23 April, 2010

What, Windows again?

Install woes

Yep. I finally got sick of the fact that my Solaris wouldn't boot. So I turned the 10 Gb drive into a Windows XP Home install. The install worked well enough, but the Windows installer needed to put files onto the first drive into a special partition. Linux lost a bit of swap space in the end, but I figured it was worth it. It had been the first time I'd spotted an install where the system drive wasn't the boot drive. The other weird thing to get my head around was that my Windows drive was called H: and not C:—which was the boot drive.

I soon found out that 10 Gb was nowhere near enough for the games I wanted to add. So I retired a 40 Gb hard drive out of brick, copied my Windows install over to the drive using gparted, then tried to get it bootable using the Windows CD. Unfortunately for me, the Windows installer insisted on putting boot files onto the first hard disk, and wouldn't continue unless I allowed this to happen. In the end, I gave up, toasted the copy, and created three partitions. One partition had grub and Linux kernels so I could still boot Linux from the first drive, even though the rest of the Linux files were held on the second drive, I just had to do the normal twiddle with the file system tables. The second partition was for the Windows files, and the third partition was for Windows virtual memory.

Hardware issues

I stuck the Windows CDROM back in and booted the computer. The Windows Setup program merely said "Setup is examining your hardware configuration", then the screen went blank, and the drive activity light started flickering about six times a second. In the end, the only way I was able to get Setup to continue was to pull the power plug out of the first hard disk while Setup was examining the hardware, then plug the power back in while Setup was loading the rest of itself into memory. I don't recommend doing that, of course. But I finally got Windows XP installed last night and spent the rest of this morning, and most of this afternoon installing all the updates, along with SP3, Quicktime, Adobe Reader, and so on, as well as Quake 4 and the Command & Conquer games I bought.

One thing I found out rapidly is that Windows requires reboots after most of the updates I'd put in. Take Acroread as an example: I installed the latest copy of Acroread, and was fine. Then I told Acroread to check for updates, it then downloaded the update, installed it, and required me to reboot the computer. I even saw that same issue with Windows 7. I seriously don't miss that aspect of Windows.

So now I have two copies of Windows XP, one Pro and one Home. The main reason for installing XP Home is so that I can actually play games on a machine with an AGP video card. The machine's also considerably faster than the 1GHz Duron, although it doesn't have as much memory. I'd probably add some other 3D programs too, such as blender, OpenCobalt and Second Life clients. I have a lot of older games that might work under Windows XP that won't work under Vista (or Windows 7) so my machine will be good for that.

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