an occasion. I googled what I was looking for: “network adapter driver dell latitude d510″. I came up with a page that described when reinstalling a fresh instance of Windows, certain drivers needed to be installed in a certain order. <a href=”http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19378630.aspx” title=”dell support forum thread”>This is the thread of posts</a> that helped direct me to the right place. And this article, called <a href=”http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/kcs/document?c=us&l=en&s=gen&docid=DSN_1A0C0937D62A8739E0401E0A55174744&isLegacy=true” title=”how to download drivers in the correct order”>How to Download and Install Drivers in the Correct Order</a>, described what I needed to do.<br />n<br />nSince the laptop was not networkable yet, I used sneakernet with a thumb drive to get the driver installers onto the machine. I got everything installed and was up and running soon. The machine saw our internal network, I found the file server, and then copied all of Rita’s files back to where they belong.<br />n<br />nI’ve asked her to start using that machine again to make sure everything works, and she’s just beginning to. And the two main differences this time is that I know the admin password, and the machine shouldn’t go looking for those corporate network resources any longer.


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