My Worst Windows 2000 Driver Problem EverSince I got my BookPC its main problem has been getting decent Windows 2000 device drivers. One of the most important drivers is the video driver, and I have been through hell to get one that works correctly. Here is my story.
HardwareMy on-board video chip is an Intel 810. The PCI numbers are Vendor=8086 (Intel) and DeviceID=7121 - look at the PCI list from the BIOS on startup to see if you have the same hardware as I do. If I just wanted a driver that worked on a monitor, I would never have had an issue. The trouble is that the machine is in the media room, and I didn't want a PC monitor down there: I wanted to be able to use my TV on those few occasions when I needed direct access to the machine. Most of the time it is accessed via a web browser or Terminal Server so does not need a monitor (or keyboard/mouse for that matter).
Default Windows 2000 SupportMy suppliers gave me no info at all on Windows 2000 support, except that "it works". Helpful. I got my BookPC with no operating system, though at the time it was normally offered with Windows 98, for which it had full device driver support apparently. Anyhow, mine came with a blank hard disk so I immediately installed Windows 2000 Server. Much to my surprise frankly (given my prior experience with Windows NT 3.x and 4.0) the CD came with a video driver for my card - awesome. My joy was short lived when I discovered that this driver had no support for TV Out. And so began my search for a device driver...
Intel DriversIntel's own site was an obvious starting point and I soon found drivers for the 810 chipset. I can't remember the version of that driver, but I installed it. No difference could be detected, and still no TV output. I searched the web and came up with nothing, so I repeated this every month or so. Eventually Intel's site had some newer drivers, so I tried to install them. When I did so, I got an ominous warning: "this driver does not match your hardware, are you sure you want to continue" - sadly I said yes. Well that was that - my machine blue-screened on startup and I was stuffed - even "safe mode" didn't help me, it still blue-screened.
<rant> Page 836 of the Resource Kit says "W2K includes mechanisms to ensure that incompatible display drivers cannot prevent a user from accessing the system... this ensures you can start W2K to fix a display- related problem" - this has not been the case for me. I have had video drivers destroy the boot sequence of my machine more times than I can estimate and even Safe Mode hasn't helped me. </rant>
Recovering from a bad Display DriverI urge anyone with a Windows 2000 installation to dual install - set aside a small partition (say a gig) and install a minimal W2K setup on it, I recommend a FAT partition as C:. Hopefully you'll never need it, but when you do, you really do. Fortunately I had done this myself, so although my server install (lets call this RealOS) could not boot, my safe install (SafeOS) could. I booted it, and with it I deleted the video driver DLLs from my RealOS and rebooted to RealOS with fingers crossed. I determined the DLL list by two methods:
And So It ContinuedA discovered a local dealership selling the BookPC (and its newest version with a DVD drive and in a black case - man I wanted one of those) and they pointed me at a site for W2K drivers, Amptron. I got yet more drivers to try out (apart from video, I have also been hunting for a decent sound driver, but I'll spare you the details of that particular epic). They didn't destroy my machine, but they didn't give me TV Out any more than their predecessors.
A Work AroundAt some point I discovered a work-around for the lack of TV-Out - if did all of the following I could get TV output:
The SolutionMy friend John Cunningham has a Compaq IPaq desktop machine and it uses the same video chipset as my BookPC. He went to WindowsUpdate and it had offered him a new video driver, which he downloaded and told me it worked fine. This was excellent news, but as he doesn't use TV-Out it wasn't a slam dunk just yet.
I rushed home, checked WindowsUpdate and to my amazement it said that it had a new driver for me. (Windows Update has never, ever offered me a device driver for any of my computers before). I installed it, rebooted with the TV connected, and oh dear - blue-screen. The irony was that the blue-screen was on the TV display - it had crashed immediately after switching from the VGA output to the TV. Man things were getting better, but still a ways to go. Well after uninstalling, rebooting with SafeOS, deleting old DLLs, and removing suspicious entries from the registry, I still couldn't boot with the TV connected. However if I removed the TV connection the BookPC would boot with the monitor output just fine. If I then plugged in a video cable, the machine hung hard.
Call me mad, but I wondered if my troubles were caused by the myriad of different drivers I had installed previously on the machine. To prove this, I switched to SafeOS and got it to install the same new driver from WindowsUpate. My theory was correct - SafeOS booted fine on the TV, and I even had UI to control which screen was the current one. This was risky, as I could have wrecked SafeOS in the process, but I was pretty desperate by 11:55pm that night.
ConclusionThe drivers on WindowsUpdate have been through the WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Lab) and they work very well on a clean-ish system. However if you machine has been through video driver hell, as RealOS has, then it may not work, as something that has been left behind by my previous attempts will forever thwart my attempts to get decent TV output. My only solution is to re-format and start again, which I really don't want to do.
LinksPlaces I have got Intel 810 video drivers from, and my other BookPC drivers too (sound and network) in some cases:
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