Erroneous error message on boot

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Inspiron 3500, 366 Celeron 64 Meg Ram:

On boot, this system gives two erroneous error messages. First it tells me
wrongly that the system memory has changed and/or save to disk has been
deactivated.  Neither of these are true and if I try to reset either and
save, the message stays the same

Next it tries to tell me that every system disc I put in isn't a system
disc. I know that they are.  It does this when booting from a CD, floppy or
floppy in the CD bay. SOMETIMES if I pull out the CD drive and ram it in
again, it doesn't give these messages (BUT see below about Linux)

I also checked and found that I am using a BIOS revision number 10 whereas
the current one is 14. But when I try to put a BIOS upgrade floppy in the
drive, it starts to read the drive, -  I can see the light on the drive in
the bay flashing, - and then tells me that the disc isn't a system disc,
which again I know it is.

Also, the hard drive is blank, having been formatted with Linux and I tried
to install Windows 98 from its install discs. It started to read its CD OK
and even got as far as copying ALL it's install files to the drive, and then
on first reboot, it won't accept that the hard drive is bootable.   (It also
gave these problems with my trying to install XP and 2000 which I thought
was something to do with not having enough memory)

Anyone know what is causing these symptoms? Is it a bad BIOS backup battery
or a bad drive controller on the mobo or should I keep on trying?  There
never did seem to be any problem with getting into Linux but I had to
uninstall it as I didn't have the password and didn't need an elderly Linux
installation. Now the whole computer wont work. Is there some nasty inserted
in some type of MBR by Linux which might be causing all these problems?
These symptoms do look suspiciously like the erroneous "invalid
checksum' error message which in reality means that the battery is dead

I was just wondering if anyone else had ever seen this message / symptoms
with a Dell?  Or is this one more instance of Dell trying to rely on its
customers to do it's soak testing which should have revealed the below-par
component QC within the warranty period if the computer had been used a bit
more? The computer has hardly been used at all throughout its life which
might tend to mean that it MIGHT have been relying constantly on its
internal backup battery

And how DO you replace the battery on a 3500? Is it just an ordinary 2032
(of which I have lots here). The Service Manual is located here: but there's
no reference to accessing or changing the CMOS battery (perhaps
soldered on??)

There is no separate listing for it in the parts listing either (but it does
list the
BIOS replacement methods). Strange, perhaps Dell feels that when the battery
goes, you need a new machine anyway......

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