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ASUS P5A and ALi Drivers
diletante Nov-27-00 04:43 PM
I just spent an interesting weekend moving my P5A motherboard with K6-2/350 to my son's computer. Actually it was more like moving his drives and video board to my old computer, but the result was a new machine with the hard drive and Win'95 (1st release) as it was set up in my son's old Pentium. I think of this as a brain transplant or something similar. Anyway, it is an interesting experiment, as many of you know. There is always something new to learn. I am still trying to figure out what I learned (uh-oh), and I have a question that I will get to after some background.

After installing all the hardware (mobo, 1 hard drive on IDE 1, 1 CDROM on IDE 2, 1 floppy, a PCI ATI video adapter, a PCI USR modem, and an ISA SB16 sound card), I ran into serious problems when the hard disk controller looked funny to W'95 and the machine went looking for drivers.

The retaining wire (to hold a CD in place when operated on its side) in the CD drive had come loose and jammed the drive, so I couldn't put in the ASUS CD and have a go at loading the ALi drivers. The system ended up with some problems after restarting and it couldn't see the CD drive. By loading DOS drivers for the CD I was able to run the installer for the ALi drivers. There was not a decent Readme doc on the CD. Not knowing any better, I installed all the drivers offered. Here is a lesson: the ALi drivers are incompatible with MSCDEX, so the DOS drivers I used to get going nuked the machine when I restarted. The correct way is to edit Autoexec and Config files (change the MSCDEX driver lines to remarks) before you restart.

At this point the drives worked, but things were a mess in System Properties, Device Manager. There were lots of non-functioning devices and even several duplicate devices: 3 modems, 2 video adapters, and duplicate system devices. The ISA sound card was not accessible at all. Over the course of hours and nearly 100 restarts, the extra devices were eliminated and non-functioning devices were "fixed". The most stubborn ones only gave up after the system was stripped down to the mobo and video adapter (plus drives), and all the drivers I could nuke were eliminated. Everything was reinstalled methodically.

In the end there was still one persistant problem. I have a mystery PCI device using IRQ 3. COM 2 is disabled in the BIOS. W'95 will rediscover the "PCI card" if it is removed. When W'95 asks for drivers, it wants video drivers and will happily install the drivers for the ATI adapter and put a second adapter under Display Adapters. Does anyone know why this is happening? Can I safely ignore it? I suspect something fishy about the ALI drivers. Maybe I loaded something that doesn't work well with W'95 (1st release)? There is little useful information on the Acer pages about the ALi drivers.


1. RE: ASUS P5A and ALi Drivers
lbyard Nov-27-00 05:57 PM
In response to message 0
Rob, If the display adapter is an ATI Pro Turbo series, Mach8, Mach32, or Mach64, and it will not come up with a resolution greater than 640X480, even though it may be set higher, try specifying the monitor in the Display Setup (right click desktop, Properties, Settings, Advancedů). Use one of the Standard models if your specific Monitor is not one of the choices.

Try installing a Standard VGA adapter, rebooting, removing the adapter, rebooting, and installing the ATI adapter.

Try moving the display adapter to another slot, boot, etc. and then back to slot 1 (closest to the power supply). If the adapter is an AGP board, remove any card is PCI slot 1.

Try forcing the display adapter to another IRQ in the Device Manager.

Try forcing the display adapter to another IRQ by going into the CMOS Setup and changing IRQ 3 to legacy instead of PnP.

Try enabling O/S is PnP aware in the CMOS Setup.

Some motherboards have misbehaved COM ports. You can disable them, but Windows still picks them up. Some motherboards become defective and develop phantom COM ports in the process.

Do a clean install. Larry

2. RE: ASUS P5A and ALi Drivers
diletante Nov-27-00 08:52 PM
In response to message 1
Thank you for the response. Most of these things have been tried, although not methodically. I have not tried to force the IRQ assignment for the display adapter in either Device Manager or CMOS Setup. Currently the adapter is using a single IRQ, and the mystery PCI card is holding IRQ 3. What would be the strategy in forcing the adapter to IRQ 3? In CMOS Setup, PnP OS is currently enabled, but for a while I tried solutions with it disabled.

There were so many problems going on simultaneously that it was hard to keep it all straight, so it might be wise to go through the painful removal and installation of the ATI drivers again. I got burned when doing this on the my other machine 2 weeks ago. Selecting the standard VGA drivers killed the video output and I was left with a blank screen. Is it my imagination, or are the ATI drivers particularly had to update?

The information about the COM ports is interesting. Even with COM 2 disabled, the modem insisted on installing on COM 5. I wonder what will happen if I re-enable COM 2?

I am reluctant to do a clean install now (W'95 is on floppies), because Santa will probably bring a Windows upgrade, and Santa's helper would prefer to do a clean install then (with a CD). If the machine will remain stable through Christmas, the clean install may be the best fix. Santa is leaning toward W'98 rather than ME, since all the other computers in the house are W'98.


3. RE: ASUS P5A and ALi Drivers
diletante Nov-30-00 03:21 PM
In response to message 2
A quick update for anyone interested -
The computer is working just fine with the mystery PCI device tying up IRQ 3. I'm busy, so this one will sit for a while.


4. RE: ASUS P5A and ALi Drivers
diletante Dec-12-00 09:52 PM
In response to message 3
I discovered something last night that at least explains why the modem would only go to COM5. Some US Robotics modems do that under W'95 and '98. The info on the USR tech support pages says that W'2000 will allow the modem to take another COM port. The only issue with this is that AOL and a couple of other programs can't deal with a modem on COM5. USR has remedied this my supplying a driver (DOSBOX.INF) that spoofs the offending software into thinking the modem in on COM4.


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