This old HP Pavilion 542x was built from cheap parts. The motherboard alone would tell you that: Trigem Imperial. Yeah, the thing is junk, but it’s been running fine since we bought it new. Well, as fine as WinXP Home is going to run. Even after I doubled the RAM to 512MB, the service packs and the AV made it bog down. Way down.
The problem is, Linux ran no better. The few light distros I tried were unable to communicate fully with the hardware. The later distros all ran slower than XP. In fact, you could say there is not a single Linux distro with a full set of drivers for this piece of junk, since nothing has been done to accommodate the way the BIOS communicates temperature info on the CPU. It’s one thing to say the BIOS is out of spec for ACPI — it is — but the developers have steadfastly refused to create something which would correct the issue. So, in essence, the Linux community can’t be bothered to accommodate this hardware. That’s fine. You can’t do everything.
But XP won’t work, either. So I tried Win2K — I had one unused license here. It was a trick finding drivers that would work, since HP refuses to make them for anything except XP Home. But because this board was so popular with junk manufacturers, it turns out others made drivers which worked well enough, better than the Linux ones, anyway.
Win2K recongized the RealTek 8189 ethernet stuff, and Intel’s whole chipset driver for i845 fixed everything on the board except the Lucent Winmodem and the audio. I disabled the Winmodem, and tested a lot of stuff before I found the SoundMax package was the only audio driver set which didn’t cause a spontaneous reboot somewhere short of full installation. Why a package can’t even copy files to the right place without crashing the system is beyond me. Anyway, it all works, and is blazing fast even with AV.
The things we have to do to get use of some hardware…