SiKing

December 18, 2007

So happy new year

Filed under: eire,etanol,meatspace — SiKing @ 4:12 pm
Tags: ,

Things have been kinda agitated past few weeks, but are settling down now in time for the end of the year. Just kinda clearing my head here.

First I have calmed down at $JOB, as I have determined that all the stuff they were trying to fill my head with is mostly irrelevant. In testing, it’s all just software with inputs that are suppose to satisfy some predefined outputs, and it either works or not. Simple as that! Tests written in Java suck as I am spending more time chasing bugs in the test framework than I am in the application; but hey at least I have an endless amount of work available. Everything here is done using Eclipse a very lazy IDE, and source is maintained mostly using Subclipse a flaky piece of crap that at least once a week screws up my workspace. After trying to fix up the F-up for a few hours, usually in frustration, I just blow everything away and start all over with a fresh checkout. I still get a kick out of the Java developer telling me that this is an inefficient use of computer resources, because the source tree is very big. I thought that one of the basic assumptions of Java is that resources are unlimited.

The team that I am currently assigned to, is called Team A.

Apparently I am the first one ever that has put a wallpaper like on their desktop.
Nobody here has a sense of humour , but it sure does put bread on the table .

Anyway, the above clip has brought back some memories of my good ‘ol days, when life was naive and uncomplicated and the world was a much smaller place.

etanol is now officially dead – the motherboard clunked out. I am not really interested in getting another desktop right now, maybe a laptop. Anyway, I tried to figure out how much I could sell the parts off for. I discovered that my €3000 komp is now worth about €300 on the open market – not even worth the hassle. Well, I still do have a couple of other toys to play with, and I have been neglecting those for too long.

My love life is still on the rocks. But there was some good news in the personal life area. Yesterday I found out that there is an actual ice ring in Ireland. My younger boy loves (ice) hockey, and when I left Czech Rep. him having to abandon this sport was my biggest (perhaps only?) disappointment. Do you believe in fate or is it all just coincidence?

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June 8, 2007

Neškodná destrukce

Filed under: etanol,linux,meatspace,thetao,windows — SiKing @ 9:45 am
Tags: ,

Win XPx64 install CD

Tak jsem se zase jednou dostal na blog. Nemám nic zvláštního, jenom pár drobných novinek / historek. Dejte si .

Tento týden jsem trochu povolil uzdu mého duševního pyromaniaka. Doma používáme svíčky, spíše pro efekt než hospodárnost. Jedna konkrétní svíčka je asi 15cm v průměru, 15cm vysoká, má tři knoty, a je obalená kusem břízové kůry. V úterý knoty už dojely do konce a svíčka naposledy zhasla. Anebo? Zrovna dohořívalo v krbu, tak jsem tam ten zbytek hodil. Během asi půl minuty se 100cm3 vosku transformovalo na 10L hořlavého plynu. To byla prdel! Hukot komínem se rozléhal klidnou nocí. Jak se studené a permanentně provlhlé zdi kolem komínu moc rychle ohřáli (a roztáhli), začal cely barák praskat jako by se připravoval zhroutit, a viditelně se začala vypařovat vlhkost. Vyběhl jsem podívat na show z venku. Při zemi byl docela dost hustý čmoud jak se začali spalovat saze v komínu – odhaduji, že od postavení baráku na začátku 70 let, komín nikdo nikdy nečistil. Z komínu lítali ven rozžhavené kusy hořícího materiálu, a čas od času i plameny. Krásně to rozsvítilo zahradu a okolí. Celé show trvalo asi tak čtvrt hodiny. Teď mám sice zákaz cokoli přikládat do krbu, ale stálo to za to!

Zase jsem se dal na čtení. Poslední roky dost málo čtu, a už tomu bylo hodně dlouho co jsem přečetl něco opravdu dobrého. Našel jsem stránku kde je mnoho odkazů na různé knížky po Internetu, a na jeden typ se pustím do Accelerando.

Začínají se mi formulovat plány na léto. Vypadá to, že asi budu v Čechách na přelomu července-srpna; posledních pár dní bych mohl dostat i vycházku. Je dost lidí kterých bych rád viděl, a nevím jestli všechny stihnu. Doufám, že problém se zmenší nebo vyřeší tím, že lidi už budou sami na jejich dovolené…

No a taky něco o mích mazlíčcích.

etanol měl hard-drive crash – jeden ze tří jednotek zapojených do RAID0! Samozřejmě jsem neměl úplné zálohy. Ztratil jsem pár důležitých dokumentů, několik mailů během posledního půl roku, asi 5GB programů, asi 15GB knížek, kolem 100GB filmů, a přes 50GB opravdu dobrého porno. Shodou okolností jsem alespoň den před tím udělal kompletní zálohy všech fotek. První věc jsem si vylil zlost na instalačním CD pro WinXPx64 – viz obrázek. Vadný disk jsem tam zatím nechal, a přehodil jsem to celé na RAID5 – špatný disk je takhle alespoň částečně použitelný. Pak jsem komp upgradoval z WinXPx64 na Win2k – tedy z rychlého ale nefunkčního systému, na pomalý ale skoro funkční. Zvolil jsem tentokrát jednoduchou instalaci: celý systém na jedné partition, jeden super-uživatel, jeden administrátor. Nainstaloval jsem všechny ovladače (zvukovka ještě dělá problémy), poslední Windows opravy, samozřejmě antivirák a firewall, během třech večerů. Potom jsem zapnul Internet a automatické opravy: přes jednu noc se tam objevilo asi tři stránky dalších oprav. Taky jsem se zklamáním zjistil, že Linux 2.6.19 nemá správné ovladače aby přečetl disk v této konfiguraci.

Instalace Gentoo na thetao zatím čeká. Mám za prvé hodně jiné práce (v práci), a za druhé jsem se nějak poslední dobou vrátil ke staré lásce: Knoppix. Určitě s tím strávím nějakou dobu. Pohrávám si i s nápadem, že bych zkusil být contributor pro Knoppix. Už delší dobu plánuji přepálit si svojí verzi Knopixu a mám několik nápadů co na něm bude. Potom určitě chci přepsat asi dva Knoppix hacks: 21 a 36.

Asi měsíc se flákám s překladem pro DistroWatch. Až (jestli?) to jednou bude, tak to bude tady. Potom si chci přepálit W2kSP1 CD na W2kSP4, jen tak jestli to zvládnu. Přemýšlím, že bych chtěl začít být trochu víc aktivní (a taky produktivní ve volném čase) ve FOSS projektech, no a tak zase přemýšlím o laptopu – něco levného, hračka, starší P3. No stále co dělat.

Lidi, hezký víkend!

May 16, 2007

I think I’m turning into a Luddite

Filed under: belous,cyberspace,etanol,thetao — SiKing @ 10:22 am
Tags:

IT Virus Life Cycle
copyright Russell Kightley, rkm.com.au

Lately, technology just hates me. Either that or I am a walking computer virus!

etanol is further deteriorating. More and more shit just inexplicably stops working: spell check in MS-Word for one user (out of four) does not start up, opening MS-Word files downloaded from the Internet for (a different) one user does not work, one user’s personal documents do not appear under the Administrator computer menu. Then there are the explainable, but still absolutely mind-boggling things like some user programs need to have administrator access to the machine, other programs that must have write privileges to the C:\Program Files hierarchy. This one got me really good: my bank has security certificates for signing in and for sending any kind of payment. I had no problems signing in, but for like half a year I could not send any transactions. The errors that their application was throwing did not give any kind of hint as to the actual problem: Windows one day started shipping without any Java engine! The best is, that the x64 version of I-Explorer cannot even see that a Java engine has been installed! Not to mention all the small things that have stopped working, which I have now just come to accept as normal MS-SNAFU. I have now completely given up on etanol until this summer, at which point I hope I will be allowed to reinstall him. I will be upgrading to Windows 2000 for the benefit of harmony with the people that I must cohabit with and Linux dual-boot.

A while back I convinced my GF to get a Mac – my first exposure to it. Number one reason: it just works! What the hell are they talking ’bout? First off: no localization to Czech; all the free software that she got for it NeoOffice, Thunderbird, FireFox, all with perfect Czech localization. The multi-billion dollar company apparently thinks this is not worth their effort. Next, I could not get the thing to connect to a wireless modem using (default) WEP authentication; I am now running my household on WAP. For no reason whatsoever, it will not download mail from Yahoo! Speaking of Apple’s mail, that has to be one of the most unintuitive applications that I have seen so far on a Mac – it is next to impossible to discover how to make it use SSL, which today is almost a standard. But by far the best one: one night my GF is not home, the MacBook is lying on the table, I got a Knoppix CD in hand… The thing is supposed to have an Intel processor inside, so I thought I’d give it a try. Took me around 10 minutes to figure out how to boot it from a CD – “just press the Options button” BS did not work, tried it several times. Eventually I found something in the control centre (I think it is), where it asked what do you want to boot from – one of the options was CD. Tried that, and Knoppix booted up perfectly fine, and completely in Czech. Showed it to my GF, who was not impressed. Well, this is Knoppix I though, just take out the CD and reboot the machine, everything is back to original. After reboot, all I got was a text message on an otherwise black screen telling me that there is no bootable CD. No shit Sherlock, I’m thinking, I just took it out! The thing would not default to the internal hard drive. There was several very tense moments, of my GF watching over my shoulder and me struggling to figure out how to convince an unresponsive MacBook, that there is in fact an internal hard drive that it can and should boot from. Eventually, I tried the OS X install DVD – I immediately quit the install program, and it asks I you want to reboot from the DVD or perhaps the internal hard drive. I am now forbidden from coming anywhere near my GF’s MacBook. “Just works” … my ass!

I seem to be the only person (or at least in the minority) for whom the Browser Sync plugin does not work. This was just another very kool idea, executed poorly.

Then I found another very kool plugin. I consider myself a bit of a OpenOffice.org power user. I am always interested in increasing my productivity in OOo. After reading this article, I just had to get the Tabbed Windows Extension. This ended up as just another disappointment. After crashing OOo twice in one day, I was looking only for how to uninstall / disable it. Not to mention that since OOo version 2.0, I can longer edit HTML, because on my installation the HTML source button seems to have disappeared.

Knoppix, one of my favourite Linux distros, is giving me a hard time!

I prematurely posted an entry here on my latest achievement: finally installing Gentoo on thetao, only to discover on rebooting after the post that I screwed up something – kernel panic. Took that entry down PDQ. I was absolutely beside myself when I found out a few days later that the next version of Gentoo was released. Downloaded the live CD and first thing tried it at home. I was fully expecting issues with my disks. The first surprise: it found all the disks correctly on the first try! The second surprise: from the messages flying by, it seemed to have detected that I have an ATI X300 graphics card – not very high end stuff – however, X server had no idea what to do with it. Back to installing Gentoo via Knoppix.

As much as I would like to help out, I simply don’t have the time to be filing bugs and tracking down every single failure that I find in every application that I try. I actually get paid to find bugs in shit.

Man, I’m already pondering my retirement. I am definitely going to read a lot. I discovered the joy of reading very late in my life (when I was in my early 20’s), and recently I do not have anywhere near enough time to do it. Oddly enough, I have a huge (well, I would estimate it at about hundred pieces) collection of books that I have never read. I am going to sit someplace on a beach, and drink those drinks with umbrellas in them. But most importantly: no computers anywhere in sight!

January 7, 2007

Installing etanol – day 3

Filed under: etanol,windows — SiKing @ 3:07 pm
Tags:

“Day 3” is just a symbolic label now used strictly for consistency as I have been working on this for like two months. [self-censored] This is actually my first blog post from etanol.

As I mentioned the last time, I changed the disk configuration to RAID 0 which now reports 447.2GB of total storage. So far no problems losing the redundancy of RAID 5.

During installation Windows XPx64 requires an extra registration step – product activation – on top of the standard license key that you have to punch into it. I needed to wait for Internet access for this. Same for my edition of Word 2002 CZ. Both of these went without a problem through the Internet – must be something wrong? WOW!

The webcam also went without giving me any trouble. The drivers are available directly from Creative – beta release only. Yahoo! Messenger picks it up without a problem.

Other things, however, took a little more effort.

Multimedia Video Controller

At first, I mistakingly thought that this is the Sapphire video card, but in fact this was the TV card. Totally by coincidence I ran across an article on the Internet which talks about some HW support issues under WinXPx64. It actually scared the crap out of me, especially when I got to the part about video card support.

In the end, the TV card was actually easy: search the Hauppage website, followed by the Internet, as last resort contact the manufacturer directly:

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2006
Hi,
There are no 64 bit drivers for the PVR 350 at the present time. I'm
afraid we haven't been given a timescale for release for them either.
Best Regards

It now sits, disabled, inside the box. shit

Sapphire video card

This one was actually kinda funny – in a I wanna stab myself in the eye sorta way.

Windows detected the card correctly as ATI Radeon X300SE. However, I think it is capable of higher resolution that what the Microsoft supplied drivers are giving me; as well as the ATI supplied Catalyst control center, which gives you a whole bunch of optimizations for 3D graphics. I downloaded the ATI drivers, and tried the install. At some point early in the beginning the installer tells you that “the CATALYST Control Center requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 prior to installation” and happily continues on after that warning until it eventually freezes up. The ATI (AMD now) website actually points you to Microsoft’s .NET Framework 1.1 download page. Since I was in a hurry, I tried that. The ATI driver again complains that it does not have .NET 2.0, but this time the install completes. Just for the heck of it, once I had a little more time, I hunted around for the .NET framework 2.0 (x64), and tried the whole thing all over again. This worked, with one small annoyance: it did not uninstall the previous 1.1 .NET framework. Maybe I’m just too demanding.

Internet access

This continues to be a source of joy (that’s sarcasm, for the humour-impaired) to this day. I am actually very proud of myself that I did not go on a killing rampage while hooking up my Internet.

The first step was to hunt, err: find, an ISP. Due to my professional and personal time commitments, it took me approximately a week to discover that Internet through cable TV is not available in my area.

On to the telephone companies then. Since my love was by now getting on my case with: “I can’t believe that I cannot get on the Internet at a geek’s house!“, right now became more of a priority over anything else. Ireland has only one monopoly (sarcasm, again) that supplies all wired telephone service: Eircom. These people are willing to sell you Internet only under the condition that you also buy telephone service from them. Since I don’t even know how to use a standard telephone unit, I thought I’ll go elsewhere. I quickly discovered two things. 1) There are companies that do indeed offer cheaper Internet than Eircom, unfortunately they make you purchase more packages from them that I have no use for which all together make it more expensive than from the Monopoly. And 2), all of the competition has to use the Monopoly’s telephone lines, which the Monopoly rents out to them at (conveniently) the same price as what it costs to get a telephone line from the Monopoly. By this time, my love comes home from the 20 minute walk to the local Internet café, and just rolls her eyes.

Back to broadband.Eircom.ie. I first tried to order it online, since they had a promotion that the first month is free only if ordered online. Apparently to hook a phone will take them up to 15 days. Fine! I did not immediately get an e-mail confirmation, so I thought I would call them back, just to make sure: “Well sir, sometimes it takes up to three days for the e-mail confirmation to be generated.” WTF!?!? OK, fine! 15 days later, nothing. So I call them back to get the same runaround: promotion is available only through ordering online, takes three days to get an e-mail, takes 15 day to find out if it worked, and then maybe. So this time I took the three more days to find out that the online order did not work again, until I decided that it will be better for my health just to phone order it.

The lady that I talked to – not mentioning any names to protect the incompetent – took my order. She convinced me, that the only ADSL modem they have is a wireless one, and since I do not have a wireless card in my desktop computer, I will need to purchase an adaptor from them. Apparently the adaptor is USB, and there should be no problems with a driver. Yea, right I thought! But I need the Internet.

This time, the telephone got hooked up in a few days. Several days after that, the wireless adaptor came in the mail. It was a Netopia 3D Reach wireless G USB, and of course the drivers did not work! Tech support from Eircom played (very effectively) brainless and useless. I tried Netopia (aka: Sun) directly. They pointed me to RT2500USB driver from Ralink, which surprisingly worked just fine. However, the story does not end there. A few days later the modem arrived. The modem is a Netopia 2247NWG wireless and 4-port ethernet gateway. Back on the phone with Eircom to return the wireless adaptor. I am still going to have to call them up at some point, as my last service bill was over €70, which I think is a little too steep for one month of Internet access.

other pieces of Windows

There are several applications and small items that are still not working, and probably never will. Perhaps it’s just that I am too demanding (not unreasonable I think, considering the price that you have to fork out for this OS), or perhaps it is due to user error (also entirely possible).

I wanted streaming radio from the Internet. Most of the stations that I like are streamed through Real Player. I could not get the basic download to install, so I contacted their support. They told me that they do not support XPx64, because “the Windows 64 operating system has many advantages that can help run games in general, but because we have not tested on this operating system, we are unable to offer technical support for games on it.” I tried to reassure them, that I am only interested in the streaming radio and not games. I got a reply, that said they are sorry they could not help me immediately, and they will bump me up to “level 2” support. Fine… “Level 2” support replied to me a day later, that they have no record of me as a paying customer, but that they will make a one-time exception. “Unfortunately at this time we do not have a version that is compatible with Windows XPx64.” Are you like for real? There are people that actually pay for this? I mean at one time Real used to be a somewhat lousy player, today it’s a really lousy operating system. Whatever… losers

BOINC screen saver. This is one of the most worth-while projects that I like to support. It costs the user, next to nothing and helps out a great deal. Unfortunately, I could not get the graphics to work. Apparently, there are people on the net that have experienced the same problem and have somehow resolved it, but I could not be bothered, considering all the other problems that I am having with this system.

I have three accounts on the box. When I first wanted to make another account it forced me that the first one must have administrator privileges. What I did not know, is that it will disable the administrator account. OK, I guess I will go along with that. Then I have one user account for my love, that has a password so that the babies do not mess up any of her stuff – she is more than capable of messing it up herself. And one account for the babies, with like no privileges, that is password-less. Creepy thing is: when my love wants to download a Word .doc from her mail (accessed through http), it freezes up the application (I-Explorer and Word). The exact same file on my account or the babies account, no problems!?!? Tried reinstalling Word, tried even reinstalling that account… nothing. Luckily it only happens under Internet-Explorer. I prefer Firefox anyway, so I juts have to disable that piece of crap from the menus.

Windows XP comes with a new hip theme – whatever. On my administrator account I switched it to the classic Windows theme. Then I went ahead and created the other accounts – where it erased the administrator account. Well along with the administrator, it also erased the Windows XP theme!!!

After installing Firefox 2.0, I could no longer set icons for HTML documents. In fact, when I right-click on on an HTML document, and ask to pick what I want to open it with, Firefox appears twice in the list – always leads to the same thing. When I try to go into the File Types and change the icon, it always ignores me.

Conclusions

I made a new year’s resolution, actually two. I normally don’t go for this kinda stuff, but this year I made an exception.

By the end of the year I want to have all my stuff 100% on Linux. This is not to say that I am completely going uninstall Windows – I still have to live with my family, all of whom have bought into the big lie. I just want myself to be running on Linux, and this is the year! The amount of time I spent trying to get this to work, I could probably have learned how to write Linux drivers and written the appropriate drivers myself. Now I just have to make it functional for the rest of the family.

Also, never buy top-of-the-line stuff again, ever.

October 26, 2006

Installing etanol – day 2

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

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…

October 19, 2006

Installing etanol – day 1

Filed under: etanol,windows — SiKing @ 4:46 pm
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So about a year ago, I got (“got”, as in “somebody else paid for it”!) a hot and pretty new box. It was actually so hot, that almost nobody would touch it – Linux did not run on it, Microsoft had only one operating system that I could get onto it at that time, and I did not even try anything else. I got the high approval from the family, under the pretence that this is going to be a complete family entertainment centre: Internet, PVR, TV, video-phone, games, the whole thing. But really, what family needs a RAID 5 system? This was, of course, a new toy for daddy. kool

Let’s clear up one thing right up front: the name of the machine is not a typo! The letter “h” from ethanol, is intentionally left out in this case. I name all my computers after Greek letters with some modifications, and the next letter in line was eta… hence the name.

And so for one year now etanol ran Windows 2000, awaiting that one day when Linux would fully support the ICH7 chipset… It ran well, but not quite what I envisioned. This thing was a powerhouse, running an operating system that barely utilized half of it’s capabilities. So this past weekend I got the uncontrollable urge to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system. Actually this was the first operating system that was intended for etanol (got the install CD with original purchase), but back then I quickly ran into problems and no time to solve them.

This weekend was supposed to be a dry run, to see what problems I am going to run into down the road. Just download drivers, and try it out. Nothing is ever easy with me, however! Things that just work for most other people, I usually cannot get to work. I also often want something a little extra. I want to push the capabilities and, to my dismay, often beyond what the original architect anticipated. On the upside of things, I don’t have Internet at home right now (hopefully coming on the 27th), so the family is not going to get upset at missing something important (well, perhaps movies for a little while). On the downside, I don’t have Internet at home right now, so it is going to be time consuming to download whatever I need elsewhere and/or to search for information. Therefore, this post is going to be a multi-day kinda deal.

The goal of this entire exercise is to install Windows on one partition, have all the user data on a separate partition, and still leave some room on the disk for that day when Linux will pick this up. Further down the road, I also plan on at least one other project on etanol: with my digital video camera see if I can generate DVDs from home movies. This, however, is much further down the road.

So what’s in the box?

KME Domino case

Thought you’d never ask. grin List updated 6-11-2006, ’cause I actually forgot what all I gots.

  • The whole system is built on the Intel D955XBK motherboard. This thing, among other features, has an 82801GR SATA RAID Controller (ICH7-R), which gives it the ability to hook up disks into a RAID.
  • Intel P4 processor clocked at 3.00GHz, with an 800MHz front bus.
  • Two 512MB sticks of Kingston DDR2 RAM, running in (the faster) interleaved mode.
  • ATI Radeon X300SE graphics card, driving a 19” Samsung SyncMaster 913N LCD monitor. Since I am not a gamer, I wanted something of a good bargain: not too expensive, but still easy on the eyes.
  • Three Western Digital Caviar WD1600JS disks. Hooked up together in a RAID5 yields 298.1GB of total storage – this is according to the system, not my calculation.
  • Creative WebCam Live! Ultra, piece of crap web camera. This is not the cheapest available, but it was the first one that I grabbed for. Most cheaper cams get significantly clearer pictures – avoid this if you can.
  • Hauppauge Win-TV-PVR-350 TV card. This thing is really nice, has a built-in MPEG encoder, so that you can record TV in the background and have the CPU completely free to do other things.
  • I know I got a DVD-RW internal disc, can’t remember which one though.
  • Genius SW-5.1, Dolby 5.1 speaker system. Again, not interested in system better than the town’s theatre.
  • Zalman quiet fans throughout. Originally I wanted only a stereo system, but the price difference was negligible.

Live and learn

Here is what I learnt going through the three original installs of Windows 2000, and now four (so far) installs of Windows XPx64.

  • The original disk with the mobo drivers was trashed so I had to download everything from the Internet for W2k. I had to do it all again for Wx64 since the drivers are completely different – as they should be!
  • Norton Ghost 2003 totally crapped out – it could not even find a disk to image! Intel did ship a CD with a whole bunch of trial software. I am going to have to try all of it out. Ideally I want to find a 64-bit firewall (besides the one that is built into Windows), a 64-bit virus scanner, and any disk tools that will actually work (why doesn’t, after all these years, Microsoft bundle something with their shit of an operating system?). Hey, anyone have any suggestions, please do leave a comment.
  • I have a Seagate portable 100GB USB disk (very much recommend this – one of the best purchases that I made!) that I was totally dependent on as a replacement for the lack of Internet at home. W2kSP1 could not find the disk; I first had to bump up to W2kSP4 (going though a CD) before it would be detected. Windows XPx64 picked it up right away.
  • I tried to install Windows XP SP2, but it did not take it. The system is that good – apparently no service packs?!?!
  • After a suggestion that the system is going to require 1.5GB, I started with a 10GB system partition. But after the first install (that did not even include all the drivers!) it had sucked down 3.97GB.
  • At some point in the past Microsoft decided to remove the 'fdisk' utility. Since I had no Internet (or a clue) I could not find the non-union, Mexican equivalent. The cripple that is fired up from W2k for partitioning from the installer will take only five-digit numbers which are in MB! The work around – don’t create partitions bigger than 99999MB. WTF Wx64 fixed this, and bumped it up to eight-digits.

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