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The battery cannot be identified.

Hello all,
I am a student who is just learning LINUX for the first time so I basically have NO idea what I'm doing so please be patient with me.  In an attempted to complement my studying I decided to resurrect an old laptop which is a Dell Inspiron 2200 with a Intel Celeron M processor.  The hard drive had gone bad so I replaced it and purched a verison of debian off of OSDisc.com and used that to install debian on my "new" system.  Everything works great except when I start up the computer i get a message that says:
Time-of-day not set - please run SETUP program
WARNING: The battery cannot be identified.
This system will be unable to charge this battery...
Is this a problem with the battery itself, or did I install something incorrectly maybe?  If I leave the laptop plugged in it works like a charm, but the second I take the plug out of the wall (even with the battery inserted into the laptop) it shuts off.  As you can imagine this is extremely annooying and I have no idea what to do.  I don't want to go out and purchase a new battery until I'm sure that's the issue.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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