October 26, 2006

Installing etanol – day 2

Filed under: etanol,windows — SiKing @ 10:01 am

evil inside

After today I have the urge to fly out to Redmond and inflict untold amounts of carnage and senseless bloodshed on the innocent masses, and then curl up into a fetal position and cry.

I got somewhere around 160GB of stuff that I would prefer not to lose. Unfortunately, I don’t have a place where I could put it all aside. The only available solution that I have is to RAR everything up (got it down to 155GB at maximum compression), keep most of it on one partition and carry parts of it off on my portable disk. Moving the data around (between the partitions) took a day, the compression took another (little more than) two days, and now carrying the files back and forth is probably going to take like three days. I wonder what this is going to do to the disks, since they are running throughout this whole thing non-stop.

I also got the brilliant idea to open up the case this weekend, and vacuum up the inside. There was like a whole person in there, clogging up the fans!!!

Partition magic, the Windows way

This is so far my favourite feature of Windows. Due to this one friggin’ bug I had to reinstall the entire system several times now!

To set the stage: when I first installed my box a year ago, the following setup seemed like a really good idea. After one year of running things this way, it just had to change. My disk looked more like the representation on the left even though it was supposed to resemble the one on the right.

  • 50GB, C:, system disk (Windows)
  • 50GB, D:, slated for future Linux install, for now holding random stuff
  • 150GB, E:, most user data
  • remaining approximately 100GB, F:, more user data, and backups

I am now going toward a much more simple setup.

  • 15GB, system disk (Windows) – 50GB was just way too much
  • 15GB, space for future install of Linux
  • remaining approximately 270GB, all user data

Right now I have 100GB of backups (along with a copy of all the 64-bit drivers, and an installer of WinRAR) on my portable drive, and the remaining 55GB will get temporarily spread between the two 15GB partitions and a couple of unsuspecting systems at work. When performing, what I thought was going to be the last install, I had things running pretty smooth. The two 15GB partitions nicely installed, Windows happily running along, the 150GB partition was gone, and I was getting ready to wipe the remaining 100GB partition. Here is how I got to this point.

When you install Windows, at one point it searches for past versions of its ancestors; I don’t know what exactly it is looking for, but from past and present experiences I do know that it retrieves some information and uses it during the install. I wanted a perfectly clean install, starting from nothing. As I mentioned before, 'fdisk' has disappeared from Windows to be replaced by something called 'diskpart'. This beast has an entire programming language of its own! Now normally I would use QtParted to prepare the disk for Windows, but at this point I can only get the Windows install CD to boot up and recognize the disk array, and hence use only the partitioner that comes with Windows – which during the install procedure is some stripped down version completely different from the “programming one”, even thought it is accessed by the exact same command! So I go through it once, deleting the C: partition. Then a reboot. The second time the partitioner comes up, Windows makes several brilliant assumptions: 1) the first active partition it encounters must be the C: disk, 2) the C: disk is automatically marked as a system boot disk, 3) any system disk cannot be deleted from the Computer Management console, 4) during the remainder of the install the disk which was guessed as the system boot disk gets the system boot files! Asserting these assumptions has no undo. Trying various things, that today I probably could not reproduce, I ended up with C: and F: partitions switched around (that is, physically on the disk F: was located before C:), and both marked as system and therefore undeletable. Each time you run the partitioner it also creates an extra label “Partition n”, where “n” seems to be a random number each time! Using this really schizoid setup is how I created and moved all the backups.

When moving the files to my portable disk, which has absolutely no need of any of the features of the NTFS system, I ran into the filesize limit of FAT32. Windows reports a very helpful “The Parameter is Incorrect” error. Reformatting my portable disk overcame this issue, but alas not my hate of the Evil Empire.

Another weird thing, which I did not scientifically measure, seemed that moving 100GB worth of files from the HDD to USB took about 30mins. Moving 50GB worth of file between partitions on the same HDD took about 3hrs. What is up with that?

Anyway, after backups, one last install, to get the final desired setup described above. Got the two 15GB partitions, and getting ready to delete the last big partition. By this time, the letter designations were scrambled several times, but the first two were C: and D: – good enough I thought. As I mentioned, the Computer Management console will not do the delete, so I have to start the install disk again, and go into the partitioner. The letters were scrambled again!!! The big partition was now C:, so delete it, and reboot the computer. Nothing, FUCK! Reboot using the installer, go into the partitioner, the letters were in the “correct” order, probably for first time, even the “Partition n” label was reasonable. Go into the recovery mode – can’t ever remember the last time I saw a DOS command prompt – I’ll give it a try anyway. All the boot files are gone! boot.ini, ntldr, everything! Try out several different things that help hinted at: fixmbr, fixboot, cfgboot. Nothing! There is no way to restore the most important files that Windows depends on for its miserable pathetic fuckin’ existence! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!

To boot (no pun intended), diskpart now reports two empty spaces at the end of the disk, which it does not seem to be able to consolidate together. Die bitch!

The only solution that I have left now, is to reinstall the system onto one of the “empty space” partitions, because I need the fucking thing to be able to find the USB drive. Carry off the last remaining backups from the two 15GB partitions – already got in shit once at work for using company systems for personal stuff. Them wipe the entire disk clean, and start all over again! I am going to switch it to RAID 0, ’cause Linux seems to support at least that, and get rid of this MS-virus ASAP. Fuck, how much do I hate my life now?

Can somebody please tell me: is it that unreasonable to expect to install Windows on a machine that has backups on one partition, and once the OS is installed and backups removed, that partition is to be changed or even completely deleted?

BIOS blues

Then came the BIOS. At least this does not have a manual, so you don’t even know what it is doing wrong! I basically wanted to do the same thing as with the disk: start with a clean slate.

A BIOS upgrade is not recommended, but I did it anyway. I went from version 1959 to 2043. There is a different splash screen (which I like better), and they seem to have switched to a higher resolution as there is more lines on the screen. Intel has also thoughtfully included some code which freezes up the system from time to time. weird Oh ya: you enter the BIOS through [F2]!

The absolutely precious feature was revealed, when I started with “Load Optimal Defaults”. Reboot the computer and nothing came up, other than some weird BIOS screens which I have never seen before. So I tried the install disk again, and the partitioner came up right away not even going through the F6 disk – odd. (The “F6 disk” is something you have to slip into the Windows installer, by pressing the F6 key right at the start, in order to give it drivers for things like RAID.) This time, however, it reported three separate disks! When I realized that it had lost the RAID setup, I had to go change my underwear. I lost the disk with the backups on it! Back into the BIOS, and sure enough, it turned off the (Intel) SATA RAID and turned on the (Silicon Image, optional) SATA discrete RAID. Turning the Intel RAID back on, revealed that the information was not lost, but there were several tense moments there.

However, let’s ponder this for just a moment longer: Intel’s own BIOS thinks that the most optimal setup is to turn off the Intel RAID and to run with the 3rd party RAID, which did not even have disks connected to it!?!?

One thing that I need to find out: is it possible to password block the setup utility for the RAID? The kids, with a couple of key strokes, could wipe everything. So far, the answer seems to be: no.

The clean install

After installing Wx64, the following hardware was left undetected:

  • Microsoft UAA Bus Driver for High Definition Audio was reported as non-functional. The fix from Microsoft corrected the problem. The subsequent undetected Audio Device on High Definition Audio Bus was installed with the audio drivers.
  • Ethernet Controller was installed with the LAN driver.
  • RAID Controller, even though I had to install Windows with the F6 disk, had to be fixed with the 1394B driver, which is moderately odd to say the least.
  • SM Bus Controller was fixed with the INF driver.
  • The Multimedia Video Controller and USB 2.0 PC Camera I am now leaving for another day…

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