Reviving my XPS 15z

So, recently I upgraded my main laptop to the latest-but-one XPS 13. All fine and dandy, but as I started to reinstall stuff, I noticed that my license for VMWare was a little (he says discreetly) out of date. And they wanted $149 to upgrade. Normally that’s fine, but it has to be said my use of virtual machines is getting a bit long in the tooth.

Let’s put it like this: these days I program in two main languages, JavaScript and C#, with a smattering of things like HTML, CSS, and SQL. OK, no problem, everything Visual Studio is installed, VSCode, SQL Server Management Studio, node.js and everything that goes with that, the DevExpress Universal subscription, etc.

In the old days, I used to program in Delphi, but ever since The Delphi Magazine went away – I used to have a monthly article in it – and I used C# in my job, it’s become rare. So I used to use a VM to isolate the Delphi IDE (and all the other “stuff” it installs) and fire it up once a couple of months. The VM was on a 1TB Samsung T3 external SSD so was fairly rapid, but then the problem was my new laptop only has USB-C ports and the T3 cable was USB-A so I needed an external adapter or hub and $149 and blah blah…

Screw it. Why have the VMWare service running constantly in the background when I only use the damn VM once every blue moon? Just install Delphi on a physical machine, free up that Samsung T3 for my wife, and uninstall VMWare completely. And there in the corner was my old fave Dell XPS 15z, powerful and speedy enough for sure, nice big screen, 1TB of drive space, but the OS just needing an update.

Despite what you can find through Google, despite being a nearly 8-year-old laptop, the XPS 15z will run Windows 10 just fine. Let me repeat: the Dell XPS 15z runs Windows 10.

In fact, it had Windows 10 on it anyway (I’d gone through the whole process to upgrade when Windows 10 came out), so I thought I’d just reset the OS. Nice clean machine. But it didn’t work. Something went wrong and the reset process would just abort. Damn.

Oh well, let’s wipe the drive and install from a USB stick. That proved impossible: the 15z wouldn’t boot from the stick. Damn.

skype headbang


I ferreted around for some install CDs/DVDs. The only one I could find was for Windows XP. OK, let’s install that, boot it, and then call the setup from the USB stick. OH. MY. GOD. Windows XP is just … V. I. L. E. Vile. We used to use this? Barf. And that didn’t work either. Damn.

Let’s try booting from a Windows 10 install DVD. Didn’t work. Damn.

Now, I do remember getting Windows 7 with this laptop, but I’d managed to throw away the reinstall DVD during our move a couple of years ago. I nipped over to eBay and bought an official unopened Dell Windows 7 reinstall DVD for $15. A few days later it came, I installed Windows 7 from it (Yay!), and made sure that the OS and every bloody driver was up to date. It amazes me that Dell still maintain their software/driver downloads for this machine, good for them.

Now the moment of truth. Despite what you may have heard, Microsoft still allow you to update your Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free (Ed Bott wrote about it for ZDNet). I followed the steps, got a warning about the two screen drivers being incompatible with Windows 10 (which caused me to worry a bit – was I just going to get a blank screen?), and hit the Just Freaking Do It button (or whatever it was called).

Some time later, it was complete. Windows 10 was installed (the incompatible drivers were deleted and the default screen driver from MS worked just fine). I went through the whole Windows Update process to get to the very latest version which took some appreciable time, but at the end I had a fully functional XPS 15z running 64-bit Windows 10. Properly licensed too. Boom, done!

Now to install RAD Studio Rio 10.3 and Delphi. Then, when I want to (or have to) use it, I’ll just go sit at the dining room table and boot the 15z up.

Dell XPS 15z

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1 Response

#1 Anubhab said...
24-Apr-19 5:47 AM

Seems like an interesting recovery of an old laptop. I wish I get some time to do the same with my lappy lying around! Enjoy.

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