I tried version 3.x as well, which would get into the menu then crash at the point of launching any option (at the black screen loading linux).
I updated the BIOS as recommended and then the same thing happened, except it would display a few more white blocks (ASCII) below the text about linux.
The version 4.0 just crashes at displaying the menu. The menu displays, but then hangs, you cannot even launch or display a sub-menu.
Also I tried Darik's Boot and Nuke (bootable CD), and that launched but failed with a non-fatal error.
Windows XP boot CD launches, but goes through the process and then displays a BSOD Stop error 000007 or something. Likely as not it can;t detect the SATA HDD, but does NOT give an error about hard drives not found.
is it 0x000007F? if so, this usually points to bad hardware, usually RAM, or if you're really unlucky, the motherboard.
The Dell tech support guy stated "Windows XP works with SATA". Yeah, but not out of the box with no driver floppy, methinks.
He's partially right, most SATA controllers are detected by XP setup, provided it's Service pack 1 or later.
All-in-all I want to get rid of Windows Vista Home Basic (surprisingly enough, eh?) and wipe the HDD and put my own software on. It's currently impossible. Any ideas why?
Dell probably don't have drivers for their branded hardware, and probably never will. It's a common practice by the big boys (Dell, HP, etc..)
It seems to me, that you have some sort of serious hardware fault going on there, and you need to yell at Dell for a service call or replacement machine. Good luck.