Boy, is this a strange story.
Part of my original plan was to dd the 810Mb hard drive that came in this Fujitsu, and save the Windows 95 installation for emergencies, or for fun. It seemed like the conservative thing to do — if things go utterly and irreversibly pear-shaped, I can still at least use Win95, if the words “use” and “Win95” are still allowed to be in the same sentence together. Right?
First of all, it’s important to remember that laptop drives in 1996 were a hair taller than they are now. In other words, the height of the drive isn’t exactly the same as drives are today.
So the drive from the old laptop just barely fits in the modular shell I use for my Inspiron. I had to mash it down firmly on the sponge mounts in order to get the case closed, and even then, the case barely squeezed into the bay.
That should have been enough of a sign from the Creator that this wasn’t going to fly. But me, being an obstinate blockhead, still booted it up.
Brief interlude: This Inspiron has been in my family since 2001. I’ve used it exclusively for the past two years or so, since the warranty protection ran out on it and a new computer became more attractive to the old owner. I bought it secondhand, tore it apart, upgraded it and reassembled it. I’ve cleaned it, modified it, adjusted it, cherished it and promoted it.
I don’t assume I’m an expert, and there are still some parts of it I’ve never used before — like the Firewire port, or the TV-out. I’ve just never had the chance. In short it’s exceptionally rare — beyond exceptionally rare — for it to surprise me.
So imagine my utter shock when, on booting with the Windows 95 drive in the expansion bay, I’m greeted with a BIOS-style white console screen asking me for my password, because that drive is somehow password protected.
Huh? Passwords? On a 12-year-old Windows 95 drive? 😕
Anyway, to keep this post from turning into a book, I don’t have a password for that drive. There’s no password on the old laptop, and it doesn’t ask for a password when booting Windows 95. But my BIOS in my Inspiron won’t even recognize the existence of that drive because I didn’t supply The Magic Word, thank you.
I tried booting anyway, into a mongrel Ubuntu system and the Arch live CD installer and even dban, and none of them can see the drive, which makes sense — the BIOS is keeping it hidden because I am not a member of the privileged few. (Very few, I might add.)
Oh well. It’s no major loss. I suppose I could fight my way around that, but it’s not really worth my time. I can drop it in the closet and keep using the 40Gb Samsung I have in there now. It’s faster, quieter and bigger, and doesn’t trigger any bizarre password issues.
Passwords. … I’m going to be scratching my head about that one for a long time. …