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I'm a sysadmin at a building controls company. We are trying to revive a Building Management Server with very expensive and important software on it. I cannot for the life of me, install a single network adapter.

Their server died, so I backed up the hard drive and installed it in another computer. Loaded up ultimate boot disk, changed the registry keys (removed drivers and change processor type), then booted into windows.

Thinking I was almost done, I tried installing the onboard LAN adapter with no success. After trying over 5 different adapters including wireless cards and staying at the office till 2am, we still cannot get this server operational. I have created an image and finally have the server as a virtual machine, yet can't even get the LAN adapter working with that!

Running out of ideas and a new installation of windows isn't possible due to licensing limitations.

I just need this server with a network adapter installed. Can anyone think of anything else to try? I can't let this computer beat me..

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  • In your eventlog, what error you see ? and did you try an e1000 in vmware, to be sure it's compatible. – yagmoth555 Mar 1 '16 at 3:44
  • Was the VM created from the image with the hacked Registry? If so, create a new, unadulterated image and try that. – joeqwerty Mar 1 '16 at 3:53
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    You're using XP as a server? – Jim B Mar 1 '16 at 4:27
  • e1000 setup doesn't complete. Trying a windows repair now. Wasn't my decision to run it on Windows XP, I just found the server. – tkav Mar 1 '16 at 4:33
  • @JimB Industrial control system. When it's not terrible, it's awful. And either way, they charge an arm and a leg for it. Back in 2014, I was tasked with building a very special Windows 98 PC by my employers at the time, because the ICS for a multi-million dollar assembly line only supported Windows 98 (well, or 95), and the previous ICS computer had crashed. Incidentally, this particular assembly line was installed in 2010 or so. Brand new, multi-million dollar assembly line, controlled by the best consumer operating system the 90's had to offer. Seriously, ICS vendors are evil incarnate. – HopelessN00b Mar 1 '16 at 12:51
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As someone who has more experience in this type of thing than I'd like, I'd advise you to see if you can buy the same or similar hardware as was running this thing previously in order to sidestep the driver issue. At the very least, you want hardware from the same era, because as you're finding out, modern hardware is built to run modern operating systems, and generally doesn't bother to support old operating systems. There are probably local computer recyclers who can help you out with locating old hardware, and failing that, there are always online options, many of which specialize in obsolete hardware for this very reason.

Need to buy a a 15 year old server, such as an HP Proliant ML350 (Gen2) because of its NT 4.0 and Server 2000 support? Well, there's someone out there who'll be happy to dust one off for you in exchange for $1300. There's another guy who'll do it for a grand, and any number of others who will do it a lot cheaper if you know where to look. It's usually worth looking, too, as the standard solution to the issue of ICS vendors that can't be bothered to make their gear compatible with computing technology from the current millennium is to find hardware that works and stockpile it.

If you're smart, you have all your stockpiled replacements imaged up and ready to go on a moment's notice too, so whenever whatever computer is currently running your ICS software dies, it's just a matter of grabbing another one off the shelf and swapping it out for the dead one. There's a state-of-the-art, relatively new datacenter a few miles away from me that uses this very trick for their HVAC system - a small, unassuming little whitebox PC running Windows '95 is connected to the HVAC system by a very long serial cable, and is the unsung hero responsible for keeping the datacenter cool. And last I checked, there were 4 more identical whitebox PCs sitting on a shelf, waiting to be swapped in when the one currently doing the job gives up the ghost.

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You didn't mention what VM hosting solution you tried, but I know that Wiondows XP runs just fine in Virtualbox. Whether you try that, or bare metal hardware, I agree with joeqwerty. Clone a new image and don't do any registry hacks. The original NIC won't show up in Device Manager, but is still referenced in the registry. Therefore, you won't be able to use the same IP address as before. However, you should be able to install a new NIC and use a new IP address.

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