Friday, October 20, 2006

Workaround: Crash running ATI video driver install

I'll first get right to the main point of this post; the full story behind how I encountered this issue is included at the end.

Issue and Workaround

When running the installer for the ATI Rage driver for Windows XP from the ATI site (from archive file wxp-ragexl-5-10-2600-6009.exe, unpacked by default to (C:\ATI\support\wxp-ragexl-5-10-2600-6009\setup.exe), an ATI logo and an InstallShield dialog with a progress meter appears. After the progress meter reaches 100%, the installer application crashed. Clicking the "Debug" button on the crash dialog reported an error in file _ins5176._mp.

Setup still crashed when I ran it with my virus scanner and other non-critical background processes temporarily disabled.

I was able to work around this issue an install the driver through the following procedure:

  • Open Device Manager. (Start | Control Panel | System | Hardware tab | Device Manager button)
  • In the Device Manager dialog, expand the Display Adapters tree item.
  • Under Display Adapters, right-click on the ATI adapter item (this may vary; in my case, "XPERT 98 RXL AGP 2X") and select Properties from the context menu to open the Properties dialog.
  • In the Properties dialog, on the Driver tab, click Update Driver to open the Hardware Update Wizard. In the Hardware Update Wizard dialog:
  • In Step 1, the wizard asks "Can Windows connect to Windows Update to search for software?" Select the "No, not this time" radio button and click Next.
  • In Step 2 ("What do you want the wizard to do?"), select the "Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)" radio button, click Next.
  • In Step 3 ("Please choose your search and installation options"), select the Browse button.
  • In the Browse For Folder dialog that appears, navigate to C:\ATI\support\wxp-ragexl-5-10-2600-6009\ATIDrive. Click OK. Back on the Hardware Update Wizard dialog, click Next.
  • Proceed from that point to install the ATI drivers and finish the Hardware Update Wizard.

Background

The CPU case of my development machine at work had started making a moderate-volume loud humming/buzzing sound, coming from the power supply fan in the back of the case. (Normally the machine runs near-silently.) I opened up the case to see if I could fix the problem.

I did manage to get the fan fixed such that it stopped making noise, but when I came into work the next morning and powered on my machine, only one of my two monitors was working. The secondary monitor, which is connected to a cheap older PCI video card (an ATI Rage) that I had added to the machine to get dual monitor support, was not functioning; it just showed a blank screen, and the status light on the monitor showed yellow (sleep/inactive) instead of green (active). The ATI Rage display adapter was missing in both Device Manager and the Settings tab of the Display Properties dialog (where all available monitors are normally shown).

I think the cause of the problem was that I must have slightly jostled the PCI video card in its slot when I had the case open to fix the fan problem, such that the card was no longer tightly seated, and the computer could no longer "see" that the card was present.

I tried (with the computer powered off, of course) tightly reseating the video card in its slot; no luck, the computer still did see the video card.

At this point, I uninstalled the ATI driver, with the intention of updating it with the latest version. However, as it turns out, there was no newer version available (next time I'll check this before I uninstall!); further, when I tried to reinstall the driver, I encountered the setup.exe crash problem that I detailed at the top of this post, so I couldn't get the ATI driver to reinstall.

I then tried moving the card to a different PCI slot (which I have had some luck with in the past with a similar problem with a Soundblaster Live sound card not being detected by the computer in one of my home machines). This did get the card to show up in the Display Adapters section of Device Manager once again, but the card still refused to appear in the Display Properties dialog where multiple monitors are configured. I think the problem now was that the card was now running using the Microsoft-provided driver, which apparently did not include multiple monitor support for this particular model of video card.

Using the workaround I found, I did get the manage ATI drivers back in place. Even after a reboot, though, the ATI Rage card still wouldn't show up in Display Properties, and the monitor connected to the card continued to stubbornly refuse to activate or show anything.

Finally, I swapped the video card back to its original PCI slot, and everything started working again! It was a relief to get the second monitor back on; having enjoyed the luxury of working with dual monitors at work for a while now, I don't ever want to go back to doing development work on a single-monitor machine.

All in all this was not exactly the most productive hour or two that I've ever spent at the office! At least I did manage to find a workaround for that Windows XP ATI Rage display driver setup issue, which hopefully might help others out there experiencing the same issue.

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