Hi, From your photo it looks like a hard drive failure.
But if the pc is very old or unknown to you, I would check if the BIOS battery is ok, or it will keep going back to default settings, if the battery is low or flat.
But it would be worth swapping the hard drive for a known good one just to prove the point.
If you can get into the BIOS, make the first boot device to be the CD/DVD drive, save the settings and exit.
Then if you have a Linux distro on cd that will run as 'live', (say from a 'Linux User' mag coverdisc), reboot the pc with that cd in the drive, then let it go to the desktop, then use the install icon to install the O/S to the hard drive.
If the RAM is faulty you won't get past the power on self-test (POST) and you will get warning 'beeps' (if the pc has a speaker module inside).
Hope that helps !
Hi, Ok, sounds like the HDD is working. The BIOS batteries are 3V when new and should be good for 4 to 5 years. You can check them on a multi-meter tester set on DC volts, or a battery tester on the 3V range. The second one is better as it puts the battery under a load, where the voltage will fall to a more realistic level, as in use.
A low battery won't stop the pc from working, but will mean BIOS adjustments by you won't be saved.
A low battery voltage would be about 2.0 Volts (roughly). But even without a tester you would know as the changes you make in BIOS then save, will go back to default, every time you reboot, or next time you switch the pc on.
If you have RAM module faults, it won't get beyond the first 'on screen' POST, so the Linux O/S won't be loaded.
Linux will run on a very low spec pc, if you can find a good 256MB it should boot & run, I would have thought. I have used 512MB.
I have a spare pc running Linux Mint 14, and Ubuntu 12.04, both run well.
It could be any number of software related problems, assuming your hardware is fine. In my earlier days of using Linux I came across this issue when changing RAM on a couple of occasions.
I never did narrow down what the issue was, but I did find wiping it and do a fresh installation usually solved the problem very quickly. You can reuse your existing partitions and just mount /home (rather than format as well) to keep your local files.
I think the settings will remain with a dead battery as long as the computer remains plugged into the mains and there are no power interruptions. So a crude test would be to unplug it from the wall, hit the power button on the pc. Then plug it back in and boot up.
Only really bad RAM won't make it past POST. Most RAM issues show up as system boot problems, OS instability, and/or memtest failures. If all bad RAM prevented getting past POST then there would be no use for memtest.