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The date is not stored because the BIOS battery is flat. Replace the BIOS battery with a new one, most likely it is a 3 volt lithium battery type CR2032 then go into the BIOS setting and set the Date & Time.
I am not familiar with Linux but have you checked your Bios to see if Sata Hard Drive is recognized in there??? Most of the time you have to set the bios to recognize a Sata drive because 90% of Hard Drives are still IDE and most bios software is still recognizing the IDE drives. I know I had to reset everything on my Motherboard and Bios when I changed over from an IDE to SATA Hard Drive.
remove the cover which has your power button and covers the LCD cables. Remove the keyboard and flip it over, being careful to not pull too hard on the cable. There's 2 small triangular silver connection pads beside the keyboard connector on the main board - connect them together and power on your computer (flat screwdriver works fine). Press the f2 key - you'll find it doesn't prompt you for a password. You can lift off the connections now. Go to exit and save changes, and you're password free.
Okay, sounds like your BIOS upgrade went south. First off, re-install the original BIOS. Usually you back up the original before upgrading. Either that, or d/l the original BIOS from emachines.com. Once you've got the BIOS working, try starting the system. I'll need to know more to help you from there.
you can reset the bios by taking out the battery on the motherboard (looks like a watch battery) leave it out for a few minutes then replace it again.
Have you tried changing the display.
Right click the desktop, go to properties or personalize if using vista, and check that the display properties is set correctly for your graphics card. Change the size of the display from in here.