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We were recently cleaning through an old storage unit when I came across what appears to be a half-built server. I don't see any stickers or identifying information. The case is a 'superfox' (there was a small manual for the case), but that's all I can figure out. Most of the hard ware is already put together, but there are many loose cables sitting in the case that are all connected to the power supply. I have already inserted the ram chips but I'm not sure what to do next. Any suggestions? Also, how do you install an operating system on a computer in this situation after I finish building it of course?

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I'm not sure how comfortable you are with the inner workings of a computer so I apologize if some of my answers seem a bit obvious.

  1. Does it have all the parts you need for it to run?

    • Memory (you said you put in the sticks of RAM, so yes)
    • Video Card (either a discreet card or built into the motherboard), connector will most likely look like this, or this. Also Google 'HDMI' to see another output type that's becoming more common on baseline models. (I can't post more than 2 links)
    • Display - You'll need a monitor to see those fancy graphics on
    • Storage (need some place to keep the operating system) - usually mounted towards the front end of the case under where the CD drives and disk drives go (5 1/4", 3 1/2" bays). There's 2 kinds - IDE and Serial ATA (SATA). IDE drives will connect using a wide flat ribbon cable for data and a 4 pin power connector. SATA drives will use a much smaller data cable and a thinner power connector. The two aren't interchangeable so just match up the cables you have to the connectors you see on the drive.
    • Input - To load up an operating system, you'll need some way to get it on the computer. A CD/DVD drive or USB port will work for this. (Side note - CD/DVD drives share the same power/data cable types as hard drives)
    • Operating System - You'll need one of these or else you just have a fancy paperweight.

The basic way to install an operating system on a clean computer is to get it all put together, then stick in your CD/DVD/USB key that contains your OS. Turn it on. You may have to press a key to force it to boot from the CD/DVD/USB instead of the hard drive - Esc, F2, and F8 are some of the more used keys.

Once you have it booting off your install media, follow the directions from there on, and with any luck, you should have a Logon Screen showing before long.

Edit (since I can't comment yet): You'll need to have the install media for what you want to put on it. It isn't as simple as just copying Windows to a CD. Many flavors of Linux are able to be burned on a CD or USB stick that you can boot from and try out without actually installing it. Linux Mint or Ubuntu would be good places to start. (Those are the two I've used, there are MANY flavors of Linux out there and everyone has their own favorite, that they usually aren't shy of letting you know about)

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  • Thank you so much. Sounds like sound advice. This is actually the first computer I've ever worked on. I'm mostly into web/software programming so this is a first time thing and probably not ideal.
    – www139
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 1:58
  • We do have several pcs throughout the house but no dvds or cds with operating systems. Is it possible to copy an already installed operating system and install that? I could burn it onto a cd/dvd. Thank you.
    – www139
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 2:04
  • The other light on the front is most likely the hard drive access light. Is there a model number somewhere on the motherboard (the part that everything else plugged into)? There's 2 different types of graphics cards and they aren't interchangeable.
    – kazoni
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 13:34
  • Thank you, I will look for a modal number on the motherboard. I did look at the power supply and it has a max output of 400 watts which makes me think it is indeed an older computer (like ten years old?). I also found a modal number on the power supply and googled it (it costs about 30$ on amazon and is about 11 years old appx.). However, I think it is a server given that is has space for four hard drives! In addition, it has space for three dvd/cd drives. Thank you so much for your help. You have been extremely helpful! I wouldn't have been able to figure this out without your help ;-)
    – www139
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 12:38
  • New update! All the needed cables are hooked up. The computer successfully turned on (the fans were spinning and the hard disks were activating). One of the hard disks was obviously damaged because it immediately started smoking (I shut it down after that and removed the damaged hard disk). Then I tried to start it up again and it hasn't been able to start. It think there may be another damaged hardware part. Do you have a guess of which component may be damaged?
    – www139
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 21:04

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