Salvaged a HD and reformatted it, then tried to install it with the Gateway XP Home CD that had come with the machine. Just to be safe, created a new single partition, ran a slow NTFS format, and tried to install Win XP Home. Got to copying files and at about 11% through the task, it consistently chokes and cannot copy "drivers.cab". Hit <enter> to retry several times, no good. Hit <esc> to by pass, but then it starts choking on all sorts of *.dll and *.ttf files. Finally it jumps into blue screen of death (BSOD) mode with STOP error "00000050", which I gather is hardward compatibility issue.
I bought a new HD (Hitachi 160Gb), and tried with that with similar results.
Spent some time chatting with Gateway (they are nice in that they still take some time to chat even if you are two years out of warrantee, and not even the original owner--I like that), but they suggested a corrupted XP Home CD. They don't carry replacements for systems before 2004, so they suggested I buy a new one.
Paid TigerDirect $90 and got a legal version of Win XP Home OEM yesterday, and excitedly retried system (after fdisk/mbr and scandisk/fix), with full slow NTFS reformat etc, only to get the same problem.
I printed the list from Gateway of the orignial components that shipped with the machine, and found the DVD-RW was later added (no problem, just d/c'd, but still got error). Also the ATI Radeon 9200 128Mb was also added.
My theory now is that the ATI Radeon is the culprit (it is not listed on the "tried and true" compatibility list at MS website). Before I go throwing away more $$ to by an old, junky AGP videoboard that's on the sacred List, can anyone check my logic to make sure I have tried everything else?
Oh, yeah, I also downloaded Linux Knoppix V.5.0.1 to CD, but can't seem to get that to run on it. I wanted to use that to check to see if there was a critical hardware FLAW (bad circuit, etc) rather than just a MS incompatibility.
Hope that's the right amount of info (not too skimpy, not too much). I've got some roll-up your sleeves and dig into PC hardware background from my engineering days back in the 80's, but have been out of the loop for some time (as you can see that I still run a 1 GHz machine as my hot-rod).