Tuesday, September 12, 2006

OS Hell

I write software for a living. I design systems. You'd think I could do something as simple as install an OS on a new computer.

Apparently not. I hate hardware and now, I hate Operating System installs.

The new (old, really -- a refurb from Dell that I got just to tinker with) machine came with Windows XP Home. I initially wanted to have at least Win XP Pro. Simple upgrade, right?

Nope. Insert disk, wait for interminable hardware checking, Copy some files. Then it announces that it 'cannot detect a hard drive'. Wha? It was there a minute ago! And now, since it got through part of the install, it give me the blue screen of death each time I try to boot off the installation cd. Well, that's not good. I manage to get it back to booting ont he still-extant Win XP installation. Good.

Searching Google suggests that it is a driver problem for the 160 gig SATA drive. Great! THe solution is to interrupt the installation and load the drivers from a floppy disk.

Um. I don't have a floppy drive, and at this point in the installation, I can't get the machine to recognize a usb drive, either. Hm.

After quick consultation with a coworker, he recommends installing WIndows 2003 server instead. Ok. Get out disks, load. Wait. Wait. Wait. 'cannot detect hard drive'. Well, at least we know it's not a specific XP problem! Now the machine won't boot at all, and seems to think it has three separate installations in the boot menu, only one of which works at all.

I know it's an issue iwth drivers or recognition or something with the SATA drivers, but I have no idea what to doa bout it. But wait! Thsi is a BRAND NEW machine. It's still under warranty and helpdesk coverage!

At this point, I surrender. I do a live chat with Dell, spent two hours IM-ing them to help me reset the bios on the machine, change the RAID setup of the drive, and then -- much fun -- when it comes up ready to install WIndows XP Home again, the technicial cheerily informs me that 'it's recognizing the drive now -- the install should be clean. Thanks for calling Dell!"

I abort the XP Home install and boot fromt he Win Server 2003 disk and run through the install. I reformat the C:\ drive (which takes over an hour because I didn't do a "quick" drive format) and then, 7/8 of the way through, it announces it 'cannot copy file blah blah blah' -- or any of the subsequent files, either. Well, I"ll show you, you finicky piece of shit. Restart the installation, tell it to delete absolutely everything, and it finally boots.

Which is when I remember that I absolutely despite Win Server 2003. I dont' need the functioanlity of a print server or other "role", I don't want ot have to tell it why I'm shutting down, and I don't want to have to manage it. I just want a standalone machine that I can install Oracle on and make it work. I don't even know how to get the bloody thing to "share" drives. Well, fine!

Scrunch the 2003 install into a small partition, make a new one (after installing Partition Magic and making changes) and start the install of WIndows XP pro, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. It's also barfed when installing the first time. But it boots up now!

I hate mucking about with tehe buts of my machine. This is why.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robin, Robin. I should have warned you. I have had two different "used", but ready for a new owner computers. One was a floor model, and one was from another member of my family. I will never, never do it again. My troubles never end. When one thing gets to working, something new malfunctions. Aaaaggghhh!!!