Old mainboard IDE broken, mainboard useless?

Recently, my friend's computer has just broken. It just can't boot. I thought that the problem is with the operating system. But it's not. Then, I tried changing the harddisk with my good condition harddisk. I found that it seemed to be the problem with the mainboard. The IDE slot of the mainboard perhaps has broken. If this happens, it means you can't do anything with your harddisk. You can't install the harddisk. But very funny, I can boot from the CD ROM Drive. It should be the problem with the cable.
Then I asked a technician to check and he said that it should be the mainboard that cannot detect the harddisk. This means I can't install my harddisk anymore.
Should I throw away the mainboard since only boot from CD ROM? I don't think so. Perhaps I can use light weight distro Linux installed on a USB flash disk. Luckily the mainboard supports boot from USB flash disk. And I think that's the solution. At least I can use my computer with the flash disk for doing some simple office work.


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